Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Art Of Living: Christmas Onions

This is a way to live
an idea of crimson and gold
forsaking all else for simplicity

you walk into a bustling market
and see them right away
onions to paint
a certain shape and color
beckons you
they are plump and pointed
pink and coppery
(you want gold and crimson; nature can be changed in art)
with curling long tendrils
white as an old woman's hair

you carry these home to the studio
a corner of the white bedroom
to arrange their round edges
upon a wooden cutting board, much aged,
darkened with use and the juices of vegetables
onions stink
with the sharp hiss of life
you must take pictures or the moment will not last
crisp skin falls away in your palm
turn off the flash
onions glow with their own light

make a ground of sunny yellow
yellow sun through all
from edge to edge
the line drawing of onions in between

dry for some days

draw now with paint
thin layers of gold upon gold
brilliant yellow shining through
transparent glow
parallel veins drawn precisely as nature with a fine brush
and a hole in the golden skin
through which moist white flesh peeks
blackened edges gold
laced with pale old shoots nesting round

resting on a crimson board
drawn easily with generous sienna turned in alizarin
the background clear and blue
green and slightly white yellow
like the sun

you must create two paintings
of two onions each
for Christmas
multiplying onions, boards, backgrounds

dry for some days

you hang one over the stove
next to the portrait of A Capriote
done in Italy by Sargent when he was free

the other you wrap in gold paper
and tie with a crimson ribbon
for your best friend

they glow
gold on crimson board

when the time comes
to eat the onions,
you cut the largest, roundest, pointiest one
into long half moons
slice the garlic thinly
fry in olive oil with long tapers of green peppers
till they are caramelized
almost golden
dripping with love

the smaller onion gets chopped into cubes
joining lentils, bay leaf and kombu in soup

onions change once again
into skin and blood
hair and eyes
mind and body

this is a way to live

©Patricia Goodwin, 2012