You might remember this sweater that I knit for Justina Smith a couple of years ago in exchange for a painting. Well, a year later we decided it was time to initiate another swap, and this time I had a very specific idea I was hoping she could manifest on a big canvas. I wanted a lively, vibrant portrait of Miss Dickinson, based on the iconic, pinched portrait everyone is familiar with. As Justina and I were emailing cardigan (her) and painting (me) ideas back and forth, we decided on pumpkin-coloured wool and Tim showed me a Dickinson poem I had never seen before. I was so taken with the poem, and the fact that Tim had discovered it, that I immediately asked Justina if she could incorporate it ("and two different blues, please") into the painting.
And she did, along with some brilliant wallpaper. I like the way the background encroaches, the flowers trailing right over her shoulders, while Emily sits serene and poetic.
|Emily Dickinson (1830–86). Complete Poems. 1924.|
Part One: Life
|THE BRAIN is wider than the sky,|
|For, put them side by side,|
|The one the other will include|
|With ease, and you beside.|
|The brain is deeper than the sea,||5|
|For, hold them, blue to blue,|
|The one the other will absorb,|
|As sponges, buckets do.|
|The brain is just the weight of God,|
|For, lift them, pound for pound,||10|
|And they will differ, if they do,|
| As syllable from sound.|