Bricks and clay

I set to build myself anew,
I tore old walls apart to trade
Crumbling brick for moving clay 
And shape honest to the core. 

I shaped myself a shallow bowl,
I erred to craft a solid plate.
I passed success and took 
Such a mangled clump apart. 

I tried to shape one, 
but no better than another,
Oh! to stand tall. 
But now it stands to fall. 

Wicked devils eager work
Lump to cut with string. 
Pieces come apart a brick,
Shapes all to drown in slip. 

But what is worth 
in making after all?

It’s been a while since I felt like writing anything creative. Lately I’ve felt like doing nothing much, I missed direction, occupation and enthusiasm. It’s a terrible state in which I desperately need something to do, but don’t feel like doing anything. It’s a vicious circle with boredom and apathy feeding each other.

Today I am happy to have written this poem. I’m happy with it now, so here it is.

Lady in waiting

What is better suited to this fantastical art style potpourri than a cringy play on words? A lady-in-waiting was the aristocratic version of a lady’s personal assistant. The lady in my painting is waiting, the poem is about waiting, you see where this is going:

A windswept emptiness
Fills my restless body,
Prodding corners of my mind 
For leftovers of peace. 

Nights come early and grow short 
Days are scattered,
Fallen leaves under a barren tree
Waiting for rhythm. 

Waiting casts its spell
Parting patient from impatient. 
Waiting matters more than
What, whom, or why. 

Patience turns children old
And vulgar into virtuous. 
Impatience demands sacrifice
And gives it to the wind. 

Art making-of

The cover image is another painting I’ve put a lot of effort into (~3 days work). The positive with these longer works is that having plenty of time for my mind to wander while painting, I keep changing the idea; alone working on something for more than a day almost guarantees the way I feel about it will change. I call it exploratory painting: first I want to identify what it is I want to paint, then I can think about structuring my study to gain necessary skills.

This way of working shows clearly in this piece in more than just the mistakes, impulse decisions, and leftovers from previous versions: the head of the lady I’ve left in a simplified style resembling Japanese art, mostly because attempts to put detail on that scale got me nowhere. I aimed for a reasonably accurate anatomical construction, I tried to paint the body with some volume, and after all that work I mostly covered it up in an attempt at mythical, entrapping garment design. To add the third piece to this concoction, I constructed the setting with a fairly accurate representation of a reddish sky, a distant darkened landscape, and a foreground affected by the supernatural, rendered with a decent amount of solidity, but perhaps questionable colour matching with the background – I was aiming for supernatural after all.

The joy of waiting

I can thank the Bob Ross shows for title inspiration here.

I am an impatient person. It’s a double-edged sword: it pushes me to do a lot, try new things, cut corners if I have to, but it also works against me: poorly thought out decisions, less than polished work, and just a waste of energy at times. Striving to make some better quality paintings requires patience, dedicating enough time to work on them to achieve decent results. And investing that time apparently pays off, although I’ve previously argued it probably wouldn’t. I think the value in finding this patience is the time it opens up to thought, as mentioned above. The idea evolves, even if the execution is only going to be as good as my ability at this time.

And that’s how I am beginning to find the joy of waiting. Active waiting (in this case meticulously applying paint) seems to be the way forward.

Lady New Year

A thousand times she's threaded
Needle eye on frayed yarn of time.
Now she toasts a flute to sun's
Ludic chase of cousin moon. 

Popes, heads, and states have
Charted her passing in clay,
On hide and beyond the ether
In sand and flame and flow. 

She cares little and hopes
People would once seek
Her company and clink
Not celebrate her passing, blink.

Happy New Year, everyone! I got the idea for this painting only on the 30th of December and it turned out to be more difficult and ambitious than I expected.

I am not a fan of making resolutions, but here is one which seems appropriate to the subject: in 2022 I want to make more of these (distantly) Mucha inspired works.

