Intuition Is Science Enough

Projected onto the screen was a picture of brightly colored flowers.  In the second frame, a picture of simple horizontal lines of varying widths painted in the same hues as the flowers: reds, greens, blues, and yellows, some grey, some white, some pink, some dark brown, beige.  Then, a peacock painted in those hues again.

The assignment was to choose an object from the natural world, or a picture of a natural object, and do a type of color analysis.  Observe the colors present, then take a piece of bristol and paint a bar code illustrating the approximate amounts of each color.  Using this bar code as a guide, create a whole new design depicting those same proportions of those same hues.  At this point in the project explanation the professor, also a painter and color expert, began giggling.

“My husband, he is an engineer,” she said.  “He doesn’t like this project, he thinks it doesn’t work.  Because how can you really measure how much of each color there really is, how are they measuring?”

At this she burst into hysterical laughter.  As if one could not have underscored a more unnecessary, comically uninformed, endearingly quaint point.

“These are ART students,” she exclaimed in a tone of voice so exhilarated by amusement you’d expect to see tears also.

“These are ART students.  There’s no, MEASURING.”

“Hahaahahaahahaaha!!”  Shiny pools filling her green eyes.  “Hahahaha!”

“They are just, E Y E B A L L I N G.

 

 

Advertisements

Essay For A New Pleasure

We were on the BART train when he turned sideways toward me and leaned back at the same time and smiling that quirky-goofy smile he asked me, where would I go if I could go anywhere in the world right now and I said, I’d go somewhere where nobody’s ever been.  Where nobody’s ever seen before, ever known.  He asked if I was sure there was such a place and I said there must be.  It all popped out of my mouth automatically, without really thinking like I already knew.  Not sure if it needed to be a geographic place or any kind of a physical place although that would be nice… but trying to conjure up and describe one right then seemed feigned or misleading just for the sake of giving an answer.  Maybe some island or like anywhere that’s been undiscovered, I said.  I think it was more about my attraction to poetry and art.  There’s the kind of adventure where you go places and then there’s adventures of the imagination.

The person who asked me this question became my boyfriend.  He was a painter.  With him long gone for many years, it’s now me who paints.  I was only nineteen so I didn’t know you’ll get lucky sometimes and find people to go places, but almost no one to take the second kind of trip with you.  So, so few.

Work, the news, political debates, problems of the world, money and appearances, critiquing and criticizing everything – so much to suffocate life.  It all seems to get enough attention, I don’t think any of it needs me.  I want different things to be important.

On a date in my thirties I usually find that the first thing someone wants to know is what you do.  How about another question I think, anything but that.  I want to know why work is so important compared to the chip in your tooth, the way you kiss, the colors in your individual strands of hair, the placement of lines in your face, your point of view, the map of your town, what kind of fruit you like, what makes you happy, what kind of dreams you have, how you move and the way you think, whether you’d enjoy a mysterious piece of art just for the imagery or the musical quality without worrying about the meaning, or pitch a tent somewhere in a rock shelter in the pouring rain and watch the storm pass on an extended trek in the high mountains, or if you’d rather turn back, and yet it’s so few people I feel so deeply curious about when I look in their eyes that it would hurt if they’re not very curious about me.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with work.  I work for a living too and damn well appreciate it.  As much as it supports my needs my job doesn’t reflect my actual reality inside, which could be something that doesn’t have to connect to events, something to choose each day no matter the scenario.  Work for me has become more like a fact of life than a statement about worth or perspective or values.  And what happens when you don’t have that job anymore, or when you don’t have that stuff any more, then what?  I don’t like to ask people what they do for a living.  I want my experience of you to be free from all that.  Maybe one day, tell me what you do.  For now, I just don’t even want to know.  I want to know you in this moment, now immediately.

“But what you do is pretty much what you are, right?” I’ve heard.  I can’t answer anymore, only giggle.

At the moment I am single in this world and I take journeys by myself every day.  Sometimes for an hour, sometimes for ten.  Sometimes it’s a lonely journey.  Sometimes it’s so wonderful I forget I’m alone.  Maybe even most of the time.  Even as I’d yearn for more road trips and new cities and beaches and trails and peaks, I’m still going places I’ve never been without even leaving the house.  Seeing in new ways, having new experiences, creating something new as well as consuming it.  I don’t have everything I want or even everything I need sometimes, but this might be the happiest I’ve ever been.

