New Year's eve. Even though the winter's solstice has passed and the days are a bit longer, they are so dark. And, I am painting in a downstairs room without overhead lights while my studio is painted. I will probably need to repaint a lot of areas that seemed okay in the dim light, but once viewed in good light .... I continue to work only on the leaves.
I came across this today and thought it so beautiful that I had to post and save it. LARRY LEVIS
Caravaggio: Swirl & Vortex
(reprinted by permisson of University of Pittsburgh Press)
In the Borghese, Caravaggio, painter of boy whores, street punk, exile & murderer,
Left behind his own face in the decapitated, swollen, leaden-eyed head of Goliath,
And left the eyelids slightly open, & left on the face of David a look of pity
Mingling with disgust. A peach face; a death mask. If you look closely you can see
It is the same face, & the boy, murdering the man, is murdering his own boyhood,
His robe open & exposing a bare left shoulder. In 1603, it meant he was available,
For sale on the street where Ranuccio Tomassoni is falling, & Caravaggio,
Puzzled that a man would die so easily, turns & runs.
Wasn't it like this, after all? And this self-portrait, David holding him by a lock
Of hair? Couldn't it destroy time if he offered himself up like this, empurpled,
Bloated, the crime paid for in advance? To die before one dies, & keep painting?
This town, & that town, & exile? I stood there looking at it a long time.
A man whose only politics was rage. By 1970, tinted orchards & mass graves.
The song that closed the Fillmore was "Johnny B. Goode," as Garcia played it,
Without regret, the doors closing forever & the whole Haight evacuated, as if
Waiting for the touch of the renovator, for the new boutiques that would open—
The patina of sunset glinting in the high, dark windows.
Once, I marched & linked arms with other exiles who wished to end a war, & . . .
Sometimes, walking in that crowd, I became the crowd, &, for that moment, it felt
Like entering the wide swirl & vortex of history. In the end,
Of course, you could either stay & get arrested, or else go home.
In the end, of course, the war finished without us in an empty row of horse stalls
Littered with clothing that had been confiscated.
I had a friend in high school who looked like Caravaggio, or like Goliath—
Especially when he woke at dawn on someone's couch. (In early summer,
In California, half the senior class would skinny-dip & drink after midnight
In the unfinished suburb bordering the town, because, in the demonstration models,
They finished the pools before the houses sold. . . . Above us, the lush stars thickened.)
Two years later, thinking he heard someone call his name, he strolled three yards
Off a path & stepped on a land mine.
Time's sovereign. It rides the backs of names cut into marble. And to get
Back, one must descend, as if into a mass grave. All along the memorial, small
Offerings, letters, a bottle of bourbon, photographs, a joint of marijuana slipped
Into a wedding ring. You see, you must descend; it is one of the styles
Of Hell. And it takes a while to find the name you might be looking for; it is
Meant to take a while. You can touch the names, if you want to. You can kiss them,
You can try to tease out some final meaning with your lips.
The boy who was standing next to me said simply: "You can cry. . . . It's O.K., here."
"Whistlers," is what they called them. A doctor told me who'd worked the decks
Of a hospital ship anchored off Seoul. You could tell the ones who wouldn't last
By the sound, sometimes high-pitched as a coach's whistle, the wind made going
Through them. I didn't believe him at first, & so then he went into greater
Detail. . . . Some evenings, after there had been heavy casualties & a brisk wind,
He'd stare off a moment & think of a farm in Nebraska, of the way wheat
Bent in the wind below a slight rise, & no one around for miles. All he wanted,
He told me, after working in such close quarters for twelve hours, for sixteen
Hours, was that sudden sensation of spaciousness—wind, & no one there.
My friend, Zamora, used to chug warm vodka from the bottle, then execute a perfect
Reverse one-&-a-half gainer from the high board into the water. Sometimes,
When I think of him, I get confused. Someone is calling to him, & then
I'm actually thinking of Caravaggio . . . in his painting. I want to go up to it
And close both the eyelids. They are still half open & it seems a little obscene
To leave them like that.
My studio is in transformation. New ceilings are going in and additional lighting will be added. So, I'm painting in a downstairs room. The light is somewhat better, but I have no maneuverability to deal with glare. The tedious work of detailing has begun...so slow, so slow.
Spent the last 2 days in Boston looking at art and listening to music. The MFA has a Degas show that is comprised of just his nudes. The majority of the pieces are monotypes and monotypes with pastel over drawings. Overall, the show has a feeling of works done as exercises in form and composition studies. The figures don't seem to change at all over the decades, same poses, same line, same palette. There are 4 paintings (that I remember), one of which is strong. The others are either unfinished or appear student-like.
The other viewing was of Draw/Dance at the ICA. I liked this show with it's experimental and expressive forms of line. The works suggested the use of line to express or illustrate an event or personal experience. The materials were unorthodox from yarn to metal to video.
In the evening we attended the Christmas Revels as Sanders Theater in Harvard's Memorial Hall. Sanders Theater was inspired by Christopher Wren's Sheldonian concert hall at Oxford. The space is beautifully covered in rich dark wood. The Revels concert was not so good this year. It used a play format that was in the genre of a children's play. I would have preferred more singing.
So...when we got home I used the remaining daylight to paint a bit.
Having a bit of a problem with glare in photographing this piece. The area to the right is a deep blue green with some lighter indication of foliage. The shingles in the background are more of a green gray and lower in contrast. I worked on the color and light of the leaves in the lower left.
Since datura is an evening blooming plant with the blossom fading by midday, I was unsure how to use the light. These were observed in full sun and thus, I'm unsure how the night light would show. So, I'm playing with the ground. In this version I've presented a ground that could be early evening or morning. But it may not work once the strong shadows are created.
It was dark when I finished today. Thus, the photo has a glare from my lights. It's good to be painting somewhat larger. My arm appreciates the movement of applying paint in large swaths. And my eye gets a workout with the composition by considering negative space.