I am starting to think about a painting of an Alessi espresso percolator and a bag of Zeke’s coffee, a small batch roastery in Baltimore. This is my favorite coffee because it has a wonderful flavor when you drink it, and that flavor lingers afterwards without that harsh, bilious aftertaste. Coffee is an experience drink. The effect is felt long after the cup is empty. Drinking it is a routine, almost ritualistic, that even on a busy day provides a sense of security and optimism when the coffee is good in both taste and aftertaste, or a sense of dread when it is bad. It is the right relationship of taste and aftertaste that make the a good cup of coffee. I wonder if Vladimir Propp has a secret monograph on this subject.
The same idea applies to art and literature. Thinking again of Calvino, some of his stories are most effective while reading (the Nonexistent Knight, The Cloven Viscount, and The Baron in the Trees), while others such as The Castle of Crossed Destinies and Mr. Palomar were more interesting to me as memory artifacts. Invisible Cities is for me his most compelling, complete work of true art. I wonder if some of this relates to the structure used. The best reading experiences were structured like more or less normal chronicles. Mr. Palomar and The Castle of Crossed Destinies are deliberately structural in their focus–it it a core element in the meaning, but the story takes a lesser role. Invisible Cities is also structural in emphasis, but the language and story telling levitate the structure to a comprehensive artistic experience.
In preparation for this coffee painting, I want to look at a few different structures with these two objects, and think about how those structures will work with the quality of lightness in watercolor. Some preliminary sketches are posted below. I would love to hear your thoughts.