Saturday, December 29, 2007
Below is some of what Rebecca Purdom says about abstraction. It makes the most sense to me about the meaning of abstraction of anything I have ever read. Mostly people want pictures to be recognizable and if you try to explain to them about an arrangement of squares that you find very moving, they giggle. So this pleased me very much.
"We’re so good at judging, it comes so naturally, that it’s easy to see why looking at abstraction, which offers absolutely no clues whatsoever as to what to do next, can be such a challenge. But that challenge is, in fact, abstract paintings greatest gift. The kind of seeing it promotes is something we can all do; we just don’t get the opportunity to do it very often.
I’ll bet that every one of you has had the experience sometime in your life of looking at something so marvelous that, for just an instant, you’d forgotten yourself enough to not act. Fot just that instant you were not in charge; the experience itself somehow was. The pursuit of that kind of experience is what I think turns painters into abstract painters, and the awareness of it turns all of us into better audiences for abstraction in particular and for art in general."
Rebecca Purdum in the newest New England Review:Vol 28, no 4, 2007. p175-6
"For about a year I couldn’t use yellow. It seemed as if the smallest amount would take over and smother whatever I was working on. I knew I couldn’t go on avoiding it so I decided to paint with nothing but yellow. There were about four or five of those paintings. I called out what turned out to be the last one Pins and Needles, because even though it was all yellow, it wasn’t anymore. It was paint.
I think the experience of color is like being at the seashore, spending all your time watching the waves crash on the rocks. The feelings colors produce in us are like those pounding waves, never at reat, always crashing around. At some point, however, you look up from all that turmoil and you sense the depth of the ocean itself, and see the endless horizon marking the infinite sky above. That vast uneasy calm is the unchanging yet unspecific emotion that paint produces. Feelings change, colors change, but the emotion, the paint, is constant."
A new year is coming; the holidays are over. It is time to think about art!
I missed posting the last two days, on the first one, the satellite ISP failed and on the second electricity. Both were gone only a short time, but it was blog time. Rats!
We drove back on a highway we hadn't used before: through valley rice fields. We saw lots of white geese, egrest, hawks and blackbirds and quite a few ducks. It was lightly raining and the hawks were mostly hunched in roadside trees. Also a kingfisher on a wire. Yes!
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
The toyon berries were a nice as I have seen them--on large bushes and in great abundance at the lower elevations. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I am reading Father Fox's Pennyrhymes, for sure!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
The Chinese pistache trees along the street have produced a splendid crop of red berries this year. Now that the leaves are gone, they show up beautifully. I have been watching for something great--like a flock of cedar waxwings, or the mixed feeding flocks I see every year in November and December; they are one of the delights of living in this climate. But so far, nothing. Often they come after rain, and there hasn't been much this year. We are al worried about the weather, and wonder about the Sierra snow pack and our water needs.
red pistache berries--
finch, woodpecker, yellow-rump
I have also seen in these flocks: flickers, robins, sapsuckers, and warblers too swift to identify. I love to show birds to my grandchildren.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
So here is one for this season.
Human, Avian, Vegetable, Blood
Today, three days before Christmas
I had planned to cut some berries
From the toyon bush in the yard.
For three years it has not done well.
This is the first year it produced
A decent crop. But this morning
A flock of thirty migrating
Robins appeared. And before noon
Every berry had been eaten.
This year we will buy our foliage
As usual. And the symbols
Of incarnate flesh we tended
All year will be flying, mingled
With pale hot bird blood, high over
The barren Mexican mountains.
by Kenneth Rexroth
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
We are often away now when the fruit comes on. As for fruit preservation, we got a little discouraged and few years back. We had frozen a lot of plums and cut up apples, in just the right amount for the pies S likes to bake. The garage cat knocked the freezer plug out of the socket and the resultant thawed and rotten mess was useless, smelly and hard to dispose of.
But each spring, even an old apple tree, uncared for, the kind that grows by the roadside and produces only wormy nubbins for fruit, gives us these gorgeous blossoms tinged with pink.
Overhead the moon is beam-ing
White as blossoms on the bough.
Noth-ing is heard but the song of a bird
Filling all the air with dreaming
Would my heart but still its beating
Only you can tell it how. Be-love-ed.
From your window give me gree-ting
I swear my eternal vow
Then I thought about my singing lessons. And it was just as my brother Robert had said, you seize the end of a piece of memory string and pull and more and more string pulls out; you wind up with a pile of string. That memory thread is part of the title of this blog. The name of my music teacher was Mrs. Newkirk, after a while I seemed to remember that her first name must have been Louise. Somewhere we used to have a newspaper clipping about her and her European music education, pupil of a pupil of a pupil of Liszt?
Mrs. Newkirk was a tiny buxom woman, who wore a great strand of knotted pearls, and the under part of whose upper arms hung down and wobbled frantically as she played. These flaccid arms were fascinating and horrible to me then; now I have similar ones.
