Monday, September 26, 2011

Between The Lines

The majority of my efforts as an illustrator have been hindered by an overbearing left brain. Early efforts were influenced by comic artists mostly, and later, M.C. Escher. I find the best work to be that of the impressionists, whose images translate to the sense and feeling of the subject, rather than defining it.

It is the most difficult to capture - the essence of life itself. I once tried to explain this to Miss B in her work - to unfocus and draw what is not there. Whether it is line work, painting or sculpture, the work of my children, and children in general, has always seemed to capture this for me. A simplicity, the adumbration of the subject, that which non-artistic adult minds are too cluttered to see frequently.

In D.H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers, the artist provides this wonderful explanation as he helps an admirer understand why they like a particular work so well:

“It’s because there is scarcely any shadow in it; it’s more shimmery, as if I’d painted the shimmering protoplasm in the leaves and everywhere, and not the stiffness of the shape. That seems dead to me. Only this shimmeriness is the real living. The shape is dead crust. The shimmer is inside really.”

And thus we live between the lines, but it's OK when we color outside of them.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Over The Top

During the cross-country adventure with my son I shared a recurring dream that I have occasionally. No, not the one where I forgot to wear pants, study for the test, or my locker combination (shouldn't those have run their course by now?) or flying, breathing underwater, trying to run with feet in molasses or dunking a basketball. But the one where I am coming over the top of a hill, in a vehicle of some kind usually, and instead of a really steep downhill side, it actually goes past vertical.

Although Goya suggested that the sleep of reason produces monsters, I rarely get concerned over what unfolds. The ability to dream lucidly helps. Especially when you are underwater at the point where you need to take a breath and simply do it, or if your ability to fly suddenly leaves you, or when going past vertical.

I'm convinced that most dreams are random playback of some kind, and perhaps there are some underlying psychiatric issues being played out, but I've long since passed the point of trying to assign any reason or psychoanalysis to them. Best to leave that to the professionals I say, and don't go asking questions where you either don't want to know, or can't understand the answers.

When I was 9 my brother and I had just finished cleaning our bikes and it was time for the 5 mile ride to the nearest store. I had this bitching 5-speed Stingray with Butterfly handlebars which put me at a significant disadvantage to my brother's 10-speed. He informed me wouldn't stop for 2 miles, and so I knew I'd better keep up from the start. The beginning of the ride was a climb to the top of Mt. Krumpet (at Route 28 and Blackrock Rd for locals) followed by a 1/2 mile sheer descent. Speed could be had there, Oh My Brothers.

So as I pedaled my ass off going downhill, I got the 2nd worst case of speed wobbles ever and quickly found myself flying over the top of the handlebars without a helmet. I woke up in the middle of the hot, semi-deserted asphalt road and an oncoming car. The rest of the summer I nursed stitches in the head, and road rash removed most of the skin off my right arm, hand and fingers. We didn't have helmets then.

The worst case of speed wobbles came at the age of 19 when I decided it would be a good idea to see how fast I could go on my skateboard when towing on the side of the car. When I let go at 37 mph, I shot past the car and was instantly unstable. Although I wore gloves that time, still no helmet and no shirt. For the rest of the summer I couldn't sit in a car until the skin on my back returned.

But helmets weren't available then I don't think, or at least I didn't know anyone who had one. Now I always wear one even though I have a hard time imagining how I would get into an accident. And then.

Accident Scene

Not 1/4 mile from my house it happened. Riding the Green Goblin I shifted onto the middle chainring on the front sprocket moving through the intersection, preparing for the hill. As I stood up on the pedals the gear shifted again and threw the chain. In a crunch of chain, sprocket, and my teeth, my head bounced off the pavement. There were witnesses. "Are you all right?" they kept asking, probably due to my geezing. As I dusted off my dignity and tapped my helmet, I was able to say "I'm OK", thanks to my helmet. Ride safe. You never know.

And for the stuff dreams are made of, check this out:


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Rain Man

Back in the day there was a commercial about a margarine-type of spread which through some miracle of modern technology lacked all of the bad attributes of butter. It closed with a thunderclap and strike of lightning, and the statement "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature."

And thus, I must take responsibility for mocking Hurricane Irene (not Stella) in my last post. Perhaps this contributed to the next 7 days of continuous downpouring, the likes of which hasn't been seen here in 50 years. The damage done by Irene was nothing short of catastrophic for many. I only hope they can recover, and I am glad it was not worse in my area after all.

The next 7 days was due to Lee I think. I don't know if it was a hurricane or a tropical storm, but it rained like hell for most of the east coast. I don't mind the rain so much. But I didn't park in this Reston commuter lot either.

The W&OD Trail is just to the left of this picture. I ride by this lot frequently and have parked here on occasion. Note to self: Pick one of the upper spaces.

It calls to mind the words of Longfellow, who certainly had more than his share of rain to ponder in the old home of Portland:

THE day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains,and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
  And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains,and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
  And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart, and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
  Some days must be dark and dreary.

My father used to quote the second to the last line as his way of dismissing whatever the problem was. For indeed in each life some rain must fall. So unless you prefer to be miserable, and want to view life as dark and dreary, learn to dance in it. For the rain will stop eventually and you will have missed the opportunity.