Friday, June 30, 2006

Paper Wings

This poem's joined The Festival of the Trees 1 --- swing over, hyperlink-like, and read Dave's great inaugural celebration on all the terrific posts submitted. Every month there'll be a blog post by one of the rotating editors :) devoted to collecting all the posts submitted that month on trees. Tree worship is alive and well and thriving!
Paper Wings

I open 500 envelopes a day: transactions, records, letters. Slice them open like pockets, remove sheaths of paper.

Paper cuts, edges like swords.

The first paper was stone. Scrawling on cave walls, then wet clay tablets, wax-coated inscribed by metal, bone, ivory stylus. Papyrus, sheepskin, parchment.

Unfold letters, staple, sort, deliver it to the offices.

Papering the world. It burns. Flames of culture singe.

From pictures to pictographs to abstract figures to alphabets, our grammars of sound ground into ink of soot, glue and water scratched with reeds, or quills, taking the five outer wing feathers of geese, swans, crows, owls, turkeys, hawks.

As body is to breath,
paper and ink are to mind.

Without papyrus, animal skin, parchment, vellum or the plant fibre, cellulose mulch of pressed paper... our history.

The body of language is inked paper.

The Gutenberg Printing Press, replaceable wooden letters. 1436. Cursive handwriting, 1495, Manutius of Venice, the 'running hand.'

Our 26 alphabet letters not till the end of the 16th century.

Mass printing. Mass distribution. Wide scale literacy.

The first paper was stone. You drew on the cave walls.

The world is papered with knowledge. Burn all the paper in the stoneage firepit of our souls.

Smooth burning words under my fingers.

Forests are the lungs of the planet; and wood dust and water promise of immortality.

Give us our words, records, songs, drawings, photographs, to store. Save diagrams of what houses us. Even Capitalism depends on the paper that money is printed on. Bank statements, loans, stock certificates. Cheques, vouchers, tickets. Medical, dental records. Taxes. All the transactions.

Delible records kept in the vaults of time. Mementos.

Ownership tattooed in the ink on the paper that becomes passport of proof.

Birth and baptism and education and marriage and employment and travel and retirement and death certificates.

The paper trail of our lives.

Envelopes as wallpaper. Bodily fluids, tissue papers. Cards, wrapping, origami. Computer paper. Specially treated, bonded. Newspapers, boxes.

The world is awash with paper.
Inscribed paper.

Mind. Hand. Ink. Paper.
My letter opener flashes like a slicing knife.

Envelope after envelope, stack after stack of paper. Filing ourselves. Pixelated language printed out reams upon reams collected, stored.

I wander the stacks of the library afterwards, shelf upon shelf, floor upon floor of bound books of yellowed paper inscribed with words, figures, numbers, images.

This gift of trees,
memory of ourselves.

This love letter
of paper.

ah, sigh, I've been tinkering with this for months, it just keeps growing...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Self Portrait #8, plus photos

Self Portrait #8, June 29, 2006

This week I tutored a sweet Japanese Physics student through stages of a philosophy paper, it was hard work for both of us -me eliciting coherent ideas and grammar, he pushing himself to produce, and then felt bad because I spent the money on paints and cheap brushes (when I have tubes of paint and sable brushes in storage). But a friend at another site loves #7 and has asked about it, so I should feel better...

Also I found a card table with a wobbly leg that I fixed in about 2 seconds and it's now a 'painting table' - so I don't have to put the dishes on the floor while I use the tiny bathroom counter - although it takes up nearly all the room in my tiny space. It's so damp down here too, that I wonder how these paintings will dry. Oh, fret, fret.

Ok, a garden goddess, based on a photo my daughter took (my choice of location & pose, I couldn't resist those roses), and I look way younger, but whadya wanna make of it? ::grins:: Paint & brush seem to be doing their own thing. Perhaps I'm celebrating a younger self, who knows. I guess I'll have to get a really fine brush to darken the face more & put a teeny tiny dot of colour in the eyes...

It strikes me that the 'open heart' of Self Portrait #7 has here turned into a canopy of open, blossoming magenta roses...

Oil on canvas, 9.25" x 7.75".

Update: Here's a merge of some photos over the last three years... no, one can't be blonde forever:) Click for larger size.

