The Watch

I’ve been dipping into the Wyeth books lately.
An ever present theme, on which the academics like to ponder,
is how Andrew would transform an original idea.
They like to show piles of sketches and color studies he did,
and then focus on the more formal completed tempera paintings,
and say, see, he started out to paint “her” or “him”
and ended up leaving the figure out all together
but still they refer to it as a portrait.
He did too, sometimes.

OK, I get it,
and I have been questioning whether any of my paintings
might have more to say about a figure…
or a particular person…
without the benefit of them being present.

This one does.
It began years ago,
when we stayed at the pond house,
and found this long line of deliciously thick and weathered rope,
strung and loosely tied between two trees
by the water’s edge.

Much was made of me sketching the thing at the time,
and I revisited those drawings over several years…to find a way in.

This year, I started to see it differently,
to see many things differently.

Paired down to its essence,
the rope is a lifeline,
which both connects and beckons,
as we are left to navigate these waters,
while our beloved captain has gone on ahead.
I am the painter,
he is the catbird,
and he has the first watch.