Sunday, 23 April 2017: Expecting the Unexpected

(Two Girls Fishing, by John Singer Sargent, 1912.)


“If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.” —Heraclitus

This Sargent painting lives at the Cincinnati Art Museum. It’s a stunning painting–despite its obvious artifice, the two girls are so of a piece with their surroundings that they look as though Sargent might have discovered them growing there. But it’s not a natural scene. Only an artist looking for the perfect balance of color and composition would perch a girl in a white silk dress on a grubby river bank and put a fishing pole in her hand. Or are we to imagine that the two have sneaked away after an elegant lunch for a peaceful hour of fishing? But you have to look long at the painting to think about its circumstances, and to guess at its intentions. If we look at it as just another beautiful Sargent, we see a bucolic, idealized scene. We see the painting as a whole: the restless water, the way the entire image is split in half on the diagonal, the journey from right to left, light to dark. The girls are obviously posed, and Sargent has painted a look of self-concious, but active anticipation on the face of the girl in white. The girl on the right looks as though she’s thinking about pie. Or is wondering when she can just put the stupid pole down already. But the painting speaks on many levels, not least of all about its unabashed obeisance to a single artist’s ideals. I find that kind of commitment to a vision unexpected and pleasing.

I hope your week is full of unexpected beauty and pleasures.

I’m going on a brief sabbatical from the blog so I can rest from finishing this manuscript, and ponder what comes next. And so I can prepare for this week’s NY Edgars trip, which I’m anticipating will be both exciting and nerve-wracking. I’ll be around on FB and Twitter on and off, but feel free to drop me an email. See you on May 2nd! 💜

P.S. Don’t forget you can check out my Edgar-nominated short story, A Paler Shade of Death, right here.

April 22nd Words
Journal:  325 words
Long fiction: 0 words
Short fiction: 0 words
Non-fiction: 0 words
Blogging: 408 words
Exercise: Sadly, driving 165 miles home from Bowling Green and the Southern Kentucky Book Fest probably doesn’t count. Darn.

One thought on “Sunday, 23 April 2017: Expecting the Unexpected”

  1. skyecaitlin says:

    The Sargent painting is exquisite: It is beautiful, and the contrast between the girls in their feminine attire and their activity makes it more outstanding—-think of Annie Oakley in a prom dress or Sally Starr dressed like Lady Gaga. The impression is that strong. I will miss your blog, of course, and I might be sending you e-mails, but I am definitely wishing you the best of the best.

Join the conversation!