The prompt for the Kick-About #5 on Red’s Kingdom blog was the early Alice Neel painting, Symbols (see below). I decided to do some monoprints and had several tries where the prints just weren’t matching the vision in my head for this challenge. Finally, in frustration, I mixed some fabric ink I had with the printing ink on a small metal rolling plate and had that moment of excitement when I pulled the paper off the plate. The two inks weren’t really compatible (even says so on the bottles!) and the effect was much closer to what I was looking for – much closer to Alice’s experience, I think. Alice Neel’s biography is fascinating and she lived a difficult life as a woman artist, receiving popular recognition only later in life. She painted unvarnished, unflinching portraits of her subjects and from what I read, never compromised on that.
Thank you, Kerfe for the Kick-About inspiration! (And you are right – I had seen some of Alice Neel’s portraits – although it was the one of a heavily pregnant woman in bed. It was in a larger show about less-often-portrayed nude figures). The entire collection of responses to the Kick-About #5 goes up next week on Phil’s blog – so stay tuned!
About two weeks ago, my grandmother passed away of natural causes (not Covid-related) at 102 years old. Her funeral was held last week amongst continuing coronavirus restrictions and the pastor noted that she was born during one pandemic (the 1918 Spanish Flu) and died during another – but that this isn’t what defines her, or anyone’s life.
Since she died, I keep coming back to this poem by Carol Muske-Dukes – maybe because my grandmother lingered in a semi-conscious state for almost a week before she died, maybe because it describes so accurately how we didn’t know how to let her go. I had done this drawing as a response to the poem 4 years ago – and when I went back and looked at it last week, it felt unfinished. Now that I had a face to go with the poem, I added the details and shadows it needed. I also added the final words of the poem onto the drawing directly, to fix them there permanently.
If you’d like to read the whole poem, which was part of a series of art-poem collaborations at The New York Times Style Magazine, you can go here.
Since Monday’s post had a science themed collage for Phil’s Kick-About Number #4, I visited the archive to see about another science themed collage. I came across this one, for a William Carlos William’s poem. I laughed because I got the background image for this one – you can see the “heat” and “cold” peaking out from the lady’s shoulder – from the same source as the center image in “Mirror Neurons.” It was a science textbook from the early 60’s I got for free out of the discard pile at the library. The science in it was outdated and often overtly sexist and racist – so I cut out the best of the illustrations and art and consigned the rest to the dustbin of history.
The entirety of the poem is posted after the read more tag, along with the text of the original post and a link (which is still good, I checked) to an online archive of Williams reading his own poems.
I discovered Phil’s Red’s Kingdom blog through Kerfe Roig (Thank you, Kerfe!) – Phil hosts a group art prompt he calls The Kick-About which is fabulous for discovering new artists to love. I was inspired by the Kick-About #4 prompt, which was a short clip from Jean Cocteau’s “Orpheus”
After Tuesday’s polaroid eye doodle post, I went back into the archives to find another eye to go with it for today – and I found this collage I did for the poem “Science” by Robinson Jeffers. This is actually a revision of one of my very first posts, and I still like this revised collage better (if you’d like to compare, the original collage is below the read more tag). This one is more focused and captures the mystery I was going for better.
A little bit more about Mr. Jeffers, from the original text of my post:
“I had several science related writing deadlines this last weekend and during a bout of procrastination, I decided to revisit my illustration for the excellent and mysterious poem “Science” by Robinson Jeffers. I found I was still happy with my collage (which is not always a given when revisiting an illustration!), but decided to change the field of view in order to cast a more ethereal mood. If you’d like to see the original post with the full collage, head right over here. Mr. Jeffers led a very colorful and extremely successful poetic life – he is one of the few poets to have been on the cover of Time magazine and his face was featured posthumously on a postage stamp. The sharp decline of his popular legacy is often tied to his staunch open opposition to WWII and other viewpoints considered unpatriotic at the time. Mr. Jeffers spent most of his life in Carmel, California, and built his home and a four story tower by hand out of stone. Read the full text of “Science” here.”
This collage also came out of my surreal headlines experiment – it turned into a micro-poem I was happy with and also seems to me to capture the contradictions of the world right now.
As I mentioned before, I found all of this expired polaroid film cleaning out my father’s house – and some of it wouldn’t develop at all and just popped out with a solid tan “unexposed” background (see above). Some did develop…sort of. So during the lockdown I’ve been making collage/drawing on them and seeing where that takes me.
During the lockdown, I also started working through Ursula K. Le Guin’s Steering the Craft book of writing advice and exercises, trying to get more confidence in my writing. I’ve been posting my responses to those exercises over at Evening Satellite Publishing and if anyone wants to follow along or give feedback, I’d be most appreciative!
I was going through all my old posts (over 450 of them – yikes!) in order to organize and archive them and found this gem from 5 and half years ago – I clearly like making collages with polaroid film! I fully admit that some old posts did not age well, but this one struck me the same as it did when I first put it up. Although it is boiling hot where I live right now, I reason that this poem doesn’t have a season: the mouse is always trying to find shelter from the elements be they hot or cold.
Text of the original post, with information about Lorine Niedecker below.
I dug out my monoprint and linoprint supplies from the closet yesterday hoping to start making monoprints again and found this linocut print of mine in an envelope. It was like greeting an old friend after a long absence! Many years ago I attended a seminar where fluid dynamics in regards to living organisms were discussed in detail and, as it is not my field of expertise, I began to doodle and free associate words – a bit of a surrealist exercise. This linoprint was the result.
Please stay safe and healthy and sane in these crazy times!
I had another illustrated poem on polaroid film to post this week, but it didn’t feel right. There are no other words that matter for this day; there is no doodle, no collage that could ever go with them; it is the grief, the pain, spreading across the world.
I posted this originally in August 2015 and that definitely feels like more than 5 years ago! Continuing on the theme of surreal this week, these surrealist proverbs were published in 1925. Both men survived the horrors of WW1 – Paul Éluard worked at a military hospital for much of the war, where he was assigned to write letters to dead soldier’s families. He wrote up to 150 per day.
The text of my original post is below. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy!