“I always think that the best way to know God is to love many things.” ~ Vincent van Gogh

Monday, January 12, 2015

Still Life

(Not such a small stone this time — but we were asked to do a written 'still life' and this seems to be where it belongs.)  

What you can’t see is the scent. Exquisite scent! We all know what roses smell like; we can recall in memory the fragrance of the darkest red rose or the sweetest pink. This is different. It’s that smell with something else blended in, almost like a manufactured perfume — a touch of the exotic, a heady scent that, if it went a fraction further, would be too sweet. But it doesn’t and it isn’t; it’s perfect.

What you can see is the shapely purple vase, mulberry purple, transparent but dimly so. What you can see is the single rose it holds — the cluster of bright green leaves spreading over the brim; the slender inch of stem; and then the bloom: white, edged with red. It’s a tiny rose, open but not voluptuous, not profuse. You can still see the etched edge of every petal, and the dark spaces nestling between. The red — more plum than mulberry in this case — is only at the back of the flower, edging the outer petals. A jam stain ... some freshly shed blood already getting old, its red deepening. Darkening.

The white is more like cream.

What you can’t see is that the glass vase is slippery, cool. The round bulge below the rim is symmetrical, hard. Just below it is the place to grasp, and when I do it feels satisfying to my hand: just the right circumference, just the right texture.

What you can see is that the inverted cone of the glass then flares out to a wider base. You can see that the rose is already slightly old, and that it will probably be one of those which shrinks gradually in, going back to a bud shape again, only wrinkled — rather than one of those blowsy ones from which the petals drop.

What you can’t see is that this was a gift from a friend, who shared with me her birthday roses (and also her birthday cake, but there is nothing left of that). Her name is Angela, and she is a good angel.

I also made a picture, though not in paint — and gained a new respect for the careful way in which still life paintings, which look so spontaneous, must be posed. Even the wonderful ones by Margaret Olley, whose studio — lovingly recreated in the Tweed River Art Gallery — appears to be in such random chaos.

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