Ever since Charlie died, almost two years ago, I no longer identify myself as a photographer. It’s very hard for me to pick up the camera with the same joy I had when Chuck was by my side. But happily, I’m still being creative. Now my medium is poetry and painting.
In October 2017, my friend, Amy, introduced me to found poetry. Found poetry is the art of reforming another writer’s words into your own story. Most of the time this involves cutting out words and re-arranging them out of context and creating something new. It can also be achieved through the Black Out technique, where instead of cutting out words, you simply black out the words you want to disregard so your chosen words are left on the page. I’ve done both techniques and enjoy the challenge of finding my own story or poem in someone else’s story.
I created my first painting and first found poem in October 2017. I didn’t know what I was doing, but creating was a nice distraction from the daily pressures and stress of, what for now will remain something private. The above is called ‘Stars Are Shed Tears’ and the source words are from ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’.
Between October 2017 and Chuck’s death on November 27, 2017, I painted and wrote as much as I could. About a week before Chuck died, I found a poem, again from ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ and shared it with him:
I am a Queen
of all the fierce beasts
with claws so long and sharp
that would have surely destroyed you
when night came
but I shall pretend
I have no heart
for you to hurt
and I will wipe away my tears
With the benefit of hindsight, I think the poem was able to voice what I couldn’t at the time. I had a feeling that something was ‘wrong’, but couldn’t pinpoint it, let alone face it or confront it.
Then suddenly Charlie was gone.
My grief needed an outlet so eventually I painted an image to go with the words, and added two more paintings and poems to compliment it. I call it ‘Ternion’ and each individual piece is called ‘The Queen’, ‘The Apology’ and ‘The Good By’
Here is the complete poem, again all sourced from ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’, (hence the antiquated version of ‘Good bye’).
I am a Queen of all the fierce beasts, with claws so long and sharp that would surely have destroyed you when night came. But I shall pretend I have no heart for you to hurt, and I will wipe away my tears.
Then in an instant he was gone and I’m alone. I’m terribly afraid of the journey I must walk. It is long, dark and terrible. Where is my courage? I begin to weep. All I could feel was the dreadful stillness of the forest, when suddenly, a low quiet voice, quite grieved, came from the trees and said, ‘I’m sorry’
In the middle of the dark forest are wild beasts, but they do me no harm. The Lion stood silently beside me until I found courage to walk along this road without my love. The Lion saw my face was covered with tears and said, ‘He who is asleep had crossed over and will live on forever in your heart. But it takes time to make a heavy heart sing. Therefore, Queen, have courage to be who you are and to find that he did not want you to cry bitterly, but live bravely in this beautiful land.’ ‘Very well,’ I said sorrowfully. ‘I will promise to be brave and strong enough to live on my own’. There in the woods, with the Lion, I cried a little while longer and then said goodby.
This piece has given me great comfort and I realized that creating is my form of therapy. In the last 18 months, I’ve written and painted many pieces, and I hope to share them here. Yesterday, I completed my latest piece, and I’m quite fond of it.
One of the fascinating things about creating, at least for me, is that I’ll have an idea of what I want to paint, but once the paint brush is picked up and colors are mixed, something completely different appears on the canvas. That was the case with my newest piece, that so far is unnamed.
Before I introduce it, let me share some back ground on how it came to be. I painted a space scene, for my dining room as it needed some art. I wanted a quote about stars to go with the painting and after several suggestions from friends that I disregarded, I found the perfect quote: ‘There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.’ These words were sung by Leonard Cohen in his song ‘Anthem’ and was perfect for my piece.
As I listened to ‘Anthem’, I found another stanza which inspired my newest painting. ‘Start again, I heard them say, don’t dwell on what has passed away, or what is yet to be.’
These words hit home and I knew I wanted to use them in another piece. I envisioned a landscape and a traveler, and wanted to put the finished piece above my computer in the living room.
For my space piece, I used eight pieces of 11 x 14 mixed media paper to create a large canvas – something I had done with another earlier painting of mine. For some reason, I decided mount the pieces on foam board, so it was one big piece. Because I decided this at the last minute, and not at the beginning, the foam board warped, but the effect is pleasing. For my newest piece, I remembered I had 8 x 10 canvases and decided to use eight of them to make one large piece.
I started my painting and knew I wanted mountains in it, as I am a mountain girl at heart. As I started painting, the mountain scape became familiar to me and I realized I was painting the scene from ‘Ternion’. I was so excited because it felt my new piece was a full circle from one of my earlier pieces, but filled with hope and healing.
I know I’m not the best painter, or even a good painter, but this piece is very special to me, even with the mismatched mountains. I hope Charlie would be proud and I hope you enjoy it.