BrendaClews SelfPortrait Merge

For Sparky's Self Portrait Marathon.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Morning Pages...

What engulfs emits light.
I had put this commentary in a comment below, something I might try from time to time when I don't want to overload the image for you...

I read this article, Lighter Side of Black Holes, and later the image I've posted emerged. As I pondered my syllogism, what engulfs emits light, I wondered how it would translate across time shifts and conscious ripples. The statement spawned in my consciousness from reading about a 'scientific discovery,' that is presumably based in the empirical world, in the 'real' world of verifiable happenings, could be applied to other areas of human experience.

Emotionally what does it mean: what engulfs emits light.

And in terms of a kind of dominant gene, combative, Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest, Tennyson Nature-red-in-tooth-and-claw, all the devouring that goes on, is there always a record of the engulfment? That light is emitted?

The conclusions my night-time/morning mind came to, what engulfs emits light, have pulled me into strange and wondrous musings on the philosophical ramifications...

"Scientists have cracked a huge cosmic paradox — how black holes can be the darkest objects known but also responsible for a quarter of all light and other radiation produced in the universe since the Big Bang."

Like, wow.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Morning Pages...

Once it appeared in the world, there was a difference.

Things weren't the same afterwards.

What was puzzling was that no-one noticed when it happened. Life went on.

But everything had changed utterly.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Morning Pages: On a Summer's Morning

(I am attempting morning pages, even if it's only a few lines.)

On A Summer's Morning

Something a little more pure. Where the gift is.

The hot humid air bathes me.

I use espresso coffee in my coffee maker; flavourful, earthy.

Free the moment of its burdens.

Find home.

After which I meditated for many hours on what home is, and this continued day after day. It's become a mantra whose sound I follow. Even today watching the leaves catch the morning's rain, remembering filling the hugest flower pot I could find with as many red geraniums as it could fit for the doorstep of my old house and wondering where again I shall be watering such richly red blossoms. I think of Jean, Mary, Tamar, who are all in perhaps similar though different processes on the meaning of home...

And then the Linden tree down the street, filling the road with such gold. I picked up a handful of marigold-yellow seed fluff and placed it in a small pewter-glazed ceramic bowl. The beginning of an alter, it feels like.

But that's another story.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Self Portrait #7

Self Portrait #7

Paint's still wet (oil on canvas)...

I haven't painted in a very long time, but yesterday bought a small set of oils and one brush, and tonight cleared the foot & a half space on the bathroom counter where we have our dish rack and painted one of the self portraits. There was no black or even brown paint, hence the blue hair. Is the red paint her heart? I give the paint a fair bit of freedom to do what it wants and become witness to the results. What emerged frightened and exhilirated me. A meditation in 'emergent self'? - my dream of a few nights ago said, use brushes, not sticks, which I took to mean paints not watercolour pencils. Interesting. Not quite starlight, but tiny pin pricks of an opening of something...

Mary Ann says, "The red part in the middle looks like your heart is open for all to see."

For Sparky's Self Portrait Marathon.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Self Portrait of Woman Keeps on Walkin'...

Update: Sparky's asked me to decide how to post this mini series. Gnash, gnash. Ok, decision. All together, but he only has to post one. There are 10 so far, and I'm planning to paint at least one of them too.

They're all clickable for readability.
Da Original



Da drawing:

Self Portrait #6, June 20, 2006

De first batch of Self Portrait of Woman Gone Walkin':

Self Portrait #6 - Lady Of Vines, Of The Forest, Or Fence Sitter

Self Portrait #6- In the Gutter

Self Portrait #6 - Posted On the Post


Da Second Batch:






Yat is enough. She gonna stay home now! (Or leave town!) NO MORE WALKIN', Self Portrait!

(Sometimes ya git caught in a swirling eddy [of walkin' S-Ps] [oh, 'n there's no overlayin'; they's all real shots in real places, even if enhanced later] & ya can't hardly git out!)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

From my notebook...

(the first two, the twigs, & vertical lines, from dreams the night before)

CaligraphyDon't use twigs, use brushes.

The downward vertical line & the upward vertical line don't meet, and she saw this years ago and went away distraught.

It's SunFire Day. Solstice.

The typoGenerator* threw up some of my images. A photograph of a red tulip; a line drawing of a pensive woman.