Listening to the strange music of stained glass rip and crack with each score and break into quirky, imprecise shapes dropping down onto my worktable, those first couple of lines from Cumming’s poem “somewhere i have never traveled, gladly beyond / any experience” rings in my ears also.  “somewhere i have never traveled, gladly beyond / any experience”… This is today’s ride, having never done this before this fall.  Mosaics have fascinated me for years and I’ve long wished I could make them myself.   There’s been so many things I’ve wondered how does anyone do that, but having turned a corner I don’t wonder anymore, I just go find out how and then do it.  I’m not sure why it had never occurred to me before, that it could really be that simple.  Like I had this idea that people just magically know how to do things already.  They must have started a long time ago.

A logic (not really) that so clearly doesn’t follow here.  It’s doubtful we’ll hear any stories about young mosaic prodigies who were just born with the natural gift, unless there’s anybody out there who finds it perfectly acceptable to sit down a five year old with piles of glass, cutters and pliers and encourage them to cut out a hundred triangles and then mix some cement.  No, it’s a pretty safe bet that this is something most commonly learned as an adult.  Setting aside artistic instinct or some skill in design or color, each one begins with the same level of technical incompetence.

It was the painter -also otherwise employed- who first inspired my interest in mosaics, although I never asked him how he’d done those few ceramic tile pieces he made.  Even though words and pictures have always gone together for me, and even though I’ve turned cameras into instruments and occasionally painted or sketched or collaged almost as long as I’ve been writing, I had this story for a long time that I could only really “just” be a poetry writer and also that it was the most I could afford.  For a genre elevated to the extent of being called “the highest form of art,” poetry’s also the cheapest form as all you need is to take out a pen and paper.  And not even that much paper.  With poetry your art is always portable too, which I gratefully celebrated on a different kind of journey in whichever guest room or bus ride or camp site or hotel bed I found myself in years ago while convinced I was running toward something new rather than away from essays, debates, the news, politics, problems and appearances, and my friend the painter who left not only me but this whole world.  It was worth it, is all I’m saying on that for now.

And, imagination is a force, as the poet Barbara Guest suggests.  Or sure can be.

My first mosaic early in the process.  So happy to have found a local artist who teaches.  In future I’ll remember to protect my laptop also, not just my eyes.

 

IMG_5596

 

 

Many Hours Later

 

This sketch in a notebook

 

IMG_4790.jpg resized

 

 

became these

 

 

 

IMG_4752 copy 2 resize super extra small copy

 

 

 

IMG_4752 copy 2 resize super extra small 2 copy

 

 

 

and this unfinished simplified idea to play with some more

 

 

 

IMG_4719

 

 

 

That first skeletal, undeveloped and seemingly random cluster of lines in my notebook looks more like a doodle, but I call it a sketch on account of it (somehow) being considered an actual design plan in my head at the time.  Although this outcome was unexpected…

 

 

 

Poet For Hire

My cousin encountered this amazing human in “New Orleans – French Quarter Royal St June 24” (per camera location notes) and sent me a text joking, “Shawna, I found you a husband.”  The best part of this being that she might be the only one in our family who’d encounter someone like this and immediately think of me/identify my “kind.”  Strangely, while easily befriending artists and photographers, I rarely seem to attract other writers.

How brave is this guy.  And not because… is that an ice chest full of beer in the street?

Je me demande s’il parle français.

