Rolling Your Eyes

I take no chances with my paintings. I stick to the basics. I try to capture a likeness, tight as hell, no strokes left unbrushed, same palette I've been using since college, no risks, same application. They're so freaking boring. And they're getting worse. I'm illustrating. I need to get into school.

I watched a special on WSKG, Public Access, about these 14 and 15-year-old Piano virtuosos. They were competing with each other. One of the master instructors was saying how some of the students are just machines, their little fingers hit the notes perfectly, in time and on pitch. Their expressions are frozen, like yours reading this. These are not the students they are looking for. It's the students who play the music that they watch for. It doesn’t sound very compelling to read this, I know, but I'm still feeling moved from this special so I can use words like "moved" and I can put play in italics.

Don't tell anyone, but I'm painting from photographs. It's a deadly sin for a painter. You end up painting colors in spots, painting what you know not what you see. You don't paint eyes. You don't see the two inches of visual space from the nose to the ear. You see a splotch of light pink next to a darker brown tone. It almost never translates into a face. And just when you think it has, you realize that the left eye is in F major and the right eye is in G minor and the face is expressionless. No one can look and wonder what this woman is yearning for or what she is expecting; you wonder why her right eye is on her forehead. It ruins all allegory. No narrative.

Today was a good day painting. I've captured a likeness, the eyes have slowly read the preface, realized they pronounced it wrong and are now comfortably resting where they belong. Tomorrow I begin painting a nest in my wife’s hair. I'm not ready to post a picture of it yet. Soon.

I picked the winner of the piano competition. I told my wife which prodigy was my favorite from the start. They would show each contestant's fingers hitting the keys. They were quick and impressive, but it was when they would show them from the back of the piano, from the chest up, that you could really get a sense of the music and how it was being played. The woman that won, I'd like to paint like her. Her eyes closed when appropriate for empathy, the open mouthed sensitivity for the piano de crescendos, as if they were first holding their new-born, as if the keys were made of eyelashes, each note a wink towards sleep...you see something in their shoulders, an anticipation...then.. DOOM--DA-DUM-DA DOOM -Ba DUM, the eyebrows flex like a diviner stick that has found water, and strands of hair and unravel themselves. You could swear someone has accidentally opened the fire escape door and a draft of wind has violently blown through the concert hall, top hats fly down the aisles and women adjust their hair. She actually looked relieved when she finished, like she had just shared a secret and realized it would be safe.

Painting is not like this for me. Not right now. My painting feels more like a secret, each stroke a more complicated lie that will not untangle itself with a bold red or knifed white.

Oh man, am I making a juxtaposition between painting and playing piano? There goes that frozen expression you were reading with.