We could read everything literally: a quiet room, leaves and tangled branches in a garden outside, a sculpture of a woman on a mantlepiece, a table with a plate and a glass of wine, a hanging lamp, two empty chairs, a landscape painting, an armoire with mirrors, a woman on a bench, sunlight pouring through stained-glass windows over floor tiles and walls, saturating the room, like colored air.
When I painted this scene as realistically as I was able to, I hoped that the literal might open a bridge into the imaginal: Are birds singing in the garden? Why are there chairs for two people when the table is set for only one? Is the plate as empty as it seems? Is the hidden woman a young girl? Perhaps she’s old and her hair is white. Is the wine poured for her, or for someone else? Does the sculpture of the woman on the mantlepiece see anything we cannot? If she could speak, what would she tell us?