Friday, July 18, 2014

How is a painting not like a mirror?

   A reader just sent
   digital photographs
   of two paintings of
   one subject, a farm
   house on a northern

   One acrylic, one in
   watercolor. What is
   it, to be living as
   if one could paint?

He would lie amid the waking instant of earth’s teeming minute life, the motionless fronds of water-heavy grasses stooping into the mist before his face in black, fixed curves, along each parabola of which the marching drops held in minute magnification the dawn’s rosy miniatures, smelling and even tasting the rich, slow, warm barn-reek milk-reek, the flowing immemorial female, hearing the slow planting and the plopping suck of each deliberate cloven mud-spreading hoof, invisible still in the mist loud with its hymeneal choristers. 

William Faulkner
The Hamlet
  Cited in Tim Parks,
The New York Review of Books, 2014©


  1. In that same article, the author writes, "Dickens is a world to immerse yourself in for periods of not less than half an hour, otherwise the mind will struggle to accustom itself to the aura of it all and the constant shift between different voices and rhetorical ploys."

    I find the same is true of painting. Thirty minutes is barely enough time to set up a palette, and then it is already time to clean the brushes and pack up! So I rarely commit to painting unless I know that I have the better part of four hours to commit. Out-of-doors, however, when the sun is setting in 30-minute chunks, one might be convinced to squeeze a painting into a Dickens-esque time-frame.

    I think painting is so much like reading...

    1. This is an extraordinary suggestion. The syllogism's middle is that reading may be like painting. If only every educator could impart this awareness.