Ocular

I am still waiting for clarity–
sometimes I think about
the things I can’t see
and I wonder how
to place them inside my mind–

Out of the dark and still
I am dreaming of colors
liquid currents of sound
moving in all directions
between the gaps–

Do our visions swim
cataracted with refractions–
flooding the invisible
barriers of the portals
into our eyes?

As I told Phil, this week’s Kick-About prompt, fundus photography, was made for my watercolor mandalas. First, photographing the inner eye naturally makes for roundness, and the liquid state calls for watercolor to represent it.

I did 4 watercolors and embroidered on 2 of them. If I exaggerated the colors a bit, well, my eye often does the same.

dear moon

The prompt for the Kick-About this week is a quote from Murakami’s novel IQ84 where Aomame talks to a cold and silent moon. No one could unlock the heart of the moon, she thinks. She asks the moon some questions: The moon did not answer. But maybe she is only projecting onto the moon a reflection of herself.

keeping her motives
to herself, she likes to move
beyond the in between

going where after is before
all over again

I’m always photographing the moon. I decided to go through my archives and make some postcards from some of my pictures. The results proved to me, once again, that if you take enough photos, some are bound to look good.

I then consulted with the collage box Oracle. The Oracle knows the moon well.

what time is it inside
your dreams?  step through, not around–
inside the journey
is your destination–
no other place but right now

I didn’t plan it that way, but the sequence of photographic messages from the Oracle were easily constructed into a series of Japanese-style poems.

flow into the light
by exploring the patterns
of the universe

You can’t just ask questions; you also need to keep listening for the reply.

hither

I can almost hear them
echoed
on repeat through my bones
spiralled
gifts collected in the overlap of
landsea
the fluid movement that follows
after
what hasn’t happened yet
cleansing

sheer sound waves etched in side winds
calling
I can see them sometimes—doubled
visions
currents vibrating against a blurred sky
gyring
like the shadow of a raptor glimpsed
briefly
between the singing of reflected light
sailed whole

In my mind the Prospect Cottage prompt from the Kick-About, below, intersected with the Otherworld of Brendan’s earthweal prompt and then merged with my shells, collected over years of visits to the ocean. The shore is where I lose myself and meet “Not Here” and Prospect Cottage felt like it was a portal into that suspension of the normal framing of time and space. “Like landing on the moon,” as the narrator said.

Most of my shells are still in storage, but I’ve carried some weathered whelks along with each move I’ve made, both to look at and draw. The spirals sing, and bring the sea to me. I drew three of them from different angles on the same page–first pencil, then colored pencil, then with a brush in gouache.

I decided to add grounds. It’s not always easy to tell when you’ve gone too far, but I think I definitely did so with the colored pencils. I may take an eraser to the ground to fade it so the shells don’t get so lost. I was trying to capture the garden of Prospect Cottage.

The pencil drawing was impossible to photograph well, but I like the weathered effect. I wrote words around and connecting the shells, which you can see better in the close up. These are quotes from the video interspersed with my own observations. This one has exactly the feeling I wanted, of secret messages, indecipherable voices on the wind.

The painted shells–it felt so good to get my gouache out of storage and paint with it again!–captures the colors I was feeling from both prompts–a sense both of otherness and belonging, of being just exactly in the right place without time.

Carapace

Carapace
who speaks?—carapace
dream landscape
indigo
blue paths going from nowhere
into nowhere else.

A shelter?–
a support?–cosmic
tree growing
up and up
with turtles all the way down
to infinity…

green sea turtle s

Sarah at dVerse asks us to consider the word blue. I did have a dream with a disembodied voice repeating “carapace”, and used it as inspiration for the shells I painted for the Kick-About prompt “Museum Wormarianum”. The dream was saturated in blues.

Both Nina and I have painted and drawn and photographed turtles and tortoises many times at memadtwo. They are wonderful–and need I say? endangered–creatures, believed by some cultures to hold the earth, and all life, on their backs.

And here’s some classic blues performed by the Turtle Island String Quartet.

