Monday, October 29, 2012

The Onion

The assignment was simple
paint vegetables or fruit
arranged in a still life.
I selected red and yellow bell peppers,
a large beefsteak tomato,
cucumbers and broccoli
presented in a wooden bowl.

A cliché but rich in color and design
suitable for a novice and my first attempt -
most students followed suit
creating something seen before
except for one young woman, 
a real artist, frail and delicate
seeking a quiet place to paint
while taking a break 

from single motherhood.

She selected one large red onion,
purple by my account,
used a limited palette; ultramarine
alizarin and ochre, leaving white
paper to maintain negative space
and with a few brush strokes

revealed the shape of the onion
in multiple layers
creating the depth and form
with contrast and shadow
then dipped her brush in clear water
letting it drip across the table
like tear drops-

moments of sadness and loss
recorded in what appeared to be
an accident on a still life.

I look back at my own work
like a cartoon or artificial facade,
empty of emotion, envious 

of her painting and her ability
to reveal so much with so little
with colors of purple and ochre.

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