 

IMG_3879

 

 

IMG_3878.jpg resize

 

 

 

In the Yard of a Stranger

I pull my ankles up to sit cross-legged on a pale yellow cushion in the wrought iron chair with the sea-green tint over grey on the patio.   I know magic because I have been here before.  I have been deep in magic and I go there now.  I sit in the warm spring sun and forget about my cup of coffee on the little round green table.   A bee circling below my feet crawls across the cement beneath the chair.  I know it’s there but don’t look.  I sit in the center of the warm cement slabs on the pale yellow cushion in the iron chair with the sea-green tint over grey surrounded by trees and large leafy plants in the yard scattered with white and yellow and pinkish red flowers against the fence.   Time goes away when I close my eyes and listen.  I listen to everything at once.  Not one at a time, all at once taking effort at first.  I listen to the outside, to the many varieties of bird calls, to the dog after a squirrel, to the wind, the traffic, the voices of passerby and neighbors, to a distant siren, to my friend saying something inside the house, I listen to this chorus and allow myself to drop into it.  I listen until finally I almost completely stop hearing.  I no longer hear all the different bird calls because now I feel them instead.  Feel them all around me and inside myself, feel them in my being, feel the boundaries of my body melt.  Until one sound begins to stands out.  The sound of one bird’s call vibrating deep within in my system like a drum, this call sounds like a blue light.  I don’t think about my lost friend, don’t think about my lover, don’t think about the tears I cried for an entire year, and the years before, don’t think about writing, about work, about pressure.  I don’t think about them but they are all still here.  I just feel all of them and I feel calm with them.  I could stay here much longer in this chair and listen with my whole body.  I let my mind travel somewhere else inside myself.  So far beyond my thoughts and feelings I can no longer move.  My body shuts off then disappears.  Whatever’s left after this, the rest of me absorbs the light and sound and the elements of wind, the pollen.  Whatever’s left feels so in love with this world, all of it.  Whatever’s left accepts everything as is.  Whatever’s left stays forever in this place and doesn’t resist.  The warm spring sun I forget I am sitting in to enjoy in the chair I no longer feel, is what I become.

 

 

I Believe In Love Because the Alternative Is So Much Worse

 

This orchid’s bloom cycle lasted longer than usual this time around.  Finally it begins to droop and fall, the same week of a not quite articulated yet obvious impending goodbye to a friend.  A spooky coincidence, or maybe the bad vibe actually did kill my flower.

img_3590.jpg final size adjust

 

It had been dormant, too, for more than a year before blooming in the midst of the season’s overabundance of rain and uncharacteristic near-freezing temperatures.  It had hardly seemed like winter from this point of view.

img_2993.jpg final size adjust

 

 

img_3089.jpg final size adjust

 

Sometimes plants and flowers do things for me that people can’t.  Especially when people can’t…

 

 

To this I can’t help but comply with full attention.

IMG_2529

 

 

Somehow the bright orange and yellow speckles makes this messy overgrowth appear more intentional and pulled together to me.  Like wearing nice clothes but opting out of shower, shave, and brushing teeth.

img_3619-2.jpg final size adjust

 

 

Pretty red flowers, how much I just love this shade of red:

img_3808

 

 

Looks like sprouted fish eggs genetically modified by cheeky vegan scientists to produce inedible baby flowers instead of fry.  Seriously not sure if these neon pink (totally unedited) flowers were real, or if or if the camera made it all up just to fuck with me.

IMG_3669 (1)

 

 

I’ll take the love wherever I can get it.

resize for blog

 

 

As for these, the same applies.  Strange as it may seem.

IMG_3504.jpg

 

IMG_3500.jpg

 

Version 2

 

IMG_1954

 

 

IMG_3641edit contrast

 

 

size-test-2 copy 3 edited copy 4

 

This is no place for resolutions not to care about anybody or anything anymore.  In this place you are not wrong and they are not wrong, nobody is wrong.  Nobody is right.  It’s fine to wear the same clothes as yesterday, eat ice cream and cheeze-its for lunch and not give a shit sometimes.  It’s fine to fall for another epic sleep for the third or fourth time, to lie in bed all day for how many days in a row, don’t remember.  This place accepts your tears but it’s also a place where the cruelest phases are meant to end if you let them.  Why because this place embraces all of you.

This place will not eat you up inside, will not burn you out.  This place gives all of itself, everything, whether or not it’s seen.  Above all – this place is not stupid.  It is absolutely not stupid.  Yet it is not clever either.

This place doesn’t need other people’s opinions about what’s wrong.  This place isn’t as lost as it appears.

This place is no place special.  No place unique.  No where to go, no where to travel.  This place is all around everywhere and even in the worst most unbearable phases of life which we will all inevitably experience, it’s available anytime.