Water, and fire above it
How I say to you the truth as I know it.
How I am lost in words.
Subtle gradations implications explanations.
Do they reveal tenderness or terror?
Do they echo feeling or imagine it?
How to adjust memory.
How to maintain and reflect.
Erasing magnifying refining touching failing.
Safety features are not built in.
Evidence is not self.
To delete is to open.
I wanted to do a final self-portrait inspired by Paul Klee. There are so many wonderful Klee works to choose from, but I chose this one because of its title: “Seventeen, Insane”. I didn’t put the geometrics in, instead choosing to try to replicate the feeling, with loose ink portraits of myself now and at 17. I think the feeling of being unable to understand what’s going on is an apt one, and Klee seems to me to be indicating that age doesn’t really clarify things at all. I agree.
For the poem, I took one from my early 20s and revised it, but only a bit. Mostly I redid the way I had the lines set up; rather than breaking up each thought into several lines, I made it into a single one. I eliminated two lines altogether and changed 3 or 4 words. And then I broke it up into stanzas. And yes, that’s my original title. And yes, also, I wrote that last line in the early 1970s, before “delete” and “open” had the meanings they hold in this digitized world. That’s pretty strange.
My notebooks from then contain notes from books I was reading (Otto Rank with this one–we were reading him in a class I was taking), and poems mixed together. From what I could tell, I started with a title, and had a complicated system of construction involving numbers, syllables, and first letters of each line. I have no idea how to replicate it, because I don’t remember where it came from, and it makes no sense to me now. “Insane” indeed. (but I still like to play with numbers of syllables and words, so…)
You can see the entire self-portrait series here. Above is the drawing I did before simplifying it for the painting. Somehow I managed to make the present “me” look much younger in the process as well…
Lune shining through me
like a galaxy
Wings I can not see
This self-portrait uses the same Klee painting for a reference as my last one, but I have done it in collage, as I said I hope to do. I’ve taken more liberties this time as well. The round face reminded me of the moon, and that was my inspiration for my choice of collage papers.
The poem uses the lai form, which I saw on dVerse in early June, but did not have time to attempt then.
It’s a New Moon today…start something!
You can see all the self portraits so far here.
imperfectly caught life–
between thinking and acting out–
completed inside the border, this face,
this arrangement of edges on intersections
intersections on edges of arrangement–this
face, this border, the inside completed
out—acting and thinking between
life caught imperfectly–
Instead of painting this one, I used Neocolors, which worked well through layering to give the irregularity of each color Klee produced with paint. It was a real challenge–trying to get the geometry while maintaining at least a little resemblance. I think I want to try this one in collage as well. It would be like assembling a puzzle.
The circle shape of the head inspired the poem, which was also a challenge. It uses the palindrome form, where the second half reverses the word order of the first half with one word as connector. Finding words that work in both directions is also like solving a puzzle…well I do like to play with words.
You can see all the self portraits in the “100 Self Portrait” series here. Four-fifths to go.
in my mind
always a surprise seen
It may or may not still be Selfie Day, but I’ve been trying to get a portrait done for the 23rd of each month for my 100 Self Portrait series. I’m on to a new artist to imitate, Paul Klee. This is probably the most abstracted one I’ve done so far–I did my usual mirror pencil sketch and then smoothed it out to imitate Klee’s painting. I think it still bears a strange resemblance somehow.
And of course I had to ask the Magnetic Oracle for commentary.
Fool (almost me)
I am almost me
listening to colors breathe
red blue rhythm
born from liquid joy
As these windows open
who will fool
this naked heart?
And I actually managed to do the NaPoWriMo prompt today: an elevenie poem.
Teresa reminded me on last month’s selfie day that I’ve been falling behind in my monthly self-portraits. This is another one based on a Vanessa Bell painting, with commentary by the Magnetic Poetry Oracle. I did it twice, although I’m not that crazy about either version. Perhaps I’ve been away from painting for too long. Or maybe it’s the blue in the eyes.
in elaborate languages
in moon skin
beneath the shadow
You can see the entire self-portrait series so far here.
I’ve been wanting to do some printing, and since Vanessa Bell, my current artist reference in “100 Self Portraits”, did woodcuts as illustrations for many of her sister Virginia Woolf’s books, I had the perfect excuse. I used one of the prints that I embellished with paint and embroidery for “Straw Hat”, but here’s the original print in two versions with the print from Bell that I used as a reference.
Of course, I can never leave well enough alone. So I painted, embroidered, and collaged on some of the prints I made.
I also have another embroidery idea that I haven’t had time to do yet. It’s on the list.
You can see all of the self-portraits in this series here.
