Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How Something Enters Your Consciousness

When I attended the two day workshop—Pouring Watercolor—I anticipated learning about the techniques needed to pour paint. What I didn’t expect was a short conversation that burrowed into my mind and wouldn’t allow me to forget the words.

I shared a table with Randa who knew far more than I did about watercolor. Most of the time the class either listened to Nan, our guru, or set up a composition of lace , cheesecloth, and assorted objects on 140lb wet paper—mixed paint and poured paint—then used a spray bottle to move the paint around. The wet paintings were laid out on plastic sheets to dry overnight. Turning these surprise compositions into paintings took place the following day.

In the five minutes between doing the first painting and the second painting Randa received a phone call from her daughter. That was the impetus to our short conversation. She mentioned that her daughter was looking for a house in a town close to where she lived.I mentioned that my son was living in Israel until September and then he and his family would be living in New Zealand.

—New Zealand. Will you visit?

—Have you been there?

—It’s beautiful.

—Have you been to Israel?

—Yes, I’m Palestinian. My parents lived in Haifa until the day soldiers came and they had to leave with their four young children.

—I think that most of the people living there—on both sides want peace. It’s the fanatics who prevent peace.

—That’s true, but there is one difference. We are an occupied country.

—What does your son say?

—We talk about the family. He has five children.

—Have you ever read The Lemon Tree?

—No, you might find it an interesting book.

I borrowed the book from our library , started to read it and then bought a copy.

This was the first time I had encountered someone whose story brought a face into the history of that small piece of land.