12 June 2008

on blank pages

Random thoughts...

In New Zealand, after my favourite French paper maker had been bought out by an American company and the paper dropped in quality, I switched to Fabriano paper... yes, Italian. I have a collection of samples of every different texture, quality, weight. My favourite is always 300gsm hot press (smooth, beautiful, needs stretching only because I use so much water to play in but doesn't greedily grab the paint the way the 640gsm does). 640gsm is like painting on blotting paper. It has its place, but not for me too often. 150 gsm should never be given shelf space. Students, don't use it just because it is cheaper. You get better results when you use the best!

Fabriano is well north of here, and towards the Adriatic coast. I know that because I looked it up, many years ago. When my Dad discovered that I was using Fabriano paper he told me about the time he was billetted in Fabriano with a family. The incredibly thin woman had showed him her ample dress from prior to hiding in the caves in the mountains. He said it was at least four times her size. It created an image for me I have never forgotten.

Last year Dad and I went through Fabriano by train, and looked out at the paper factory. I know the logo so well.

This morning, I opened my bundle of Fabriano paper, purchased in Riccione last year and left waiting, waiting, waiting for this moment today.

I love the blank page. I would collect beautiful blank notebooks, just to admire them, except that I am trying not to collect. Anything. I love the used page. I love old old paper, all kinds of paper.

As I opened the bundle - which had been carefully padded by the incredulous shop owner who was not used to tourists spending so much or being so excited by blank paper, and tied so I could carry it like a suitcase on the train before being delivered free of charge to our hotel that afternoon - I thought of a recent conversation. (Oh what a long sentence! Sorry!)

My dear young friend who is wrinkle-free and coming up 40 keeps insisting I should have "lifting". I told her how boring a blank page is, how much more interesting I am with my laughter lines (yes Jan, they are still there). I told her that if my face was more important to her than my thoughts or my heart then I was saddened by that. I told her I don't want to be a blank page.

I caressed the blank paper, and pictured faces on it. Old faces. Wrinkled faces. Beautiful, character-filled faces. The only thing that should be blank is paper. I watch the Italian people, and am drawn to the faces that are "ugly". I wonder about the lives that have left those scars. I see that there are so many stories that will never be told.

I think of a song I sang so hopefully when I was young. From The Sound of Music, "Sixteen, Going on Seventeen"
You wait, little girl, on an empty stage
For fate to turn the light on
Your life, little girl, is an empty page
That men will want to write on

I remember that Liesl trusted her Rolf, the soldier who ultimately betrayed her family.

I have been sitting here without writing for a bit. Even when I write a blog post about paper, somehow WWII sneaks in.

I need to change my mood. I have paintings waiting to emerge from that paper. Or were they meant to be thoughtful paintings today?



Sarah said...

I have a block of Fabriano!
*looks around her messy room*

tania said...

Any updates on how your painting went today?

Kay said...

Painting is a bit up and down at the moment. I want to paint for ME.......... too long painting for other people, and I am needing a shot of energy and passion in my work.

I look at Sarah's work and realise how my own work is suffering from doing commissions and trying to please other people.

I have series in my head that might never be painted, and unfinished work that doesn't satisfy me. I guess it is just part of the job!

I am thinking of going away for a few days to be able to "come back" again.