Sunday, April 23, 2017

ARTSPEAK! Portraits poem "Dark the Day"

Hello and welcome to day 23 of ARTSPEAK! Portraits, my 2017 National Poetry Month poem-a-day project, during which I am looking, listening with my spirit ear, and asking these subject to share with me their secrets. 

But first: Be sure to check in with Ruth at There is no such thing as a godforsaken town to see how our Progressive Poem is progressing! 

And now, here are the ARTSPEAK! Portraits poems so far:

22. "Tiger" after Tiger by Hwang Jong-ha
21. "Self-Portrait as a Painter" after Self-Portrait as a Painter by Vincent van Gogh
20. "What to Do in the Desert" after Nubian Girl by Ervand Demirdjian
19. "In Summer" after In Summer by Auguste-Pierre Renoir
18. "Night" after The Outlier by Frederic Sackrider Remington
17. "Boy Blowing Bubbles" after The Bubble Boy by Paul Peel
16. "Morning" after Buki Rinsen by Tsuchida Bakusen
15. "When Papa Paints" after Portrait of Anne by George Wesley Bellows
14. "Whistler's Mother" after Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1 by James McNeill Whistler
13. "In the Company of Kittens" after Contentment 1900 by Henriette Ronner-Knip
12. "Sixteen" after Jeanne Hubuturne-1919 by Amedeo Modigliani
11. "Promise" after Portrait of a Little Italian Girl by Maria Kroyer
10. "Portrait of a Writer" after Oskar Maria Graf by Georg Schrimpf
9. "Speaking of the Weather" after Profile of a Woman by Fujishima Takeji
8. "Happiness" after Self-Portrait with Straw Hat by Elisabeth Vigee le Brun
7. "Virginia, Sitting for a Portrait" after Portrait of Virginia (Little Girl) by Frida Kahlo
6. "Paint-by-Number" after Portrait of a Woman by Alexei von Jawlensky
4. "I Am" after The White Cloud, Head Chief of the Iowas by George Catlin
3. "What If?" after Portrait of Camille Roulin by Vincent van Gogh
2. "The Lady Confesses" after Portrait of a Lady with Mask and Cherries by Benjamin Wilson
1. "Mona Lisa in Love" after Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

Today I've got an un-happy camper for you! I did just the tiniest bit of research on this painting -- enough to learn that Robert Henri loved to use dark colors in the style of the Old Masters, so that the subject's face would shine forth... here's what this little Dutch girl would like you to know:

Readers, do you recognize the "tune" of this poem? Yes, I simply modeled the rhythm of "Row Your Boat." I actually wrote another verse, too, but in the end decided for this little girl, less is most definitely more! 

One thing that interests me about the painting is the swatches of red -- across her cheek, her lips, her clothing... it almost looks clown-ish?? I think the general broadness of the strokes is the main thing that makes me see this little girl as one who would much prefer to be outdoors. Plus she reminds me of Girl with Black Eye by Norman Rockwell!


  1. She does seem a bit disgruntled. Perhaps her mother made her sit for a personal portrait? Yes, I sing "Row, row, row your boat" with the grand-girls, so recognized that rhythm. It fits beautifully with her boredom, doesn't it? Fun this time, Irene. Have a lovely Sunday!

  2. I am learning a lot about reading portraits from you, Irene.
    And so empathetic, that you see Henri's "Little Dutch Girl" wants to romp in the fresh air. LOVE your poem.

  3. I read this poem and thought of a child having to sit through long Sunday services. The repetition works well in this. It sets up the rhyme really how volleyball players set up a spike.


Your thoughts?