Recently, Alex and I caught a bit of a program featuring the artist, Stephen Pace, who for many years, resided in Stonington, Maine. (He died in Indiana at the age of 91, while painting a portrait of his beloved wife, the artist Pam Pace.) In the piece, he said something that resonated with both of us and it's something that I have often thought. To paraphrase, he said he often paints not what he's looking at, but what he remembers.
His words resonated because so often, when my hands get that itch to create, specifically to paint, and I just can't or won't make time to drag the easel and paints out to the subject, I snap a photo instead. I take a huge amount of photographs. Of everything. With my synesthesia and unique, fairly photographic memory, this might seem redundant, but with the view that if it's not recorded, it didn't happen, I want to be able to refer to that blue quality of light, that tip of a leaf, the freckles on my daughter's face, the brown egg hue of my son's summer skin, the strength and tenderness in my husband's hands.
Sometimes photo-heavy blogs (like this one) are viewed as throw-away or as having little value. I've never understood this. Again, perhaps it is because my brain is making different connections, literally seeing and sensing things differently, that I think this. To me, first sensing, stopping and looking, then recording an observation with a photo is not any less than recording one in words. Both, writing and photography (or other media) require participation, then processing on the audience's part. I adore words, language. Words have color, texture, flavor. But for me, a photograph or painting or other similar piece of art, says more to me than any string of sentences could ever say. Words are the looking at. Words, to my mind, don't as easily convey the feelings, the welling-up, the fullness, the richness of a moment.
So I stop. I wait for a breeze to pass. I have to be patient. I have to be quick. Moments are fleeting. I might not have words for that one blip in time, that one passing look, that hair that fell across her forehead, that particular gray-green of the coming storm. Words fail me too often in my memories. That is why, having that photo helps me etch those precious, sense memories so that one day, when I do turn to canvas and easel, I will paint what I remember.