Friday, May 23, 2014

Motherhood in Dots and Strokes

I've been thinking, for no particular reason at all, about the appeal of minimalism: saying much with few words, or evoking a complete image with just a few strokes. It seems like we have a cognitive tendency to connect the dots when just a few slender ideas are suggested: two arcs on paper become koi fish circling in a pond, or perhaps a woman's demure downward glance.

When little is given, perhaps just the essentials, there is a kind of austere mystery that invites a sense of wondering, and even of imaginative co-creation.

In life as well: we connect the dots. Sometimes the resulting constellation is a flash of insight… but in my case, it's usually just a harebrained interpretation that earns me a single raised eyebrow from my husband -- itself a minimalistic gesture that speaks volumes.

Anyway, thinking of minimalism in writing brings me to the genre of Japanese haiku, which is supposed to bring together two contrasting images in a tightly constrained syllabic structure -- like Twitter on a diet.

So here are a few of my own amateur sketches of the reality that fills my mind and heart every day: being a mother to my two girls. I think any mother would agree that it's impossible to sum it up properly in words, even if we could write volumes, precisely because motherhood is made of such an endless number of experiences -- most completely ordinary, but all somehow significant because of the constant undercurrent of love that goes from our hearts to theirs. And sometimes it's those ordinary moments that capture the essence of the experience...

Connect the dots as you will!


butterfly effect:
a baby's opened eyes cause
the heart's seismic shift


       sparkly silver shoes,
       dirty puddles in the rain:
       opposites attract!


peach fuzz, corkscrew curls--
conspiratorial heads:
and so it begins...


       curls afloat, laughing,
       she runs baptized in sunlight,
       chasing the pigeons


wiping a bottom,
I suddenly feel observed:
bright eyes smile, aware.


       sweet ballerina
       swan in a pale pink tutu
       burps like a swamp frog

sleep's seductive spell
drapes her mind; her fist opens...
I tiptoe away.

Time for the mice to play.

***   ***

walking side by side
you took my hand, smiled at me;
a flame rekindled.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Follow the Whimsy

It is 3:00 a.m. and I am rapidly approaching the point of diminishing returns, defined as the point at which you spend more time reading random stuff than you do working.

We've all been there. Don't deny it!

And so, it is at a time like this that Victor Nunes' whimsical artwork speaks to me. This is pretty much where I'm at tonight, and quite possibly most days, just under the surface [see exhibit A in top right corner].

Now, tell me that this isn't genius and that it doesn't rock your world at any hour of the day. This is doodling raised to a high art form.

Victor, you my man.

Here's another gem:

A popcorn masterpiece!

But that's not all. There's also this one with pencil shavings:

This is like seeing a small, contained explosion of creativity right in front of my eyes. I love the mind that comes up with this stuff, evidently in a spirit of fun and whimsy.

And here's another to enjoy with your morning coffee:

There's something to be said for whimsy… for art as play. I suppose art also has a serious vocation, but I suspect at bottom its main purpose is to teach us to see with new eyes. Maybe sometimes we go through life like sleepwalkers. I know I do. We see but don't perceive. Our eyes are turned inward, or set on some distant goal. And meanwhile, life in all its strange, kaleidoscopic beauty flickers by unseen.

Or maybe we see some of what is there, but don't perceive the possibilities of what could be with just a small stretch or tweak or addition or subtraction. 

And along comes an inspired person with a little extra time on his hands, and he tinkers away with a wad of bread and suddenly it becomes a diminutive little being struggling to climb into his coffee cup for a morning bath of caffeine.

As in art, so in life! I'm pretty sure I will be sleepwalking through my day tomorrow, but even so, I'd like to remember that one creative addition -- maybe a kind word, or a touch of humor -- can bring an unexpected light to daily life. 

Which drawing did you like the best?