Life to Art

Iris

In Spring, the bulbs that have been seemingly asleep underground, poke their heads up through the crusty earth.  Where I live, it’s usually the crocus first.  Then the daffodils.  Next, the tulips.  Finally, the irises.  Several years ago, I planted tulips and irises along the path in the front yard.  Probably not the best decision as there’s a lot of hopping over them by me and any guests who come to visit.  That said, they are there and make their appearance when conditions are right.

This painting was actually based on a photo of a little iris growing beside this path.  The tightness with which it held its bud form was noted.  The very next day, I was shocked (in a good way) to see that it had burst open overnight.

iris

 

 

Like a trumpet sound, it was impossible to ignore.  A beautiful declaration to be noticed and appreciated!

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A bulb holds promise, doesn’t it?  Years ago, I moved into a house in the San Francisco Bay Area with my family.  When we had first seen the house, before we purchased it, I had noticed the abundance of flowers in the backyard…it must have been springtime.  Months later, the flowers had come and gone.  Digging in the backyard, I found all of these gnarly brown flaky things in the soil.  I had no idea that I was tossing bulbs away, the flowers that I had witnessed in the spring.  When I think back on this, I feel sad…I didn’t know.

These days I plant bulbs and look forward to the glorious gift packaged within each tight little knot as it prepares to share its glory!

The garden, nature, is a source of inspiration to artists across time.  It’s no surprise.  Witnessing beauty, our hearts are uplifted.  The artist finds a way to render this beauty…there are so many ways.  I wonder what it is that leads one from observation of beauty to the desire to paint or portray it.  Maybe it’s a desire to preserve it and the feeling that it gave when you first witnessed it.  Or maybe it’s a desire to share it with others.  Perhaps it’s instinctual to want to capture it in an artistic way–to claim it more deeply.  I wonder.

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Sheltering in place, many more people are buying plants from the garden center.  There’s nowhere to go, nothing usual to do — creating a garden…often a food garden with flowers to beautify seems like a good idea.  Seeking the good in the present circumstances through a return to the soil.

 

That Feeling of Spring

Spring3

Splashes of color,
drips, droplets, dabs,
sprinkles, sprays
–marks, translucents,
opaques, frivolity, whimsy,
abstract, realism,
imagination, fantasy,
figures disappearing
into a mist…

When making art, you can create what you desire, design and allow.
The artist can choose to be detailed, intricate and precise.  The artist can choose to be abstract as heck and expressive.  And there is everything in between.
That is why I believe that

EVERYONE IS AN ARTIST!

As I also believe that everyone has a hidden poet (because everyone has a voice), I also believe that everyone has a hidden artist.  Perhaps one who has been shamed into
hiding, but she’s there just the same, waiting to be invoked, invited, induced to come out and play.

That is what this painting was to me.  This was painted at the beginning of my discovery of art as a possible way to express myself.  Playing on Aquabord, a substrate that was new to me, the paint flowed in a surprising way.  Yes, substrates make a difference as to how the paint behaves.  Substrate is the surface on which the artist paints.  There are many types of substrates these days!  Sometimes, any substrate works.  I’ve painted on gessoed cardboard.

With so many online opportunities to learn while playing–that is the perspective to take when you are beginning to paint or painting after many years of not painting.  Or at any level of experience.  Play and learn.  Make many mistakes.  And carry on playing, learning and practicing.  Like any practice, you have to do it daily.  Best to plan it into your day.

 

Walking Home

bird1I dropped my car off at the shop at 8:30 this morning.  I live within a walking distance of the auto shop, about 25 minutes.  Today is one of those pre-vernal-equinox days.  It tempts the mind to believing that it is spring.  The awakening inside is piqued and we lean towards longer, warmer days.  Those days when the bulbs burst into their flowers and we rise feeling renewed.

It’s so easy to hop into the car first thing to run errands.  Get where I want to go quickly, accomplish more things on that never-ending list.  Such a convenience.  Such an expediter.

It’s when I don’t have access to the car that I begin to really see what surrounds me.  And to discover that there are surprises in every front yard.  The wood-crafted alligator that guards the front patio.  The ornamental kale in barrels in front of the fusion food truck on the little boulevard.  The so soon crocuses, purple, yellow and white.  The Downy Woodpecker beats out his rhythm in the ancient cherry tree.  Then there’s the way the sun feels at this time of the day.  And the way the soft sunlight touches what I see.  Past the auto dealership…I’d like to be in the market for one of those jeeps…but not yet.  The spectacular vista of the mountain peeking through the low houses and buildings.

I pass a rare few people on foot and the greeting is always to “Have a nice day.”
What is it about this time of day that enlivens the sleepy soul?  What is it that makes you glad to be alive and renews optimism?  I don’t know, but I wouldn’t have experienced it if I’d been in the car, in a rush, not in the present moment.

