This bunch of boys –
stick-figures of various ages –,
clustered, scattered, darting
across an artist’s studio,
all of them the Master’s apprentices, like me –
here is my new family.
Grinding pigments, mixing
with linseed oil –
better not break the bowl,
the Master won’t be happy
to lose so much fresh paint!
Still, can’t avoid
getting it all over my fingers.
Posing for the Master today.
Wish it was the adult model’s turn –
that man with curly chestnut hair
who sometimes drinks wine upstairs
with the Master in the evenings.
to run run run in the street –
sitting still so long
is making me fidgety.
Making charcoal sketches
of an earlier sculpture
while the Master works on a new one,
calling comments over his shoulder –
“Take care with that line! Smudge the other corner a little more!”
How does he know?
Does he have a hundred eyes?
Still, I try,
holding the charcoal stick carefully.
I want to impress him.
It’s been so long
and wonderfully strange,
a few years here
have felt like days.
At last I’m allowed
to help finish
the Master’s great paintings,
dabbing an angel into the corner.
I take a breath, bite my lip,
pick up one of the precious brushes…
Carefully, gently…time seems to stop
as features and feathers
form on the canvas.
I hear the Master’s voice behind my shoulder –
“Bravo, well done.”
Today, after the Master
watched me painting,
he told me there had been a guest, a patron,
who had watched too,
who wanted to see more of my craft.
Then the Master offered me
a glass of wine
and asked me to be a partner in his studio,
a working artist in my own right.
Sí, maestro – yes, I’ll do it.
How can I not,
after seeing the pride in your eyes?
~ Marta Ziemelis. Copyright February 2015. Written in Dubai.
Back to one of my favourite historical periods and locations – Renaissance Italy. I find a lot to be curious about when it comes to l’Italia rinascimentale; one of those points of interest is the professional and personal relationship between working visual artists, like Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci for example, and their apprentices. I’ll admit that I probably romanticise this particular topic, but still – fascinating stuff! Enjoy!