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Knowing Concrete


I started the "painting" of the Trafalgar Pigeons today on my lunch break at work. I love the process of painting - it's very scary, but so very educational.

Today, I learned this: the only way to really get to know something is to not know it.

For example... what color is concrete? Gray, right?

I'm certain that the concrete stub at the right of the picture is the same substance as the pillar on the left. But notice the browns in the pillar and the blue and green in the stub.

Or look at the girl's clothes. Do you see the blue in her pink outfit?

Or that the pigeon on the box almost merges with the gray wash of the concrete wall?

In painting, these are not objects, but splashes of color. I can't paint it if I "know" that concrete is gray. The picture will tell me the truth. My job is to listen and make no assumptions.

It's exactly that way in relationships. A husband is smears of hue. A wife is subtle shades of coral and teal. A rainbow, really. We can't know them. If we do, we lose them - because we make assumptions and our innate laziness will forget to probe and explore. And then we don't know them any more.

I think it's a tragedy when a couple believes that they can finish one another's sentences. Good, if they're accurate. Nice to be known that way. But horrible if they're wrong. And I think in a lifetime of trying to finish another person's sentence, you lose them because they're no longer defining themselves. Someone else is.

Better if we just listen. New colors might pop up.

To paraphrase Joanie Mitchell, I guess I really don't know concrete at all. So instead I get to look at it in kid-like wonder. I'll post my progress on this as I go... here's stage 1 - laying down some basic washes and getting oriented.


Read the whole story of "Trafalgar Pigeons"
Tags: watercolor | painting | relationships
by Brett Rogers, 1/14/2005 12:00:00 AM


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