A friend and I met up at Sao Paulo restaurant in Austin for dinner – we sat at a booth that had this incredible painting – we talked about its power, its balance, its pull. A couple weeks later, my husband and I had the evening to ourselves as our daughter was having a sleep over. Because the painting had remained in my mind and because we like Brazilian food, we went back to Sao Paulo and I showed him the painting.
“Yes,” he said, “that should be the new cover.” I asked the manager for the artist’s card and when we got home that night, I emailed her, explaining how much I liked “Under” and requesting she consider letting me use the painting for the re-issue of By Way of Water. She wrote back, saying she wanted to meet me, to see if we were of like minds.
The next day, I went to her studio and had tea with her. In this open, expansive space she’d created, hung a world of paintings, with water in almost all of them. During this hour with Inés Batlló, I had the honor of seeing her process, approach, and vision. I learned of her childhood in Spain where painting was her solace (her father had died when she was young, and when she got into trouble, she was told to stay in the same room that had his easel). I learned about encaustic painting and how much time goes into each piece.
I brought her an old copy of my novel, and while we drank our tea, she asked me about the book, about the role of water in the writing, about my life and my beliefs about art.
I left her studio with her permission to use “Under,” which was fantastic, but more importantly, I left with a sense of the power of art to be the backbone of our lives, and that when we take risks, we will often be greeted with warmth and kinship.
Thank you, Inés, for letting my words be graced by your image.