Painters in the Room

The first time I was really into painting, aside from coloring my sketches when I was younger, was when I was in the third grade. I didn’t go to school the second semester. And I remember how everyday was long. So I usually spend it replicating this painting. It was a dog. I am no painter by any chance, but an admirer. And I always try to understand it. In replicating, I find every line a meaning, their reason.

It will haunt me forever- the idea of that one dog picture I barely saw in my dream. Is it the same with the one I used to draw that I don’t exactly remember what it looks like? I will always wonder.

Then after many long years, I found myself interested in history. Renaissance. You might ask me many times, I will say to you I love renaissance for many reasons but so much for its painters. I believe understanding an art starts from understanding the painter. Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo are who I am talking about today. I read two historical fictions not too long ago- Raphael painter in Rome and Oil and Marble by Stephanie Storey. And when I finish those books, I was never the same person. Something has changed and I can’t go back thinking the same way I used to about art and artists.

My Philosophy wall had been stewing in my mind for nearly two years, yet even after that prolonged pregnancy, the birthing of that painting was as tortured as any. I made thousands of sketches: from my first thoughts scribbled in inked pensieri; to detailed drawings of gestures, draperies, faces; and complex designs of figural groupings. Then, when the designs were complete, my hands turned to painting once again. I didn’t sleep much and only ate what my assistants put in front of me. I contracted a cold that turned to a cough. I wrapped wool scarves around my neck, balled my trembling fingers into shirtsleeves, and sneezed into chalky rags. My assistants tried to get me to rest — “We can do it for you, maestro. Let us help” — but no one had been able to give birth for my mother, and no one could give birth for me.

My lines doesn’t hold an emotion. Nor technique. I accepted I am no painter long ago. But after reading this part, I felt heard. Not because I struggle perfecting my lines, or giving them life or anything related to that. But because I am an artist. Who struggle to come up with the right words. Because I am a mother and I worry a lot for what I behold in my chest and how I carry it out.

Oh, how I miss being young. With age comes such fear, doesn’t it? I used to think that knowledge would make me more sure of myself, but instead, knowledge only feeds fears founded in truth: things can — and do — go wrong.

While I see art as an expression of the artist, sometimes I feel otherwise. How it is a barrier from distinctly telling one as a person. And there is this one time I felt this connection with Raphael. And this time, we both were just being human, sharing a fear. Here was a note I wrote beneath:

And the more pages I went through, the more I grew with you. It was good, almost nothing you ever felt, to share the worst fear of yours with others.

And later Leonardo Da Vinci. Many forget he was not just a painter. But an artist of a mind. A curious thinker. But now, when we are talking about painting, let’s only talk about that. Mona Lisa. I chose to talk about her because I see a character development in me with the way I look at her. I never remember being moved by her or her smile as a child. Nor was her beauty clear. But now I have grown, I started to afford a new lens to look an art with. Ask me what her beauty is now and I will say:

She beholds with her smile. She looks like she knows many things. But she holds back. It is as if the world is not ready yet. Not yet again. And never. A woman you lay your eyes on when in a room full of people. But you don’t know why. and it doesn’t bother you.

When I think of him as a painter, she comes to mind. But when I think of her, I just let her wonder alone in my head.

Why else would God give me such a yearning to ask questions about everything: body, mind, light, water, numbers, stars? My interests don’t distract me from my art, but feed it. Music feeds math feeds science feeds painting. The only way to create something unique is to make connections between seemingly disparate things. If I focus only on art, my art will die.

Here I just nodded. I didn’t waste any word how I agree with it or anything.

Michel was hard to put for me. The hardest to understand. And may be the easiest to misinterpret. I have not mastered in understanding a sculpture. My love for him started with a confusion. So it was never clear. And I always say later, one day, when it comes to him. And let I close my opinion about him quoting his own words from a poem called Dante:

What should be said of him cannot be said

His poetic side was easy to love though. here.

Always Curious