Having fun with my colored pencils. There is nothing like sketching every line of a bird, especially one as ornate as a Great Horned Owl, to teach you what that bird looks like! Thank you to Sibley’s Guide to North America Birds for giving me such a detailed painting to work from.
We acquired a painting for the master bedroom after almost thirty years of searching. It now hangs above the bed on a wall that had been unadorned since we moved in. In our previous house, the space above the bed was occupied by my print of The Lovers by Klimt. The Klimt had hung in my apartment before we were married. I thought it was beautiful: the gold leaf and geometric patterns mixed with flowers, and the passionate embrace of the couple, brought me joy. Dave did not like the print so, out of a sense of fairness (he had put up with it for five years), when we were packing up to move again, I gave it away to friends. We vowed to visit art galleries once we were in Boulder and find a painting we BOTH liked for our new place. It was ten years before we found such a painting: No Food for Lazy Man by Kayeni from Ghana. It represents our philosophy of life, but it is not a bedroom painting and hangs in our foyer. We kept our eyes open for ten more years, buying smaller pieces that we scattered about the house: mountainscapes, Boulder Pearl Street Mall scenes by local artist Mike Brouse, photographs of birds (some of Dave’s) and beautiful stain glass panes made by our friend Julie Golden. But nothing that fit in the master bedroom. Then I saw a new painting by Mike called Connection: Two figures, a man and a woman, walking away from the viewer and physically separate, but with their bodies leaning in towards each other. When Dave saw it he said “Yes!” and Mike kindly painted a version of it in earth tones to match our bedroom décor. Add to that the floating oak frame Dave made, and the result is stunning.
Thanks again, Mike, for being willing to give us an earth-tone version of Connection.
I Am Art (In Memory of Vincent Ferrini)
I am art
this body of work
on mud-lined paths
under cottonwoods and among willows
armed and embracing
after dreams escaping
the dawn drenched in
that has no name
of words upon words
and the light from
prancing across the page
the resting on comfortable beds
the redressing of wounds
from reckless seething battle
the soft light of the moon
not even stirring the dark corner
where I lie
but inventing story
the whole while
the voyage beyond
the tiny yard and house
the pushing off from shore
the dark clouds and the rain
pouring into a leaky boat
The new land with lamp posts for trees
ancient marble and stone for grass
under my feet
the bright umbrellas chasing away grey
and the map to home
lying in among
tourists souvenirs stored in a tray
-- Ellen A. Wilkin
About the Collaboration
Julie: It was a pleasure to collaborate with Ellen, we had a great conversation and found we had a few things in common. Relating to the natural world, I hooked into the Cottonwood, one of my holiest of trees! It was a joy to paint "Bark of the Cottonwood" and make a new friend.
Ellen: We started from a common idea. We met to throw out ideas and we found common ground. Themes came up: the idea of art and creation and of artists and creators and how there are labels: she is a painter, he is a poet, she is a sculptor. Oh, and that person over there is NOT singer or a dancer or an illustrator. And we talked about how these conventions, these slots we put people in can stunt our growth as artists and can be harmful to the formation of the artist. We are creators of anything and everything.
Just before Julie contacted me about ArtSpeak, I had came across the poet Vincent Ferrini and I was caught by how he referred to himself as "the living poem." "I am the poem, the work of art, the art of living." And I thought he had something there. After Julie and my conversations about art, it all seemed to come to "We are the creation." It just all morphed together and I channeled something that became the poem, I am Art. And that is why the poem is dedicated to the memory of Vincent Ferrini. He was, in effect, part of the collaboration. I not only became friends with a new creative person in my community, I found a connection with a poet from another part of the country who is no longer with us, but whose legacy is rippling on through time and space.
Note: The art and poem pairing is on display at along with other visual and spoken word artists through end of May 2018 at First Congregational Church 1128 Pine St, Boulder, CO 80302 Phone: (303) 442-1787
This is me under the birch tree in our back yard meditating, which never really happens in the traditional, close-your-eyes-and-clear-your-mind sort of way as shown in the sketch. But sketching itself is rare for me, so I'm going to take this as a win. I do sit under the birch tree and write often. And I watch the finches and jays and grackles swoop back-and-forth between the tree and the bird feeders, which is sort of a meditation on birds. Sketching is like a secret power that I don't use very often. Untrained, with no Big Plan, and not working very hard on it, I just let my pencil flow and see what happens. Joy. And thereby, meditation.