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A Year With Rilke: May

The Words: I love the dark hours of my being. My mind deepens into them...Then the knowing comes: I can open to another life that’s wide and timeless...Those who stand can feel how gravity plunges through them, like a drink through thirst. Yet from the sleeper, gravity drifts like rain from unhurried clouds. (A Year With Rilke, translated by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows, May selections)

The Color: Caput mortuum, Latin for “dead head,” is a dark brown paint. It is earthy and intense, and like many browns, it can run in opposite chromatic directions when diluted. Some versions of caput mortuum paint tend toward the yellow end of the spectrum, while others wash into a light, yet slightly murky lavender. For alchemists, the phrase “caput mortuum” referred to the leftover residue at the bottom of a heating flask after the “nobler” elements of a solution had sublimated. Caput mortuum was a metaphor for “how the soul was thought to ascent into the aether after death, leaving the body’s material remains behind,” (Cultural histories of unusual hues, The Awl, Katy Kelleher) A Year With Rilke: May to drift like rain from unhurried clouds 72" x 72" oil on canvas

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