Sunday, 25 November 2007

That Which You Seek

Within the fortress,
Hidden by sarcastic turrets
Pithy cannons
And cold steel doors;
Behind trip-lines
And razor-wire
Is a box
Hardly worth the adventure --
For cradled inside
Is a small china cup,
Handle off and chip in rim;
But looking past the cracked glaze
You might see
That the hands which painted its flowers
Were delicate
And kind.


We do a lot to hide ourselves. There are all kinds of barriers to be overcome if you're really going to get to know and love another person. Sometimes the walls are higher because that person doesn't see his/her own worth. The right determination can get past the obstacles, but it sometimes takes special sight to be able to find the true value of a soul.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Fast food

Blowsy blown rose
China tints of blush and pale
One seeks reward in the sun-stroked core
Yellow for yellow
Pitch rising in relief
This her only want
Rapture in fulfillment

Ecstasy misses the quiet one
Pink and white brooch
on pink and white shoulder
Arms spread in silent welcome
Waiting consummation

No jarring chord or melodrama
Slight struggle
Hardly noticed
Soon ended
This her only want
Life giving life
And the wrapper discarded


The first time I gave this to someone to read I was more than a little startled by the interpretation I got back. Startled, that is, until I realised that she had no idea what it was about.

Not surprising, really. Not everyone's the spider nerd that I am.

Now that I've said spider, would you like to go back and read it again?

Yep, it's about a spider. A crab spider, or more specifically a Goldenrod Spider. They can change their colours somewhat to better camouflage in whatever flower they're using at the time.

Pink and white brooch (spider) on pink and white shoulder (rose). Catching a bee.

And amazingly enough, this is a poem I can still go back and read without cringing. For me, that's saying something.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Strawberry leaves in graphite

I started this runner study in the field and finished it up in the office.

And, if I remember correctly, sprayed with hairspray because I didn't have any fixative with me.

You do what you have to.

Friday, 16 November 2007

High bush-cranberry in watercolour pencil

This was a quick sketch out in the field, and it's long ago enough now that I can't remember exactly why I was sketching with watercolour pencils out in the field.

It's also long ago enough that I don't really have anything in the way of explanation or analysis.

'Nuff said then.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

African violets in crayon

Not much to say about this, because I honestly don't remember drawing it.

Oh, and I think it looks a lot like wrapping paper.


Monday, 12 November 2007


And when I painted the trees
You stood behind me and admired the unclear strokes,
The quivering blend of black and green.
You beamed at the audacity
And told me you could even hear
The madcap panic of those leaves
Awaiting summer storm.
I was confused
(For I had only sketched out what was there)
But then
I thought about my second eyes
And wiped the streaks
That took the clarity away...
It made me smile
To think I'd found what you could never know:
The thing that you'd mistaken
For my Art
Was nothing more
Than accidental lack of sight.


I really hate smug critics, and I hate being told what art is about.

There are a few things touched on here: selective sight in those "in the know" (how many times do they see what they want to see?), the misunderstanding or misreading of intention, the way our personal vision can't help but affect what we create... and, of course, a little bit of weirdness.

I mean, let's be honest. Haven't you ever seen a work of "art" that you could swear was made by a person who just needed to clean her glasses?

Sunday, 11 November 2007


From a distance orange and yellow float on air,
Magic cups playing at UFOs.
A sudden breeze sets them a-dance
And you see they are balloons,
Hairy green strings tying them to scrubby green leaves.
Astounding that thin, weak stems
Can hold blossoms oh so proudly to the sky...
What cheek to offer up such glaring gifts, my friends,
While all your neighbours still struggle to escape their winter greys.

You were given leave to be here years ago,
Young fingers clutching tiny seeds in new delight at playing god
And laughing in amazement when you peeked out from your bristled hoods.
But now, if wild is to be free of care,
You are free...
And if you choose to spread yourselves
In weedy pleasure 'round the yard,
Those who remember your small beginnings
Applaud your strength, and only forbid
Your claim of the pea patch.

All else is yours.
Yes, even in your drab September --
For as long as you can wave to me in May
That glorious, shining shock of orange-gold
The child can still see chubby hands that brought you here
And bend to see the sun at heart that always brings you back.


Mom let me plant Icelandic Poppies in the yard when I was little. All these years later they're weeds, but they're one of my favourite flowers in the spring anyway. Dad's learned to put up with my thing for poppies and is good about leaving me a patch even now.

Not exactly the poppy one thinks about on Remembrance Day, true, but I still like the poem.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Waiting for the Sky to Clear

There's something electric in dressing by moonlight:
Threading abandoned streets
at raw Wolf Hour when families tremble behind blinds,
I search for the patch of darkness
that will let me see.

This is my solitaire,
and I have plotted moves to eliminate the city
and again find the fingers of dust
that paint the sky...
Later, when the strategy seems blocked by cloud and tree
I'm granted an opening
and at last find the stars.

The chaperone moon did not permit
the same show we danced to last, you and I,
but if you had been with me
we'd have shared Jupiter
(cancerous orange on the Crab)
and ran wildly unfettered with the Hunter's dogs
across the endless blue-black fields
until the sky closed upon us again...


Hey, gang, the Leonids are upon us again (or at least shortly will be).

This was a fragment written very early in the morning (in 2002, for anyone trying to figure out when I was seeing Jupiter in Cancer) after driving out into the country by myself to watch the Leonids. It was a pretty crummy night for viewing overall, but I lucked out and got a brief window of clear sky for an hour or so.

