Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Portrait of Tony

Tony at Seventeen, 2012

mixed media on Rives BFK, 22" x 30"

After my experience in the the stone shop, Tony has been on my mind. I have so few photographs of him, and could have sworn that I had given an envelope full of the ones that I do own to my son Eben and his wife. But they said, no, they didn't have them. And when I've searched for them in my albums and boxes and big Rubbermaid bins full of photos, I've had no luck. But one day last week, just before getting ready to leave the house, I felt compelled to look for them once again. I dropped everything and went to the closet in the spare bedroom where I keep all our old photos (this includes my father's massive collection - there are tons...) and like someone acting out a hypnotic command, like a homing pigeon, like an arrow heading for the bull's eye, I mechanically yanked out several of the large bins, took the lid off one, and there they were, the photos I'd not been able to find, including the one at the top of this post, Tony's high school yearbook picture, taken when he was seventeen. I quickly scanned this pile of images and put them in a digital file.

After finishing a commissioned portrait in my studio later that afternoon, after the sitter left, and I was alone in my studio, I felt compelled again - but this time to draw Tony's portrait. I brought up his image on my laptop and enlarged it until he was looking at me, filled my brush with paint and set to work. And while working on it, I cried. Alot.

Something has shifted inside of me this week. Some door in my heart has opened.

This brings to mind one of the last bits of wisdom imparted to me by my grandmother, who lived to be 100.In the final weeks of her life, Gramma took my hand and sandwiched it tightly between both of hers, then looked me in the eyes and pronounced simply, urgently,

"Never hate, Martha. Never hate."


mm truscott said...

hi martha,

lovely portrait of tony....who is tony?

martha truscott

martha miller said...

hi martha - tony is my ex husband, now most likely deceased. he was mentally ill and has been missing since the early
80's...see the previous post. thanks for dropping in!


Showing up for the Muse said...

Oh its so lovely. What a cathartic experience it must have been for you... and your touch on the paper is nearly divine. I am very moved by your story too.

Susan Beauchemin said...

I like what gramma had to say to you--I think about it when I feel little sniggles of hate, or thoughts of hate.
I have my own memories of Tony--some good some not so good, but I never hated him since I wasn't ever that close. He was mysterious and he even departed from the earth in that way. He was good looking, but I see his picture and his face like a mask--(he wore his face on his sleeve) I hope that's not a hurtful thing to say--he was hard to get to know.

martha miller said...

hi tillie - thankyou! and yes, so very catARTic. are you planning to stay in florida? happy spring! xo

martha miller said...


martha miller said...

hey there, sue - he was indeed difficult to connect with, and did seem to wear a mask. i saw it come off tho, at some times tender, and some times in rage...a haaaard chapter of my life. the hate reference is about me forgiving not just tony, but my young self, too...

jeff sitze said...

hey martha,

jeff sitze here. Thanks for directing me to the site. Regarding hate, it reminds me of what my Aunt Olga said before being wheeled into an operation she must have understood she would not survive. The words she spoke were "just love everybody."