Conversations With Paintings
Published on February 12, 2009
Music dropped a box of old magazines off in my Art room this morning. I picked up the Smithsonian on top, and leafed through it—there, on a two page layout was the above painting–a self portrait of the mid-19th century Artist Gustave Courbet. I froze. Then I laughed a little and tore the picture and the article out. Funny as it may sound, this painting is simply an oracle right now–and I glued it immediately in my journal.
The first time I saw this painting, I was a freshman in Art school…sitting in a large auditorium for an Art History class. I walked in, and there on the movie screen was this intense painting staring at me. It moved me incredibly…I fell in love with Courbet…I left that auditorium that day and headed straight for the library. I took out every book on him I could hold in my backpack and headed to the park across the street. I read a little…but I drew. I copied parts and pieces of his works–his compositions–all the little nuggets that pulled me into his paintings.
I think that painting changed the course of my young life.
From there, I became deeply enthralled with “Art History”–with learning how Art has shaped culture, civilization, the world, science, religion, mankind, womankind, children, history, present, and our own personal stories. As much as I wanted to paint and create Art, my new love and interest in Art History sparked a flame in me to learn as much as possible about Art–Artists–the continuum of ideas, the development of styles and trends in Art…and its rebels, like Gustave Courbet.
I found myself reading, writing, and asking questions. I started talking to paintings, a weird habit I still have. I found myself changing courses, adding double major to my list, and stacking up more school loans so I could suck up as much information on Art and Artists as possible.
I never planned this going in. I went to Art school to be a painter. I went to Art school, cause I thought I would move to LA or NYC one day, and try it–a life as “an Artist”. I snubbed the idea of teaching. I possibly tossed around the idea of working in a museum forever and writing long drafty papers on women Artists and modernism. I never planned early on I would fall in love with words just as much as pigments…that I would long to know other Artists as much as I longed for them to know me one day. That writing would simply be important to me.
Seeing this painting today, reminded me of the journey. The journey of life. How unknown, unplanned for, unprepared we are for our own lives. How ideas come out of nowhere..and you have a choice to follow and obey its call…or stay on the road you already began paving. When I was younger, I always obeyed those whispers…never thought twice. A painting could change my life. A conversation could throw my perspective into a radical shift. A poem could ignite a love affair. A long drawn out dinner could lead to minor revolutions in relationships and sinister coups of one’s heart.
We become too cautious with age. Like the things around us can break us. Like the road before us is golden and only in one direction.
What would Courbet’s painting say to me now? After Music left the room, I sat and had a conversation with it. And he didn’t appear to me by coincidence. This box of magazines was more then a gift.
I’m going back to listening to oracles.
Going to take time for conversations with paintings again.
Going to stop ignoring the whispering…and start being a rebel to the life my mind has pre-subscribed to.
Thank you Courbet.
Peace & Love.