Greek Play–Antigone

In re-visiting an art form from the past, it is best experienced with curiosity and an open mind.  And, the ability to imagine time, place, character, the cultural and political climate also helps.

Another first for me (long ago, in High School) was being asked to direct (and narrate) a scene from the Greek Play, Antigone.  Greek translations alone can be stumbling blocks to a proud performance.  And to enter the mindset of the author, Sophocles, as he wrote about such universal and profound themes as freedom of choice and fate, dishonor and civil disobedience, a woman’s place in society, allegiance, state versus religion, power, etc.  His reality was for me, an extremely shy fourteen-year-old girl,  like entering a far-flung fantasy world.  Although, we could say that some things haven’t really changed that much.

I was both the director and narrator (a narrator figures prominently in Greek plays).  My cast of actors (fourteen year old girls!) and I took our assignment very seriously.  We rehearsed often and contrived our toga costumes and headpieces.  On the day of the performance, I came down with contagious conjunctivitis (otherwise known as pink eye).  I stood before the assembly of students and teachers draped in a dyed and styled bedsheet to resemble an authentic Greek toga, a leaf crown and wearing over-large white-rimmed sunglasses as I narrated a scene from Antigone.

The play was a great success.  The actresses captured the spirit of what we felt Sophocles wanted to convey.  We also shared an experience of another world, an escape from our own reality into timelessness and the connection that words can weave to much more than we were personally privy to.

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Writing Prompt:
Stepping outside the box of what you typically write about, avail yourself of an opportunity to see a Greek Tragedy or Comedy performed.  Does this stretch your own writing in some way?
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I found this five minute clip on Greek Plays fascinating.  Consider from where modern theater has evolved.

Frida Love–Why?

Recently, I purchased a copy of The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self Portrait…Alas Rojas.  Reading her diary, seems like eavesdropping on a very personal conversation in an otherwise quiet cafe.

Her drawings, her actual handwriting, her thoughts, sorrows, loves and fears, revealed to strangers, you and me.

As an artist, I am one of many who love to draw and/or paint Frida.  Her facial features are so distinct, her continuous eyebrows, her dreamy & fierce eyes–a congruity of beauty.  She was/is a figure of renown.  Her style of dress proclaimed loudly “I have arrived.”

Why do I “love” her?  I guess it is because she rose above what could have been a defining obstacle.  Her chronic and intense pain became a platform for her art. However, she did not personify “victim.”  In my estimation, she met her life head on with curiosity, courage and style!

Frida is someone who rose above adversity and created a life for herself.  And, admirably created art to be shared with others.

Wow!

Writing Prompt:
Do you know of Frida Kahlo?
Google her, read about her
and view her art for inspiration.

Frida.03.2018

A colored pencil drawing.
Not nearly  a perfected Frida
…but she’s a great face to practice with.
I’d love to see your Frida drawing/painting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hard and Soft

hard.soft

One conversation in the fashion industry over the last few years has been about hard and soft…the armoring with clothing while retaining sexiness and femininity.  This fashion trend rides the “edge” for it merges two disparate qualities.  Traditionally, we think of the feminine as receptive, yielding, even passive. Many cultures take away a woman’s power when they disallow that she also feels angry and needs to  have a toughness that surpasses endurance–courage–over the course of her life.  She certainly needs assertiveness.  Sometimes she acquires a grittiness.

Following is an excerpt from a speech by Sojourner Truth recited by Maya Angelou.

 

Writing Prompt:
As a woman, how do you “wear” the hard and soft of yourself?

As a man, how do you respond to a woman displaying anger?

 

Out of the Ordinary

A lot of my personal writing is journal writing and it’s all so very serious!  Deep topics, frustrated arenas, disappointments, sometimes gratitudes and elevating dreams, vision questing and existential  “whys.”

There is a place for everything…however, on  one particular day last summer, something happened that left me in a state of AWE.

Driving around a curve in a well-traveled road, I spied a wolf crossing the road
with prey in his mouth.  I’ve seen a wolf once before…but never where I live.  In fact, a pack of Gray Wolves has recently (in the past few years) crossed back into northern California.  Exciting, right.  It took my mind a moment to register “WOLF!” And then, when it did, realizing that I was safely in my car, I pulled over.  There was not the adrenaline rush of fear and escape.  It was more excitement and curiosity.  He wasn’t in any hurry…he had crossed the road safely and was descending the adjacent slope.  I got out of the car and ran around the side to watch him for a ways before he disappeared into the brush.

