La Partenza

Perhaps there are sadder words in the Italian language than partenza, but not for me. Partenza means a leaving, a sailing away, a goodbye. But more deeply, it implies a breaking-apart, a separation from something, or someone.

In the image, the boat is a ferry on Lake Lugano in the southern, Italian-speaking part of Switzerland on the border with Italy. Green mountains surround the city and the lake, and the beauty of the trees and sky and the light shimmering on the water make it feel like being there is living in the set of a magical film. Travelers visit Lugano and ask “why would anyone ever want to leave a place as lovely as this?”  But the woman is going to leave. We don’t know why; we can only imagine.

When I painted her departure, I wanted the image to feel sad. Had I thought about it more closely, perhaps I would have chosen a darker mood with rain and dim light for an evening or night-time goodbye. But I was hypnotized by the sun and also by the thought that sometimes the saddest partings happen on the most ordinary days– the sun shines on the hills, waves glitter, a clock ticks on a signboard at the end of the pier and a boat about to disembark promises a journey from here to somewhere new.

She is slight, alone, young, with an unknown future ahead of her. I wish I had the skill to have painted her thoughts, but all I could suggest was her hesitation. She paused for only a moment in the shadow of the arches. Then she stepped into the sunlight and onto the boat.

La Partenza – Watercolor – 10 x 15 inches



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