Art is a fortune teller

An artist, simply by being honest to the sense of the world, can tap into future realities. – Makoto Fujimura, Art + Faith (77)

Femme promenant son chien, ses oiseaux et sa petite baleine enragée (29 Feb 2020)

Purchasing a scanner and digitizing my work has me going through all the pieces I have created since that fateful day three years ago when I noticed in a box of free stuff left on a stoop in Fort Greene a lightly used pad of watercolor paper. I’d never painted before, nor ever had a desire to try, and it had been years really since I’d done any drawing. But I took the pad. It had something to tell me, it seemed. And for whatever reason, I decided to listen.

On my walks around Brooklyn in the months leading up to that day, I’d started taking pictures of the creatures and animals and humans I was perceiving in the stains and splatters on the sidewalks and the sides of buildings. They were everywhere, just like they always had been; it’s just that the idea of paying attention to them had never occurred to me before. Like the pad of watercolor paper, these things had something to tell me. Again, for whatever reason, I decided to start listening.

The first watercolor I ever created from a stain is titled Femme promenant son chien, ses oiseaux et sa petite baleine enragée. Looking at it now all these months later, what intrigues me most about this painting is the little dog attached to the woman’s outstretched arm. That dog looks very much like a little beagle; that dog looks very much like my little Sophie.

Waterstain for Femme promenant son chien, ses oiseaux et sa petite baleine enragée (Fort Greene).

Sophie was born on 27 February 2020, which is to say two days before I painted this piece. She would spend the next 13 months of her life in a medical lab before being brought to live with me in my apartment on Adelphi Street only a short week after I’d signed up to foster a dog in early April 2021. It was a spectacular fail; I knew I would adopt her as soon as I saw her little face through the window of the rescue worker’s truck.

In the months between Sophie’s appearance on that first painting and her arrival in my life, she showed up again and again in the stains I was seeing on my walks. This one, which inspired Bain, for example.

Water stain for Bain
Bain (25 May 2020)

The woman who created Femme promenant son chien, ses oiseaux et sa petite baleine enragée was in dire need of healing. Art had looked into its magic ball and seen what she needed to imagine a future in which she would not feel so broken and lost and sad and angry, a future in which she would understand that she was indeed worthy of love. Sophie was waiting for her at the threshold to that future, to teach her patience and kindness, to encourage her to live more fully in the moment, and to help her face and eventually rid herself of the little angry whale attached to her back. She would also become the artist’s muse. But that, dear reader, is a topic for another day.

Sophie at home in Providence (2022)

3 thoughts on “Art is a fortune teller”

  1. I knew that Sophie was a muse for your fanzine on the near universal feeling of meetings (the power of that side-eye!) but I hadn’t known the full history. Art and expression seem to find us when we most need it, just as our little furballs do.
    Thanks for posting! Looking forward to more.

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  2. Isn’t it curious how all of the pieces of the puzzle always connect in retrospect? How human of us that in the moments we are accumulating these pieces, we don’t even see them in our hands! Then again, how lucky are we that we continue to receive new opportunities to listen, no matter how many times we’ve closed our ears before. I’ll keep listening (and keep reading)! Thank you for sharing!

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