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.
the world is flat and old
and yet it reels
my brain throbs silver gold
just like dead air
it isn’t there
this heat grows ever cold
in pulsing swells
a taunting hell
an absence that won’t hold
Long ago and far away, Jane Dougherty posed her next-to-last poetry challenge, “Painful Silence”, with this evocative migrane-inspired image:
The end of September was right when Nina and I began our break and it took me several weeks to complete the embroidered collage. The repetition of stitching is very satisfying and a good antidote to agitation for me though. So it worked on many levels.
I did Jane’s final poetry challenge too; to be posted at some future date.
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.
Places Filled (for Sharon Jones)
It hurts. There’s
something just beyond.
Slow it down.
I’m still here.
Got to be the way it is.
I’m not gonna cry.
I learned the hard way.
Sing and be
You’ve got to believe. Freedom
come. Come sing me home.
Words taken from the legacy of the music of Sharon Jones
New York is cold (for Leonard Cohen)
traces sing now?
a voice leaving footprints
on fragments, in absence, ghost path
Beware of Darkness (for Leon Russell)
Trace your voice, gone silent now. No words,
a path unforked, a place untimed.
I’m singing this song, now, to
you. Sounds falling alone,
sense without context.
It was a bad week. When I did these paintings, it was with trepidation, as I hadn’t picked up a brush in quite awhile. But it was easy to get lost in the doing and felt good.
The poems use the secret keeper’s prompts from October 17 (#59):
GONE – SENSE – TRACE – VOICE – PATH
I’ve got folders containing a lot of the WordPress prompts from the past 2 months, although after the first 2 weeks I didn’t do much with them except write some poems, now in a folder marked “needs art”. I’m working on it.
Five foot two, eyes of
brown, last seen wearing dark green.
Black hat, also gone.
Falling farther off
course, a bottomless journey
that threatens to stay.
Questions posed as clues.
Perhaps a tender heart worn
yearning at the edge.
It’s been almost a year since I’ve done one of these portraits. I’m still getting Silver Alerts in my inbox on a regular basis though.
The poem uses words from the Alert for Henry, as well as the Secret Keeper’s words this week
CLUE – COURSE – TENDER – THREAT – POSE
You can see the entire Missing series here.
Lie down beneath the shadow of the stars
the summer night is lonely, full of haze
the sea reflects the silent air so dark
and good things never last, or so they say
But open up your heart, release your mind
and see the sun despite the purple sky
the waters laugh and sparkle, move and shine
the world goes round and round as echoes fly
And if the heavens give us pearls and dreams
and if a blue moon showers us with words
and if a shining diamond fills the seas
why can’t the starfish transform into birds?
Imagine that these clouds hold hands with love
and rain the stars from eyes to skies above
For some reason, the photo in Jane Dougherty’s meter poetry challenge this week (above) immediately made me think of Prince. I decided to use snippets from his lyrics, along with Jane’s words suggestions of “stars, night and water”, in my poem. I thought about a ballad, but in the end trying another sonnet seemed to fit the best. This second sonnet attempt was definitely easier than the first.
These Rorschach paintings are also going interesting places.
Enjoy your weekend!
A classmate of mine put together a video of my class (Eastside High School, Paterson, NJ) which I got a real kick out of. Oh, some of those hairdos! As one classmate put it “the world is like a teen age hairdo–a blown up mess”. The world was a lot simpler then. No technology and the only girls’ sport was bowling. Still, we learned a lot and all got along well. Here’s my yearbook photo.
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.
some say yes
some say no
some welcome Death
some invite it
some force it to stay
some say wait
I’m not ready
some laugh at Death
some curse it
some are too surprised
is Death cold
or is it hotter
or is it on
does Death have hands
does it embrace
does it strangle or
does it cradle
does it bathe
in darkness or
does it bathe
is it a prayer
is it a question
what is this
that I can’t see
Ralph Stanley, who died last week at the age of 89, was a performer of traditional mountain music with a unique and powerful voice. His popularity soared after his version of “O Death” was included in the film “O Brother Where Art Thou”. Hearing him sing it will, to paraphrase Carole King, chill your soul right down to the marrow. But his legacy reaches far beyond one song: using both his voice and his own banjo style, he helped nourish new generations of musicians to preserve the music of the Appalachian region, a singular blend of the songs of its many ancestors.
You can read the words to “O Death” and hear Ralph Stanley perform it here.