To revision is to re-envision a piece be it a room, a poem, a story or in my case several canvases. It is at least three years since they were originally sketched out and I cannot remember exactly what story I wanted to tell on their surface. While many artist want to paint in Pablo Picasso’s words paint the perfect picture I want to tell a story or a glimpse into a story I have written or may have yet to write and the characters of a particular tale are still ghostly shapes I see in dreams. Drawing and painting gives me the opportunity to get to know them better and what they what to accomplish from their personal crisis. Telling a story reveals how an individual overcame an all encompassing crisis.
Cinderella had a fairy godmother to overcome her desire to go to the royal ball and still hide the fact from her evil stepmother. Aesop’s Fables are mostly about this type of dilemma; How to accomplish your desire and as in The Fox and the Crow’s story the fox is not above outright lying to seize a piece of cheese. Art is a sort of lie that tells the deepest of truths, a truth we cannot admit out loud but to put it in plain sight for others to see. While Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa may be the most famous painting on planet Earth it seems we are still scratching our heads to what truth he wanted to reveal, to hide in plain sight.
I have been to her gallery at the Louvre four times and in those four visits with other tourists pushing and crowding in to take a photograph of the Mona Lisa. What is obvious is that the Mona Lisa is like a sphinx in that she seems to be still in possession of some great secret that the rest of her society seems ignorant of. What could that secret be? In a world where it was perfectly normal for a fiftyish man to wed a fourteen year old girl/child and because he possessed the wealth to have a famous Italian painter paint her portrait it legitimized the disparity of their age difference? Was it while men ruled nearly every corner of Europe they were dependant on the fertility of a virgin to bring forth heirs to rule their future legacy? Or could it be like Mrs. Darling’s sweet mocking mouth had one kiss on it that Wendy could never get, though there it was, perfectly conspicuous in the right-hand corner in J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan? We may never know exactly what she was thinking while Leonardo worked on her portrait for more than sixteen years. What we may discern fully five hundred years later that Mona Lisa was in fact a fully functioning thinking human being and not merely house ornamentation for her husband’s opulent home.
Having unpacked most of our household goods from New Jersey and the fact that we have a smaller home I do not have the luxury of warehousing canvases in an attic while I work on a new piece. On this our home planet Earth in the final month of 2019 we may take a page from the old masters of art and that is to recycle, re-purpose and reuse. Many of the great masters of art were notorious for painting over work that, well wasn’t working for them and while it is a challenging endeavor to repurpose a canvas it is something well within the grasp of a thinking human being.
Our last full moon of 2019 will shine out December 11th please do not forget to take a moment away from the rush of commerce and look to the heavens above and smile your own private smile.
All the very, very best for a sparkling holiday season and a joyous New Year!