You might remember this sweater that I knit for Justina Smith a couple of years ago in exchange for a painting. Well, a year later we decided it was time to initiate another swap, and this time I had a very specific idea I was hoping she could manifest on a big canvas. I wanted a lively, vibrant portrait of Miss Dickinson, based on the iconic, pinched portrait everyone is familiar with. As Justina and I were emailing cardigan (her) and painting (me) ideas back and forth, we decided on pumpkin-coloured wool and Tim showed me a Dickinson poem I had never seen before. I was so taken with the poem, and the fact that Tim had discovered it, that I immediately asked Justina if she could incorporate it ("and two different blues, please") into the painting. 

And she did, along with some brilliant wallpaper. I like the way the background encroaches, the flowers trailing right over her shoulders, while Emily sits serene and poetic.

Emily Dickinson (1830–86).  Complete Poems.  1924.

Part One: Life

THE BRAIN is wider than the sky,
  For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
  With ease, and you beside.
The brain is deeper than the sea,        5
  For, hold them, blue to blue,
The one the other will absorb,
  As sponges, buckets do.
The brain is just the weight of God,
  For, lift them, pound for pound,        10
And they will differ, if they do,
  As syllable from sound.