Vanessa Bell is best known as Virginia Wolff’s sister, but she was a talented artist and an integral member of the Bloomsbury Group. Their art was out of fashion for awhile, but has been rehabilitated by the Art World. It has, as the Tate says, an “unforced simplicity”.
The presentation for this magnetic poem was inspired by Ken at rivrvlogr, who added a color background to his poem this week. I used the eyedropper in Photoshop to lift colors from Bell’s portrait, and then scribble a colored ground, selecting and adding the words on top. It’s a great idea, that could lead many places (add to the list of things to explore…).
I wanted to do a watercolor portrait for World Watercolor Month, and I think I’ve gotten the feeling of Vanessa Bell’s painting, if not a resemblance to me. I drew the first one in pencil from the mirror, then painted it. For the second attempt, above, I worked larger and just painted using the first painting and Bell’s painting as references. It doesn’t really look like me either.
Teresa is on medical leave from her blog, but she did post a reminder as the host of selfie day. If you want to participate, see how, here.
And you can see all 16 of my self-portraits so far here.
Man Ray did not have Photoshop, so he constructed his images in the darkroom. Amazing! My Ray-inspired self portrait was produced in digital layers (then printed and stitched), something I did back in the day with frequency, but hardly ever now. I enjoy it, and given time, would do more.
Although first I drew the components. My daughter was luckily home and agreed to take some photos for me to work from.
I think if I were doing this piece again, I would structure it differently, doing an abstract ground of greys first, instead of adding the solid areas later. But it’s digital! so I can always go back and revisit the layers. Also I would cut the hands and faces out before I scanned them, so I didn’t have to deal with “selecting” the part of the images I wanted.
I’m also not sure it’s done…I had thought to do stitching for the dark stripe at the bottom, but I’m undecided. I could layer in a stripe, but I like the texture of the stitching. I do think it needs the balance of dark in that area. What do you think?
So I’m also not sure it’s still selfie day…Teresa? But the 25th is always a good deadline for me to complete the next in my series of 100 self portraits (you can see the ones I’ve done so far here). I could keep going forever with Man Ray, but I think it’s time for a new artistic inspiration, plus I’m itching to do some painted portraits and compare them with my first attempts.
What kind of alive am I?
Each morning, nothing new:
I drink coffee, I drift into the usual black.
Can I change into colorful costumes? Can I?
Today a gypsy, perhaps a fortune teller too,
surprise myself and try something new,
an animal, a vegetable, an entire zoo:
I could become the old lady who
doesn’t care what other people think or do.
I could ignore them and be free
of any laughter or unkind words that come my way.
Can I sing and dance too?
Be the mask and have the mask be true?
Words have feelings,
and feelings have words:
but both need to sing
and both to begin
without self-censorship or fear.
Innocent joy: I want to
find that lost
forgotten what to do.
I’m not sure how
to make this change of black to red or blue.
Yet it’s false, not right
to pretend I couldn’t choose
if I wanted to.
I could give out rainbows;
I could create a few.
Today is selfie day, and not only have I channeled my inner Man Ray once again for self-portrait #14 in my 100 Self-Portraits series, I’ve channeled my inner Delmore Schwartz for a riff on his poem “I am Cherry Alive“. When I found the print out above from a long ago Illustrator class that used Schwartz’s work as a source , I knew where this selfie-with-poem was going.
Anyone who knows me is aware that 90% of my wardrobe is black. It wasn’t always that way though…
In this portrait I tried to give myself a little color, while also honoring the way I might have actually dressed back in the day. No, I don’t think I have the nerve now, but it’s a nice thought!
Delmore Schwartz, supposedly the model for Humboldt in Saul Bellow’s novel “Humboldt’s Gift”, was a gifted New York writer of short stories, poems, and essays, an editor, and also a witty conversationalist. He had early success, but like so many before and after, abused drugs and alcohol and suffered from mental illness in later life. You can read more about him, and read more of his poems, here.
can you see?
lost in the web of
white, a black
the surface, just a shimmer
of a lock and key
Once again Man Ray’s work is a photograph; the web is superimposed over the face. I stitched my web over a drawing, and I think perhaps I should have used either thread or one strand of embroidery floss instead of two. On the other hand, two strands makes it harder to see the drawing–the web becomes more like a mask than a veil, an effect which I also like.
At first I tried to create this self portrait by contorting myself in front of the bathroom mirror. Luckily, my daughter was home and agreed to taking some photos of me in a similar pose to Ray’s photograph, and that worked much better.
The poem was inspired by Weekly Writing Prompt #29 from The Secret Keeper. The words fit perfectly into my stitched drawing.