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Long Distance Loneliness

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WHY WE WRITE

“There’s a long-distance loneliness rolling out over the desert floor.” Credit prolific songwriter Jackson Browne in his song, The Fuse, from his album, The Pretender. With this painting of emotion, the pen becomes the brush, the mind is the canvas. With but one line, an emotion, a feeling is painted.

“A long-distance loneliness.” It’s beautiful, it’s immense, and it’s depressing all at once.

It’s a challenge when one attempts to resolve the dilemma of the greater of two artists – the one whose canvas is transformed with the brush, and the other, who uses words to stir the senses.

Pictures bring feelings. Sadness, romance, and elation. That magnificent painting of the waterfall with the calm pool beneath, takes you away. Put yourself into the picture, drenching yourself in the icy water, hiding behind the massive liquid sheet, falling asleep in the sunlit afternoon on the bank of the sandy shore by that waterfall.

Question to myself: Where can the visual artist take me that the writer cannot? Is it enough to paint the cave in the shadows? Does the visual artist take me into the cave, or does my own imagination? In the scene of the cabin in the woods, surrounded by a winter wonderland, do I feel the warmth of the fire because of the light I see in the window and the smoke emanating from the chimney? Does my mind take me there and supply the warmth?

Does the painting on the canvas move my psyche? Is it true that I need to have experienced warmth to imagine it? Do I need to know snow to feel the cold? Is it the viewer who brings the canvas to life, or the artist?

So to the visual artist, and I am one myself, I challenge you to paint the cold without showing me the snow. Paint the warmth of the cozy fire in the cabin without showing me the fire. Paint the wet of the waterfall and the depth of the valley and the height of the mountain. Yes, the visual artist can do these things and more.

This all begs the question: How does the visual artist paint the “long-distance loneliness rolling out over the desert floor?”

How indeed?