AndNutherNote: When I was a scruffy school kid I used to write down my favourite words. I think chocolate was at the top of the list (ahhh what a consonant and vowel combination; plus an association with a textured and tasty treat that I was rarely allowed to eat 😉 ).
My blogging mate and artist Aletha Kuschan from Washington DC, USA has done a series of notebook portraits (in blue ball point pen) of me in my yoof!
This one above is the most like me (though I wouldn’t grumble if I looked like the others – haha).
Pop over to Aletha’s art blog here, here and here for the series.
She took the inspiration from one of my blog posts where I am wearing the classic eighties t-shirt Relax (think Wham) and where I have written a poem ‘insert cliche title‘ about friendship in the good old days.
Here is the photo:
Aletha – thanks for thinking of me when we’ve been sick – and I very much appreciate such a talented artist as yourself drawing my picture.
Alas poor Pompadour the wondrous Chinese Silkie chicken has passed to chook heaven.
In memoriam I will share a few highlights of her career in showbiz.
RIP Pompadour – You Rock!
Ten Chinese Silkie chickens took up residence in the Bryden household (Frog Lodge, Australia) on the 8th December 2008.
Five hens and five roosters. The roosters (unwanted in suburbia and expelled by Council regulations) found another home with a lovely couple with a farm – two men with a soft spot for strays and the unwanted. The roosters were not for the pot and are probably still prancing around and waking up every living creature for miles around at the crack of dawn.
One of the five hens was Pompadour and my regular readers knew and loved her well.
Here is a recap of the tale of the Chinese Silkie chook fan club (with Pompadour taking the lead – well she was the lead singer as a rock chick) that has members all around the globe ;).
‘The enigmatic Brisbane-based poet Paul Squires (of Gingatao and Puzzle Box infamy) started this chook veneration trend with his poem ‘Gabrielle Bryden listening to Oscar-Peterson’.
Then artist Benedicte Delachanel of the blog Carnet des dessins drew the most amazing pictures of my two finest hens – Pompadour (the silkie with the best pom pom) and Snowy (the pure white hen). Here is a copy of the lovely creation by this talented artist.
Fellow blogger and artist extraordinaire Aletha Kuschan was slightly distressed to discover that her hamsters were being treated with discrimination, possibly because they are bouffant challenged, and that no poetry was being written about the little munchkins. Her poetic response to Mr Squires is worthy of note:
I am so jealous. I know about the difference between Anne Sophie Mutter’s carefully choreographed swaying and Didier Lockwood’s exuberant playing! Can I help it that I have ten hamsters? Okay, the chickens are very fine chinoiserie, and hamsters are not so poetic, but I’m not asking for a sonnet or anything, but maybe just a couple of couplets in iambic pentameter?’
There was a happy ending to that stage of the story with Benedicte drawing the adorable hamsters and Aletha herself drawing a beautiful picture of Blanca (the hamster with the mostest) and wrote a limerick about the beautiful beasty.
But it didn’t end there. Alec Patric joined in the poetic and artistic roundabout:
‘Well, here’s another poem dedicated to your fabulous chickens Gabrielle.
A Clucky Muse
The kind of chicken
that only takes seed from my hand
runs sentences headless, bodiless into words
flutters into pecked poems, roosts in hen-house heads
flying just high enough for the majestic taste of flight’
Pompadour’s story was also highlighted in my psychological memoirs 😉 (Chook-Induced Anxiety CIA; and CIA the Sequel), the first of which was broadcast on local ABC radio (which reminds me, I better tell them the bad news).
Her sometimes aggressive (but understandable, given her outstanding pedigree) pecking order behaviour was highlighted in two youtubevideos (6,000 hits and counting). Ridiculous really – I only got over 300 hits for my poetry reading on youtube – hahaha – outdone by a chicken!
Finally, the pompous Pompadour with the pom pom is having a children’s series written about her (and her mate Blanca – who sadly is also deceased) by moi and illustrated by Benedicte (what a spoilt chook).
Pompadour and Blanca: The Beauty Salon (Illustration by Benedicte Delachanal)
That’s a good life for a chicken 🙂 so we won’t be sad.
We’ll crack open the champagne to chicken fame and fortune.
The wonderful Canadian artist and blogging buddy Benedicte Delachanal approached me for an art rendez-vous or two.
She does art workshops in the real world for people with chronic pain, and thought that I would appreciate similar painting and drawing sessions, to show how relaxing and joyful it is and to give me a break from the ‘word world’ and a foray into the non-verbal.
USA artist Aletha Kuschan joined in on the party, just for fun! (she doesn’t need the lessons, you see – haha – unlike me, she knows how to draw and paint).
I jumped at this opportunity as a form of Art Therapy. A visual artist I will never be, but I can still have fun participating with pens and paint 🙂
The first rendez-vous was lines.
Instructions were as follows:
Lines are the alphabet of drawings.
They are varied, and full of emotions.
Draw several squares on your page,
free hand is good but a ruler is OK if you feel more comfortable using it.
Draw in each square lines.
Horizontal, vertical, oblique,
mix them together, give different spacing,
fill one or several pages with these little squares.
If your mind start wanting to draw something else in these squares, that is very good and let your hand draw free.’
So I gave it a go and here ’tis 🙂 I think the result, while revealing my childlike artistic inabilities, also reveals another whole story. See, I just can’t help myself. You can attempt to analyse my ‘story in animation’ but it might be safer to just follow Benedicte’s instuctions and do some Art Therapy of your own,
Artist Aletha Kuschan from a place near Washington DC (location top secret 😉 ) has begun work on some citrus paintings over at her art and writing blog for the citrus fiesta.
Here is a photo she has been working from and one of her paintings. You can find more citrus pictures at her blog.
