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.

visitations

Once again, the Oracle made me work hard. I did not intend this to accompany the image I did for the Kick-About challenge last week, but I think that, strangely, it works. I’m sure the Oracle is acquainted with the vase-goddess who inspired the collage.

do our secrets listen to the night?

starry-eyed ghosts
opening like sails in wild air

lingering at windows
like haunted skyvoices
wordclouds dancing on oceans of dark

infinity

in the beginning, dark–
isn’t it always?—then
inside the seed, the egg,
illumination—orbs
invoking each other,
imagined, conjoined, kin–
instruments of (re)birth

The musical selection of seasonal carols that is the Kick-About challenge #17 made me think of the cosmos–not just the return of the light this season celebrates, but the vast circles of time and space to which we belong. But how to show this in a concrete way?

I turned to sacred geometry–the Seed of Life and the Egg of Life, images based on seven circles as a framework for the whole of creation, forms that also echo the tones of the musical scale.

For my collages I used images from 2 of my reference books–Majestic Universe and Space Odyssey. It was a learning process, fitting all the pieces together like a puzzle, but I eventually approached the images I had in my mind.

And for the poem, a seven line form–appropriately named Pleiades. Its six-syllable lines also reflect the 7 + 6 circles of the Egg of Life mandala.

Traveling in the Wilderness

Mid the woods,
snowdusk shadows are
spare–lovely
but cold, dark,
clinging like shaded brume and
wandering silent and deep.

Drawn here but
not belonging, I
do not have
promises
of morning or an end to
this vigil I keep

of if and
beyond—all those miles
now lost to
me.  I go
in circles of before–I
beg the night for sleep.

The Kick-About prompt this week was the last 4 lines of Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. I was struggling with my poem, a shovel poem (using the words of Frost’s lines as the last words in the lines of my poem) in the shadorma form, when Sarah at dVerse posted her prompt suggesting titles taken from “Surfacing” by Kathleen Jamie. The idea of traveling in the wilderness helped me find a focus.

I had already spent a long time fooling around with the art. The diorama I planned didn’t work out as I expected, but I liked the background paintings I did more than I thought I would.

Done on very wet rice paper, with black ink and silver and pearl metallic watercolor, they had much more of the feeling of Frost’s words than I expected. The diorama on the other hand, failed to match my vision, and I took 50 photos to come up with just a few that I liked.

Still I learned from the experience, including how natural light is much more blue than that from my drawing table lamp which has a yellow cast.

And I got a surprise in the monoprint that emerged from under one of the wet rice paper paintings which also seemed to capture well the feeling of my poem.

who are you

bat

who
are you
and who are

you
not—is
there a point

where
each merges
into the other

where
you meet
the both/and

neither–
where it
doesn’t really matter?

The Kick-About #15 features lithography illustrations by Eric Ravilious from the book High Street. I was immediately drawn to the shop full of masks, above. I’ve drawn, painted, stitched and collaged many masks over the years, and I also have quite a few that I’ve collected, stored and waiting for a place to be displayed.

horse

For the prompt, I decided to focus on Mexican animal masks, since the animal masks in the shop illustration seemed to be the most prominent element.

dog

Masking has a long history in the indigenous culture of the Americas, and animals are commonly used in dances, ritual, and ceremonies, often combined with Christian stories and characters.

fox

Masks are vessels in which a powerful energy is stored, an energy than can help cross the boundaries between human and animal, creating a co-existence of spirits in the same body.

bull/lizard

I confess that once I got started with these it was hard to stop.

hummingbird

The technique I used was the Rorschach monoprint–I painted one side and folded the paper in the center and pressed down to create a mirror image.

jaguar
owl

and if they take me
to heart, if they pull me through
their own openings

will I flow, float dreaming in
side their abiding presence–

no, not dead, but yet
not of the living—unbound
by movement or time,

reconnected, emerged as
an ancestor to myself

pig
horned creature

what came out
was not the same as
what went in

eagle
goat

I liked the bat so much I did it twice, once on red paper and once on white.

bat 2

animals
do not need our gods
to exist

swing stroll slide

be
bop shout–
rhythm–blues–
eight to the bar–
oompah oompah groove–
boogie-woogie back beat
jingle jangle jive talkin
double time front line howl growl whine–
interlude solitude riff raff boom–
whistle whomp wah wah zoomba zoomba zoom

The Kick-About’s challenge #14 was a short film by Norman Maclaren called “Boogie Doodle”. It really reminded me of Matisse’s Jazz collages, and I used his abstracted figures as inspiration to create my own dancers based on photos of jazz dancers I found on the internet. I also wanted to recreate the shadow effect for both the dancers and the dots. Primary colors seemed a natural fit for both dots and ground, and I cut out the figures in black and white as contrast, inspired by the film.

For the poem I wanted to use music and musical sound words. It was much harder than I anticipated, but I like the idea of a poem composed mostly of sounds, and may visit it again. I found a great onomatopoeia dictionary online too.

Linking to dVerse OLN hosted by Linda.