Friday, January 30, 2009

The Light and the Dark

I just got in the door through a raging blizzard the last two miles before home. Today was a violently erratic day for me in Montpelier.

Immediately when I got there this morning, eager to see Susan's work, I saw it. Started pacing and talking with her, and then in one of those lulls that come into conversation naturally, I realized I was crying. Standing still and crying.

You all know that doesn't happen often for any of us. But when it does happen, there is a reason. As incapable as I am in expressing in words my own passion about my own work, my wiring is such that it can be extracted by the work of others.

After I calmed down, I began to try to verbalize what hit me. The best I could do was that her use of colors that were, to me, "odd" did not detract from the subject, but rather forced me to look harder. Their slight oddness drew me in. Made me unable to say, "Yeah, that's a hay bale," and move on. I'm not sure yet, but I think because the colors are, here and there, odd, and that their oddness is not overdone, their use grants an ethereal quality that carries the real world solidity upon which these colors are placed to a slightly different dimension that we are forced to deal with.

As in, just what is it, exactly, that I am seeing here?

And, at the very end of the day, a strange thing happened. When I travel alone I always bring a book with me--just in case. Today it was Bright Earth, the book about painters' color by Philip Ball. After we had all gone our separate ways, I was standing on State Street, trying to wrestle the big easel into the car and not be run over. I also was carrying the book and my camera. In the course of this activity, the book slipped from under my arm. I swore and finished positioning the easel inside the car.

Then, I looked down to see my beautiful new book settled deep into the muddy-brown slush. Its gleaming white fore-edge plastered with brown and frozen water, its brilliant cover, and its "Bright Earth" words, now streaked with brown, glowed up at me. I hesitated before picking it up.

It was like Susan's work; it was like this project: gleaming up at me in contrast to the terror that, in my darkest moments, I truly feel for Vermont.


  1. I noticed your book at the cafe - it looked intriguing and had I not been in my pre-presentation wound-up state I would have picked it up and flipped through it - I hate to think of that lovely volume lying in a puddle of brown slush.

    In reference to your last post - it is nice to know I am not the only one visited by the "I should have said"s! This project has been rough going at times but the dark edges have been softened by many lights: luminous spirits like Susan and Karol, sparklers like Charlie, and brilliant search lights like Clair!

  2. You're right Elizabeth, I'm sure most of us would kill for a chance at a do-over of those 10 minutes. Seems a hard chunk to swallow that a third of a year of effort hangs on such a slender thread at the end.

  3. I think that strong work and a great soul like yours CLair will have made the impression you wanted to make. I don't doubt you one bit, so please don't doubt yourself now. I think your big heart, keen mind and your photography will carry the day.