Two of a series of four small paintings from today’s Painting as Expression class. Of course the originals look very different and even with my best efforts I couldn’t get the colours quite right here on the screen. Our teacher Vicki had asked us all to bring materials which we could share to inspire each other; images, books, poems or various readings which were in keeping with the prevailing themes of the month; autumn, change of seasons, the dimming of the light, death and dying, Halloween, etc. None of us remembered to bring anything, although I had intended to bring along my book of Charles Baudelaire selected poems to read a piece such as The Enemy*:
My youth was filled with storms; dark thunderheads
Lit up by sudden sunshine. Wind and rain
Tore at my garden, left the ravaged beds
Stripped bare of soil. How few ripe fruits remain!
Now it is autumn; my ideas turn brown.
Look at the land; I’ll need spade, rake and broom
To clear that flooded mess. The sodden ground
Is full of holes, each bigger than a tomb.
I dream new flowers now: but who can tell
If they’ll take root in this exhausted soil?
The nourishment they need is strange and rare.
Time eats at life: no wonder we despair.
Our enemy feeds on the blood we lose.
He gnaws our heart, and look how strong he grows.
Yes, this poem would have been completely à propos today. As none of us was able to contribute anything, Vicki showed us paintings she’d selected from art books she brought along and then had us do an exercise called Wild Mind Writing (better known to most as stream of consciousness writing) to provide us with a starting point for our painting session. She gave us the first few words then gave us five minutes to write whatever came spontaneously to mind: When the light enters darkness… Here, an excerpt from what I wrote:
When the light enters darkness
awakenings of colours emerge
with shapes aglow inching closer,
wider, always glowing until the sounds
overpower our sense of vision.
Red, orange, more red.
Red on bicycles, orange bouncing
up and down, blue mean streaks
across red fields.
The light enters the darkness
to awaken all the senses,
to reshape the world; awash in colour.
* Here, Baudelaire’s original version:
Ma jeunesse ne fut qu’un ténébreux orage,
Traversé çà et là par de brillants soleils;
Le tonnerre et la pluie ont fait un tel ravage,
Qu’il reste en mon jardin bien peu de fruits vermeils.
Voilà que j’ai touché l’automne des idées,
Et qu’il faut employer la pelle et les râteaux
Pour rassembler à neuf les terres inondées,
Où l’eau creuse des trous grands comme des tombeaux.
Et qui sait si les fleurs nouvelles que je rêve
Trouveront dans ce sol lavé comme une grève
Le mystique aliment qui ferait leur vigueur?
— Ô douleur! ô douleur! Le Temps mange la vie,
Et l’obscur Ennemi qui nous ronge le coeur
Du sang que nous perdons croît et se fortifie!
~ Charles Baudelaire