Summer allows for the garage door to be open to the light and heat blasting in full force adding to the carefree studio vibe I like best. I often have no real plan before I pick up a brush, instead allow the piece to speak to me. Inspiration comes as it does with movement and color. Other times it lingers so I sit on the stool and just take in the view. Somedays it’s all about the myriad of blues I can blend, other days straight up orange rules. You just never know what will kick off a painting session. But that’s the very definition of inspiration, isn’t it? Could be a spark or flash or sorrow or pain or image or song or laugh or cry. You just never know. The only real surety is to have a brush and paint on the ready, and get straight to discovery. Beyond that any surface with suffice. “There are no rules. That is how art is born, how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules. That is what invention is about.” – Helen Frankenthaler
I am not sure exactly when I became so intrigued with myself as a subject worthy of significant investigation, but that fascination certainly goes way back. Long before the confessional style of my Nine Cent Girl blog emerged, in my fiction, pockets of memories or infatuations or revelations can be found. Like the story I have been working on since last November about Mrs. Hendrick. After being left by her husband of several decades for a younger woman she took wholeheartedly to the bottle, and the array of pills prescribed by her Doctor. But instead of making her the stereotypical victim of her sad circumstances, I thought, why not allow her choices to emerge as legit survival mechanism? Why not allow her some dignity in her decision to keep going, come what may, chin up, albeit tipsy? After all, isn’t that how I spent one too many nights during my COVID confinement? I met Mrs. Hendrick head-on in my imagination and fell hard for her.
“This is my mother’s room. I’ll leave you to it,” and like that the plainly dressed daughter moved down the hallway and closed her door leaving me to meet the grande dame solo.
I knocked with two small raps. A husky voice commanded a double “come in, come in” and with that I turned the brass knob and pushed my way into what might come my way.
Not just a bedroom, but a boudoir, all apricot and violet, silk and velvet, seating around a marble fireplace complete with fire, and in front of the double windows, she sat at her mahogany dressing table and gold lacquered mirror from which I watched her reflection apply black eyeliner with surgical precision. There was a half-filled martini glass at her elbow and a smoldering cigarette in a crowded ashtray. Her platinum hair was teased up high and gathered into a french twist, and even though her caftan was flowing and voluminous it did not hide her many curves but instead gave them even more dimension. Before she moved on to her second eye, she took a meaningful sip of her drink, a lingering puff of her cigarette and let her gaze drift up to mine. She motioned me closer.
Weekly last winter bottles toppled my recycling bin while her’s were discretely collected, but together, I imagined, she and I would soldier on through. I have yet to finish the novella for Mrs. Hendrick, but I do hope she makes it with her silks enhancing her every subtle move from boudoir to dining room to wherever she envisions, as I hope to survive beyond the next chapter headed my way clear across into a smoother horizon.
Perhaps fiction is always thinly veiled truths, as are my blog posts. Full disclosure, I am ultimately intrigued with the tangled strings between all the people I love, even between the casual encounters and the decades of an ever evolving me. What else matters?
When we set up house this last time, we were very deliberate about creating spaces that made us happy. Obviously we had no idea that home would become synonymous with safety in 2020. Or that home would become her workplace. Or that home would be our yoga space. Or that home would also be my classroom. In fact, home became our everything last March, and a year later, it still is. Little did we know as we rearranged furniture, bringing a table closer to the windows, moving a comfy chair closer to the fire, clearing space for a proper pantry, setting up a painting studio, just how important these spaces would be, or how each object, from lamp to mirror to photo would be called on to evoke bright and warm and much-needed positive emotion. Yet, as I pass through my days, moving from room to room I am swept along in delightful memories and leave each with an easier smile. I have become, although somewhat reluctantly, a contented homebody padding around in slippers and living in a sanctuary.