What Now? Thoughts on Spark 17

By Cristal Guderjahn

By the time I opened my Spark partner’s email, I hadn’t had my coffee. I was feeling very grumpy because I was alone on BART, heading into San Francisco without my husband. My husband, who usually rides with me on the train, was on a business trip, and I already missed him. Then, I opened Jan Irene’s painting.

Immediately I was hurled back into my childhood, the early 1960s, the avocado couch, the yellow countertops in my kitchen, the smell of fuel in every car. Something about that painting placed me back in time because there’s this mid-century emotion to it.

I started writing in shapes contrary to hers. The painting is all angles—hard lines that fall into each other. I had this urge to write the story with a circular softness. To contrast, to expose the conflict, even fight, what was happening in the painting….which is exactly what happens in the story. The angled conversation, the hard edge to both of them and their relationship, but then the softening of the husband, and his sighs, his tone. She remains angled, hard, while he fights it.

See Cristal Guderjahn’s response to Jan Irene Miller’s work.