The Song of Love 1 and 2

1 Here

a handless glove, a stone
visage.  A blue orb
planted with life.  Dust
seeds blown by
cosmic winds.

Look backward to see
the future.  Ruins
of visions.  Monumental
doors to nowhere.
The detritus of humanity.
Is this all
that we wish
to leave behind?

Canto d amore - Song of love - Giorgio De Chirico - 1914

The Kick-About prompt for this week is de Chirico’s enigmatic painting “The Song of Love”, above. The collage I did evolved from a lot of other ideas, merging with Merril’s quadrille prompt at dVerse to use the word seed, and Brendan’s prompt at earthweal to write Songs of the Earth Shaman.

2  A Meditation or Maybe a Prayer

for those who ask and those
who don’t answer.  For those
who always make way and those
who have never been found.
For what we know and refuse
to acknowledge.  For what
stands in the center of what
we think we believe.  For what
remains when faith has fallen
apart.  For the times that we
begin again and the times
that seem to have no ending.
For what we hold against
others and what we keep
to ourselves.  For the impossible
and the improbable and all
the borders we draw to keep
from finding out.

Listen.  I am
waiting for you
to come home.

I needed to consider this seemingly unsolvable riddle that is human life on earth from more than one side.

rampant grace

“You were once wild here.  Don’t let them tame you.”
–Isadora Duncan

presence, breath,
the mystery of
the body–
here and now,
never once upon a time–
wild eternity

full of what
is—translating and
transforming
each step through
the labyrinth that is you–
synchronal, alive

This is a Kick-About prompt (the quote from Isadora Duncan) that I never posted. I had an idea to do collage illustrations, but the photos of Isadora dancing made me want to try to capture them in gestural drawings.

I haven’t used pastels in a long time, but I can see why Degas chose them so often to render his dancers. The body becomes transformed by dance, lighter and more transparent. Otherworldly.

For NaPoWriMo, and also linking to the dVerse prompt from Grace, The Body & Poetry.

The Age of Aquarius

Back when the musical “Hair” came out, some astrologers grumbled that it wasn’t really the Age of Aquarius yet.  But what did we care?  We were tired of the world as it was, ready for Peace Love and Understanding.

Well…maybe not.

chaotic stillness
watching from the whorled center
for new beginnings

During 2020 there were rumblings once again online about the REAL Age of Aquarius finally showing up.  I was skeptical to say the least.

all those lost patterns–
I collect them in my mind,
in new rotations

It seems we had the Age of Aquarius skewed, not only in time.  Yes, it’s a total tearing down and rebuilding.  But it’s going to require hard work.  Taking a lot of drugs and wearing tie-dye and listening to songs about love won’t do it.

all impermanence—
no matter which way you turn
the path continues

Can we change our entire approach to living together, not only with each other, but with the earth, its creatures, its landscape, its elements?  We need to if we want to survive.

giving myself hope
inside my dark wanderings–
a world of wonder

When Phil asked me to choose this week’s Kick-About prompt, I thought immediately of The Age of Aquarius, because I’ve been turning over in my mind the hope that it might be real, that humanity can change. I always loved the music posters of the “Hair” era, and used them as inspiration for my neon colored paintings.

I’m looking forward to seeing all the other responses next week.

Soundings

tides entombed in unchanging light,
reflecting the absent sky,
shimmering with intangibles–
an ancient web woven with stories–

the stilled sea contemplates its origins–
heavy with the cadences of gravity
boundaried by the afterlife–
tides entombed in unchanging light–

surrounded and asunder, astonishment
becomes tinged with enigmatic clarity–
holding particles of stars as if enshrined,
reflecting the absent sky–

the fulcrum rests inside the echo
of what endures, arising
from an aqueous womb
shimmering with intangibles–

the circle continues, horizonless,
quivering in confluence–
who can refuse the voices of the sea?–
an ancient web woven with stories–

I’ve been futzing around with this all week, inspired by the Kick-About prompt, Eugen von Ransonnet-Villez, and the earthweal challenge natural forces. The painting above, my first attempt, probably has 20 painted layers. Watercolor looks very different wet, and each time it dried I was dissatisfied with the result.

