Seeing the Face Inside the Stone


I’ve read that Michaelangeo ‘saw’ a completed sculpture inside each new block of marble. The figure was there, he said, he had only to chip away the stone and free it.

I believe it. The eye of a true artist can see what few can. Naturally it takes a combination of hard work, technique and artistry to produce art, but the eye is what makes us see the face inside our personal blocks of stone. Not that the eye always cooperates. When I face a piece of fabric which I hardly remember buying or face the blank computer screen which practically sneers at me, I have the greatest desire to chuck the dreadful thing out of the window.

I suspect that we all have been there. There are times when we question the clarity of our vision and wonder why we even bother. No doubt even the great Michaelangelo had such days.  But sometimes everything falls into place; a line in a newspaper or a slice of conversation catches the mind and a plot leaps into life and proceeds to practically write itself. And sometimes I will look at a piece of fabric and know exactly what  it will become. No pastoral scene here; this bit of cloth will become a far-away planetary system with binary suns and a frozen moon! I don’t know about you, but I live for those days when the eye is in full throttle.

But I’ve learned that the eye is not confined to art.  One evening Mike and I stopped in at a small restaurant after the theater. The play had been charming, but the elderly waitress who served us was anything but. Her expression would have soured milk. She snarled out a demand for our order, practically threw down napkins and silverware, and stalked off muttering to herself. I wondered whether we should leave and said as much. Mike said that since we were there, we might as well stay. “Perhaps,” he added, “she’s had a bad day.”

No wonder, with that attitude! I almost wished that she would forget about serving us—but a few moments later she came marching along with our drinks and dessert. As she slapped them down in front of us, Mike asked peaceably, “Hard day for you?”

She looked surprised and then everything changed. Her mouth softened, her shoulders—so stiff a moment ago— slumped. And standing there she told us of her child’s illness, her inability to pay for treatment, and the worry she had kept within herself all day. As the words tumbled out, her eyes filled with tears. “You’re the only ones who asked,” she whispered.

And I understood that I didn’t need to create great works of art or write the best novel of all time. To have the eye one only needs to see inside the stone that too often hides the human heart.

Imprisoned in stone

Lies the greatest masterpiece…

Now, work to free it!

Binary Suns



About Maureen C. Wartski

I’m Maureen Wartski, writer, artist, wife, mother, grandmother; you can see that I have many of the bases covered. I was born in Ashiya, Japan, a (then) small town which lay cradled between sea and mountains. In the evenings, we would walk along the road that ran past Osaka Bay, and a great moon would rise out of the water to turn the world to silver. I’m told that my first words were, “Big moon!” All my life I have felt the tug to write something, draw something, put together something with fabric, string and color, and the urge to create has grown through the years. I suppose, then, that it’s a natural thing that this blog be full of the things that so many of you enjoy doing…drawing, making something with fabric, and writing. Yuri's Brush with Magic, my newest book for middle schoolers follows the adventures of a brother and sister, the magic of words, and the incredible magic of the natural world. I'd love to hear from you! You can send me a note at: My blog is here: Or friend me on Facebook!

6 responses »

  1. Thanks Maureen for helping us to see that revealing the art that is hidden within is not just a tangible uncovering of a material object but may be a revelation of a hidden mystery of caring, love, even suffering that it is incumbent upon us to be sensitive enough to look for and express. Thank Mike also for taking that extra step of understanding.

  2. You and Mike make a great couple! Each of you are kind to each other and it spills out to others.
    we can all learn from you.

    Your eye shows in your quilts that it is always working.

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