In the field of green, some random red.

My dog lies sleeping beside me; she always has to be near.
From the Notebook...
The wall clock ticks. The world holds still. O


(I did for an hour.)

Then move, fast.

(I didn't. But ran into an old friend in her blue Rav4 later, the same car she drove me out to a farm in the country 5 years ago to meet and fall in love with a certain puppy, an occurrence which seemed stretched like a line inevitably from this point.)

*thanks to Dave for the link

The plain face...

Surely post & then take this down... the photo underlaying the drawing (which will surely do more walking), unadorned, plain, as is, the background fuzzed, oh yeah, well...


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Re-visers, oh, oh..... A Wandering Self Portrait!

I apologize for updating posts; it drives me crazy too. Yesterday was a case in point (surely dozens of times, those with aggregators must have... oh, sorry!). But the post kept growing! I eventually took the drawing and photographed it in different places - no overlays, the real drawing in real places: leaves, a gutter, a posting pole. Now I'm thinkin' where else I could take her. Any suggestions?

Self Portrait of Woman Wandering the City.

No comments allowed on this post; you'll have to go back to the other one...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Self Portrait #6 - Using the Non-Suffering Method of Drawing THE SELF PORTRAIT GOES WALKING!

For Sparky's Self Portrait Marathon.

The Non-Suffering Method of Drawing a Self-Portrait: take a photo, some good contrasts work best; lighten it & print (no need to use copious amounts of toner); paper clip it to the sheet you want to draw on; hold up on a window with bright sunlight behind and trace...

Self Portrait #6, June 20, 2006This is a traced drawing of the new profile pic. Looks way too young, but that's beside the point. Why? It's hard to draw ourselves - afterall, we haven't spent a lifetime looking at our faces. I have no real idea of my eye or nose or mouth shape, nor the way the curls fall. So I'm learning... for all you folks who don't draw, this is a viable way to learn! Even if it doesn't exactly turn out to 'look' like us.

Self Portrait #6 - Lady Of Vines, Of The Forest, Or Fence Sitter

A hand drawn image of a photograph photographed. O, this is fun! Lady of the Vines, or the Forest, or Fence Sitter.

Self Portrait #6- In the GutterIn the gutter!

Self Portrait #6 - Posted On the PostWORK AT HOME on this woman!

YES, she's been sighted all over the city!

Self Portrait goes walking!

Intrepid artist wearing a sun visor and sunglasses and a skimpy red dress seen taping suspicious SELF PORTRAIT to public poles and drains!

Blogsday for Bloomsday

It's an enjoyable, funny, sad, irreverent, serious hour of blog readings trolled from the NET on June 6th (I'm, umm, before the middle, it was interesting to hear an actor read ma words, too). Sit back, enjoy, while you compose another self portrait for Sparky's Self Portrait Marathon. Open Source Boston Radio:

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Self Portrait #5, Chorus in Red

Self Portrait #5For Sparky's Self Portrait Marathon.

Update: Surely our self-portraits are versions of ourselves, and it looks like I've done versions on an image. Wonder how that happened? So far this is my favourite self-portrait. It took the longest; is more complex than it looks with something like 87 layers in photoshop. There were the photographs, one of which I chose, printed in black and white and inked in the outline and coloured the dress with a red and wet watercolour pencil; I traced this version in ink on tissue paper, and painted that dress with the same red and wet watercolour pencil and stuck it to the printed one. My daughter likes these 'two Brenda's' best, kind of a collage. Then I photographed the collage and layered it with the original photo plus another one. I crudely cut out dolphins and used them as patterns, decreasing the size on some (that's where all the layering is); then I wrote a couple of words from the post in; drew some right angle red lines and enhanced the red in various layers and posted it. It probably does "look" like me - in that if you saw this collage & you knew the Summertime me you'd recognize me. If you know what I mean! But then, hey, it's a photo, and a take-off on a photo, and a take-off on a take-off of a photo...