Eugen von Ransonnet-Villez was an Austrian artist who designed a diving bell, below, so he could paint the landscape that existed under the sea. This was in the 1860s–both crazy and fantastic. His paintings have an eerie green magic, which was what I was trying to capture.

Eugen Ransonnet-Villez

Because what is the sea but the most elemental of magic?

Like Ransonnet-Villez, I wished to immerse myself inside of it. Being at the moment concrete-bound, I could only try to conjure it with words and paint.

Rhetoric

The Kick-About prompt this time around is “The Five Canons of Rhetoric”. My mind glazed over as I read through these rigid and formal ways of organizing communication. Of course the word rhetoric has multiple meanings, the first of which, according to dictionary.com, is “(in writing or speech) the undue use of exaggeration or display; bombast”. Something we all been oversubjected to of late.

What is true of all the definitions is that rhetoric involves the use of language. One synonym given particularly caught my eye: ” balderdash–senseless, stupid, or exaggerated talk or writing; nonsense”. The word nonsense immediately made me think of the surrealists.

The surrealists felt that letting go of the need to control your creation would reveal deeper truths. This was true of both visual and written art. They rejected logic and reason.

I often use surrealistic techniques for both my art and my writing. I’ve been doing rorschach images for awhile–these little cards are done by dripping the leftover paint from my watercolors onto the card and folding it in half. Usually the layers are done in several sessions.

I also compose comments for my images using words and phrases I’ve cut out of magazines and advertisements. I limit myself to what’s contained in one envelope for each card, and often spend quite a long time choosing and arranging them. I call it the collage box oracle, as it’s similar to using magnetic poetry. I was originally inspired by Claudia McGill, who is a master at this technique.

I’m usually surprised by what appears. It always makes me think.

I first scanned in just the images, and then worked on the words. When I went to scan them in, I realized I had changed the orientation of the image in half of them. Another unexpected surprise.

Surrealistic Rhetoric has no pretense to being anything but a random arrangement of words. But somehow it manages to incorporate at least 4 of the classical canons–invention, arrangement, style, and delivery. As to memory–well, canon #7 deals with that.

The Eight Canons of Surrealist Rhetoric

Is there anything more archetypal than nothing?

Space is just energy deconstructing.

You expected evolving to be more complex.

Adventure awaits beyond the details of yourself.

Fools rush into the shadow of the projected image.

I was invented from the earth’s fertile surfaces–
otherwise my unlimited nakedness would be alarming.

My plans are to forget to remember.

There was a window from the start—simple and mysterious–
imagine looking through it to what is hidden between.

Seed Stitches

I thread
the needle and
spirit passes into
matter returning to
the center of
the (w)hole

I twine
the floss around
the needle—one two three–
casting strands into knots
spelling rhythmic
patterns

I pause
to connect what
lies hidden below the
coiled surface—roots binding
up and down to
between

The Kick-About prompt this time was The Ashley Book of Knots, below. It’s been a long time since I did any macrame, but I love to embroider, entranced by everything about it–the floss itself, the color and texture, the rhythmic and repetitive motions that are so like meditation, the gradual revelation of something new.

I’ve done a lot of embroidery on paper, but I couldn’t remember ever trying French Knots, also called Seed Stitch. My mandala papers are fairly sturdy, so I painted one, inspired by Monet, and searched through my embroidery floss boxes for similar colors.

Besides their practical and decorative uses, knots can symbolize many things, from the vows of marriage, to a puzzle to be solved. They are connected to threads of all kinds, and thus the interweavings that form and support all of life.

The French Knot is a simple stitch–wind the floss 3 times around the needle and reinsert it into the hole made by bringing the thread to the surface–but like many simple things, it’s easy to become tangled up if you aren’t paying attention. Something that applies to all creative endeavors involving fibers.

I’ve used the Badger’s Hexastitch form for my poem.