Posts Tagged ‘Luigi Pirandello’

Six Still-Life Subjects in Search of a Painter

January 14, 2013
The Beginnings of a Small Watercolor Still Life

The Beginnings of a Small Watercolor Still Life

I long ago lost a hound, a bay horse, and a turtle-dove, and am still on their trail. Many are the travelers I have spoken concerning them, describing their tracks and what calls they answered to. I have met one or two who had heard the hound, and the tramp of the horse, and even seen the dove disappear behind a cloud, and they seemed as anxious to recover them as if they had lost them themselves.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

With temperatures outside dipping to 34 degrees, I find the Man Cave still tolerable, as long as I wear this hoodie, and keep pouring the coffee.

I left this blog last Wednesday, boarding Amtrak on the following day to St. Louis to spend the night at my sister’s house, then drove four hours north to Hamilton, Illinois to say Good-bye to my friend Steve Mullins.  The funeral was difficult, but much love and comfort were offered, and I had the opportunity to visit once again with some whom I had not seen in over forty years.  Then it was time to return to St. Louis, board the train for the 16-hour trek back home and sleep a little before returning to classes today.  After an exhausting afternoon spent preparing for tomorrow’s classes, I finished my work around 8:30 tonight and decided it was time to re-enter the studio, set up a new still life arrangement, lay down the preliminary drawing, throw down some watercolor washes and hopefully find time to post a new blog.  And of course, the entire time I labored (played, really) over this task, my mind moved down a number of scattered paths.

I borrowed the title of this post from a 1921 Italian play by Luigi Pirandello–“Six Characters in Search of an Author.”  In the play, a director struggles to manipulate six unfinished characters seeking an author to finish their story.  As I search for a new still life arrangement to paint, I realize that I myself am also working to manipulate the pieces of my own life, my job, my relations with others, and now the sorting out of feelings and memories surrounding the friend we just buried.  Steve and I produced a plethora of scattered fragments–stories, shared wisdom, life observations–waiting now for an author, waiting for direction, for placement, for meaning.  As I work on still life arrangements, drawings and paintings, plenty of memories blister to the surface of the hours Steve and I spent in the studios of our high school, the makeshift studios in our bedrooms during those high school years, and then the university studios in later years.  We spent plenty of late weeknights together in the painting studio on the third floor of Baldwin Hall at Northeast Missouri State University.  Those memories are giving me comfort and warmth in the midst of this cold night in the Man Cave.

Thoreau wrote above about losing something earlier in life, and of his struggle to recover it.  None of us know what it was that he lost, and I suppose it is just as well–it makes it easier for us to pour ourselves into the subject he addressed.  There are plenty of things I have lost in my past, and have sought to recover in the succeeding years.  But I suppose we all are doing that–arranging, interpreting, re-arranging, re-interpreting our memories, priorities, life pursuits, and, oh yes, those New Year Resolutions.  So many floating, fleeting, flickering synapses of thought seeking order, meaning.  Six Characters in Search of an Author.

Thanks for reading.  I’m grateful to be back in the studio tonight, grateful for an opportunity to put my thoughts on the page, and grateful to know that someone else will read this and connect in some way.