Finishing the hat.

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by George Seurat

…Finishing the hat,
How you have to finish the hat.
How you watch the rest of the world
From a window
While you finish the hat.

Mapping out a sky.
What you feel like, planning a sky.
What you feel when voices that come
Through the window
Until they distance and die,
Until there’s nothing but sky
And how you’re always turning back too late
From the grass or the stick
Or the dog or the light,
How the kind of woman willing to wait’s
Not the kind that you want to find waiting
To return you to the night,
Dizzy from the height,
Coming from the hat,
Studying the hat,
Entering the world of the hat,
Reaching through the world of the hat
Like a window,
Back to this one from that.

Studying a face,
Stepping back to look at a face
Leaves a little space in the way like a window,
But to see-
It’s the only way to see.

And when the woman that you wanted goes,
You can say to yourself, “Well, I give what I give.”
But the woman who won’t wait for you knows
That, however you live,
There’s a part of you always standing by,
Mapping out the sky,
Finishing a hat…
Starting on a hat..
Finishing a hat…
Look, I made a hat…
Where there never was a hat

Finishing The Hat, from Sunday in the Park With George by Stephen Sondheim

Years ago, a guy I was sweet on and pestering with endless e-mails sent me these lines; they’re the lyrics of the song Finishing The Hat, from Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday In The Park With George, a fanciful musical about the pointillist painter George Seurat. What my object of desire was trying to tell me, I think, was to stop distracting him so that he could get on with his work and “finish the hat”.

14 years later, here I am, singing that song (it’s got a beautiful, dreamy swelling of melody, and the words are pensive…this strikes me as a very personal song by Sondheim) and trying to finish a hat (or eight) of my own; with just four weeks to opening night, I have been painting 12, sometimes 14 hours a day. I only leave the boat when there’s nothing at all left to eat (and I do mean nothing…last Saturday I actually shared a can of cat food—it was just tuna, I checked the label—with Dude! It was fine. Needed salt.)

And it’s all hats, man…little things in the paintings: fingernails, the spine of a book, a teacup, a plum-colored shadow on the inside of a girl’s thigh…no big, grand gestures, no arm’s sweep of vivid color, but a million little details that may not seem important, and yet my paintings are made up of those details, and there is no moving forward until everything has been given it’s share of time, work, and concentration.

I don’t think I’ll be blogging very often, or about anything very interesting, until the show’s out of the way. Bear with me.


4 thoughts on “Finishing the hat.

  1. Go for it Girl….we’re all behind you….A deadline is Such a fantastic thing to have….not easily managed But I know you will produce some amazing paintings….and I hope you continue to learn to paint….when you stop learning you’re DEAD….and that would not be good Nat…


    1. Not in this case, I don’t think, but then I’m not sure I understand your comment about metaphors, anyway, Carl, too deep for me! 🙂 And ‘unique generic’ is an oxymoron, no? Have you seen the musical? I only have the cd and libretto. It’s about commitment to artistic vision, not quite to the detriment of real life, as it may seem, but including and reaching beyond it, to what is immortal in the everyday. Or that’s how I understood Sunday In The Park With George, anyway. *shrugs*


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