Not to make it all glamorous.  Walking home from the mechanics on a winter’s day with snow and ice on the ground is not a picnic.  At each street corner, there is an indefinable slush puddle.  It could be deep enough to seep over your boottops.  Then the walking home is more of a survival exploit.  I find myself looking down and then out, down and then out.  I don’t see much of the scenery as the focus is not to slip and fall.  Regardless, I allow this adventure on occasion too…a test of my mettle?

All of this to say, take a walk in the morning when you have an opportunity, or make one.  See what you notice that you might have missed had you not been on foot.

And, “Have a nice day.”

 

Freedom…

Freedom is a choice.  Is it?  Stand beside the ocean in your birthday suit.  Or walk into that floral painting .  Daffodils?  Delphiniums?  Crocus?  Lupine?  Horizon lines.  Yesterday, someone said that as artists, we are fascinated with painting horizon lines.  The sky meets the sea.  The land touches the water.  I roll in flowers in fields of forever, at least in some dreams.  If I ruled the world…every day might be the first day of spring.  That jubilant season.

Truly, in the mountains I don’t want spring to come too soon.  I want the deep cold that encourages spring flowering and summer fruiting.  I whisper to the cherry tree and the bulbs beneath the earth, if they are listening, don’t blossom too soon.  The deceit of a false spring could halt the blossoming and inhibit the bees when temperatures fall to freezing again.  I wonder if the trees can understand my language–if they know I care.  Do they witness my own wishy-washiness when it comes to not using plastic?

Is this a fantasy that I’m living?  Is this reality a tiny wedge (Kathy would ask “a wedge of cheese”) in an orgasmic universe?  I want to say omniverse although I’m not sure why.  Is that what the big bang means–one giant orgasm that sprung the worlds into being?  Can I say that here?  Freedom to write what I want, to have my own secular thoughts.  The ones that were forbidden by a childhood of too little freedom with an autocratic ruler.

It occurred to me again, that I really only found my voice recently.  No wonder I save volumes of my writing.  I won’t say everything on this blog.  Some things I hold sacred, private.  Having freedom entitles one not to speak when one chooses.

Yesterday, at the lake, I noticed the sky.  The clouds were reflected in the water.  I thought I could dive into the sky.

Freedom, claiming it, takes courage especially if you’ve been oppressed.

Freedom’s close companion is responsibility.

Castle Lake.1a

Angel Skins

Angel Skins
© by Christine O’Brien

Spring’s beauty mocks a world at war.  Who said
the spirit which enters and leaves this form
is pure?  When spirt and form do wed,
the body knows no haven from the storm.

Flowers have dirty feet; petal discards
like fallen angel skins, garden compost.
Flower sprites leap into neighboring yards
searching for the soggy seed, their next host.

This spring season who shall pollinate me?
Which bee will hover round my glowing crown?
What distance do I hold this person, he,
so in his shining aura I don’t drown?

While wars wage and flower sprites do dare leap
we’ll mock duality, hold hands, dive deep.

angel1

 

Writing Prompt:
Spring and war don’t jive.  The new life forcing its way into being after a cold and snowy winter of retreat and respite.  Within and without there are forces shouting about the wonders of being.  What are spring’s messages to you?  Write them down in your journal–transform them into a poem if you choose.

The ODE~~Anything Goes!

What better poetic form is there
to welcome spring than the ODE?  

According to Edward Hirsch, the ode is “A celebratory poem in an elevated language on an occasion of public importance or on a lofty universal theme.”  He further describes it as “…some inner feeling rising up in urgent response to an outer occasion, something owed.”  The odes used to be sung…the word is derived from Greek and referencing the word lyric.  And then it came to us through the Latin form oda. “The movement of the verse is emotionally intense and highly exalted,” according to Hirsch.

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Aren’t those some of the feelings of spring?   Emotional intensity, exaltation, celebratory, feelings rising up, a sense of urgency.

Several years ago, I sat in a poetry circle at the local library. The facilitator of the group invited us to write a poem that inferred spring.  The following poem is what came to me…and it just happens to be an ode.  Hence the title.

Ode
© by Christine O’Briendaffodil.1

UGLY
brown
crumbly
Tight fists
clenching their glory
Locked
beneath the earth
Tamped
snuggly
White coverlet
seeping cold
FINALLY
forcing
heads upwrd
INTO
tulips of pink
sunny daffodils
rambunctious rununculous
iris infatuation
a miracle of anemones
heady hyacinth
narcissus’ pride
stalwart amaryllis
calla and canna lilies
ALL FOR MY
DELIGHT
Reminders of
how grand
we can become!

Writing Prompt:
Is there anything at all in the season that you are experiencing (be it spring or autumn) to which you’d like to write an ode?  Celebrate it!  Write it!