The Beginning of Painting

To soil the canvas with value for shading, a guideline of
blemish, burnt or raw umber, most common to choose,
and all the first oils applied without plan,
merely to make, through defeated reserve,
a workable space, the artist’s own fee of entrance to craft.
Because hesitation finds fuel in blank sheets;
so first he applies, to not look at white,
monochrome background for shaping his thoughts
not as from nothing, rather from stain, and continuing to look
at limonite spills and dark tarnish marks
of manganese oxide, like dirt chunks of earth,
as dust-formed bodies created in likeness to that higher form
it seeks to regard. From turpentine pigments, like cadmium red
or yellow so toxic ingestion brings death, the painter engages
to fashion a plane horizontally divided with dimension to add,
through broad chiaroscuro makes scales of light to fool and
trompe-l’œil imaginations to feel veracity behind
such colorful characters or settings around which seemingly open
new worlds to their viewers, who inhale all those oils and step boldly beyond
the vanishing point.