Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Knitting Girl

Do you pine? I do and it has become something that consumes my mind on a daily basis. Imagining the things I want to achieve, the things I wished I would have achieved, places I'd like to go, people I'd like to see; on and on my synapses fire off signals. The interesting part is how the environment around me can shape my pining. Little things that catch my eye send my mind into a flurry of the "what could be" category of imagination and off I go. Earn this, find that, discover something, reaching it; forever the twisting of my deepest desires flutter about in my head.

I suppose it's human nature to conjure up what ifs and I'll be bold enough to suggest that denying them would be an atrocity to living. Where would we get inspiration? How would be find motivation? Wouldn't we just be insulting on inherent freedoms of existence?

There really isn't one thing that garners the majority of my pining. In fact, on some levels, all of the things I hope to achieve or wish to earn are tied together. For I've discovered I cannot have one thing without adjusting the other things I also want to have. To be rather superficial, let's take the Audi S5 as an example. By and large, this particular vehicle is one of my favorites. It's not too unpractical, it's not super expensive, and the idea that I could someday own one is within reasonable grasp. However, to be able to purchase one, I need to adjust other aspects of my life. Personally and professionally, there needs to be advancement and thus, determination. And there you have it! Pining for the Audi S5 has come full circle and I am now imaging where improvement is needed so I can achieve greater success and therefore buy the car of my dreams.

Silly as this may sound, I still hope it makes sense. Take away the materialistic qualities of the example and you have revealed the emotional connections. Marriage? A family? The ability to experience the world and other cultures? Discovering your genealogical roots? Each one of these desires is tied to an emotional cue which would then require your life to shift on at least two levels. The only responsibility you have left to your heart and mind is to achieve.

The Knitting Girl, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905), is a simple painting of a young female seated next to a tree, knitting and gazing off towards the horizon. At first glance, the piece is extremely realistic and delicately created. The subject's skin is supple and free of blemishes suggesting she comes from at least a modest, middle-class family. Her clothing, however, is rather common and for me, this suggests she may be in the employment of a local seamstress or family friend. Yet the detail and enchanting light pull the viewer to the more important theme of Bouguereau's work: What is she thinking?

I notice her eyes almost immediately. They are sad yet seemingly hopeful. Her hands appear to be busy with her knitting but her face says she's imaging something else. Therefore, this piece is intriguing to me. You have an excellent example of why art is fascinating. Some may wish to indulge the color and precision while others seek to find answers to the suggested evocations. For me, it's the latter and her tender expression makes me wonder, does she want something else? Is she hoping to find more out of life? Where could she be in the recesses of her mind?

Honestly, who doesn't pine? We all have things we do each day that are routine or necessary, and I truly feel it's impossible not to imagine better. It doesn't have to be about what you're doing in the here and now, it could be about things that warm your heart or tickle your fancy. And in each instance, we're able to find reason and hope; to find the vitality we need to push forward and reach new heights. It's not about envy or coveting what others have that you may not. It's about advancing who you are as a person, as a sibling, as a spouse, as a member of society. Pining for what could be is much different than pining for what should be. Making that distinction is important and once averted, then the only challenge left is to reach. How does this painting tie it all together? By implying that to accomplish one's dreams and goals will require meticulous knitting of one's life and emotions. Otherwise, everything will just fall apart.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Woman III

"To me, fair friend, you never can be old.
For as you were when first your eye I eyed.
Such seems your beauty still."
--William Shakespeare

My soul aches. I admit it. At the risk of exposing more about myself than I probably should, to whom shall I turn to admonish such strife? For in my proclamation there can be redemption, or at the very least, some relief. To bottle up truths about myself can only perpetuate circumstance as I am a firm believer in learning from my past.

For a few, the notion of my heartfelt desires are no mystery. I live a life that is filled with expression and the inability--at times--to restrain my proclamations. That's just who I am and I make no apologies for wearing my heart on my sleeve. I've always been a passionate man, it was something I gleaned from my mother. Over the years, through maturity, and thanks to hundreds of mistakes, I've learned to be much more tactful. Yet the aching in my soul is two fold.

One side is riddled with regret for the times I've hurt others. Mind you, this hasn't been a frequent occurrence but each one has been significant enough to create a scar that I fondly recognize as catalysts to improve. Amongst these scars are a few that stand out and it is to these individuals that my begging for forgiveness may never be appeased. For I cannot rid myself of scars, can I? They are reminders of what was done or said, and while someone I've hurt may cover my scar and tell me it's okay, it remains. To you, you, and you--you know who you are, please know this.

The other side of my soul is plagued with desire. Directly connected and in relation to the adjacent, my pension for fantasizing about the "could be" has built a house of cards. Each jostle in life causes a collapse for which my fantastical imagination shields me from reluctance in rebuilding. After I emerge from my idealistic haze, I see that same house of cards as it was and push forward in hopes of realizing my dreams. Somewhere out there are answers and resolutions, are finalities and dead ends. They can be great, they can be sad, they can be apathetic but there they be.

Woman III, by Willem de Kooning (1904-1997), is an oil on canvas, abstract expressionism painting and one of a series of six paintings of women as the central theme. Using bold, uncouth lines and sweeps, de Kooning exhibits Picasso-like interpretation with his "action painting" style. Of particular note are the female's engaging eyes and large breasts which seem to imply a superficial attempt to appear beautiful. Of subtle note are the female's hands and blur of movement from her waist down which seem to imply a sense of hurry underneath a superficial gaze.

Not much is known about the intent of what de Kooning was attempting to express. But that's why art is so fascinating and it lends to our imaginations as we feel through our own impressions. This particular piece stood out for me because it portrays the same emotional implications that are currently aching my soul. For I see a woman trying in earnest to be someone she isn't in an effort to hide her real pains and insecurities. The work displays what appears to be relative calm albeit feigned but the motion in the background and just below her breasts seem to indicate deeper seeded troubles. It's as if she's pretending to be polite or charming but it's all a mask for emotional issues she avoids or ignores.

She stands, staring at me with her crooked nose and flowing hair, and I can't help but feel sorry for her. She seems to be hurting herself and I sense similar strife in her that I struggle with thus making this a piece that I instantly identify with. Each day my heart wants to put aside what I truly feel so that I can concentrate on what's important for the day. But my soul won't let me and thus I have to carefully navigate through each obstacle ensuring both aspects of myself are relatively satisfied. For me, I refuse to ignore either of them and when I see this woman, I'm reminded of all those times when I had.

It all boils down to understanding the roots of our desires. Why do we want what we want? And once you've figured that out, you ask why of the whys. You reach down and find the very purpose for your will to live, to succeed, to push forward and pursue your dreams. Love. Beauty. Forgiveness. Peace.

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever; its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness."
--John Keats