this is a silkscreen print i did called “orange peels”
and here is my story:
citrus is not just the sweet/sour juicy pungent fruits we all know. it is a color pallette, a pattern to say the least.
to say the most i’d tell you my childhood impressions of the citrus groves along the sunshine parkway in florida, where my family would drive every year at christmas holiday when i was a child, and we’d stop at the grove stands and buy bags of navel oranges (a rarity up in the north then) and pink grapefruits. this is all along the last leg of the yearly winter trips to miami to visit my greek grandparents. i am proud of my halfgreek heritage – have you ever met any greek who isn’t? because with every daily greek meal, i mean it, lemons are required, a staple item. my relationship with lemons goes back a long way. ok.
so, the thing about the citrus groves in florida is that the scent of oranges along the highway is like a perfume. it is everywhere, the breeze carries it, the clouds rain it, the ground is saturated with it, the most intoxicating scent a child could hope to imagine, so it was like a magic world of oranges, a place where the sun was a giant lemon, a place where the sidewalks are paved with orange rinds, offered along the way on gingham checked tablecloths blowing in the tangerine breeze were baskets of oranges, clementines, limes, orange popsicles, orange juice, orange soda not to mention lemon and lime aid and grapefruit, sugared. lazy lagoons with waters of citrus nectar, tangelo juice let’s say. i walked along the rows of trees amazed at how splendid the ripe oranges were and how plentiful. delighted in being able to reach and pick one and immediately press it to my nose. but that’s just the beginning, because when i peel the orange, the scent becomes bubblescent, it’s alive, it’s jumping, it stings my eyes, it seeps into my fingers, the juice is hard to keep from dripping when i take that first bite of a freshpicked orange, and we are all in the car and the car smells so sweet of citrus it puts me to sleep like dorothy in the poppy fields. and i dont wash my hands and they get sticky with orange sugars and finally someone hands me a napkin but its too late, the orange perfume is sealed into my hands. so i fold them and put my head over them and lean toward the window and when i wake up, we are pulling into grandmother’s driveway. the joys of citrus.
and even that is still the beginning because citrus as design motif and as art has also crossed my path many times. and gabrielle told you the story about my lemon tree. my grandmother often told me about the lemon groves on her home island of Kos. she described these lemons as being three times bigger than the lemons around here and sweet-tasting. it made me think, gabe, after i learned about your lemonade tree, that her childhood memories of sweet lemons may have actually been lemonade tree lemons, or a similar, related lemon tree.
my screen print “orange peels” was one of many citrus-based art things i have done. but it kind of tells the story, the peels left after the orange is eaten, still have the same fresh bright scent. later, they make the compost smell nicer. the day i did this piece, i was sitting after breakfast wondering what i’d do with this silkscreen project i had and looked over across the table and saw the orange peels designing themselves into a cool almost abstract image, so voila’, i did this print. you will notice, that yes, there is the color pink haha in there. i couldnt resist. selma knows what i mean.
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).
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.
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