The Collector #9

Barbara Epler / Elaine Arsenault


I have a small painting—
The painting itself (though I carefully double-matted and framed it to be quite a bit larger) is the size of an old LIFE magazine, but seen horizontally:

It is a gouache, slightly swirly and roughly daubed painting of an elephant —from the side, standing, trunk curled like a “C” as if to deliver a peanut to her mouth —and is mostly medium blue with darker blue and red touches.

And without seeming to make an effort, it conveys that this is a portrait of a toy elephant 🐘: yes—

Her elephantine soul is that of a very beloved old plastic toy elephant the size of a new kitten.

Her soul has been honored and seen and rendered oversized.

There is no base line or horizon: She stands on air, levitating.

The painter was my girlfriend in my twenties and it is her only figurative painting.  (She was then mostly a sculptor though she also painted patterns on all sorts of materials.)

The thing is: I think my soul was seen —partly a plastic toy the size of a new kitten — and shown back to me—and yet nonetheless honored and magnified— and that this pictured elephant (a toy I had long loved which I had given to Elaine) shows her love and understanding and it is one of my favorite possessions and looking at it makes me feel love.



—Barbara Epler

“The Collector” is an ongoing series in which I ask people to talk about a painting or a drawing they own. See other installments here.

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