Friday, February 17, 2012

Writing Art

My Valentine's Day was the best day I've ever had, and I got to spend it with Dan -- on the floor in the kitchen with ink, watercolors, and paper!!
I have never just sat down and allowed myself total freedom to just play with no outcome intended. I've always thought about what my "play" was going to turn into. There always had to be a finished product in mind and how to market it, advertise it, sell it... So, what an amazing experience to just sit down on the floor and experiment with brushes, inks, and watercolors along with some instruction from the master.

What was really interesting was that while I was painting I came up with names for these faces. Stories popped into my head and for the life of me the writer in me was exposed!! Woo hoo!

And so the writing began:

When Myra Klemdensky came out of the Post Office she spied Mr. McClintock eyeing Persilla. She sees the look in those eyes -- those eyes of an endless depth, the trap of so many unsuspecting men.

Really, Mr. McClintock had nothing else on his mind that morning than to mail the package for the Mrs. Three point two five pounds was all it weighed. He had no idea what was in it, but he knew to say no to all the questions he was asked about its contents -- no liquids, no hazardous materials. He said no because he knew it would get him out of there quicker. He wanted to be done with his errands and back to the house. Well, not exactly the house, but the shed out back he'd converted to a studio of sorts, a place where he could pull up a stool, pick up a knife, and whittle away at a stick he'd found on his way in. He'd drown his moments with the clip of the blade against the stick. Eventually it'd be too dark to see, and he'd stumble through the shavings dripping from his jeans scattering like ants across the floor. He'd tell the Mrs. he'd mailed her package that morning because she'd be sure to ask as if he were incapable of remembering to do one damn thing. He'd make his way to the den where the TV would already be blaring "Wheel of Fortune" and he'd slide right down into his corduroy recliner where every bend and give in its construction fit his bottom and back to a "T". He'd pull the TV tray up to him and wait for the Mrs. to put his bowl of chicken noodle soup and plate of saltine crackers on it just in time for the first spin of the wheel.
Persilla wore her hair long. Some people said that made her look like a hussy. No one her age should have hair that long and skirts that short. She didn't much cotton to what people said about her. The words were spoken in whispers as light, as quick as the twitch of butterfly wings, and just as quickly -- poof! -- the words disappeared, as if they were never really spoken at all.

Persilla loved the finest silks and embroidered linens. She draped beaded scarves over her dresser and coffee table. Her lampshade's beaded fringe tickled her fingers when she turned the lever that brightened the room. And she loved to read in a way where her finger was locked at the edge of the page, being on the ready to flip it just as her eyes spied the very last word. Then up to the top of the next page without realizing any break in the sequences of letters. She trilled away her moments in silence, not even the tick of a clock, or a footstep on the stairs, as she lived alone. Alone with her books. Her imagination filtered in any missing descriptions in the paragraphs. Every single character became her closely-guarded friend. She imagined in great detail every crust of pie they rolled on their old wooden farmhouse table or granite kitchen counter top. She knew who was allergic to wheat or who broke out in hives after eating blueberries even if the author didn't note it. She knew these things because they were what was important to her. She cataloged this information to recall what she could and couldn't serve them.

Dan gave me paper that was all different shapes, and my aim was to paint on them without altering their sizes. Since I had a tremendous amount of long strips I went for the eyes.

Oh my gosh, I had so much fun it was decadent, luxurious, and positively sinful! I ended up painting for two full days.

And I even painted snacks...
which gave Dan enough energy to paint the village where all these characters will live. They're watching with bated breath!

And, after painting a million of these faces, I have to share with you my absolute favorite. This is one way that I'll have a puppy living with me!!

So, the great idea that came from this was something I experimented with this morning in Dan's life-drawing class. While I was painting for these two days, Dan was putting together his next lesson for class. I was looking at his books with the nude model sketches, and wondered what it would be like to WRITE nude models as they pose, to come up with character sketches, story lines, etc. while the nude is being drawn by students all around me. So, this morning for two hours (I had to stop due to a cramp in my hand!) I wrote 17 pages, single spaced, front and back while a nude model posed. I've taken creative writing classes and been part of creative writing critique groups for most of my adult life, and I finally hit upon something that keeps the "writer's block" away. I wasn't staring at a blank page in my typewriter (as I'd done years ago) or looking at a white computer screen waiting for the muse to hit. Instead I was given time limits to "sketch" a drawing. Characters sprang to life. Their thoughts hurled at me faster than I could record them, and as Dan was calling time, I was jumping into the next pose that sent my imagination reeling into yet another scene.

I call my experience this morning "writing art." I just glanced at the model, soaked in his pose, and my hand took off writing. I didn't look up until it was time for him to change poses. I haven't read what I've written, so I have no idea even if it makes sense, but I do know that the scenes that played out in my head were so vivid I felt as if I were living them. I could rewrite the dialogues and character sketches in a heart beat if I needed to. I consider the experiment a huge success and one I would love to try again.

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