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between the whites

the alchymista

my husband, ian, is an artist.  his current work is a series of charcoal self portraits – intense and magnificent - that are 7 feet high and 5 feet wide.  he starts with a big white paper and spends 3 focused months creating each piece. using his hands or sponges or self-made tools, he rubs and grinds charcoal into the paper’s surface.  I am continually astonished by what he can create out of burnt wood and white paper.

what mystifies me is that he’ll sometimes take a black lump of eraser in his hand and remove days of hard work in order to start over.  but he says that the paper has a memory.  though he can take it back to white, the grit of the paper has changed, inevitable altering the piece.  and what was in fact important was what was learned between white and white.

I’ve been thinking of my new year, my fresh start.  I can wipe my slate clean every year so that the surface is pure as the driven snow, but underneath I am still marked by my past.  the old me informs the new me.

it seems that life - the love, the pain, the growth - lies between the whites.