#Selfie 19: The Writing of Book

As predicted, each painting for #Selfie has had it’s own arc of becoming.  They have all been surprises, have all taught me things I wouldn’t otherwise know. It’s been a privilege to be at the centre of this project and participate in the discovery, the shaping and polishing of each facet.  Quite a geological process – I am changed by it, I know.

I sat down to pull the book together and realized that even though the whole project has a broader, wider arc I was still inside it, making.  Still in process, still on the curve…

It became clear over the days of showing up for writing that this lovely broad #Selfie arch also had a corresponding shadow.  As I walked along this one it became narrower, and darker, and steeper – in descent.

Then I realized, “Ah.  This is personal now.”

also, “Ah.  This is writing of Book”.

'map' for the last #Selfie painting, Totem.
‘map’ for the last #Selfie painting, Totem.

#Selfie has been a great collaborative experience – music, performance art, spoken word, poetry, well-considered response and story.  Ron de Boer and staff, david sereda, Kristan Anderson, Larry Jensen, Coco Love Alcorn, Christopher McGruer, Paul Hartmann, Christian Wilke, Marcus Vichert, Norm Bell, Thom MacFarlane, Kate Walsh, John Fearnall, Brad Morley, Frank Klaassen… so many more who climbed in and on to add thought, response, notice, rhyme, feeling, rhythm, comment.  Highly resonant, this idea of examining #Selfie.

#Selfie Examination.

three of five images, underdrawing...
three of five images, underdrawing…

Did I think it had already got personal, in the making of the paintings?  Yes.  Yes I did think that.

But the paintings were one of five components to #Selfie.  There was also the collaborative performance; the collaborative spoken word; the blog (the way in to the paintings); and the book.  The book is the larger arc – both visible and public, and invisible, personal.  Not a compilation (though I thought that’s what it would be), not a summary or a closing paragraph.  It has elements of those ideas, but the book needed to be a distillation of the experience into something …chewable.

So I wrote a folk tale.

all five images on, blue wash on butterfly
all five images on, blue wash on butterfly

It begins this way,

A girl was born with a sleeping wound buried deep inside her.  She also had joy, which was clear for anyone to see.

While she was growing up, her family, who loved her very much, gave her another wound to keep, and buried it deep in her future.  They also gave her love, which was clear for anyone to see.

They made the wound they gave her out of pieces of their own memories, fragments of their parent’s arguments, scattered bits of rage and anger that they had collected from behind the doors and under the carpets, in the chesterfield beneath the pillows, under the beds, under the kitchen sink.  they put all of their hopes and dreams for her in the wound, and wrapped it all up in a beautiful cloth made from their love.

That was the way it had happened for them, the way it had always been, and the way it would always be.

more colour
more colour, corrected drawing

I’ve loved the essential nature of Folk Tales for as long as I can remember.  They don’t mess around with descriptive filler or emotional drama, but deliver metaphor in layers which the reader can take in and combine, to build their own image and intuitive response.  Always I’m trying to do this with my paintings.  This last #Selfie painting more than any of the others – possibly because of the book writing, and the Folk Tale…

When the time came for the girl to leave her parents and seek her fortune, everyone agreed that she was well-prepared.  Beautiful and full of life, promise, intelligence and talent, it was clear that she would have no trouble finding success, fulfilment, happiness and love.

And so she did.  As the years passed, everyone who knew her was reassured by the clean arc of her life, since This was the way it had happened for them, The way it had always been, The way it would always be.

She herself was happy, content and grateful for the comforts she enjoyed, until she came to the day in her future where her parents’ gift was buried.

TotemJuly27

Today from 6 until 8pm we will launch the book and this final #Selfie painting.  The show will come down on August 8th, and then #Selfie will be in Chapter Two, which I’ve not written yet, but I shall.  Here’s the link to that event if you’re nearby & on facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/events/748736241853940/

The story to be told there is a more introspective one – it’s mine, certainly, but also it belongs to anyone who is pulled to #Selfie Examination.  Good heavens there are riches there – fragility; audacity; strength; disempowerment; blind, mute sadness; singing joy; risk and nourishment.  It behooves one to keep walking down the path….

