imageBlue violin, oil on linen, 34″ x 14″


As I head to the studio in the morning, I wrap my violin around my right shoulder, my bag of books and brushes around my left shoulder, and I call from the front door to my boys.  They each give me a kiss on the cheek, a hug, and then I say “Don’t forget to put the jellyfish on top of the ironing board, so that the papaya can be in the dinosaur’s nose”, and they say “Don’t forget to smush the duck inside of the gingerbread man, so that the jellyfish can be, umm, can be made into jelly,” and then both of my boys laugh really hard.  It’s a sacred ritual, to seal our final farewells with something absurd.  And then I head off to the studio.  But not without one last call from my little boy, Evan.

“Dad, don’t forget to bring the violin home from the studio” Evan screams from the front door, as I get into my truck.  He knows I’ll be doing a painting of the violin in the studio, and he wants to be sure the violin comes home with me in the evening.

Things are somewhat busy these days, with two boys running around full tilt, and the third little boy wanting to run around full tilt.  I get very little time to myself, and so where I want to maintain the activities I love, I’ve adapted.  I pour the pancake batter, and I pick the violin off of the kitchen table, and I play two jigs.  I can’t play three jigs, or else the pancakes burn- just two jigs, at dancing speed.  I play the violin while my boys clobber each other with fire engines, in the backyard.  But most importantly, I play the violin for them at night, when they go to sleep.  I start out with “Amazing Grace,” in some sort of bluegrass, double stop style.  I then go into Irish reels, such as the Longford Spinster; then an Irish air, An Spailpin Fanach.  I usually wrap up in twenty minutes or so,, with a tune which my friend Helene, a French fiddler, taught me.  It is a brooding, enigmatic, slow, Eastern European dirge that sounds like it was woven from Jewish, Celtic, and Slovakian threads.  And by the end, my boys are asleep.

In the quiet of my studio, I held the violin up, and watched the light flow over the form.  The violin received all of the blue from the skylight, and the blue of the sky dialogued with the sonorous red of the wood.  It was magnificent.  And as I began to paint, I listened to Mark O’Connor play the violin.

Please click on the following link, to listen.

11 Ashokan Farewell


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