Eva’s Gift

Portrait of JMK by Eva Dejesus

When we talk about the art of photography, we normally use the word “take,” as in: I’m going to “take” a photograph of . . . . However, is it possible to “give” a photograph rather than to “take“ one?

For example, this photograph doesn’t tell us that the photographer and her subject are meeting in an empty loft that for more than three decades had been his painting studio. There had been drawing tables here, and easels, music, students, food, wine, filing cabinets, incense, fluorescent lights, models, shelves of books, watercolors of flowers and portraits of vintners from the Napa Valley. All these are now only ghosts in what had been the life of this place.

Nor does the photograph reveal that when he began all those years ago to construct this space, she had just been born. a baby less than a year old. The photograph also can’t reveal cobwebs and sawdust and give us the faint smell of turpentine, all that remains of what had been his creative and spiritual home for as long as she has been alive.

But here in the photograph, she is the artist, not he.  It is she, not he, who notices that the colors of the building next door mirror the colors of his clothing. It is she, adept at probing below surfaces, who sees the shadows around him, and in him. She reveals what he would prefer to conceal: his own sadness and exhaustion in having so carefully destroyed what he had so carefully created.

He expects to get an image of him as he sees himself. She gives him an image of him as she sees him. He remembers hearing long ago that some so-called “primitive” people would not allow themselves to be photographed because they were afraid that the camera would take away a part of their souls. Her photograph does not take away a part of his soul. Instead, she gives it to him, her gift.

You can visit Eva’s website at evadejesus.com. Follow her at @neva.dacity and @grassv.alley on Instagram.

My own site for more images and musings is johnmichaelkeating.com.

Snow Light: A Vision

Snowlight  Oil on Canvas  24 x 36 inches

On the day after the storm the air is cold and bright. A man enters a forest and wades through drifts along a stream. He stays alert to the murmur of the wind and the sound of clumps of snow falling from branches. He smells the fragrance of the cedars and listens to the cries of a hawk, but he is thinking of William Blake, trudging over sooty cobblestones under the sulfurous skies of London, imagining a vision of the “World in a Grain of Sand.”
The dogs, two dark silhouettes against the snow, frolic in the drifts. They pause to look back at him. He pauses too, leans against a pine and takes a mechanical pencil and a small book out of his parka. He draws quickly: shapes of snow, the curves of the far bank, ripples of light, like coins floating on the current, the large stone in the stream, like an altar under its white mantle,. His fingers grow stiff and the lead keeps breaking. He scribbles, “cerulean and pink shadows” and ”ochre water” and draws arrows to show the direction of light.
Suddenly the light fades and it’s too dark to see the book or the trees or the river. Where are the dogs? The wind burns his face. Then the trees and snow come back into focus. He hears a sound he can’t define, a choir? Wind, shadows, stone, water, snow, trees all fuse together — a chorus of light. Here is here! Here is there? Is everywhere? Is now?
The dogs nudge his legs, pulling him back into himself. He fumbles in the snow for the pencil he has dropped. His legs tremble.  He feels scared and indescribably happy. He follows the dogs on their way to nowhere in particular, shivered by the cold and by his glimpse of a Grain.

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More images on my website: johnmichaelkeating.com


Escombros – Pencil and watercolor/paper – 7 x 11 inches.

“We love it when artists come to live here in Spain, especially in Valencia, because our city is so beautiful. But most artists paint beautiful things. Why do you paint ugly things, like piles of escombros?” The word means wreckage, debris, and I had heard the question several times. For most Spaniards, escombros are an eyesore they would rather ignore. So why would anyone bother to draw them?

I like escombros because of the challenge: the shapes are complex and difficult to draw. You have to slow down and pay close attention, so drawing becomes a form of meditation. What struck me about this particular scene was not only the sad wreckage of a place where people used to live, but also its contrast with the church across the street. During the hours it took me to complete this little sketch, I found it impossible not to consider that the present will soon enough become the past and that one day the church itself would finally become its own pile of escombros.

#saatchiart #saatchiartist #art #artistsoninstagram #artist #contemporaryart #artlovers #contemporarypainting #realisticart #fineart #pintura #painting #artzone #modernart #arte #kunst #visualpoetry #artdaily #artlovers #artislove #artislife #artstagram

More images on my website: johnmichaelkeating.com