Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Language of Goals

This long summer day trails out of sight in a wash of persimmon with a wink of yellow flame, and now the milky pale aqua sky dulls.  A chill sends me inside to the Arctic white of my computer screen, a harsh reminder that my 250 words for today are not yet written (unless I count the 62 I have just put down).  Goals.  A word full of promise and enthusiasm when uttered, untested - a word ponderous,  demanding acknowledgment and attention if I dare fold my screen downwards.  My goals seem always to be attached to numbers - 20 lbs by such and such... in 30 Mar 15...250 words a day...

Sixteen months ago (is that a goal in reverse?) I began writing a novel.  I set a goal.  The first draft would be complete by July 1, 2013 in time for the Iowa Summer Writing Festival in Iowa City.  The first day I pounded out 15 pages.  And, amazingly, I kept at it.  Some days I didn't write at all.  Others dragged through quicksand.  Some fairly flew off the page into some adjacent unseen universe.  I finished the draft with 2 weeks to spare, though, of course I knew too well that there was much left unwritten (or merely running loose, amok in that aforementioned universe), characters keeping me awake at night, turing me into a rudely distracted friend and mate who seemed (and was) less than interested in whatever conversation I was expected to take part in.  But, the goal had been reached.

The euphoria lasted for about a week.  No problem.  The workshop created its own exhilaration and that lived on for a good 10 days after I left Iowa.  Then the nagging rose up in my head.  So, I thought, not too bad.  I'll just cruise for a bit and then I'll get right down to work again - get that pesky rewrite done in short order.  I set a goal.  January 1, 2014.  Better get on with that 250 words.  And that's not including this post.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Malaysia As Muse

Malaysia, my muse this season, has worked her magic, and now I hurry home to open my mind's eye, let the sights and sounds pour forth as a waterfall through the landscape of my memory, carrying the flow of tropical wonders into paint and clay, paper and silk.  The sights and sounds of the jungle, never far away in Malaysia, weave dense patterns in vine threads, tangles of ropey roots, hiding flashes of electric color, the buzzing, clicking, warbling living things watching me as I look, futilely, for them in the canopy that surrounds me. Air, pregnant with humidity, covers every surface of my skin, weighting my eyelids for sleep though I have just awoken.  Insects, seen and not, search for purchase, and some fortunate ones work their way through my shirt, my pants, the multiple applications of insect repellent.  Nothing to be done. I let my eyes rescue me.  I swipe my lids with the saturated wad of tissue balled up in my hand, and open them wide, to see the poetry in the undulating rhythms of palm forest, rubber plantation, pineapple fields, all whispering beneath a sky full of stories-high thunder clouds.


In the canopy
From Bukit Genting, Penang
2000' (!) up Penang Hill
On the bridge in the canopy

Wild peacock at Bukit Genting, Penang

From 16 floors up at Batu Ferenghi

Thursday, January 10, 2013

In, As and For Community Through Art

Here we are again in AZ, preparing for our 15th year at the Celebration of Fine Art, and re-united with our community of artists.  We spend three full months every year with these people - that's more time than some of us spend with our own families.

As we hundred or so artists, plus mates and helpers, hustle and bustle around the big tents, hammers and paint brushes in hand, building individual studio spaces which reflect our personalities and our approaches to presentation, we holler our hellos across the aisles - "Hey Ken! Deb! So glad you got here safe and sound!  Talk later!" - "Heather!  I'm so glad you're back this year! Can't wait to see the new work!" - and we each continue on pounding and measuring, cutting and painting.

We are excited to see old friends, anxious to get our work hung - will it look as good on this color wall as I imagined it?  Are there too many pedestals in my space?  Oh no! I forgot my sign! - We are one hundred souls focused on one thing - coming together in a community of artists, as a community who makes art, for a community who loves art.

So, what does all this mean - this very special way of communicating our passion?  In all this rapidly shrinking world that often seems to be escalating in violence and divisiveness, it means that there are still people in the world who care deeply about conveying beauty as a means toward peace and understanding.  When artist and audience stand before a work of beauty, whether it is a monumental bronze capturing the grace and strength of a mountain lion, or an abstract forest of falling leaves in glass, an exquisite opal ring, gardens sculpted from gourds, paintings of abstract color fields or ones of delicately rendered real fields - it doesn't matter, because in that space of time, we do not argue to defend or attack, we merely come together and know a moment of calm.  We don't do it to prove that it can be done.  We do it because that is what art does.

So, come and see what this art business is all about.  Experience for yourself how it can open possibilities for something for not just your wall, but your soul.

P.S. Visit me again.  I'll be posting pictures as soon as the show opens on Saturday, Jan 11.