chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

trying to write…

DAK etch and stitchThis morning’s post seems like it won’t happen. It won’t settle, like I’m following a butterfly through a forest. My thoughts keeps changing direction, the phone rings, an urgent work matter has to be handled, the neighbors show up at the door with their dogs to say hello…

It was this small piece of my mother’s artwork that started it. I don’t know whether Dorothy considered this a sketch or a finished piece (she wouldn’t have minded the splotch). It was never signed or framed, but she kept it, and although I got rid of a lot of her work, I kept it, too.

The paper, soft with a slight tooth, is 7 1/4″ x 10 5/8″ and the image began as an etching — an irregular patchwork substrate of very fine black lines and cross-hatching. She worked over that with ink, accentuating the shapes suggested by the etched lines, and then ‘drew’ on top of the inked image with her sewing machine, stitching through the paper and a backing sheet of fine white linen.
DAK etch and stitch back(Bottom photo shows reverse side.)

The result is abstract, whimsical, filled with almost-recognizable figures and shapes — an image that is her own, but certainly reminiscent of Klee, Kandinsky, Miró, even Picasso.

Dorothy took art classes, mostly painting, for many years, and the influences of art history and her instructors are readily visible in her work. I haven’t thought of Howard Warshaw for decades, but as I write, his name suddenly pops into my head. He was one of Dorothy’s teachers, a man whose work she admired and whose approval she craved.

I’m not sure if I ever actually met him, but she spoke of him so often that he felt known, like a cousin, or a neighbor, or a priest. This was when I was quite young, perhaps under 10, and I wasn’t attuned to my father’s reaction to the omnipresent Howard. But I do remember that years later Dorothy went into therapy and her (male) therapist was so often spoken of and quoted, was so often an invisible and uninvited guest at the table, that it nearly undermined the stability of my parents’ marriage.

While I’ve long recognized my mother’s hunger for male approval and protection, I had never seen this parallel before.

This is not where I intended to go when I began writing… Sometimes we just have to follow along as the lesson writes itself, stitches itself on the dense fabric of memory and understanding.

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One response to “trying to write…

  1. kristin September 5, 2015 at 6:09 am

    The colors she put on top of the etching are so rich and vibrant. Beautiful.

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