What’s that? You don’t think I can talk because I’m just a painting? Or that you can hear me. Well, now, you know that’s not true. I bet you don’t see any painting without hearing its voice. Oh, maybe you don’t recognize it or understand it. But you hear it all the same.
It calls out to you to smile. Or cry. Or ponder the world. Or remember your childhood. Or remind you of a friend. Or maybe it’s sometimes silent, and you just go on your way. Or it shouts at you when you don’t want to be shouted at. Sometimes it might even say, “Take me home with you, right now! You’ll be glad you did.”
So, yes, here I’m am, talking to you. “Volcanic Action” is my name here in my first life. Pretty fitting, don’t you think? All those great bright colors coming together. Purple and red-orange and a kind of chartreuse. That’s an igniting combo if I do say so myself, and I thought I was pretty hot stuff back then. But I’m glad for those black accents. I felt like they kinda held me together. That if they weren’t there I might just have totally erupted and flowed right off the canvas. And then where would I be? Not here talking to you, that’s for sure.
I was pretty happy in that life, but I was getting a little older, and my painter, RMQ, was moving into a different phase. Still, I was surprised when one day she just plucked me off the wall and onto her easel and started slathering white paint all over me. What the….! It’s okay for the Beatles to have a “White Album.” But I didn’t want to change from being “volcanic” to being just a white blot.
I shoulda known I wasn’t in danger of being drowned in a vat of Titanium White. I was just being prepared for a new life. And what a life that was! Whee! That was some ride! You can see just from my picture. There’s a lot of the old me in there and underneath. Same bright colors plus some yellow and darker green and a bit of purple, one of my favorites. Dioxazine Purple–don’t you just love the sound of that color? Whoop-de-doo!
Here those black accents weren’t holding me in place. They were pushing me around, up and up, till I was floating. “Scattergram” was my name then. And that’s how I felt–I was just scattering all over sending out happy messages.
I shared those good times with a batch of brothers and sisters. Once all of us hung around at a nice restaurant with some other different RMQ paintings. We were there for maybe a month before our show ended, and it was kind of sad that we all had to go back home to the studio, leaving the restaurant walls bare.
But the day after we left (so we heard later), a man rushed in, looked around, and frantically accosted the owner, “What happened to those paintings that were here a couple of days ago? My wife fell in love with one of them, and tomorrow is her birthday! I really must have that painting for her special present!
“No problem,” said the owner, who dug around under the counter and came up with one of one of RMQ’s cards with her phone number on it. Which the frantic guy immediately dialed.
In just a few minutes he was ringing our doorbell.
He practically ran inside the studio, gasping out his dilemma and relief at finding us. “That’s the one,” he said, pointing his finger. I thought he was pointing to me, but no, his finger stopped at my sister, “Freefall,” right next to me. Then he pulled out his checkbook and asked RMQ, “How much?” I confess, I was a little jealous.
While he was writing out the check, I heard him say, “When we first saw this, we were reminded of Mussorgsky’s ‘Night on Bald Mountain.’ My wife is going to be ecstatic when I give it to her!”
RMQ thought for a minute, then I heard her answer: “Well, I guess I can see that. But now that I think about it, I know these paintings all came into my head and out of my fingers after I’d seen a performance of Cirque de Soleil. All those bright colors and spirited music and people flying around on long stretchy strips of colored silk! That’s what made these paintings!”
Well, that pleased me too. So when he walked out happily with my sister under his arm, my jealousy disappeared, and I went on with my second life, which was filled with fun and frolic. It lasted a good long time, and I was content to be “Scattergram” forever.
But, wouldn’t you know. RMQ had other ideas. So there I was back on the easel. By now she’d gone through some changes and moved into yet another phase. And I got another big surprise. No white paint this time. Un-uh. That wouldn’t do. Suddenly I was turning black–not just in spots. All over! This did not look good for me!
But was I ever wrong!
I didn’t stay plain black for very long. I’ve got some Yellow Orange Azo (another of my favorite colors), Cadmium Red Light–the main color and the one that seems to be kind of red-orange. Even a touch of Hot Pink. Who woulda guessed? All rubbed over my other selves and my new black coat.
You know, the bright and dark of my new life brings out some of the special underlying parts of my previous lives. You can see the swirls and ridges made by RMQ’s paint brush in my early lives, before she started massaging her paintings into life with her hands. I like this. It’s like all the parts of myself have finally come together and made a whole.
When she was giving me this new life, RMQ spent a lot of time listening to Leonard Cohen singing “Who By Fire?” And I feel this in myself–both the light and dark, the pain and the joy. I think, finally, this is my last life. I am what I was meant to be back when I first was born.
“Slash and Burn” is my name now. Though I have shadows and dark places, I still glow. In this, my third life, my voice has become deeper and more mellow.
Can you hear it? One person who’s been to see me already has. Still…he’s not ready for me yet. Maybe won’t ever be.
But now I know my voice is ready to be heard.
Perhaps you’ll be the one.