Tuesday

Tulips


I have a bouquet of white tulips on the table. Not red. White.  Opening in the morning and closing up in the evening they are living things on my table, these tulips.  Red tulips, strange to say, are another matter. I do not care for them.  I think the color obscures the perfection of their form.

I adore red.  I've brushed oiled red pigment onto canvas with abandon.  I've painted a room red.  My favorite wool hoody is red. My history includes the wearing of a red dress to great effect. I still miss the ruby ring I lost years ago.  I have worn red shoes and laughingly clicked my heels together. Blue, yellow, green shoes, all very desirable but just not clickable.  I would not click a blue shoe.

My meditations on tulips lead me back to Sylvia Plath's poem Tulips.  This poem is as difficult to recommend as Goya's Disasters of War so I won't.  Not on this lovely spring day.

In reading the poem, though, I became keenly aware of the power of flowers in our lives.  Literally.  In our houses. On our tables.  How their beauty focuses the mind, the eye. As did the poem.

One of the primary functions of art:  to focus the eye, the wandering mind. Or by the same process to give the rut-bound mind a chance to wander. That's where the flower and art usually part company.

Flower imagery shows up in my work from time to time.  I cannot resist the  power of their form.  I cannot resist the metaphor:  they are both beautiful and a symbol of beauty. Looking at the tulips on the table I seriously consider taking them to the studio, if not for modeling then for inspiration.

I laugh at myself as I write this, knowing the studio itself is it's own inspiration.  One of the greatest freedoms of modernism is the release of all my many influences before I step up to the canvas.

All the same, the tulips are lovely.  And they call.  I'm free enough to laugh at my response to that insistent voice today. Sylvia was not.  She had crossed the line many artists cross.  The one where sensitivity becomes so acute choice is lost.

I know this because I've been there. And have been without doubt made by that place of loss. As wonderful and magical as it is, it is equally pleasant and rich to be able to return to a more ordinary day where white tulips on the table are simply....white tulips on a table.