Earth Artist

The book I’m currently writing is called Earthen Trinkets. In it the main character is an artist of pottery. It reminded me of a poem I wrote many, many years ago. I’d titled my poem “Earth Artist” –

EARTH ARTIST

Earth is awhirl within the sprawling heavens.
It is designed as our natural inheritance –
of that I’m certain.
A potter’s hand sculpts earth.
Those hands reshape clay,
and interprets precious clumps of soil.
Those hands cut clay blocks with wire strings.
There is the lift and plunge of a fist into a rotating block.
Guesswork begins, and it turns into the calculating touch of skill.
Earth’s direction began unpredictably
as it unleashed across this universe.
In throwing clay, with each whirl of the wheel,
creation is forged.
Spinning discs promise the imagination a free ride.
Circular, orbital, as with the galaxies, the wheel rotates.
Clumps of gray, tan, red – and in between colors of wonder
stitch expression into reality.
The cool, damp clay is adroitly formed
with wet hands that allow the wheel to dictate its pull.
Edging clay upward is a communication
between the imagination and the touch.
A container is born, a sculpture is invented.
Clay lifts, edging as a sediment-sweetened sponge drips.
Stoneware is formed.
The land’s face connects, for it is tilled.
Potters caress molds.
Framing the terrain’s bounty into contours
of beauty produces life’s bounty.
Fine ceramics are engineered
as they are cradled by knowing touches.
Lessons of clay reflect chance,
just as our globe’s destiny presents itself.
The crust fades, when fragile material is overly stressed.
The clay is placed aside and restored by time.
Time settles both terracotta and territory.
Time strengthens both and gives each endurance.
With insured plasticity – art is constructed,
and becomes pliable, and then resilient.
It is sturdier than raw clay.
Learning patience with each effort,
the potter comes to know life’s wait.
Drying time, produces its own lesson.
As the vessels, and creations await firing,
the artist accepts the timing of existence.
Drying time is where ‘preludes’ seem most at home.
When the leather-hardened art is fired,
fortune takes command.
Cone-monitored temperatures assist in predicting creation.
Speculation is only a dream that presents a lesson.
For preparation corrects mistakes; prevents mistakes.
The beauty of earth takes on another form of loveliness.
From the kiln comes bisque.
After it is dipped into vats of glaze,
brushed with oxide, and twirled,
it becomes an artist’s vortex.
Chemistry has mingled the best rainbow designs
from inside a potter’s mind.
Sunrise colors and twilight hues
blend into nature’s visionary promise.
Although there is an awareness buried somewhere within,
there seems to be no way to encroach upon reality.
There is only imitating nature.
Nothing is overlooked, and nothing is ignored.
Inspiration finds its reverence
and appreciation of life’s components.
Expressing, translating, and conducting impulses,
energy flows from hands to the touch of earth.
Connecting, yielding, and sheltering,
is part of the process.
There is the beguiling swirl of invention and vision
when indentations are created from a serrated tool.
The corner of the artist’s heart must be shown.
From the glow of a prism, to the texture of life,
it becomes a replicated knowing of the universe.
Earth is often scarred, punctured, and battered.
Yet with peace, patience, and acceptance,
there is love’s reprisal.
It is captured within a magnificent reward called art.
Earth’s alloys and bonding agents are nearly as complicated
as each of life’s earthlings.
In each unfurling of creativity
wisdom is created as if by a miracle.
An earth artist’s task is to sculpt
an offering of pleasure.
And most importantly,
a texture of love.

COPYRIGHT: Kieran York

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Fiction by Kieran York: Careful Flower, her latest release, is available in book form through www.bluefeatherbooks.com. Or order through Bella Book Distribution for books or e-books. Books and Kindle e-books are also available through Amazon. Appointment with a Smile, a 2013 Lambda Literary Award Finalist, is also available through Blue Feather Books, Bella Books and Amazon.

If you’re interested in poetry, check out her poetry in the best-selling Sappho’s Corner Poetry Series: Wet Violets, Volume 2; and Roses Read, Volume 3. These collections are edited by Beth Mitchum. They are available through http://ultravioletlove.com and Amazon.