I kind of look like a chorus in red, don't I? :grins:

Yesterday's post: On the steaming city day, a high and dusty South wind, I walk miles breaking in new shoes that break in my feet. Red spots that threaten blisters that never arrive. Returning other shoes for exchange, I walk in a ridiculously skimpy red sundress and put the brim of my hat low because I don't care and don't want to see anyone's disapproval. Aging women shouldn't have to hide themselves, and so I don't. It's too hot to wear anything else. Finally on the way back, walking very slowly, I stop at Future Bakery for a coffee. The patio is large, partially covered with a Corono Beer tarp and a couple of tables have Corona umbrellas. Wherever my skin touches anything it sweats. The backs of my legs, behind my knees, the soles of my feet. Somewhere birds impossibly chirp. The sounds of the voices of the people around me chirp. It's a good spot, where students and writers come to drink, to study, to write. It hasn't changed in 20 years. Near me is Ye Olde Brunswick House; across the street my favourite Indian restaurant, Nataraj; an ice cream booth; and on the other corner, By The Way Cafe, which hasn't been a vegetarian cafe in at least two decades but whose sign still says it is. And now I must make my way on to buy fruits and vegetables and then home. Where I will ask my daughter to photograph me for another self portrait...

Of multiples. Duchampian. It was actually fun tonight, playing, thank you Jean!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Self Portrait #4, a photograph of a reflection...

Self Portrait #4, Photograph, June 17, 2006Does a photograph of a reflection of oneself in the glass covering a watercolour drawing by oneself count as a self portrait? Tired, having walked many miles in search of shoes for my daughter, for myself, in 32C/90F humidity, now listening to Anjani's and Cohen's Blue Alert and sipping red wine...

For Sparky's Self Portrait Marathon.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Self Portrait #3

Self Portrait #3, June 15, 2006

Who am I? Why do I find self-portraiture harrowing? What my mind sees and what my hand draws are not the same. Is it that my eyes are trained to see like a camera, and my hand feels its way over surfaces, uncaring about representational likeness? If someone who knows me saw these self portraits would they recognize me? The problem is no, they wouldn't; not out of context. I don't know who I'm drawing, but it's not me. Could I then call them versions of the self?

Because Natalie asked, for Sparky's Self Portrait Marathon.

Two renditions of the same self portrait drawn in a tiny mirror, on a small piece of canvas, 3.5"x5", india ink, watercolour pencil. Click on image for larger sizes.


I found this in my inbox, neat huh:


I'm writing from Open Source, a public radio show based in Boston and distributed around the country.

Last year we started what we hope will be a yearly tradition for us called Blogsday. Based loosely on Bloomsday, which celebrates "Ulysses" as an evocation of the whole world in a single day (in Joyce's case, June 16, 1904), the idea is create a mosaic portrait of our country from excerpts of blog posts written on the same day. (In our case this past Tuesday, June 9th.)

After assembling the excerpts we bring in two accomplished and agile actors to read them. I'm writing now because your post on June 6, "On Saturday Night," caught our eye and we're interested in using it on the show, which will air live on Thursday night from 7-8pm EST.

We can't pay anything -- this is public radio after all -- but we can guarantee a respectful treatment, a national radio audience, and a link on our blog.

Best regards, Chelsea"

I don't know if it's podcast. Chelsea did email me at 7:30pm: "It's being read right now. It sounds great. Many thanks." It was a long day and, oh, it was nice to say yes to Blogsday in honour of Bloomsday...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Self Portrait #2

Self Portrait #2, June 13, 2006Another sketch, for Sparky's Self Portrait Marathon, surreptitiously where I'm working. The small mirror was under the counter, it was dimly lit, and I had my sketch book flat in front of me, so... Someone did say, "That looks like you!" But then my daughter said it was cartoony and didn't. Representation. Oh, sigh. Self-portraits. Oh, sigh.

While I released myself from having to make people look like themselves some time ago, and consider my drawings instead 'inspired' by my models, and it was very freeing, I am trying to create more of a likeness, however that may be!

Eyes are too big. Reading glasses askew - that's me!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Random Bits from the Notebook...

CaligraphyDon't use twigs, use brushes.

The downward vertical line & the upward vertical line don't meet, and she saw this years ago and went away distraught.

It's SunFire Day. Solstice.

The typoGenerator threw up some of my images. A photograph of a poppy; a line drawing of a woman.

In the field of green, some random red.

My dog lies sleeping beside me; she always has to be near.
From the Notebook...
The wall clock ticks. The world holds still. O


(I did for an hour.)

