Setting Aside the Sad Politics: Some Art for a Sunday

So in reading my facebook feed this morning, I came across a teaching colleague’s post expressing that he’d more or less had his fill of reading about this sideshow that has been going on in politics.  That we need to start finding something else to talk about, to just get back to the business of lifting ourselves  out of this mess and muck and outright insanity.  So I guess I am posting this short blog with a bit of art that speaks volumes about what gives us hope over despair.

Peace.

“Have you reckon’d a thousand acres much? have you reckon’d the earth much?
Have you practis’d so long to learn to read? Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?
Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems, You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,) You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books, You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me, You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self. ”  —Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself

Henry Tanner, "The Annunciation"

“As we go marching, marching, we bring the greater days,The rising of the women means the rising of the race.No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposes,But a sharing of life’s glories: Bread and roses, bread and roses.Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;Hearts starve as well as bodies; bread and roses, bread and roses.”  —James Oppenheim

Henry Tanner, "The Banjo Lesson"

Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table

When company comes.

Nobody’ll dare

Say to me, “Eat in the kitchen,”

Then. Besides,

They’ll see how beautiful

I am

And be ashamed–
I, too, am America.

Langston Hughes

Jane Gilday performs “Don’t that Beat Everything”

Bob Dylan performing at St. Lawrence Universit...

Image via Wikipedia

Oh the time will come up

When the winds will stop

And the breeze will cease to be breathin’

Like the stillness in the wind

’Fore the hurricane begins

The hour when the ship comes in

Oh the seas will split

And the ship will hit

And the sands on the shoreline will be shaking

Then the tide will sound

And the wind will pound

And the morning will be breaking

Oh the fishes will laugh

As they swim out of the path

And the seagulls they’ll be smiling

And the rocks on the sand Will proudly stand

The hour that the ship comes in

And the words that are used

For to get the ship confused

Will not be understood as they’re spoken

For the chains of the sea

Will have busted in the night

And will be buried at the bottom of the ocean

A song will lift As the mainsail shifts

And the boat drifts on to the shoreline

And the sun will respect

Every face on the deck

The hour that the ship comes in

Bob Dylan

From “When the Ship Comes In”

Copyright © 1963, 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991, 1992 by Special Rider Music

(borrowed as fair use for educational purposes)

Marc Chagall, Paris Opera Ceiling

I choose to be a figure in that light, half-blotted by darkness,

something moving across that space, the color of stone greeting the moon,

yet more than stone: a woman.

I choose to walk here.

And to draw this circle. —Adrienne Rich, from “Twenty-One Love Poems” 1974-76

this arlo guthrie video is so beautiful. ..the embedding doesn’t work, but if you click through, you won’t be sorry.  so inspiring.  thanks, woody and arlo.  🙂

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Process Diary and Some CreativeTips from Charles Bukowski via Tom Waits

Tess Farnham, acrylic on artist's panel: Lily of the Valley

Last night as I was poring through my collection of gardening catalogs, tearing at pages with white flowers mostly: roses,  irises, magnolia. . .I was thinking about the mixed media piece I wanted to finish, but also getting an itch to paint again.  So now I’ve taped more photos over the drafting board and small easel, assembled my brushes and paints. . .the prints from Chagall and Degas are permanent fixtures. Sometimes I add or subtract things, but the photo(s) in the bottom right corner is/are always changing from project to project.  Mother Nature has a way with the arrangement of color and line and I like to follow her suggestions for abstract.

This is almost a spiritual activity for me. I am particular and superstitious about these two things; the same way a little kid can be vigilant about avoiding cracks in the sidewalk, I am persistent about avoiding a naked workspace. After I finish one project and clear the easel or table, I go to the basement and take out a new canvas or wood panel. . .depending on the project, a sheet of Arches, Canson Mixed Media or Mei Teints paper. I may not touch that blank slate for days; nevertheless, I find its placement necessary. It’s my dreaming time, a time for walking past the table or easel and imagining the possibilities.

Chagall Museum Paintings, Nice, France

Image by Jon Himoff via Flickr

In the same way, I also like to have drafts of poetry or blog posts accessible. . .folded fabric and patterns. . .the spices set out for a dish I plan to cook.

Last night, I also spent some downtime reading Sylvia Plath, Rumi, and Robert Bly.

I need to rest in between projects as well. I have to crash. . .to sleep for hours and hours, I guess to incubate and charge my batteries. I think perhaps it’s part of what we do as artists, these periods of intense creating followed by quiet time. Perhaps it’s just mania followed by depression. ..I’m not sure. . ..the scariest feeling being the one when I fear the sleepiness won’t go away. ..I won’t ever write or paint again. ..or be able to stay awake.

And on this final note, I will end with an amazing clip of Tom Waits reading Charles Bukowski, two of my favorite artists, guys who are quite familiar with the reality of the outsider stance and the very real feelings that lead to it.  I hope it inspires you.  . . .