I was messing around with charcoal yesterday and made some sweeps across an A2 sheet of cartridge. Another couple of sweeps and I saw what it was – a scene from a story I wrote some while ago which had been triggered by that extraordinary track by Nick Cage and Kylie Minogue – Where the Wild Roses Grow. I’d heard that track just a day or so ago.
The story is called The Wild Rose and the China Doll and you can find it here on Full of Crow.
Since it’s Halloween …
‘Drop Dead Gorgeous’ – a spookee physicsee short storee for the witching hour.
Or you could get your ears round ‘The Breathing of Souls’. Just don’t be leaning on a wall while you do it.
Crazy Diamond. I’m not a good reader of poetry, I do far better if I hear it read, but this one – From Crazy Diamond to Borrowed Light by Oonah Joslin – made me think because of her comment about how it came about. She tells me it was something her mentor said when she was struggling to believe in herself as a poet; he told her that diamonds don’t shine on their own, they borrow light from those who do. Turning the Pink Floyd reference on its head, the imagery that came from this, finding your own light instead of reflecting that of others however glittery it might be, is something all creatives are faced with. This is the first verse:
Facetious I may be at times
but you have light
enough and light to spare
and see me shine.
Oonah Joslin, Three Pounds of Cells. The Linnet’s Wings Press 2016
The image is my first real painting since school days; acrylics on 8×10 canvas board with a great crunchy layer of pumice medium for the bits of grit that eventually make diamonds if you crush them hard enough. It was a struggle! I tried cut outs of diamonds first – pasted them on then scraped them off because they looked ridiculously obvious and also because I’d got the whole thing the conventional way round with them being the light and not the woman. I was also quite conflicted over her emitted light coming from only one direction – shouldn’t it come from all around? But then wouldn’t that look too beatific? I don’t know even now, but it’s there and Oonah likes it so that will do.
Not long after, I was struck by a whole bunch of images coming from a poem by Marianne Moore that I heard on Radio Four’s Poetry Please (I’m laughing at myself here because goodness knows how I stumbled over that – I’m a proper BBC6Music kinda girl! It is Roger McGough though). It’s called The Steeple-Jack and I was reeled in and landed by the first verse:
Dürer would have seen a reason for living
in a town like this, with eight stranded whales
to look at; with the sweet sea air coming into your house
on a fine day, from water etched
with waves as formal as the scales
on a fish.
This started out as inks on paper, then watercolour pencil, then acrylics, then a bit of collaged info about the poem at the bottom. The whales are a bit weird and someone thought the peacock was a bin. It’s hard to reflect on it now except to say that, as inexpertly put together as it is, I enjoyed the process and I still find the result satisfying. It’s quite texturally feely too, which I like.
This is from one of my own, as yet unpublished, stories (it nearly made it, nearly earned its keep, but the journal folded before publication so Rats!). It’s called Black Bones after the story’s title, Dancing her Black Bones Home, which is about a young deaf woman who is treated as stupid by her small community and eventually finds herself on a pebbly beach trying to work out her place in the world and her relationship with the religion she’s grown up with.
Acrylics on 8×10 canvas board with a cut out figure in silhouette at the bottom. That was originally stark white but I reconsidered after realising that actually white was the last colour it should be. I’m very drawn to sea and waves, surges and tides. The strength of them and their unthinking power over us. Cosmic influences illustrated right there on the beach twice a day. This one’s quite textured too – I’m fond of a palette knife!