Wow!  What a special gift…to see a wolf.  Not many people can claim that one.

Ever since,  I’ve been painting wolf women and women with wolves.  I might look into the meaning of wolf in Ted Andrews book, Animal Speak.  Or I might just marvel at my good luck in safely encountering a wolf!  The experience did touch my own wild nature.

Or, I could paint them and PLAY in this odd lair of my own creation.

wolfandred-final

Writing Prompt:
Is there some rare occurrence in your life that  you’d like to write about?  Or draw or paint?

Spring Equinox!

Today is the first day of SPRING in the northern hemisphere.  Though storms are predicted for this week…rain and snow…the heart quickens to realize that Spring has arrived.

Spring Invitation
© by Christine O’Brien

In the midst of the inevitable retreat
prescribed by winter
with its grey wind and rain sheets,
frivolity doesn’t come easy.

Unlike the first green, renewed hope
of that undulating spring invitation
“Hurry!  Wait!”
This accelerated energy elbows me towards
Fae fun as exploding blossoms
stand up
beside the majestic mountain
where I now live.
Magical miracles happen here.

The perfectly sunny painted soul
inhales and exhales
when I pause and listen closely
sitting backbone to the faery well.

Then, twinkly toes twirling in dew wet grass
dance with spring’s first hummingbirds
in their startling altered hovering.

Family is all my relations–
this brings new meaning to family time.
Heal yourself amidst these
recreative connections–
earth, air, fire, water
the ingredients for balance, peace.

The world I know transforms during this
cycle of exhilarating expansion yet again
and I hear the spring breeze sighing
through the fragrant cherry blossoms “trust love”.

kingofthefairies.2018
Fae by Christine O’Brien.2018

Writing Prompt:
How do you welcome spring?  Write about it.
Perhaps this season has a bit of frivolity in store for you.  Be alert to it!

For the love of collage–embracing the irregular

collage1
Semi-Wild Collage by Christine O’Brien 2018

What is it to me?  Laying down bits and pieces of scrap paper and then, being open to what emerges from chaos. In the initial stages of collaging, there is little direction.  I might have a theme in mind…or not.  I might choose a color scheme…or not.  I might lay down only words–upside down, right side up, sideways, any which way…or not.  Patterns?  Drama?  Comedy?  What wants to be conveyed?  Show me as I go.

I started with my painted purple elephant.  I printed her out in three different sizes realizing that I had a 6×6-inch birchwood panel to work with.  It was like the Goldilocks’ story…the first elephant was too big, the second one too small…the third elephant was “just right.”

I had a stack of mandalas that I’d drawn and painted a few years ago.  Sorting through, I gravitated towards patterns with stripes and dots, some words, shades of purple and magenta.  After placing and gluing the torn papers down, I collaged on the elephant.  I noticed the woman’s face in the far left corner.  Her face needed a neck and then she developed into the figure. I applied acrylic paint to bring some elements of the piece forward.  At some point, I knew I it needed silver leafing. In other words, I was in conversation with the piece as it evolved.

While collage can be an odd assemblage there is a point at which I desire to bring order to chaos.  And, I want to retain the wildness, the freedom I had in creating it.  Yet, I also like something recognizable.

One thing about collaging, you learn to be comfortable with stages…there is the drying time to consider between applications.  This allows you time to step back and see what wants to be seen.  Sometimes a new direction presents.  Do you follow it or stay  with your original intention for the piece?  Do you flow in another direction or exert  your own influence?  It’s always different and without a real formula other than trusting your instincts.

Finally, I appreciate finding the integrative component…whether it is color, design or pattern–whatever it is that brings cohesiveness and completion.

Consider This:
To make art, you don’t have to have the most expensive materials.  You really only have to make yourself available to it.  The muse is there, waiting for you to SHOW UP!  Have you been saving scraps of paper?  Is it time to do something with them?

 

“Um…do we need paddles?”

Adrift2
Where on earth did these three cuties come from?  I set out to practice painting a small grouping of women, meditative and emanating peace.  My painting took a turn which I was compelled to follow.

Was it because life had become too serious once again, dragging me along in the wake of  too many challenges at once?  On a bit of overwhelm, perhaps?  I needed something whimsical, fun and colorful.  There is definitely a story here. Fellow artists offered captions for this trio.

Writing Prompt:
What caption would you give this little painting?  What is your first response?  Or, what’s the story behind this scenario?  Write it.  For the fun of it.

Share your caption under comments if you like.

Note:  Don’t writers see the story in everything…the story behind what is on the surface?