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Wednesday, August 09, 2006


' "Painters and poets," you say, "have always had an equal license in bold invention." We know; we claim the liberty for ourselves and in turn we give it to others." '
Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus) 65-8 BC Ibid III (Ars Poetica) c8 BC

I've spent the last few days painting and retouching my furniture, spiffying it up for the move next month into my beautiful new apartment. I spent three days painting my wicker telephone shelf. Why didn't I spray paint? Well I'm using two colours: saffron and blue -- Moroccan colors -- to match several other pieces of my furniture. It was a long, sometimes tedious job, but pleasurable too. It's been awhile since I had a paint brush in my hands and in this case I did a lot of the work with an art brush because of the curlikews and slender woven wicker pieces. I find painting a meditative task. And it reminded me of how long it's been since I held an art brush and actually did a painting (as in picture).

There was a time, when I had stopped writing for awhile, that I focused my attention to art. I 'inherited' a box of oil paints and some canvases (this is an incredible story which must be retold) and started classes at art school. For several years I painted landscapes and still lifes and occasionally painted from a model. I also painted in water-colors and inks. I have several watercolor painting of my village in Greece on my kitchen wall. I gave up painting when I moved into an apartment and found the lack of space for setting up and working was restrictive and the oil paints too much fuss to work with. I've always intended to try working in acrylics instead, but in the end turned my attention back to writing again. Painting word pictures.

"As in painting, so in poetry." Ut pictura poesis
Horace 1.361 (Ars Poetica)

My daughter became a successful painter while she was living in San Diego. She received many commissions and was doing very well as an artist. Now she's living here again she's had no time to pursue her art and it seems such a shame. So I thought of asking her to paint a picture for me for my new apartment. When I told my son this yesterday he said: "Well, Mom, Why don't you paint one yourself?" It made me remember some of my own work, in particular a very good painting of a Guatemalan village which I was quite proud of. I'd taken that painting to Greece with me when I went to live there in the '80's and when I returned to Canada it got left behind. My intention was to collect it on a future trip. But somehow the painting got lost. Remembering that particular painting gave me the idea that yes, perhaps I can do my own painting. I want a Moroccan or Turkish scene so it's a matter of finding a photograph that I could work from. And then, perhaps for my Fall projects I'll take an art course to refresh me.
Painting and writing do somehow go hand-in-hand. A lot of writers I know are also artists.

In my writing classes I always point out, when writing descriptions you are actually painting a picture with words, using all the senses so the reader can visualize being in that scene. I guess because I like to look at things with an artist's eye it makes my descriptive scenes visual and real. Now, if I can reverse that and get my written and mental images down on the canvas, I might come up with something really fantastic!

"Painting is silent poetry, and poetry painting that speaks."
Simonides 556-468 BC From : PLUTARCH, De Gloria Atheniensium iii. (346)


Gabriele C. said...

I'm hopeless when it comes to painting.

Which is a pity because I see many of my scenes so clearly I would like to paint them.

As it is, I'll have to stick to photos albeit I realised the digital camera, while easy to work with, is limiting the art part of photographing. I think I'll dust off my old analog one; I wanted to have it several times during my last journey.

Sam said...

I think art and writing do go hand and hand - I do approach writing certain scenes, especially description, like painting.
I love to paint too, but I live in a small house and a painter really needs a room - a studio would be nice. *sigh* Maybe some day!

Wynn Bexton said...

The lack of space thing was one reason why I stopped painting. When I moved from a house to a small apartment there simply wasn't room to have the oil paints out and the mess involved. But I think if I try acrylics it might work OK. So now I've thought about returning to art (which is a kind of meditation form for me) I am considering taking a course this winter to get me started and re-informed on techniques etc.
My daughter has a beautiful studio which her partner built for her but alas! she has no time to resume painting it seems! I hope she does before long as she was very accomplished at it.

Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

My love is torn between writing and art. I enjoy both immensely and find both to be meditative and therapeutic. When one leaves me uninspired, I turn to the other and I’m rewarded with a new creative spark. My home is filled with precious art. By that I don’t mean expensive gallery paintings but, rather, art created by my daughter from the time she held her first crayon. I also display my own art, although it took me many years before I felt comfortable doing so. Our Christmas tree is filled with tiny treasures made by my daughter, my husband and me. Each ornament holds a special memory. Creating artwork is like a spa vacation for the mind. :-)