Posts Tagged ‘feelings


orchids & late afternoon sunshine (laura, joni, and janis)

should i name you after my favorite singers?


i wish i could remember how i fell in love with laura.


janis and joni are easier to explain.


but laura remains an enigma (and my favorite, should i be so bold as to name a favorite among my women.)


is it pain? is it joy? is it the intricate musicality? is it the raw emotion of her voice? or its clarion tone? the only answer is: all of those. and true of the three of them; they spoke the second language my heart was speaking when i was a young man.


fountain grass beard (and the dreaded christmas letter)

i’ve always loved that grass grows a beard.


in other news: working on the 2012 christmas letter and feeling all nostalgic and gooey and warm and cozy (sort of.)


abstract: reflections of light from the lid of a pot on the stove

that is the reality. that is what i am telling you. of course, you may make your decisions regarding the veracity of the statement based on your own experience with the light reflected on a flat surface from the glass lid of a pot of water boiling on your stove. who am i to tell you any differently?

i’ve been reading about the emotions of pets and it got me to thinking about abstract art and the idea of removing language from the description of how an object makes you feel. that object may be a line, a color, a form that has no relationship with your language experience other than your ability to define it as a line, a color, a form. but what happens when the combination of those ideas create a feeling, an emotion inside of you? do you quickly assign a feeling to it using words from the language you’ve learned?

“that loopy line makes me feel happy.” “when i see black, it makes me feel confused.” “a triangle represents power.” can you ever divorce your intellect, your assignment of a word to an emotion and just feel? can we, as humans, experience an emotion without immediately identifying it as a word? what is the language of feelings? you know your dog is not thinking, “that feels good,” as you stroke their head, don’t you? can we do that with abstract art?

i have more questions than answers, but will consider this after more experimentation.


neither here nor there (betweens)

stuck.  like suck & other ‘uck’ words, the sound carries as much meaning as the word itself.  mired.  like tired & other ‘ired’ words, the sound carries as much meaning as the word itself.  there’s some anger in those sounds.  oh.  & some resignation.  a shoulder shrug, a sagging of the shoulders, a downward cast to the eyes, skin is even drooping, gravity (the force of it) making you smaller.

diminish.  like finish & other ‘ish’ words, the sound carries as much meaning as the word itself.  it is the action of gravity, pulling downward, pinning you to one spot.  desperation.  like exhaustion & other ‘tion’ (shun, need i say more,) the sound carries as much meaning as the the word itself.  it is how gravity makes you feel, raw emotions bubbling toward the surface in spite of everyone’s good intentions (another shunning word, i might add,) which are intended to lift you up & away from the effects of gravity.

surcease.  like decrease & other ‘ease’ words, the sound carries as much meaning as the word itself.  gravity determines ends, never beginnings.  the fall of your footstep is an end, it is a miracle (should they exist) that you are able to lift the other foot up & place it in front of the other & that forward movement is not mired in your diminishing.  the goal of gravity.  the end of time.

between here.  between there.  stuck.  suck. uck. mired. tired. ired. diminish. finish. ish. surcease. decrease. ease.  with which gravity pulls you down.


art (what speaks to me)

I have very catholic tastes in art, but that doesn’t mean I’m not discriminating.  Lately I’ve been thinking about giving words to the feelings/emotions/psychic vibrations that must emanate from a work of art in order to capture my everlasting devotion (I am a slave to the visual arts.)  It’s not easy.  There’s a reason the French (don’t hate me) say, “Je ne sais quoi,” because sometimes that’s truly all there is.

What bothers me, in this study of motivation & slavish desire, is that it’s nearly impossible to speak in general terms, for instance, “If it has green in it, I’ll love it,” when that’s patently untrue.  On the other hand, if it does have green in it, there’s a possibility that I may, in fact, love it as green is one of those colors that threads its way through many works of art in my collection.

