Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Friends We Make

Usually I paint images of solitude. I spend a lot of time alone and often the presence of others can feel invasive. There are other times, though, when I need company.

This painting is about my desire for connection and the subjectivity of relationships. I love this poem by Billy Collins.

Le Chien

I remember late one night in Paris
speaking at length to a dog in English
about the future of American culture

No wonder she kept cocking her head
as I went on about "summer movies"
and the intolerable poetry of my compatriots.

I was standing and she was sitting
on a dim street in front of a butcher shop,
and come to think of it, she could have been waiting

for the early morning return of the lambs
and the bleeding sides of beef
to their hooks in the window.

For my part, I had mixed my drinks,
trading in the tulip of wine
for the sharp nettles of whiskey.

Why else would I be wasting my time
and hers trying to explain "corn dog,"
"white walls," and "the March of Dimes"?

She showed such patience for a dog
without breeding while I went on-
in a whisper now after shouts from a window-

about "helmet laws" and "tag sale"
wishing I only had my camera
so I could carry a picture of her home with me.

On the loopy way back to my hotel-
after some long and formal goodbyes-
I kept thinking how I would have loved

to hang her picture over the mantel
where my maternal grandmother
now looks down from her height as always,

silently complaining about the choice of frame.
Then, before dinner each evening
I could stand before the image of that very dog,

a glass of wine in hand,
submitting all of my troubles and petitions
to the court of her dark-brown, adoring eyes.

I could throw a lot of words at this painting. Validation (which always makes me think of parking). Stimulation. Shelter. Witnessed. There is also something beautiful in the shiny purple seed heads of this giant lily. Maybe that is enough, for now.

This painting is oil on clayboard and measures 18"x48".

1 comment:

  1. Jean!

    There's a lot to love about this one.

    The worm's-eye view, the gray skies, the shiny, purple lily pods.

    A sad yet beautiful piece!