Wednesday, October 25, 2006

To Infiniti...And Beyond

I think it was the great philosopher Buzz Lightyear who first uttered the words: "To infinity... and beyond!"-- a statement of breathtaking boldness and optimism.

I thought it might be nice to reflect on just how lovely the actual Stephanie C. really is. I do so as a reminder for readers with short visual memories and/or are too lazy to scroll down a couple of posts to see the photo of the woman herself.

Because as things stand now, Blue Stephanie is not doing the girl any favors.

This, I should add, is just as it should be, but still... So here is the actual photo of Stephanie from which I am expected to paint my masterpiece:



Look how lovely she is. It may be just me, but if you look at this picture long enough (which I have, sitting in the studio, shifting my gaze from the painting to the photograph to the painting to the photograph, drinking cheap French vin rouge, listening to Blonde on Blonde) ...

I'm telling you, if you look at this picture long enough, don't you just get the urge to scratch the back of your ear with your foot and howl at the moon?

It might just be me. But I have spent a good deal of time closely examing this picture. And the face it contains. And while I have a couple of thoughts--several, in fact--I've now distilled them into just a simple one for your reflective pleasure.

It all has to do with the line of her jaw!

Forget for a moment the cool green eyes and that gentle (but at the same time slightly cynical) stare. Forget the dimple at the side of her mouth that makes her cheek seem charmingly soft, leavening her otherwise-crisp feature lines. Likewise, forget for a moment the hint of a cleft in her chin. Instead, focus on her jawline. I love how the tip of her chin forms a nice straight line as you emerge from the shadows and head east southeast (if you will), then takes a dramatic northerly turn, heading east northeast for a while, then turns north yet again, plotting a northeasterly course for the bottom of her ear.

As a quick aside, it is also amusing to note that the outline of her ear almost exactly matches the outline of her jaw. This is either a coincidence, a small miracle, or something to do with fractal geometry.

And then it struck me just what it was that appealed to me so much. This same collection of lines and angles I've just described, if inverted, exactly encapsulates the complex visual geometry of transition from the rear trunk lid to quarterpanel of a 1991 Infiniti Q45.

Can you see it? To me, it's as plain as the nose on her face.

If the inversion thing is tricky for you, try this:



Now compare it to the back of this car:



Are you getting it?

I owned a '91 Q45 and, to paraphrase Teri Hatcher, it was spectacular. So imagine my range of emotions the morning I walked out of my house, one day, now many years ago, to find that my oldest daughter had driven her mother's Toyota into the side of my beautiful Infiniti and thus, improbably, totaled it.

As I remember it, the famous parental standby line-- "At least you're okay" (the very one I used, verbatim, when she rolled my Land Rover down a ravine a year or so later) never even dawned on me.

I'm still reeling. I was so fond of that car.

But isn't life a funny thing; that something as mundane as painting the portrait of a girl who works in a local restaurant can, under the right circumstances, transport the soul to infiniti... and beyond?

Go figure.

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