Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Candle Hats and Christmases: Season’s Greetings from Signalwrite Marketing.

In most self-portraits it is the face that dominates:
Cezanne is a pair of eyes swimming in brushstrokes,
Van Gogh stares out of a halo of swirling darkness,
Rembrandt looks relieved as if he were taking a breather
from painting The Blinding of Sampson.

But in this one Goya stands well back from the mirror
and is seen posed in the clutter of his studio
addressing a canvas tilted back on a tall easel.

He appears to be smiling out at us as if he knew
we would be amused by the extraordinary hat on his head
which is fitted around the brim with candle holders,
a device that allowed him to work into the night.

You can only wonder what it would be like
to be wearing such a chandelier on your head
as if you were a walking dining room or concert hall.

But once you see this hat there is no need to read
any biography of Goya or to memorize his dates.

To understand Goya you only have to imagine him
lighting the candles one by one, then placing
the hat on his head, ready for a night of work.

Imagine him surprising his wife with his new invention,
the laughing like a birthday cake when she saw the glow.

Imagine him flickering through the rooms of his house
with all the shadows flying across the walls.

Imagine a lost traveler knocking on his door
one dark night in the hill country of
“Come in,” he would say, “I was just painting myself,”
as he stood in the doorway holding up the wand of a brush,
illuminated in the blaze of his famous candle hat.

This Billy Collins poem appeared in the mid-1990s. Always a great favorite or mine, its message is pointedly related to the holiday wishes from Signalwrite this year.

Its warm-hearted sense of humor, about one of the world’s great artists who was himself known for a sense of self-amusement, is just right for wishing my clients and colleagues, family and friends a wonderful Christmas season and an outstanding 2012.

Signalwrite Marketing’s professional and personal life have been filled with laughter and you have all played a part in it. The number of adventures, conversations, meetings, programs, and visits during which laughter broke out is uncountable…but pretty large.

“Laughing like a birthday cake” has made my professional life wonderful. Merry Christmas to everyone. May you keep it in your hearts all year long. Happy New Year too, when all good things will come to you and bad ones never appear.

Next Christmas, let’s plan on getting together and wearing candle hats. For now, the very best of the holiday season.

Goya: “Self-portrait in the studio” (c. 1790-1795). Oil on canvas, 42 x 28 cm. Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (Madrid, Spain). See No 20 here. Minor photo: Stellan Skarsgård from Warner Bros film “Goya’s Ghosts.”


B.P. said...

Thank you for this touching and thought-provoking post, Richard.
Happy holidays to you and yours!

Rachel said...

Candle hats it is, Richard. I should probably go easy on the hairspray, huh?

Fondest holiday wishes to you, Barbara, and the rest of the clan!

Brian Bearden said...

I think I will have to pass on wearing a candle hat. I did find a You Tube video that goes well with your blog.

Check out

Have a very Merry Christmas.