She charged $1 per lesson. Many of us took piano lessons from her, but I took singing lessons. I remember going in to Schenectady from the Farm for the lessons, but I also have a very vivid memory of my mother taking lessons along with us when she was hugely pregnant with Marjory in 1949, the year before we moved to The Farm, and playing in a children’s recital in a dark blue dress with tiny white polka dots. The soft drape of the material, I think it was rayon, followed the pregnancy lump with too great an accuracy for my Junior High mind.
Many of the songs I learned were in a book called Art Songs, with a cover of pale yellow paper. I liked them, the predictable chords, the emphasized and romantic words; it never bothered me that they weren’t “popular” at the time. Then I remembered other songs I sang. There was nothing modern about my repertoire, which she must have settled on just after the Great War. I learned: Who is Sylvia, Florian’s Song (if there’s a shepherd in your valley, . .) and many others which I remembered last night and have lost again, although I think I still have the book in a box of music. I thought about getting up in the middle of the night to blog, but everything was so vivid, with more and more detail, that I just kept on thinking. When I married, Mrs. Newkirk sent three silver serving pieces with a very pretty sort of Art Nouveau swirl and a flower on the handles, There was a large silver spoon, a fork and a gravy ladle. I still have them in my silver chest. Perhaps I still have too many things, but tomorrow morning I am going to sing an art song in the shower.
Monday, December 17, 2007
A large yellow mulberry leaf just fell outside the kitchen window. In the darkness, it caught light as it passed through the light from the kitchen window; then it disappeared. A sort of leaf-meteor. Snug indoors, I am reminded of all that is outdoors. The last of the Mexicola avocadoes are falling from very high up on the tree. The one I picked up today was so deliciously ripe, that the bottom had flattened some upon impact. I can't believe how wintery it feels, when only a few moments ago it felt like Indian Summer.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Today, on XM Radio (I love XM Radio, but that's another post!) they played a Schubert Impromptu, the one that begins suddenly going down in pitch, like a waterfall. On the day of the memorial recital, the tiniest child, a girl of perhapa six years of age, with a waterfall of straight black hair held back from her face by a clip, marched up to the piano and attacked the waterfall of notes with a crisp professional competence. All the children played very competently, but she was spectacular, and so tiny. I have never forgotten that time, and that music, and I am always pleased to encounter that Schubert again. We named our annual haiku contest after Kiyoshi.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Whys do people make art? As with the making of poetry there seem to be a lot of makers and not enough takers. Yet the urge to try to pin something to the page, the paper or the canvas is a strong one. Very little of these making will survive, yet we choose archival materials and frame things under expensive glass.
Today a huge new Dick Blick catalog came in the mail. Such gorgeous, plummy smooth colors. Yesterday I read about a new kind of archival colored leads with a special holder. I looked them up on the internet and they cost $150 for a set of 18 colors. They had better be pretty special.
Only a few more shopping days until Christmas.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Today, the man who knows how to do everything finished up the bathroom, but found a couple more small things to fix and will come back on Monday. His surgery is a week from today and is very worrisome. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tonight we watched a documentary about Tony Kushner. While I wasn't thinking about him, Maurice Sendak has become almost as old as I am. When I first worked in a library, my boss, Joyce J, was so proud because she had voted FOR Where the Wild Things Are and ordered copies for the Arlington Branch Library (AB, are you still there? in your corner location?) when the head of children's services thought it was stupid and too scary. Then it won the Caldicott that year. Maurice was just a young fellow then, in the early 60's.
After that, there was a riot near the library and I saw mounted police pushing a small crowd back. The horses were those beautiful big chestnuts that police use. Huge. And the people moved back obediently. See how memory works?? And what use are these reminiscences? Good night.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Bathroom work almost done:
the workman kills the shower mold
Sleep tight, Santa comes soon. . .
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Saturday, December 08, 2007
I heard from a descendent of my great-grandfather Lemuel Hardison Redd today. (These people are not rare, because he had plural wives, in the 19th Century plural-wife times.) She had seen a picture of him I put up on Flickr. But when I answered her email, her provider msn.com bounced back my message. Kathy Graf, where are you???
Thursday, December 06, 2007
All around me people are getting terrible news about their cancers. Tonight I feel very lucky.
Luck is a white rose hanging over a brick path. Good night.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Monday, December 03, 2007
Tonight I put together a swivel chair that we bought at Office Max. It had the base, four leather upholstered parts, a handful of screws, a central iron piece and a lift mechanism. All the screws had to be tightened with an Allen wrench that came with it. I hope it will be a good chair for Scott to sit in since he hurt his back and he is having trouble finding comfortable positions. We'll probably get a glass table to put the laptop on, too. Now we BOTH sit about in the evening and fiddle with laptops, looking up stuff on Wikipedia. It is great fun, and uses up all sorts of time that one might be doing something productive. . .
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Saturday, December 01, 2007
So even this low defintion item is very interesting to me. I scanned it on a visit to my mother's place. I like having these things on Flickr, so I can access them anywhere,
Here is an excellent poem by Thomas Hardy which first appeared in print at the tail end of the nineteenth century. It seems like a long time ago to my single life.
The Darkling Thrush
I leant upon a coppice gate When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.
The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.