Art, Life

Beginning in Black & White

I am always amazed at the intention some artists put into their work. The knowing before had. The wanting to communicate an exact message. Because I’ve always felt like the message finds me, and maybe only after. The theory I’ve been holding to for years now is that there are artists who are controllers, who use the art as a medium for a message, and those who are conduits, those through whom the art has its own say, whose hands are just a vehicle. For better or worse, my experience has been much more the latter.

At the beginning of April, a 24-hour flurry of shocked realization and panicked travel ended in my being on a high speed train in the middle of France when my father passed away in my home town in Maine. It’s something I’m still grappling with. Some have assured me I may always and others that it well ease. Still a month and a half later, the one thing I know for sure is: I don’t understand. I traveled home with Élie and spent a month trying to manage for my mother what I could of the unimaginable to do list. But now I’m back in the south of France, in a home that’s still so new to the three of us.

I want to write about him, but I’m sure you’ll understand, I haven’t sorted those thoughts out yet. It seems so massive. And it also felt wrong to acknowledge other topics here before giving it the time it deserves. But I can hear Dad, I can hear him saying “That’s ridiculous.” I can hear him wanting me to keep doing. To be honest, it’s a conversation I have with myself daily. So I began to think maybe it didn’t matter what I started with, just share something small. Get back at it. Try not to worry so much about the perfect thing, perfectly done.


I’ve always followed Jamie Beck’s work but last weekend something struck me harder than usual in an image of hers that came up in my Instagram feed. I started pouring over her beautiful work and it has sparked a number of things including a fascination with working in black and white that I want to practice and explore. So I picked up the camera, hoping to get to that place where it becomes an extension of my hand and I feel a symphony starting to tune up, knowing that something good is being made.


It wasn’t until I was pressing the shutter button, but really and truly once I edited them to black and white on my screen, that I realized what was being said in these two images. But suddenly I realized that they weren’t accidental, that without my consciously knowing it, they were talking about where my heart is right now. A conversation about feeling the passage of time. About the layers that build up from time and experiences. A life lived. But even more, about the speed of a blink of an eye, the time we have here on Earth. Something I’ve always felt so keenly and struggled with greatly. Something thrown into sharp contrast when my father, as the French say, disappeared. Once again, I was the conduit to a greater something’s message.

So I am going to try to be braver. Make more. Think less about why and when. Because, I need to.




2 thoughts on “Beginning in Black & White

  1. Susan Leslie says:

    Beautifully written Abby. It’s ALL healing. The day to day thoughts, feelings and actions. ❤️

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s