The Would-Be Painter - Poem by Al Zolynas
On days like this, when I've risen early and invited
the Muse and she, despite my pleadings, continues
to sleep and won't be roused, and I've stared
into the blank page
and heard my life ticking away,
I think about switching genres, nay, media...nay,
art forms. I'll just give up words,
I say to myself; I'll show 'em, I'll take up...
painting. Yes, I'll become a painter!
I can see me now in my studio,
a wide open capacious space
above the waves,
the whole place bathed in Northern Light
(it must be Northern Light, mustn’t it?) , me standing
in front of a canvas the size of a movie screen
with step-ladders and scaffolding when I need them.
I'm surrounded by scores of canvases
in various stages of completion—
landscapes, still-lifes, nudes, abstracts in all the styles:
impressionistic, expressionistic, realistic, etc.
(You know the list) .... Why, there's that super-
realistic still-life I did
of a human pelvic bone encircling a ripe anjou pear,
and those cubist and pointillist pieces from my early period
(alas, they never sold years ago, and now I won't part
with them out of sheer curmudgeonliness) .
I think I see an assistant in the corner...yes, I do.
I must confess she's a young, nubile beauty in a short robe
who doubles as my model. She's stirring
a can of acrylic paint or making us cappuccinos.
Her name is...Helène and she's from...
Arles, yes, Arles, France...and she's on special scholarship
paid for by the École des Beaux Arts,
come all this way to apprentice
with the world master. Yes, it's true,
I'm a famous painter, but fame has not ruined me;
I continue to dedicate my entire life
to the furthering of my Art, everyone's Art, pushing
out the boundaries with fierce commitment but with grace
and humor as well. I'm respected, revered and, yes,
I must say it, loved. The Art World is abuzz
before each of my new shows:
What will X boggle us with next?
What gauntlet will X throw down this time?
How many lesser painters will finally
throw in their brushes and air guns in despair?
I'm constantly expanding the boundaries.
My current project focuses on merging media:
the canvas I'm in front of, the one
I told you was as large as a movie screen?
Well, it is a movie screen and even now a movie
is playing on it, projected from behind.
My technique has progressed to such a degree
I can paint the movie as it is being shown!
This requires my focused concentration,
the full engagement of my body and soul.
I must at the same time be a dancer and a shaman.
At the end of your typical ninety-minute movie
I'm sweating like a prize-fighter; I'm tired,
but fulfilled, at least momentarily, for I have rendered
a movie on canvas (not captured, no, not that!) .
Anyone looking at my moviepainting
will no longer be the same person.
Such is the technique, the power, the sheer
transformative miracle of my Art. My next project
will be to shoot a movie, paint the movie
while filming myself painting, this on commission
from the Bravo channel. After that, I'll be ready
for my ultimate project. Already, I'm deeply involved
in preparations, working out every day,
drinking many cups of cappuccino and researching
quantum physics and the latest Theory of Everything:
I will engage in nothing less than painting,
as it occurs, the moving world, yes, even as it arises
timelessly from that empty granite block of stillness and silence!
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