Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Long, Puzzling, Starry Night

Building on the discussion of pleasures in my last post, I'll reveal here another of my secret pleasures.  I enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles.  This isn't a "catch and release" type of puzzling, though.  I glue them together and put them on the wall when they're done.  My good wife doesn't think they fit the decorating style of our home, so they adorn the walls of my office at school.  Besides a map of Middle Earth and a picture of Luke Skywalker staring at the setting suns on Tatooine, they are mostly fine art like the Mona Lisa, Renoir's  Country Dance (and his City Dance on the back), and one of Degas's ballerina pictures.  I got started doing those back in graduate school after a visit to the Boston Museum of Fine Art, where the Renoir was displayed.  I guess I like the irony of fine art in the medium of jigsaw puzzle.  And as for the puzzles themselves, I like the analytic exercise of breaking something down into its smallest constituent parts and building it up from there.  In that regard, impressionist puzzles are hard.  When you chop them up into 1000 or 2000 pieces, there aren't many identifying features left on an individual piece.  So, you have to stare at the piece for awhile, then stare at the picture on the box for awhile.  Occasionally you'll find right where that piece belongs.  By the time you're done, you know every brush stroke on the painting.  This latest project is Van Gogh's Starry Night.  It was a 2000 piece monster.  I started it over a year ago, and then rolled it up in my handy puzzle carrier and neglected it for months at a time.  This summer I pulled it back out and put it in the sun room, where most evenings I could be found staring at it and listening to Red Sox baseball games.  I hesitate to guess how many hours I spent in this way (though I probably could have become fluent in Farsi had I spent the time on that).  There were a few others who contributed: thanks to Hannah, Mikayla, Taylor, Casey, Trevor, Connor, and Chris who all found some pieces for me.  Though truth be told, about 1,975 of the 2,000 pieces were mine.  Perhaps the most surprising and pleasing aspect of it was that all of the pieces were accounted for after a year of them lying around.  Time to get out the glue.  If you'd like to see the real thing, stop by the office next fall.