I remember feeling happy when I finished the first "Reading the River." Feeling that the portrait had caught Jon, I took it in to him, planning on reaping some well-earned praise. My beloved's first comment put paid to that: "Why can't you see more of the split-bamboo fishing rod??" "And where is the reel? -- it seems to be entirely missing!" Yes, he did go on to admire the portrait and he did confer on it his highest praise in the form of declaring it his and not to be sold. But the experience gave me something to think about. Not just murder, either.
Men are all about the gear. While I view it as an aesthetic embellishment, Jon sees fine gear as an expression of reverence towards tradition and fine workmanship as well as the key which unlocks fishy secrets. I do admit that he makes a handsome, if expensive, sight on the water. But a portrait doesn't normally choose its focal point below the waist. I painted that photo because of the light differential between the right side and the deep shadowed skin tones. He just happened to be holding a rod. The only reason it was at all visible was to make sense of the waders.
My marital experience does highlight the painterly gender gap. No wonder there are damned few married women represented in the National Gallery. Any national gallery. Instead there are thousands of uncelebrated married female painters (Jon calls me his "paintress" when he's feeling reckless) who perished unknown because they couldn't figure out how to add cars, whiskey decanters or fishing gear to their florals.
Which one should I use for the background to the new painting of Baby Rose in her bunny hat?
*I echoed the rhythm of this title from one of my favourite books of humour - Golfing for Cats by Alan Coren. In addition to his irrelevant title choice, Coren put a large swastika on cover, counting on the bookstore's having to stock it in four departments - humour, sports, pets and history. Inspired.