A man stands at a window looking in. His silhouette blurs darkly in the light’s butter. Inside a woman paints. She sits in a rocking chair placed in front of a canvas on the wall. Loud music vibrates the glass where he leans his face. She has a brush in one hand and wipes it down the leg of her pants. She gets out of the rocker and goes to the picture and scribbles a bit with the brush. He watches her movements, breathing vapor onto the pane that intercepts his breath.
He presses his fingers on the glass, the smooth cool of the slow liquid talking to his hands. He loves the slide and transparency of the medium. His gray shirt is shredded at the hem and flutters a bit in the wind. Like fronds of the palm he thinks and laughs at his own metaphor. His teeth are very white but curved slightly down in the middle rather than running straight across. It gives his grin a bit of jack o’ lantern levity. His mouth is curvy, almost like a child’s wavy rendition of the sea. The cheeks are full when he smiles but fall into a square when dropped, and the eyes are a cross between Puck’s and the Monkey King’s.
The woman doesn’t see him. She is deep into the core of work, having plunged there almost effortlessly when she walked into the studio earlier that evening. The music tears past her stillness. She walks with it and strokes oily color onto the image. She works with indigo and changes a few minutes later to a mercurochrome that she glazes over alizarin. The brush moves like fire light across the complicated story.
She doesn’t see the man outside her window, but she paints for him. She paints with him, as though he were ground into pigment and mixed with the best linseed oil. The longer she works the harder his heart beats, and as each beat swells it breaks into threes: the becoming, the being and the ending. The knocks of his heart skip across the surface of her existence, dropping their trilogies into her: depth charges, muscled entities, terror, love and delight.
So what does she paint with such an engine?
She paints a deep red man with wings unfolding in the delicate patterns of orchids. He walks on water the color of green night-ink, holding a dripping star in an upraised hand. The other hand grazes the night as you would ruffle your cat’s fur. Is he a deity? Well, as much as we can imagine if we were given such heavy wings ourselves and then allowed to feel water on the soles of our feet in a walking skin.
She paints creatures from her dreams, following their hybrid personalities beyond their Freudian narratives. They go where the heartbeats resonate and she follows. Technique is just a faster and sharper set of knives with which to carve the vision in their wake.
When the studio has no magic in it she invents from the slide show of her life. Any scrape can make a flame-so she collects them: stories, newspaper cuttings, actual sightings, the face of a friend, the taste of pain, or the color of a baby’s skin.
Can you paint the displacement of meaning with the weight of illusion? Well, she does try and the man outside the window smiles with his curvy mouth as his heart breaks.