Showing posts tagged beauty

Patricia Qualls, Mystery of the Margins, 2011

I’ve collected Patricia Qualls art for several years now, and I am in good company. Beyond being an artist whose energy, empathy and clear vision speaks through her canvases, she’s a smart-as-tacks person and arms-wide-open kind of friend. Patricia is hidden gold in Carmel Valley.

California recently tried to outlaw gold mining in these mountains, but you can follow a lovely winding road down to her gallery/studio and uncover it still.

Her favorite phrase is “run the experiment.” She told me this as I held a hair pick slathered with color over a blank piece of canvas (too chicken to pick up a brush). Her twinkle eyes convinced me to paint one day while on a studio visit. We were at the point in the process when the white paper yawned wide and my hand hovered in midair, paint dripping, stuck in a fear struggle between desire to create and ominous-cloud certainty that the outcome would be total crap. I listened to a silent thought croaking, I have the talent of a toad. A warty toad. A talentless warty toad.

She said, “run the experiment.” And the pick finally careened toward the canvas. See, I am the sort of person that demands a beautiful result every time. Like Venus rising from the waves. In my imaginary Pintrest life.  Forget the wild impossibility of this thinking -of catastrophe courting  this high-stakes perfectionism. Venus rising is a myth, an ancient lie.

Forget beauty. Damn expectations.

Run the experiment. Try things out. See what you like. What pulls you forward? Swirl it all around and do it again, and again.

Do thousands of them –  Patrica did.  Play outside the margins of myopic judgement. Run the experiment. Let’s just see what happens…

Monet, (Who else?) Geese in the Brook, 1874

Oh Claude, you old wizard!

With deft alchemy you have melted the trodden path into water.

And made the pool sprout golden leaves.

Brushed into silence, my paddling tongue.

Renoir, Onions, 1881

Legend tells that when I was a tot, my mother placed a slice of onion and a piece of candy side by side on my highchair.  I reached for the onion and ate it every time, candy be damned.  (The bright beginnings of masochism.) But today I don’t have to choose. Renoir paints these tear prone alliums like luminous cotton-candy meringues. Onion candy.

This man could make anything breathtaking. Though he usually picked lovely subjects, innocents. Smooth-skinned children and freckle-free women washed in pink serenity. The layering of beautiful style on beautiful subjects curiously turns me away. Sweetness too saturated.  The too painful re-telling of the monumental beauty myth.

For being yellow onions, there is a paucity of that color. Instead, pink, cerise, and salmon rule highlights of green and yellow.  The background, in strong diagonal strokes, rains down patches of green and blue. A storm, tossing bulbs about. The onion tops wave like flags in a gale. The curve of the table  forcefully pushes out the perimeter of the painting  and the whitecap napkin catches onions and garlic in a blue ribbon net.

Renoir plays cruelly with us here. Making us desire these blushing onions, this Venus candy. Knowing full well the bitter wince if we bite. Tears will flow. Some will burn. Finally he tells us the truth about beauty. So fearsome, so lovely and so deeply desired.  It will bring us to tears.

And you can buy it in the Kimbell gift shop to hang in your kitchen.