Saturday, February 27, 2016

Two "Voices"...

One can hardly dispute the truth that creative individuals possess a second "voice"... that manifests itself outwardly through their individual craft... or medium. Most (fortunate) humans possess a capacity to express themselves (in differing degrees) through vocalizations that describe their own inner feelings and needs. The artist is blessed to have a second "voice" that they carry, I believe from early childhood (if not birth). That gift is life long friend for them... one who forever travels with them through life.

Children discover this friend early on in their journey and form an intimate relationship with him... or her. They share a bond that bears no need for others... just materials and encouragement from adult caregivers who value them. They are content just "to be"... alone together sharing the passion and freedom they jointly feel during the act of creation. That relationship... in most cases continues unabated throughout childhood until... we are forced through peer or other pressures... " to grow up". Most make other choices... while some refuse, or decide to remain on that path.

Today's post paradoxically blends, or knits together the journeys of two different individuals. One is my own. The other is the magnificent journey of a young woman that I was blessed to meet in my grade seven classroom over forty years ago. I easily recognized "Her" then... as a "gifted" young woman... possessing a special "voice". Even then, her voice was dramatically more seasoned and mature than those of the other young people who shared seats with her in that classroom. Her spirit was lively and her language rich and expressive. In my own terms... "She" was an "old spirit" - it seemed that she had been here before!

Her poem "Splunder", penned on "foolscap" in that classroom stopped me in my tracks. I still remember it vividly... word for word and carry it among the numerous ordinary blessings in my heart purse. It continues to warm my heart when I recall it. Today, I would like to share another of her more recent poems from her anthology Stripmall Subversive. "Snowball Prohibition" was the one poem in particular in that collection which inspired my painting for this post.

I think that our collaboration on a similar subject and view on early childhood does much to support my theory that artist's explorations and journeys do in fact "cross over" and run in parallel. Life is created in many different stages... written in varying chapters that can be related in strangely similar events and occurrences.

"Voices" can be conveyed by different mediums. In this particular case, one is a conventional word poem... juxtaposed with a painted one. Both evoke and recall very similar responses of joy and happiness to a common childhood memory.

Crossing Over...

At the conclusion of my last post, I mentioned that I was struggling with a gnawing conundrum in regards to my recent snowman canvas. I feared losing the essence of the child-like freshness and spontaneity by pushing forward using my usual approach to finish. I was stuck - mired in a state of uncertainty... afraid to risk.

I chose to apply an experienced woodsman's approach to solving the problem of being lost:

"When lost in the woods... sit down... think and clearly plan...rather than respond automatically."

Analyse and plan, using the combination of knowledge regarding the terrain around you... the terrain you have passed through and common sense. Then, with a clear head... new knowledge and a refreshed spirit... press forward.

I decided to re-read Lois's poem. Its precisely crafted and rich language reminded me that she could hardly have written this during "one go". Inevitably, she poured over it dozens of times... dropping in... and casting out new thoughts, finally arriving at this gem. She would call that process editing in her art form. In mine... it could be called balancing values... or in my own words... pushing n' pulling.

Looking up to the canvas on my easel, I suddenly felt my earlier trepidation and fear dissipate. There were many areas that could be  polished... without losing any of the original spontaneity. there were even a few new subtle additions come to mind. I owed it to myself to bring it forward to match the level of excellence to justly sit on the same page as Lois's tersely effective gem. So... onward!

                        " A Time When Play... Was En Plein Air" - oil on canvas 20 x 16 inches

Before placing that poem within this post, I must deeply thank you Lois... for affording me permission to use your poem in conjunction with my painting in today's post. Much continued success with your writing and personal life. Stay well...and be happy!

If you might be tempted to look more deeply into Lois's work... you can find more information and a contact to connect you at

Snowball Prohibition

In the school yard, recess-born,
snow boulders press
against each other like standing stones.

Prevented from throwing,
children roll these monsters
that will never lift to air.

They push and grunt
their Sisyphean task
until the bell rings.

Abandoned, the hulking
colony broods in a silent circle
at the soccer pitch.

They long for progeny
for small white comets
that bear no malice,

just wish to be formed
in frozen mittens
delivered by tiny hands.

In concluding today's post, it was refreshing for me to revisit and borrow from my previous experience and discoveries.... that the Arts are indeed unified in purpose... function and in their basic structure. Both of these forms display poetic form through very similar devices. Their basic elements of construction can be seen to be comparable. One employs brush strokes to achieve the same color and expressive character that the other achieves through specific parts of speech that evoke a sense of action... descriptive detail and symbolism.

One can easily find these same functions achieved in music with form (tone poems)... and variations of note... tone and syncopation. Not only do these seemingly different disciplines cross over interactively... each can be employed effectively to support and inspire works in the progress in the other. And this can continue to occur centuries later.

I truly hope that today's post encourages each of you to examine your own sources for inspiration with a new eye to including other disciplines in the Arts.
It hardly seems possible... but today's post marks my 500th since deciding to take on this challenge. Thank you to all who have supported and encouraged this journey.

Good Painting... and Playing... to ALL!!!


  1. Dear Bruce both voices- your friend's poem and your painting are so beautiful. I so love your subjects in the painting. It gives me a sunny happy feeling. Certainly brings back childhood memories. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Good afternoon Debbie!... Thank you ever so much for your "sunny" remarks!

    All of us experienced very different lives... in very different spaces n' places. But isn't it uncannily soothing... that we have shared parallel experiences which we continue to hold close to us as memorable.

    Pray... that the special "child within" for each of us can remain of value as we age. Perhaps that rich sense of Hope and Innocence... and sense of fair play can endure.

    Thank you for taking the time to your thoughts here!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,