During the holiday season over the last three years, I have begun my own little tradition of putting together a work of great art jigsaw puzzle. The first was Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. I did it with my daughter and her then-boyfriend and I was going to frame it when we finished and give it to him…then I lost a piece in transit! That was a bummer, but the puzzle was loads of fun to do. I had these insights (for me) during the puzzle construction process that I had all over again last year when I did Van Gogh’s Cafe in Arles. (Seen here.) And again this year while I’m working on a super hard painting by Renoir. Like,
- I am so grateful for my sense of sight. Doing a puzzle of a great master of art gets me into the fine details of what these guys were doing. What looks on first glance like a blazing yellow awning, upon the closer examination a jigsaw puzzle requires, displays flashes of red or different shades of yellow and white. It is a real treat for the eyes.
- There are times when I really, really want a piece to fit. As hard as I will it, there’s just no fit. And I want to jam the piece in, but know that’s silly because – it doesn’t fit. Move on. Find the piece that fits. You’re not going to force your desired outcome.
- The puzzle and I are in a mano a mano competition. I am trying to fit the pieces together and the puzzle frustrates my efforts. I put a piece where I know it will fit – and it doesn’t. “You won that one, puzzle.” Then I find the piece that fits, and popping it in place is just so satisfying. “Gotcha!” In the beginning, the puzzle has its greatest advantage. No piece is fit together. I’ve got to figure out where each of these different colored and shaped pieces go. The process is methodical and slow. The puzzle laughs at me. But ever so slowly, the pieces fall into place and the shapes make the puzzle a little easier – until, finally, I pop in the last piece. “Good game, puzzle.” It feels like a competition. A friendly competition.
I am now done for the holidays. My Renoir painting is only about 10% finished. I have slid it onto a board and put it under my bed….until next Thanksgiving. And then it’s you and me, puzzle. Just you and me.