Alphonse Mucha was a painter, illustrator, and designer (and much more), perhaps best known for his famous Art Nouveau posters he produced at the end of the 19th century in Paris, which helped launch his fruitful career. He is one of the artists I discovered in 2021 and who has impressed me the most with his ability to combine realism with fantastical beauty.

Solstice

It's dark, it's dark, dark all the time. 
The sun rises fat as a toad
And marches crippled carving a road
In cloud from where it cannot shine. 

Light flurries in patches of amber and grey
And catches on branches breaking its fall. 
Noon has passed, light we just missed,
The sun was gone before we knew it was day. 

It's dark, it's dark, dark all the time
And don't forget night promptly arrives. 
Please do no whine 'cause tomorrow will bring
Passing the point and turning the tides.

It snowed

Oh, what a shame!
There barely is reason to hope 
For a thick white coat.

If I were young, 
I'd pray there be 
Music without party, 
Drinking and regretting,
Pretending and forgetting. 

If I were young, 
I'd learn to wait 
For nothing that won't come, 
Learning but not winning, 
Caring but not crying.

Now it snowed while I wait
For the damned season to pass.
I no longer think the next better, 
I still find the longing bitter. 

It snowed. Oh, what a shame! 

Blue

Sun is fallen.
All is blue.
In this world
All is true.

Sun is closer,
Don't forget,
Than you in dream
May ever get.

Making of

I started this work with the title in mind ‘Study in blue’. Having considered what does the colour blue mean to people: ‘cold’, ‘water’, ‘sky’, ‘night’, ‘flame’, I decided to challenge myself to create a painting using only blue to explore whether I could derive other meaning from using this colour. Otherwise said, could I suggest ‘warm’, ‘dry’, or ‘land’, in spite of using only blue?

Having sketched a few versions of this idea, I ended up with the one shown below. It was going to involve a great sphere (the idea having been in my head for a while); the landscape around evolved. In this final version, I couldn’t help but see a fallen sun, and that is how the poem came to be.

Final draft version of ‘Study in blue’; graphite pencil

Have I succeeded with this experiment?

No. It looks like a freezing winter night on another planet. But the painting and poem are good.

Lost

I feel lost.
Lost in my house,
Lost in my room,
Lost in my chair,
Lost in my clothes,
Lost in my skin,
Lost in my head,
Lost in my thoughts.

How glorious it is to
Set your course in act
And forget about the trifle fact.

I wonder how can a compass point so many ways at once?
I hate how a ship can sail in one direction only.

Sail, ship, compass, thought.
All I want is to think not.

Machine

Asphalt yields to shrieking bursts of heat,
And so betrays decay lying at its core. 
The crowd faints in permeating fumes, 
And she's just started for the day. 

Tea is ready. Close the window. It’s midday. Are you crazy?

A single cypress blocks the heat.
Shadow turns insufficient from oblique. 
Needles witness torrid death
Of a lizard craving foolish heat.

When are you going to fix the fan? I can’t even take my siesta. It’s so hot. God must be punishing us.

She takes a life, she's tried so hard.
She takes many when she's tried the least.
Mechanics die; she doesn't care 
One day she will break down too. 

Are you finished writing? Let’s go out, it’s cooling down.

Time has witnessed her idle and intense, 
And oil made of lizards and incense. 
And only time will get to see
Her fat, boiling, and enraged. 

Different

You made one a day 
'Til there was nothing below.
You found new ways of doing old things,
But they would not complain.

I made one some time ago
And cried knowing there was so much above. 
I found old ways of doing new things, 
But they would not complain. 

You built a fortress protecting a peg,
You conquered fire and lightning to light a cigar,
You toiled and sweated 'til the wicker was singed,
And crafted a folly worth full weight in gold. 

I built a trinket holding a life, 
I dabbled with flint wishing bright sparks would fly, 
I toiled and sweated 'til the candle was gone, 
And crafted a forest lost behind trees. 

Does it matter blood is blue,
But the gentian red? 
Let's have them argue 
'Til the bone dries and decays. 

I once was like you
And maybe you just like me.
Good luck with the stones, lay them all well,
But I will not care your kingdom to see!