© 2017 by HEATHER FRACCALVIERI.

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hfraccalvieri@gmail.com  |  @hfraccalvieri

Alone in the woods

 

 

I had a conversation with a friend lately about memory. We were being really nostalgic. She had just informed me that our ten year high school reunion was the next day, and in lieu of either of us going, we had our own kind of walk down memory lane. Each of us were recounting as many things that we could from our senior year. Who we worked with. What was that guy's name with the beautiful eyes? How old were those other guys? Do you remember Brian shouting my name at graduation? Anyway, she was impressed by how much I remembered. And she said there were things she wasn't sure if she actually remembered, or she just remembered the picture that was taken back then. A tricky thing, memory. The picture itself doesn't lie, usually, but the memory can make you think of the event differently than how it actually happened, or make you feel or think differently about a thing than when it was in the present. So, maybe the photo is lying to you...either way, I can guarantee a painting has lied to you. 

Let me speak for my own work. I typically paint from a photo I've taken. It's more convenient. I could say a lot on this point, but not here. So when I'm painting from a photo, I embellish on details that aren't really there or omit some that are. Now, maybe you'd argue that's not lying. Ok. Sure. I'm presenting you with a certain point of view of a thing. It's like I'm telling a story. And just like every retelling, no version is quite the truth. Even the most objective one omits things that aren't deemed "important."

So in this painting, I have lied to you. I have titled this work Alone in the Woods. Let me point out immediately what may have already occurred to you: that there are two figures here. Yes, one is a dog, but let's not argue that point. And for the more clever reader, if you've been paying attention, you already know that I took this photo. So I definitely was there. Here's the truth: during my trip to Kenya, I visited a tea farm. The man here worked there. He gave all the visitors a tour of the forested area behind the house, where he pointed out the different medicinal (and magical) trees and the places where the bark was missing--where people had illegally come out and night and stolen it. So behind this man, Steven (and the dog), are about 15 or so people. Not actually alone.

But, he looks alone to me...

Watercolor, 18" x 24"