This is the fourth and final Monday during National Poetry Month. This year I've been writing poems inspired by the paintings of Nicolas Tarkhoff. Today's painting is "Landscape with Fields under the Sun" (circa 1907).
Cher M. Critique
Why do you say the colors
in my work are unnatural?
Where do you think my
paints come from?
Flowers, minerals, vinegar,
insects, eggshells, vulgar
bodily wastes, oils--all have
been found in artists' palettes.
I have merely added my
thoughts, emotions, and,
dreams to the mix.
What is unnatural in that?
A few words about the poem. I don't speak French, however, I do know that the closing to the letter, "gros bisous," is something used in a closing to a casual email--sort of like signing "hugs & kisses." Tarkhoff would never have closed a letter in such a way. However, I do think he was sassy enough to have done so! A not-so-subtle "eff-you" to the critics.
He signed his work "Nic. Tarkhoff," an abbreviation of Nicolas, and so I had him signing "Nic." I don't know if Nic was also his preferred nickname amongst family and friends.
I did a little online research on what was used to pigment paints back before large companies mass-produced them through the magic of chemistry. Way, way, back, urine was used to achieve certain yellows! Other, rather off-putting, ingredients were used in producing colors. Not that I think Tarkhoff's paints were produced with all these ingredients, but, circa 1907, who knows? (Research for another time? Unless you know and would like to tell me in the comments.)
I hope you've enjoyed the four ekphrastic poems this month. If ekphrasis appeals to you, you really should check out Irene Latham's monumental ekphrastic, poem-a-day project ARTSPEAK!: Portraits.