She has this to say about the above drawing:
‘this drawing made using watercolor pencils. I am searching for the edges of things. Trying to find the character of these patient fruit that sit here “looking” at me. They’re all so dignified. Wish I could get to the essence of their gravitas. The shadows are deepening. Not a quality to be well captured by watercolor pencils.’
Aletha’s blog is full of her own art plus wonderful writing on the artistic process, liberally sprinkled with philosophical musings on life.
Thanks Aletha for jumping into the citrus fiesta (I know how busy you are at the moment).
directed and produced by bee
assisted by nectar
USA artist Aletha Kuschan from Washington D.C. is going through her Honey Jar period at the moment and I am very impressed – nothing I like better than honey jars 😉 My Rooku (something that is almost a haiku) was inspired by one of her honey jar paintings (the picture is a detail of a drawing – oil pastel).
What marvellous fishy fish you capture,
he said to the artist, quick tip of the hat
and nod to her grasp of the slippery power
held within the Koi, of paint and pond.
If I could divine the secret of supple
shape and muscle, colour and movement
that you magically display, in the loose
flamboyance of these wild but captive
creatures, mouth open, wanting more
than can ever be obtained in this stale life,
outside the rippled blue of paint reflected,
I would hide it in a locked box,
to keep the magic from evaporating.
Dedicated to the artist and blogger Aletha Kuschan (who is slightly obsessed with painting Koi) and the late and great poet gingatao (author of The Puzzle Box) who was a great admirer of Aletha’s work, particularly her ‘fishy fish’.
Today, I am guest posting USA blogger and artist extraordinaire Aletha Kuschan (probably not her real name).
She posts drawings and paintings on her blog, accompanied by artistic pointers on process and the like, as well as snippets of prose and poetry. She is obsessed, oops loves intensely, drawing Koi and they are so splendid that I have grown rather attached to them. She has a secret bunker in which to paint (well that is the story she is telling) and store her booty – much like the underground headquarters in Get Smart.
I have included two of her paintings for your viewing pleasure (is that a fish I spy in those clouds!). Please pop over and have a squiz at her blog over here.
I have a couple of questions for Aletha:
Why do you blog?
Before I started writing a blog, before I even knew what a blog was, I bought a black page-a-day diary and made myself write down one or two ideas every day. I figured that over the course of a whole day, I ought to be able to come up with at least one idea. I had to write it articulately enough that I would understand my topic long after the context for it had passed into cob-webbed memories.
Keeping this journal turned out to be great preparation for blogging. I always wrote regularly, sometimes by hand in cursive and sometimes on the computer. I formatted the computer written entries so that I could print them out and fit them into my day book.
I was faithful to my idea-a-day adventure for several months until practicality and sleep-craving won out. I proved that I could do it – that was the main thing. I think that’s when I first really began being “a writer,” and after reaching that milestone, I became sane again, ratcheted back my project and continued writing “often” or “several times a week” or “almost every day” and got some much needed rest.
Proving to myself that I could do it, though, was a hugely valuable experience. I’d say that for any challenge that you want to set yourself, find a form of it that you can use to measure yourself against – by means of some difficult but do-able goal and then let yourself enjoy both the hard work and the pleasure of success.
What do you like best about blogging?
Certainly “meeting” people from around the world is a great part of blogging. It expands friendship in unimagined ways. Of course, similar things have been around – like the old practice of finding a “pen pal” that was sometimes pursued in schools. However, it’s a whole different world to become “pen pals” with people who can respond to your ideas within hours of you having written to them.
Otherwise, I think what I love most about blogging is the spontaneity. Sometimes I plan posts ahead – occasionally I have a whole program, a “do this/do that” theme that I’ve dreamed up. But typically the writing is off the cuff.
Usually posts relate directly to whatever I’m doing that week in the studio – whether it’s drawing or painting, landscape or still life – or koi, my I’m trying to make them famous koi. So usually I’ve been working in the studio and then in the evening, I post the image to the computer and just start writing using ideas I get while I’m looking at the picture on the screen. It’s called ekphrasis. And it’s supposed to be a big deal in rhetoric so I figure it makes my little bloggie very fancy and literary.
And not knowing ahead what I’m going to write appeals to the jazz-loving side of my nature. It’s a bit of improvisation. I may have a vague idea about approach, but don’t know whether it’ll be Stella By Starlight or Body and Soul. What I write just kind of happens. Thus, when a post turns out to be a good one – how fine. I celebrate having been “in the groove.” It has a strong element of luck.
Of course the idea-a-day thing hangs in the background. I played my “scales and arpeggios” back before I started blogging. And I still regularly keep a journal in that old fashioned way your English teacher told you to do. And email correspondence helps enormously. I like to have fun when I’m answering email from friends – I find that all these forms of writing teach you your chops.
I still think of myself more as an artist than a writer (isn’t it interesting the mental dialog that goes on in one’s head, and the need to classify oneself, and also to have permission to think of yourself in this way or that). Nevertheless, I do a lot of writing these days and more and more I see “a writer” when I look in the mirror. I’m even nervy enough to call myself a “writer” when I meet people.
That’s perhaps the greatest joy in this – the way that blogging has extended my horizons. It’s like a competitive swimmer who starts running or playing tennis for the benefit of cross-training and afterwards develops a skill and deep love for the new sport.
Like our mutual internet friend, the late, great Paul Squires of the blog gingatao, I have also a special fondness for the sentence. He wrote “Australian sentences.” I write some “art sentences” and also “koi sentences.” But I’m definitely not ready to tackle that hard diamond of writing the “tweet.” I will leave it to others to develop that vein in an artistic way. For me blogging is enough and of course we are all wondering how it will expand into new things. It’s an on-going venture.