I have lived in artistic communities since early adulthood. I love the energy, feel it even when I am alone in my room. There is affirmation of the value of creating within an art community. There is knowledge that process is important. The energy in a community where people participate in the creative process helps generate ideas, even as we disagree about the relative value of specific pieces or particular forms of art.
Art for me has been a means of keeping an even keel in a crazy world.
Often when I create, whether a poem, a painting or a song, I don’t fully understand the symbols and juxtapositions of ideas until much later. Art is not a way to recreate reality, but distorts reality in order to fully portray it, like a curved glass will focus the sun’s rays on a single point, and result in a fire.
photo of Baltimore rapper Wealth making a music video in Savage, Maryland.
Recently, I opened a notebook from a few months ago and found lovely drawings and stories that I didn’t remember doing. I had intended to write on the leftover blank pages but started viewing the work. It felt like I was looking at someone else’s work.
I often put aside writings or paintings for at least a month or more after finishing them, before editing them or making the final touches. When I come back to the work, I have enough perspective to edit words severely, add an extra line of paint, or eliminate a too busy portion. Sometimes I just note what I liked and what I didn’t like about the piece, tuck the piece away, and use that information to inform future work. Then, I move on. I figure that good work will emerge about 1 out of 10 times, if I’m lucky that day. This doesn’t bother me. My artwork is done for my own entertainment, catharsis, and meditation. The final product is merely a by-product of the process. But occasionally, when I look back, there is a lovely sensation of satisfaction of having done something well.
I lay flat in my small, urban yard and heard the cheering fans at Camden Stadium, the young urbanites at the bar at the end of the block, and the occasional radio rolling by in a car. I sank my body into the slate footstones, trying to unfurl the tightness stored in large quantities, imagining the Earth’s warm core seeping into me. Listened. The chorus of birds sang to their young, caught in the interstices of the cacophony of the city. The new leaves and pink and white buds on the crab apple tree were splayed with sunshine. I sat up and dipped my brush into amber, sapphire and emerald watercolors. The paper was fresh and white.
Buddy, my black and white cat, meowed to come join me and I opened the door. He settled comfortably under the tree, hoping the birds wouldn’t notice him. Suddenly, Buddy decided it was his chance to jump into the neighbors yard and try to find that orange tabby that lives somewhere in the alley. Yikes! Buddy is a rescue, with no claws and two teeth. The tabby outweighs him by at least 10 pounds. The orange tabby probably eats rats bigger than my cat. I ran out the gate, captured Buddy, and threw him back inside. He was indignant, but saved from his own intentions, as we all need to be at times. I went back and completed my painting. It was a glorious Sunday.
Cradled in my lover’s embrace,
I dreamt of a world.
Verdant earth, azure sky,
sun warming the gentle breeze,
children shouting with joy.
I love trying new things and a knitting and crochet store just opened in my neighborhood. [www.thatsthepointneeedlecrafts.com]The yarn is seductive. It’s achingly soft, with marvelous colors, from muted, natural colors to bold, primary colors, which are actually used sari fibers spun together.
The store offered a free lesson; I couldn’t wait. I had learned some knitting when I was very young, but had long since forgotten it. I recalled swirling in the navy blue ice skating skirt my mother knit for me. Lace doilies lay across tables in my grandmother’s house, crocheted by my great-aunts. The white doilies were as delicate as snowflakes.
Recently, I saw sculptures made from crocheted yarn in the Visionary Arts Museum. [www.avam.org] A mathematician friend explained that crochet actually makes hyperbolic arches. [http://crochetcoralreef.org/crochet-coral-reef-book.php] After knitting a bit, I realized the art is mathematical, and not just because of the shapes, but because I needed to count stitches so as not to lose any. Also, my knitting wound itself into a shape somewhat like a DNA molecule, which I was assured, was normal.
As I sat practicing my knitting, women stopped by to shop and chat. One of the pleasures of knitting or crocheting is that it can be done while engaging in conversation. The women were around my age, middle aged or somewhat older. They fondled the yarn, discussed patterns, techniques, and the perfect needle.They were professional women from a large variety of fields, from computers to teaching to non-profit management. They also had a wide range of interests. I even met one woman who also did aikido!
I went home satisfied and excited. This week I plan to learn crocheting.