Friday, July 13, 2012

Two Poems

I am sad tonight.  

Mary Oliver's poem is an embrace when I am sad:

Wild Geese  by Mary Oliver (from Dream Work)
"You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things."
Jane Kenyon's poem helps to remind me that happiness will sweep in like a change of weather:

by Jane Kenyon 

There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Creative Process

So, there was a message on one of my posts kindly asking about my process for making my mosaic windows.  Vikki asks: 

"Could you at some point do a blog post about the process of how you put together your amazing glass pieces? I find the whole process just fascinating and wonder things like how much material you collect at a time? Whether the material comes first or the idea? (and then you seek the material out), what your workspace is like? Where you find inspiration & where your style comes from? Whether you lay things out or let the mood take you?"

What an interesting time I have had with these questions! I can easily describe the physical process of composing the windows - and I'm happy to do that - but I might prove less articulate about how I arrive at a design. I'll start to try to answer these questions by walking you through the process of creating this window that I just finished:

I began this window after my father gave me a wonderful oblong frame (roughly 12" by 36") that he had made.  I knew that I wanted to try another tree (I've done two other, very different, trees). (As an aside, I will say about design that I seem to arrive at my designs by a complicated process of an idea for shape or color that is modified and influenced by the glass, the frame, my mood, and so  much more.  And, sometimes, I just sit down with nothing in mind and tinker to find a design -- though this is not always very productive, it's fun!)
Okay, the tree:  I sat down with the frame and my buckets of glass all around me -- I have sorted my glass into like colors for simplicity.  The last time I had been to Absolute Glass in Methuen -- the wonderful, family-owned shop where I buy all my glass -- I had picked up a sheet of the blue/violet glass you see as the sky in the finished piece.  That sheet of glass dictated my color choices: I thought the tree might be red, but once I played around a bit, dark purple demanded to be used -- and it works much better with the blue/violet glass.  The sun arrived early in the process. In my mind, I kept seeing images of a solitary tree with a sun setting behind it -- in fact, I kept thinking of the Serengeti, though I've never been there!  
At first, I cut and placed many more yellow streaks for the sky than you see in the finished piece.  But it was too much -- the image was confusing.  Here's a look at the design before I removed a lot of the yellow streaks:

Once I had the tree and major placement of the sun figured out, I glued the tree and the orb of the sun to the window glass.  From there, I cut, placed, and finally glued the sky and leaves.  Here is the window before it was grouted:

As you can see by comparing this ungrouted window to the finished piece, the grout is the most transformative step in the entire process -- so much so that I often don't know if I'm going to like a piece until I have grouted it and put it up so the light can shine through it!

The actual journey of the designs is so much more elaborate than I can describe here -- perhaps especially because it is not a verbal process.  Shapes and colors surprise me; they lead me to images that I must have seen somewhere in my life -- and these shoot into my mind unbidden.  At night, I can close my eyes and numerous window designs come to me.  But, unlike words, I cannot capture them on a page.  Yes, I could jump out of bed and sketch them.  But I'm not particularly good at drawing.  I like to just enjoy the show and wait to see what is persistant the next time I sit down with the glass or come across an interesting shaped window or frame. Sometimes, this persistance is almost uncomfortable.  A quote I read recently by the poet Louise Gluck captures this best:

"It seems to me that the desire to make art produces an ongoing experience of longing, a restlessness sometimes, but not inevitably, played out romantically, or sexually. Always there seems something ahead, the next poem or story, visible, at least, apprehensible, but unreachable. To perceive it at all is to be haunted by it; some sound, some tone, becomes a torment—the poem embodying that sound seems to exist somewhere already finished. It’s like a lighthouse, except that, as one swims towards it, it backs away."

Vikki, I thank you for inviting me to think about this!  I know you asked about style influences and workspace: I thought I might wait and address these in another post.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Home from Maine

Sadly, our two weeks in Maine flew by!  We arrived home last Sunday and I've been in a Lupus flare since Monday (when I foolishly mowed the fields, I mean lawn, in the hottest part of the hot day -- what was I thinking?!).  I'm feeling much stronger now, but I still have a lot of fatigue.  So, before I go off to read freshman placement essays, for which I will need all my strength ;^), I'll just post a few photos from our trip.  Every year, it gets harder to come home -- I think Maine might be my retirement home one day:

Looking out at the harbor on the day we arrived -- ahhh!

The meadow at  Sand Beach in Acadia

Fog rolling in!

Just beautiful!

Stay tuned for a post about my creative process!