"Why are you so grumpy in the mornings?" my partner asks me on occasions when I'm particularly uncommunicative.
Whatever it looks like to her, in my mind I don't feel grumpy. Though I'll concede my dial isn't exactly set to sunny.
What I do feel first thing in the morning, mostly, is kind of blank. I'm neither this or that. I've hardly connected my own consciousness. I'm yet to put "Open" on the shop door.
I'm like the shop owner or staff member who the early-bird customer can see through the window: "Why doesn't he just open the door? He's in there!"
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Frustrating to an eager shopper or a person who shares their mornings with someone whose lights aren't all on.
And so when I recently came across the drawing titled "Mornings" by Whangarei artist Grant Beran, I felt an instant connection.
"That's it, that's me in the morning!"
Blank. Faceless. Silent. Beran's figure stands passively, shoulders hunched zombie-like, stuck between dress and undress. Are those clothes that are half on, or pyjamas that are half off?
Either way, the figure has seemingly stopped mid-task. He or she (it's unclear) is just standing there, eternally stalled.
The way the figure is drawn, with wavy and ragged lines on photographic paper using photo chemicals, an ethereal quality. You could almost imagine the figure as a ghost who hasn't put their sheet on properly.
Whatever the figure is wearing (sheet, jumper or pyjama top), it's only partly blocked in white by the artist.
It's the expressive parts of the human body — the face, forearms and hands — which are "whited out". This emphasises the uncommunicative nature of the figure.
The white across the face is a particularly forceful visual barrier. Eye contact, the key to human interaction, is ruled out.
And yet, it's not, I think, a negative image. I identify with it, I can smile at its sly humour. It reminds me that there's something about my half-awake, half-asleep mornings that I look forward to. Just being, hardly thinking, functioning at the very lowest end of our human ability.
To say that I enjoy the early morning, however, wouldn't be quite right (or honest); more like a disengaged calm that's pleasant enough.
Mornings are like appreciating a blank page before you start writing, a blank canvas before you start painting, or a quiet shop before the open sign is put up and the door unlocked to let the customers in.
If you're like my partner, who wakes up instantly ready to go, where there isn't a slow transition from sleep to fully clothed.
If you are a conscious, functioning human being, then none of what I've written will relate.
But if you're like me in the mornings, then you might enjoy and appreciate Grant Beran's drawing as much as I do.