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Contented Flowers

Poetry is the ticking of my heart. Energy from words flow through my veins as music might through my body. The light of each syllable sparks from a newly created flash.

CONTENTED FLOWERS

Carefully, the day grows with colors encroaching.
Flowers press the top layer of earth.
So tender are the petals.
They pretend to be silk dressings of garlic cloves.
They breathe as if they’re recently incubated.
They turn the page of top soil.
We tend the garden of them.
They are where our memory lives to unfold their story.
Spun around, their centers feel yesterday and soon to be – today.
The planet’s dream takes each drop of breath.
The glitter of butterfly wings releases a breeze.
They zigzag through tufts of foliage.
Those wings appreciate the lopsided curves of earth.
The lands are where seeds scatter.
A script is being written.
Each word is savored by the sacred colossus.
Moments are elevated with a harp’s sunlight.
There is a mythical heart beating out prose.
If unfurled, each flower’s price tag exceeds the cost of glory.
Harvested terrain renders a journey of tomorrow.
Vining roots, venturing stems, and leaves are all exposed nerves.
Contentment grows steadily within rich loom.
Blooms stand like sundials.
Mysterious, shadowy agents tame the light.
Canonical rolls of rays dash the fields.
There are flowers growing with sampler colors.
As if kissed on the inside, petals are dipped in a multitude of hues.
As if caressed on the outside, leaves shelter.
Cast in the wonder of wilderness, blooms lift their heads.
And we recognize the side-effects of contented flowers.
Copyright: Kieran York   

 

Please check out my poetry in a collection called Wet Violets, Sappho’s Corner Poetry Series, Volume 2, edited by Beth Mitchum. Books are available through http://ultravioletlove.com and Amazon. The latest volume, Roses Read, Sappho’s Corner Poetry Series, Volume 3, will be published this month.

If you’re interested in romantic fiction, please check out Appointment with a Smile by Kieran York. Books are available through www.bluefeatherbooks.com. Or order through Bella Books Distribution for books or e-books. Books and Kindle e-books are also available through Amazon.

van Gogh’s Message

Over a year ago I visited the Denver Art Museum’s “Becoming van Gogh” exhibit.  Those of us in the area had awaited the exhibition for months, and years.

The career retrospective of Vincent van Gogh included seventy paintings, drawings, and prints. These masterpieces were borrowed from forty institutions and private collectors around the world. It required seven years, and twenty-two separate shipments.

Some wonder what is so important about seeing actual paintings. The answer is that in books and reproductions, so much flavor is missed. Lost in imitation of the original.

I have never been more impacted by artwork than seeing the van Gogh collection. I wanted to know his soul. I’d reached into the words of hundreds of letters he’d written during his lifetime. They were of his odyssey as a misfit and an artist. His exuberant art mirrored letters of elation. His depression was also captured in both word and paint.

But nothing prepared me for standing near his work – near enough to hold out a paintbrush and dab paint as he had. I witnessed it from his vantage point. It was like falling into the magic of the canvas.

Works were thematically selected to show van Gogh’s beginning. Early art, yet each seemed to forecast the explosive, unique, and emotional images. With his well-executed striation, he rearranged reality. From the density of paint evolved tremors of visual elasticity. Great tangles of brush strokes radiated energy. Bold nuances allowed exotic pictorial resonance to bloom.

How did Vincent van Gogh become the master of the Post-Impressionist period? Many critics consider him to be the greatest painter of all times.

From the amazingly different way the Dutch-born artist approached his art, we all came to look at art differently. Other artists were influenced by his thick, heavy colors. The public was impressed with his enthusiasm, and coloristic warmth. Across the surface of his canvases, and paper, we saw intensity, and felt his restlessness.

I’m not an art critic. I’m not an art expert. I’m someone who simply loves the creation that art is. So I shall not attempt to do anything other than give my own slant on what that marvelous day spent with Vincent meant to me.

Van Gogh wasn’t a perfect human being – he was admittedly flawed. But his search to give the world perfect art was not flawed. After reading his entire collection of letters numberous times, I found so much humanity – in both the man and his art.

