Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Vision-Across The Desk

Across The Desk 9" x 12" watercolors
Shades of Renee Magritte!
I settled into the chair beside my sister while the lawyer sat down behind his desk. I was amazed that there was no clutter in the room, including on the desk. No papers or books which would, to me, indicate that he was doing a lot of work. "How can people be so neat and get anything done," I commented to myself. "Maybe the secretaries have all the paperwork in their offices." We exchanged plesantries and my sister and the lawyer began to talk business.
While I recognized him as someone active in the community, I am sure that he didn't remember me from the times I had encountered him, mainly in connection with community activies that involved my students and the youth of the county. And I had been in to see him with relatives who had been his clients while they were still alive or able to get around.
As they talked, I studied the room and the man sitting across the desk from me. Light seemed to come from the right although there were no windows in the room. He had distinctive thick, curly steel gray hair and heavy eyebrows. His jaw line was firm and strong. His shirt picked up blue tones that matched his eyes. A patch of light fell on his left shoulder, as he moved in his chair.
I didn't know the particulars of what they were discussing, which was alright with me. As usual, I was looking at things as if I might paint them some day.
As I looked away from the paneled wall to the man across from me, the light coming from the side seemed a little stronger and more of a yellow cast as if the morning sun were streaming in.
But, his face. His face was just....gone!
I could see his jaw, his shirt and tie, his hair, ears, and part of his eyebrow on one side of his face. Instead of a face, there was a large purple spot that looked like a big circle of transparent watercolors. Around the spot, there were spikey green petals. It looked like a big sunflower with weird colors. The center was purple and the petals were green.
"It's those cataracts again," I told myself.
I blinked and blinked, I looked away, I looked at other things. Everything else looked normal, except for the man's face. Had the lawyer been replaced by an alien, without anyone else noticing or skipping a beat in their conversation? I knew that wasn't true, but what on earth was happening to his face! I rubbed my eyes and looked at the floor for a little while. The purple spot remained.
As we left the office, I was relieved to leave the "sunflower" and the man's face behind me and see the world normally again. Still, it made me feel strange. I turned to trying to get a picture of some interesting, colorful cable spools in a fenced area across the street. Behind those, the new leaves of spring green were splashed with white blossoms, and a peaked roof pushed its way above those fresh colors of this spring day. "That would make a nice picture!" It was good to see things normally, without a "sunflower" blocking what I was trying to see.
I didn't think I was that upset or feeling extremely anxious about anything as we talked in the office, so I didn't think of it as something to do with nerves. Whatever it was, I was just glad that it was gone, and over with!
That lawyer must have thought I was really weird with all my blinking and looking everywhere, even looking at him so much as I tried to figure out what I was seeing. Or maybe he didn't even notice me.
Despite the unsettling experience, I felt that I had seen something similar in art. It finally hit me that the covered face reminded me of the work of the artist Renee Magritte. In my classes, we had read about Magritte and looked at his work in books and magazines. Instead of a sunflower, that I had seen, Magritte was famous for his painting of a man, wearing a bowler, with an apple covering the inside of his face. Later, I couldn't help but wonder if Magritte had a bit of the same problem with his eyes as I am having. But, considering his other works, I'm not sure about that.
"Across the Desk" was done on a piece of 9"x12" 140 # Arches watercolor paper with Winsor Newton watercolors.

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