It's a weird thing, I suppose, to be driving out to the middle of nowhere and leaning on your car out in the cold all by yourself, but it has its merits. Gives you a chance to think, for one thing.

I wish I'd written down in my poem notes what else I was thinking at the time, but I imagine I was in a hurry to get back to bed at that point.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Snail shell in graphite

I thought you might be getting tired of flowers. There'll be more, though.

I don't have much to say about this one. I was just working on shading.

The funny thing, I suppose, is that the original shell was just over an inch long. The sketch? About twelve inches long.

Even my drawings turn into macros, I guess.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Stargazer lily in graphite

Same lily as below, but before it opened. When I'm in the mood to draw flowers I'll often buy a cheap grocery-store plant and draw the changes as they happen.

I like lilies. Nice, strong lines. Fun to play with the shading.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Life, the Universe, &...

Well past midnight in a cold November
We bundle up to stare at the skies
Stumbling out into the darkened yard
Two urban souls pretending country eyes

How many times I've tried to teach this show
Using all those stories there
To hide the things my eyes can't know
But tonight --
ah, tonight my world is waltzing through the glow
deliriously happy in the crackling air
The shapes come out like scattered Christmas snow
And I am being taught things older than old.

Above me reigns the vain Queen Cass
With weak-willed Cepheus as dull as he deserves
Nearby the dippers circle through forever
Divided only by old Draco's wand'ring line
(I think I find the dragon dim with shame
to be denied our axis once again
and see it granted to the Ursid's tail --
Too bad, my friend, you find our fickle earth
wobbling over to embrace its newer pole.
Oh well, we've never been that loyal...)

And now for Orion, that hunter bold
Placed in the sky by the grief of the moon.
And what in return for her gift?
Only the whining of a bored sportsman
in need of entertainment
(let's face it -- today the guy'd be glued to Monday Night Football).

And so we add the bull, the dogs, to keep the master fit
While Lepus shivers underneath in hopes he won't get bit.

Betelgeuse, Rigel, and the rest
Stars named by an Arab watcher in a time
When my kind forgot to think.
Strange to imagine a Dark Age
While such bright heralds still exist...

It's still too early for Sirius
although he's likely sparkling through the trees
And so I turn to Taurus.
The sky's so clear that even I can find the Pleiades.
"The Seven Sisters!" I exclaim.
You grunt, still busy fiddling with your toys --
you can't be bothered seeing something that will still be there.

And just like that I'm taken out of stories.
The sky is just the sky --
It's cold and big and dark.
The pictures made of suns so far away
the light was born too long before we met.
I stare and stare
but all that reaches out is space.

Then, "come see," you wave
and reluctantly I head toward that lens
the thing you've pointed at a light I couldn't place.
I look and, to my shock, as clear as hope
A circled disc appears to dance before my face.
"Saturn. It's really there," I whisper, "and so close..."
You ask if I can see division in the rings -- and I --
I say I just can't find division here tonight.
I feel your grin as you take up my hand
Encircled so much warmer than that world.
We stand in stars together, you and I
And once again I tell you of the sky.


This was written quite a long time ago, and the feelings it describes are much older than that. It's very uneven, but it's interesting to me to see how my style's changed since then. According to my notes I was purposefully alternating more poetic rhymes with free verse to give the impression of alternating between being swept up in the wonders of sky mythology and being brought back to earth. Erm, so to speak. I'm not sure now that it works, but you've got to give points for the effort.

The man in the poem? Someone I dated. Ages ago. No idea where he even is now. He was convenient for the poem, though, because when we'd go out to look at the sky together he really would be fooling around with some toy or other. I always thought he was missing the best part of the show, but to each his own.

One other thing: in case you couldn't tell from this very wordy poem, I'm extremely nearsighted. That'll explain some of what's in there.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Fire Fog

Sliding amoeboid down the river's bend
It spread tentative wispy fingers through abandoned yards
'Til, gaining purchase in silent alleyways
It gathered:
Rooting through the leaf piles
Playing maypole with lampposts
Swallowing sound
And quilting empty streets in smoke-tooth amber;
It fed on chimneys
Grew stronger in steeples
As gaudy store-neon drowned in the cats-eye cloud
And lent a jack-o'-lantern glow to the blackness.
We watched the cotton sea from the hillside,
Waves lapping higher on each landmark
As it claimed even the sky...
And we swam at last,
Lost in the choking ocean
Throughout the haunted darkness
Until the sun could find us again.


A weird mood brought on by weird weather combined with smoke from a fire that was trapped in the river valley a few years ago. It was a very odd thing to watch, really. Under those windless circumstances the smoke really does look like some bizarre creature sending out pseudopods to eat the world. After a while all we could see of the town from the hill was the strange glow of the muted street lights and store signs.

I don't think I've captured it especially well, but I suppose it was one of those had-to-be-there moments.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Stargazer lily in carbon pencil

I love carbon pencils. I love the smoothness, but I also love the depth of colour that you'll never get from graphite.

I should end this post right here, you know. Otherwise I'm just going to start muttering on about texture, and... well, what the heck. One of the main reasons that I don't usually paint (besides the fact that I have the brush skills of a five year old) is that touch and texture is a huge part of the doodling experience for me. I can easily spend an hour in an art store just fondling paper.

Yep. Not kidding there. I fondle paper.

The texture of the paper, the feel of a good pencil; the whole thing's pretty visceral for me. When you combine decent paper with something like a carbon pencil I'm completely in art geek heaven.

I don't even care that the sketch is nothing to write home about.

Well, I don't care much, anyway.
Related Posts with Thumbnails