From a letter written to his brother on July 26th, 1882: If you work with love and intelligence, you develop a kind of armor against people’s opinions, just because of the sincerity of your love for nature and art. Nature is also severe and, to put it in that way, hard, but never deceives and always helps move you to forward.  

His words and his works tell so much about his becoming his own artist. The essence of the man is difficult to know. But I know more since seeing the monumental exhibit of his works. Viewing the herculean collection was up near the top of my bucket list. Achieved!

To share with you what I felt when I was within the interior of this group of paintings seems an impossible task. What I can say is that his work displayed in books does not touch the surface of emotion. His soul seems to have bled onto each canvas – which is visible in person only.

The downtrodden, bedraggled, eccentric had the melody of genius tapping to the tune of his brush. Of that I was convinced as I moved toward the painting A Pair of Boots, I heard the click of the boots as they hit the cobblestones. Van Gogh had recorded the battered worker’s boots – giving them their own dignity.

His paintings Peasants Planting Potatoes  and The Potato Eaters are done with a combination of reality and reverence for their work ethics. In one of van Gogh’s letters he explained: I plow my canvases as the peasants do their fields.

He had painted and sketched those fields. He filled his brushes with paint and exacted elliptical, dynamic strokes, and repetitive linear structure. He worked quickly, producing a treasure trove of work in a short lifetime.

And when criticized for the rapid creation of his impressive oeuvre, he responded to his brother Theo: So if people say that my work is done too quickly, you can reply that they have looked at it too quickly.

Thankfully, he continued to rapidly thrust pigment in his unique curvilinear flow – creating surface rhythms. As I walked through the museum’s rooms, I was in no hurry. I wanted to memorize the magnificence of wheat fields, portraits, and still life.

Works such as Pollard Willows at Sunset, Basket with Oranges, and Head of Gordina de Goot, brought tears to my eyes. One of my very favorites, Cineraria, bound me to it for nearly twenty minutes. As did Peach Tree in Blossom and River Bank in Springtime. As if being embraced by the paintings, I did not look too quickly.

The exhibit’s exit was with one wall of three of van Gogh’s self-portraits. They had never been together before. I looked into the agitated eyes of Self-Portrait. I saw the dignity, and tenderness of Self-Portrait with Straw Hat. And the many expressions at once in the eyes of Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat. I saw in three sets of eyes that he was probably self-critical, intense, autodidactic, and acutely aware that his life would be one of struggling.

“Becoming van Gogh” had indeed shown the roots of his trademark style. The exhibit made my pulse rush, my mouth become dry, and all else in life paused to make way for the viewing experience.

If he were to have whispered to me, what words would the great artist have spoken? Perhaps he would have told me his style had made him an interventionist of modern art – without his having known about it. Or in secret, he might have mentioned that his paintings were devoid of props. Life was his only prop. More likely, he would have smiled, saying only one of his paintings sold during his lifetime.

Maybe his tears fell in tune with all other artists. His works were selfless gifts to humanity. For van Gogh, it was a canvas, a paper, and his image of the world’s metaphors.

For me, that would be like a poem unclasping itself and falling into the enormity of existence. All those who create seem to echo one another’s achievements.

In his final letter to Theo, he wrote: As for my own work, I risk my life for it and my sanity half shot anyway because of it – fine – but you’re not one of those dealers in men as far as I know, and you can chose the side you’re on, it seems to me, and act with genuine humanity, but what’s to be done?

His words seem not so insane. It might be a message to us all. We can select to act with genuine humanity. 

  

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If you’re interested in romantic fiction, please check out Appointment with a Smile by Kieran York. Books are available through www.bluefeatherbooks.com. Or order through Bella Books distribution for books or e-books. Books and Kindle e-books are also available through Amazon.

Please check out my poetry in a collection called Wet Violets, Sappho’s Corner Poetry Series, Volume 2, edited by Beth Mitchum. Books are available through http://ultravioletlove.com and Amazon. The latest volume, Roses Read, Sappho’s Corner Poetry Series, Volume 3, will be published in January, 2013.