Final painting.  This was taken outside at 6am, so as always, the colour is... interpretive.  Come and see the original if you can.
Final painting. This was taken outside at 6am, so as always, the colour is… interpretive. Come and see the original if you can.

In the story, the girl meets a Hermit.  Then she meets the Great God Pan.  Then she meets Baba Yaga, and ….

Well, write to me if you want the rest of the story.  It belongs, I think, to all of us.

 

Release

Every once in a while I see a bald eagle in the sky,  like poetry so beautiful and alive I stop breathing.

snow2

We have entered the long cold of January.  Winter came early this year – two months ago –  to invite us deep inside where we can tend to the root of things, tune our eyes to the subtle colours of the great Hush.  This is permission to follow – slowly, slowly – a whispering line of thought down the long path, to pause at each wonder that emerges, then continue …

To walk on frozen water.

whouff.  I think that's the word.

An invitation to meet one’s Self, again and again in the cold and the warmth, in conversation, in music, in colour and in silence.  To introspect.

Positive and negative space; high contrast in the stark white days where eagles fly, fishing, the long nights where bears sleep under resplendent starlight.  This is when stories are found and told.  When songs are made and learned, paintings begun and finished.  When courage burns warm like a hearth-fire.

snow3

The warm bustle of work begins soon.  Right now I find myself steeped and floating in gratitude.

 

The Great, Resounding Green

South of the house from the quarry – always at least ten degrees hotter there – the sun heats the bedrock, which radiates up. We are so thankful for the shade from the upper deck…

…trees like green walls out every window, on every floor.  This happened suddenly, when the ash leaves opened – about 3 weeks ago.  Now the air tastes still and green and humid-heavy, builds in a dark blustering crash to thundering rain on our metal roof, then abates and burns with full sun again.  Even the cats run outside for a shower, then come in to melt on the slate floor when the heat returns.

Northwest side of the house – you can see the wind coming up, tho the skies are still clear. They get increasingly broody, then dump water, make loud booms & cracks and move on in an hour. Such is June this year, 2012…

I’m at my studio now, fan at my back pulling air in from the open window, and throwing it (warm, even), at my skin.  It’s dark, even at 8pm with the sun still full outside – I dare not turn on the studio halogens for fear of broiling my mind into stupidity.  The light table also will be impossibly hot.  So I write.

The light of the day will be gone in an hour, and by its reflection I can see my shovel and my axe paintings on the far wall, emerging nicely into what they will become.  These two paintings are like backward-method sculptures as they develop, very interesting to me.  It’s as though the illusion of depth is growing around the image, so they appear and disappear, then appear again.   Painting is additive and sculpture subtractive, but I imagine the process of listening and responding to what’s happening to the piece is the same.

Pics soon for this studio stuff.  My camera’s in the (hot) car, and I don’t want to go down and get it.  I’ll add them here & re-post.

In addition to the visual depth that is increasingly apparent, there is history and personality embedded in them.  The stretched canvases they’re on have been active tools in my cello teaching these past six months or more.  When things get too intense in a lesson (always there are many ways around a physical or psychological obstacle to success!)  my students put down their instruments and draw big swooping lines there – anger, fear, frustration, release, joy, growth.  So Shovel and Axe will forever be twinned in music as well as in earth and wood. Full credit to my students – those are some incredibly communicative lines – full of energy.

This cello student participation behooves me to write and record a cello/ voice soundtrack to go with the installation of these pieces. Hopefully my students can add their voices to it.

Oh – and there will be a pitchfork too.  A couple of hammers.  A clamp, a crowbar, and a wrench.  A scythe.  Each of these tools is incredibly, impossibly old – some prehistoric, in their usefulness, at least.  Each one is a work of imagination and engineering – the more I dig into the research, the more enamoured I am.

It’s good to be back.

‘best

K