chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

Tag Archives: art

found poem: the world

found poem: cement

found poem: freedom

Mother’s Day

jik to DAK undatedHacked from an envelope and illustrated, figure and ground, with colored pencils of many hues, this is probably a picture of my mother. Though without words (except for my name on the reverse side signed with a backwards J), her red hair is a giveaway.
And the dress? Well, what can be said about the dress, except that Dorothy would have worn it if it existed. However old I was when I drew it, and however conventionally she put herself together on the outside, I already understood that within her there was a zany being aching for expression.
Happy Mother’s Day.

found poem: hiding

found poem: precise

a Sunday in spring

jik - Easter ValentineAt age 6, things didn’t get much better than hearts and bunnies. A girl could be forgiven if the excesses of Valentine’s Day overtook Easter. All these decades later, I can’t account for the red cross, but the bunny has everything a bunny needs on a spring Sunday — a fat, chocolatey body, baskets over each arm, exceedingly long whiskers, a pink blush inside each ear and love radiating in all directions. Happy Easter.

pain

found poem: I FOUND

found poem: the garden

found poem: word

found poem: I was

December 8

jik to LRK birthday insidejik to LRK birthdayMy father’s birthday and a card holds up the faded mirror of my young self. I don’t know how old I was when I made this card, but I was already coloring inside the lines. The heart and the figure of my father are carefully outlined in pencil, and there’s a pencil line to indicate the floor. I loved coloring, and had plenty of crayons and paper, but wasn’t allowed to have coloring books; I had to make my own designs. (The lesson must have stuck; I have no desire for any of the scores of “adult” coloring books currently on the store shelves, just astonishment at the size of the sudden trend.)

With its little brackets, the table is easy to recognize: it’s the card table in my mother’s studio, the one I had occasion to study most often, as I stood in the doorway, hoping she’d show some interest in me, but mostly just annoying her.

Perhaps the big hovering pink thing is a practice cake, where I was working out the concept of roundness. Anyway, the important parts are there: my father, the cake, and love. Happy Birthday, Papa.

making lines

DAK pink stitched piece, undatedI don’t recall my mother ever sewing anything as practical as clothing or curtains, but sometime after I had left home a sewing machine was installed in her studio. She began to ‘draw’ on paper with lines of stitches.

In this piece, the underlying paper (8″ x 10″) is visible only at the very edges. Except for that ragged and tormented margin, where a tint of paint can be seen, all of the apparent color is thread, stitched and overstitched, turning the paper into a dense, canvas-like material. She may have used the painted image as inspiration, but at some point, all that was left of the painting was the lines of thread that covered it completely. Some deep puckering suggests that the paper must have ripped, but she kept stitching, row upon row, in an impasto of thread.

I don’t know if Dorothy considered this finished, or successful. Parts of it are quite beautiful. There’s a kind of fierceness about it — an aggressive attempt at mastery — an imperfect draft of a difficult poem with a few worthwhile words.

(Here’s another example.)

drafts

DAK color study - backThe shelves and file drawers still bulge with my mother’s small paintings, drawings, handmade paper, collages and other ephemera. I consider these one by one, as I do the photographs, hoping for insight.

A rejected portrait of a pear occupies the back of an undated, unsigned 6 x 9-inch abstract color study on Arches paper. Dorothy applied the paint — perhaps acrylic — in translucent glazes, considering the colors, the roundness, the gloss of the fruit. But in the end, it was not the pear she wanted and before using the other side, she scribed a firm X through her effort.

She often painted on top of previous paintings, preserving some elements or obliterating the original entirely. But something about this pear was evidently beyond redemption — perhaps its bulging shoulder or pinched waist — and could only remain a haunting substratum to any future image. Still, she loved pears as both food and objects and painted them summer after summer.

Whether with brushes or words, we keep trying to get it right, every poem or essay (the very word!) a sketch, an underlayer to something better — or not. We pick away at vision and understanding, archaeologists with dental tools, miniaturists peering through the magnifying lens, hoping some part of the image will resolve, make sense, escape, for a while, the banishing X.
. . . . .
more on sketches

found poem: ART

self

DAK self-portrait 12-1967My mother did hundreds of self-portraits. Most were more sketches than paintings, quick studies in ink, pastel, pencil, charcoal. Whatever more ambitious work might be waiting on the easel, she could always turn to the model in the mirror.

Each portrait captures something uniquely Dorothy — feature, gesture, expression, coloration — and they are almost universally unflattering. In these small pieces, she allows us to see the stark, the scrawny, the wrinkled and unposed self who would vanish into a wide smile in front of a camera.

This sketch, made when she was in her mid-50s, is an exception. Quick and sure, it is identifiably Dorothy, but while she is serious, she looks pretty — her hair smoothed, her glasses dramatic, her mouth painted and lush.

How I wish I could step back into that moment to know her brief happiness.

found poem: I’ve never

found poem: to commit

found poem: the art

%d bloggers like this: