Shuttered Spaces

Painting by Philip Froman

The painting above has no title. My father completed this when he was in his eighties, after taking up a brush for the first time in his seventies. He was a genial man, my father, with torrents of unrealized dreams dammed up inside him. If you look closely, and listen, you can almost hear those dreams crash against the cliffs. Although I should have, I never thought to catalog his work. What I do know is that two of his paintings stood out among the dozens he produced: the one above, and an idyllic lake scene, a complete antithesis to it. Both represent the man he was.

***

For months I’ve found myself in an odd place—trying to sustain the appearance of writing, while not having any interest in writing. Other than the words on this blog, and the occasional letters to family and friends, I’ve produced nothing.

I can’t blame the virus, as tempting as it is. The ideas, and desire to shape them, started drying up long before COVID-19. It just took months of solitude to accept, and make peace with it.

***

Recently, a composer friend, who never heard any of my music, suggested I should start composing again—tentatively, gently, as though he understood he was directing me to a room I’d shuttered and forgotten. I stopped composing after graduate school, for many of the same reasons I don’t write now.

It was an unlikely suggestion, from an unlikely source.

But sometimes, the unlikeliest suggestions, from the unlikeliest sources, resonate in the deepest recesses, in the most organic ways.

Once, I followed a similar unlikely suggestion, from an unlikely source, because it felt right, and it led to love.

This feels the same.

***

I have no idea what will spring from my shuttered space. But, if the only music that comes from it is as indicative of who I am, as my father’s paintings were of who he was, then I’ll be happy.

***

I imagine this blog will undergo some changes before 2021. Information about books will remain, as will all the old posts. But, the focus will shift, as I reintroduce myself to my roots, and, to you.

***

In the meanwhile, I wish you safety, good health, abundant strength, joy, and love in the coming holiday season…

…and, of course, the New Year. I’ll see you then.

©2020 All Rights Reserved

Hodgepodge

Gallery of the Louvre — Samuel Morse

I was looking for a painting, an abstract really, to explain my weeks of absence. None of them were messy enough. Not even Pollock’s. So I started paging through pointillists, and surrealists, and vast scenes of hunts and portraits of serious men at serious undertakings and found my attention straying to the barking dog next door.

Dogs bark for any number of reasons—a pedestrian walks by, a squirrel leaps into a tree, a neighbor’s cat tries to trespass on their turf, or they just want inside. Then they stop barking when the pedestrian is gone, the squirrel bounds out of sight, the cat slinks away, or the door opens for them.

Fortunately, there’s rarely more than one dog barking at a time around here.

For years, I was fascinated by Morse’s Louvre masterpiece, but now it just seems messy, a fascinating irony from someone who devised a method of communicating with dots and dashes, dits and dahs. I think when there’s that much going on it’s hard to focus, know what is most deserving of attention.

So, it’s not that I haven’t had the urge to bark; I just haven’t known what to bark at first. There are simply too many pedestrians, squirrels, cats, and doors.

Woof.

©2019 All Rights Reserved

Screensaver

Albert_Edelfelt_-_Playing_the_Piano

“Playing the Piano” — Albert Edelfelt (1854-1905)

I’m taking a sanity break. Or maybe not.

Someone posted the painting above on Twitter and it’s been haunting me…which is perfect, I guess, for my new—truthfully, not-so-new—novel about a woman, a house, two pianos, and a man.

Over the past ten years, the novel has gone through so many incarnations I’ve lost count. But three elements have remained constant: the house, the pianos, and the man. The woman has now become women—two.

When I saw Edelfelt’s painting, it was as though someone had read my mind.

The scene disturbs me in the worst and best ways—his face, closeness to her, intense expression, the way one hand rests on her shoulder, the other on the music rack, and her rigid back, hands frozen in motion. What is she feeling? Her face seems to shift so subtly, I can’t tell.

Yet I know I feel like a voyeur.

And I can’t look away. The painting has triggered all kinds of sensations, bringing me closer to the heart of a setting and what lies within.

I think.

So it’s spread across my computer screen.

Where I can’t escape it.

Happily.

©2018 All Rights Reserved