"Japanese Fish Kite" acrylic on linen, 47.75" x 31.50", Judith Bledsoe

I believe you can begin to see the difficulty one may encounter in describing what the link is between the viewer & the work of art, of putting that connection into something as concrete as a language.  It’s all fine and well to have a focus, like Eli Broad, for instance, who collects contemporary art, but I can’t believe that that’s the only criteria by which he and his wife make decisions about acquiring a work of art. (Of course, we must forgive them, as they have more money than god, & can have whatever they want; with a legion of consultants advising, advising, a flurry of yeses emanating from a sub-rosa rush-hour roar of sycophants. )

It’s different for someone, I would have to believe, with a more limited budget, but at the same time there is no reason to ignore the dialogue that should happen between you and a work of art before you commit yourself to pulling it into your life.

As I see it, the reasons for collecting a work of art spring from the artist’s facility with three absolutes: color, form, and technique.   However there is one more reason, one less easily defined, but no less important:  the language, the discussion, its raison d’etre.    Of course, this dialogue you’re going to have or expect to have will have many layers (ganache, buttercream, fruit, fondant: a cake!,) all dependent upon your level of education and also depending upon how comfortable you are plumbing the depths of your psyche and trusting what it is telling you.

A story:  In 1981 a couple of years into my visual arts career, I met the artist Judith Bledsoe at an exhibition of her paintings on canvas & works on paper in Chicago.    Of course, I fell immediately in love with her; her bohemian spirit & joie de vivre were infectious and beguiling and lusty (barely contained in her free-spirited angel-haired radiance.)  But beyond that was the work, & when you spent time away from Judith, concentrating on the paintings & her visual language, it was easy to fall under her mesmeric spell.  One painting at the show, “Japanese Fish Kite” (pictured above) completely captivated me.

Its colors:  the golds, grays, whites;  its forms:  a scaly, glittering fish made of paper bigger than the door what with its skewed perspective, its flatness compelling & dream-like (along with the imagined flying of a kite as magnificent & beautiful & strange as this one.)  Her technique: layers and layers of paint, laid one upon the other, then removed/rubbed off/scraped away revealing a depth and a subtlety of color & yes, language, a smoky wisp of fog swirling around your ankles slowly wrapping you in its dewy tendrils, tightening against your chest, pulse racing & I fell, fell hard for its simple loveliness.

The painting did not sell at the show.  It traveled away to another exhibition in another city, it was sold to a collector on the west coast, it was gone.  In 1997, in an unusual twist of circumstance & fate, my path crossed with Bledsoe’s once again (although we had remained friendly throughout the intervening years.)  The opportunity presented itself to represent her & a large crate arrived filled with works, including, please imagine my surprise & delight, “Japanese Fish Kite.”  Turns out it had two owners in the last sixteen years, but each one had returned it to its gallery of origin when homes were re-decorated (that’s buying art for the wrong reason.)

But it and I picked up our conversation, the one started in 1981, as fresh now as it had been then.  I commented to Judith (she lives in Paris) how happy and a little saddened I had been to discover the painting still rattling around in her collection.    She sighed, “it has had an unfortunate life, not loved by someone who understands it & not loved once, but twice.  Why don’t you take it home?”  I demurred that it was outside my budget (rules of collecting: love and money.)  “No, no, cheri, I’m giving it to you.”  Her generosity now hangs, much loved, among many cherished works of art, & I like to think happy at last.

Yes, yes, I know, I’ve veered wildly off topic!

"Sergei" acrylic on paper, 30.3" x 22.5", Judith Bledsoe

It is difficult, I believe, to trust yourself enough to put voice to feelings that are so visceral & pagan; feelings that emanate from such a depth of experience, subconsciousness, & dreams that you may find yourself stuttering & blubbering & if it is ‘the perfect storm’, perhaps you’ll find yourself crying at the waves of emotion breaking against your hoary daytime surf-break.

Please allow me a moment of exhortation:  Allow yourself to fall under the spell of art (it need not be visual arts, it may be literature, music, dance, whatever.)  Because once you do, you will find yourself having conversations with the work, with other people, with strangers (heaven forbid!) about how it makes you feel.   That, that is the language of art.



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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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