Johannes Vermeer died in debt and quickly faded to obscurity. Luckily for human civilization, however, he was rediscovered more than a century after his death, and is now recognized as a master of the depiction of light and life. However, few of his paintings survive. The number is somewhere between 34 and 66 depending on whom you believe.
Pablo Picasso left more than 20,000 works of art in the wake of his wild, often destructive (and deconstructive) ride through life. For better or worse, his life WAS his art. The world could probably do without at least a third of his output: he repeated himself, he indulged in whim to devaluation, and people were so eager to throw money at him that they would buy his scribblings on cocktail napkins.
Vincent Van Gogh went out in a blaze, failing his way to success in everything from lay preaching to suicide: he shot himself in the midsection, walked back to town, and took a couple of days to die. We have hundreds of his artworks and volumes of his correspondence. Some would argue that he is well represented, some would say overly so, and some mourn that there is not more.
We all are works in progress, and the work is not finished until we are. Not only am I a work in progress, but my big mouth is as well. I attribute much of my dysfunction at work and at home to speaking before thinking. I don’t think it would be an unalloyed tragedy if I lost my ability to speak; I’d rather lose my voice than my eyes.
After I saw the movie GANDHI I found and read his autobiography in paperback. He says a lot about silence. Succinctly, he says this: “Speak only if it improves upon the silence.”
Once upon a time I drew someone’s portrait and asked for and received permission to publish it. Unfortunately, I not only blog-posted the portrait, but also included some words of annotation that the person found offensive. I ended up deleting the post. Moreover, I’m prescreening this post, because it includes two baby pictures of people I love, and also some words about them. They are delightful, evolving works in progress, both preserving something from their babyhood, and both leaving something behind.
Here is my daughter, wearing one of my running event shirts, in Central Phoenix, in the very early 90s:
She was amazingly articulate and iconoclastic then, and remains so to this day. She reads faster than I do (dammit) and has developed a sardonic wit at some cost to her baby-self’s innocence.
Here is my girlfriend, wearing a diaper and a smile, in Central Phoenix, in the early 50s:
She still has that dazzler of a smile and that sense of wonder. She’s gained an amazing figure, but lost a bit of the fluffiness of her hair.
Unlike two-dimensional works of art, people must carry the impress of every single moment of their lives. No amount of attempted erasure, including electroshock therapy and plastic surgery, really works on human beings; they live with their lives to the final heartbeat.
This brings us to my artwork in progress. These CAN be erased, or, better, redone. Here are a couple from the Pending file:
Lately I’ve been combining crossword puzzle grids and face/figure studies. This one could use some cleanup and some original, not newspaper-derived, crossword grids.
This one has really barely begun. Meanwhile, I and Denise have acquired a cat, so at minimum the cat will change. And some explanation will be needed for the Lya portion of the acrostic/pun. Hint: A SONG FOR LYA by George R. R. Martin.
Finally: it’s great to be alive, evolving, and a work in progress. Hope I haven’t said too much with my Big Mouth.