Then move, fast.

(I didn't. But ran into an old friend in her blue Rav4 later, an occurence which seemed stretched like a line inevitably from this point.)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Self Portrait #1

It's a self-portrait, because Natalie asked, for Sparky's Self Portrait Marathon.

I know it's pale and limpid. So many night-time dreams over the years that I ought to draw, paint... but I don't know.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Daily Sustenance...

Image Hosted by

Perhaps I'll write about meditation, what I do daily, sometime...

100 Days, a place to meditate, is a wonderful site if you'd like to find compatriots.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Dress Us In Apple Blossoms

A short prose poem published in Qarrtsiluni that I wrote on Earth Day, Dress Us In Apple Blossoms. I took the photo of the apple where I was working just before eating it. When I looked at it later that night, I found the image disturbing - you'll see what I mean. And got to thinking about apples and Eve and wombs and death and Genesis and nature. We're revising the texts now, planting new seeds...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

On Saturday Night

Do you ever get those evenings that never quite fall into an activity, or a rhythm?

The hours drift by, unfulfilled. The rain falls in rich curtains of fertility. Everything is bathing, the trees, shrubs, flowers, birds, earthworms. But your mind strays, unfocussed.

I wouldn't call it boredom, but it sort of is.

When nothing you can think of is enough to rouse you from your couch of comfort. The hours aren't weaving or unweaving anything. You're just wasting them.

You feel spent, uninspired, worked over, at odds, suspended.

I don't feel like drawing
or walking the dog.

I don't feel like being alive
or dead.

Or creating art out of my life.

I don't feel like being alone,
or with anyone.

The lush Spring rain
simply falls
without metaphor.

You want to eat something
to nourish and fulfill
but all the multi-grain breads and cereals, the fruits, oranges, apples, strawberries, grapes, and almonds and raisons and cheeses, the fresh vegetables, carrots, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, and herbal tea of cranberries and vanilla that sits steaming in your hand
doesn't satisfy.

And you ask questions of the moist fresh air all evening
about what was, is, or will be
asking about intention
knowing that's it,
the intent to be
is everything.

And you write it,
this mundane
enfolded mystery.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Sex and the Artist

This is a rather funny, depending on how you look at it. A dear blogging friend, Bill, bought one of my watercolor pencil drawings:

The Dance, The Dream, Disappearing Into Each Other

Dance, the Dream, Disappearing Into Each Other, 8.5" x11", watercolour pencil on paper, 2006.

The writing along the blue woman's leg: 'shadow my desire'; up the older woman's arm, 'what rises into the self?'; and curling from thigh to breast to arm, 'repose curls in on itself.'

(click on it for larger sizes)

He wrote in a recent comment, "By the way, my Mother in law thinks my awful painting of those people having sex should be removed from our quest bedroom. I love it by the way and will post it framed soon."

Huh? I overlaid (uh oh, I'm noting my terminology) 3 sketches of the same model from the same lifedrawing class and then colored them so that they seem what I thought was melting into each other (uh oh, terminology again) like a dream, sort of surrealist. All I can see is the figure 8 of the composition, which I like and didn't notice until it was finished. But now that he mentions it...

A prime example of how the artist creates a work but doesn't thereby generate the meaning... (Wayne Booth's Rhetoric of Fiction, but don't ask me for a page reference, it's in storage! Booth says there is a gap between author and text, and between text and audience. I'll say!)

But perhaps unconsciously... (O, roll over Freud, roll over).

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Bedroom in Seaton Village

The futon bed couch arrived, was constructed, laid with a sleeping bag and pillows...

Upon which I immediately sat and meditated and then napped. Not quite the Bedroom in Arles, but nice...

And even nicer to be off the sweating floor (a swamp, shhh). Austerities of sleeping on a foam mattress (nee sponge) on the floor gone. It feels positively luxurious. Emergency measures were called for. Beautiful Kobe design cover in flame colours ready in 2 weeks, and I’ll post it then.

Update: Perhaps I should dress it in velvets, as this filter suggests...

'Pull Down the Northern Lights for Chandeliers,' Zoom video August 20, 2020

   "I'd dance to death to evoke it." "Who in me writes?" It was a rich, varied poetry evening where we read, talked ...