You’re probably wondering why my blog post is so late this month, all 5 dozen of my readers…well, in what I can only compare to a “the dog ate my homework” kind of moment, I have this to offer.
Several years ago, my much loved sister-in-law, Devon, aspiring writer and the mother of 3 of my favorite people on the planet, called me up and asked if I would like to “take a class with her?”
Now, I am a decided fan of continuing education, so I quickly got all the specifics on the playwriting class being offered through the local community college, replied with a resounding “yes”, and ran off to buy an argyle sweater and a pipe.
When I told my husband Dennis about my plan to take a class with his sister, he rapidly expressed the need to join us, not wanting “to be left out”.
The three of us headed off to class, and after an entertaining hour, were sent home with our first assignment. I remember being busy at work, but spent my free time at lunch, and in the evening, writing away.
When we returned to class two days later and turned in our homework, I was appalled to find that the teacher planned to read our writing samples out loud, not just peruse them and leave a couple of encouraging notes with blue ink, in the margins. I survived the excruciating experience. Hearing my thoughts performed by the teacher was nerve racking to say the least. I felt raw and exposed. When it was time to read Dennis’ pages, I turned to offer my support, but noticed he appeared unfazed by the proceedings…curious. Devon’s turn quickly followed, and she seemed just as relaxed as Dennis had been, as the teacher, with the ironic last name of “Star”, made extensive use of an obvious community theatre background in an effort to bring the pages to life…curiouser still.
With class wrapping up, Mr. Star gave the assignment for our next meeting, and I inwardly groaned. I was enjoying the writing process, but it had taken everything I had to grind out the meager page and a half that I had submitted that evening. “I wonder how they’ll keep up the pace they’ve established tonight”, I thought, as I watched Dennis reach for the stack of papers the teacher was attempting to return to him. He accepted the stack, and as Mr. Star turned to hand Devon her own opus, I watched as Dennis slipped the pages into a folder from his bag. A folder, which on closer inspection, was labeled in his anal retentive style, with the name of the class, it’s teacher, the room, and scheduled time…none of which matched the class we were currently taking. That Bitch! He was handing in an old assignment from a class he took years ago in college. I turned to tattle, only to find Devon’s homework joining the ream of written pages in her own tote bag. Cheaters! No wonder they weren’t tired, they hadn’t stayed up to write fresh pages for the class, they had just re-gifted their literary musings. No wonder they were not anxious during the read through, they’d heard their words read aloud before. So all the while I was toiling away at my tablet in a desperate effort to get enough on the page to submit, Dennis and Devon were simply flipping through their stash of “literocity”, trying to decide how many pages to turn in.
I tell you this story not to rat out Dennis and Devon’s despicable, disrespectful, and derisive efforts to undermine what can only be referred to as the literary sanctity of the community college continuing education system…but rather, to explain where I got the idea.
Ya see, I started out with the best of intentions. I have the layouts for 3 blog posts saved on my laptop, and a forth story nearing completion, but then Dennis lured me into watching a one hour show on Netflix. But that was just the gateway “drug”. I subsequently binged watched 2 seasons of Scandal, 2 seasons of a BBC period drama, and a surprisingly large amount of foreign films (which have induced a mind boggling variety of strange dreams)...not to mention painting! I'm still painting!
To make matters worse, the ancestry.com DNA test results arrived, along with 483 “It looks like we’re cousins” notifications. Every time I sit down at the computer to write, it seems a little leaf notification is popping up to tell me I’m the descendant of a revolutionary war hero, or an octogenarian polygamist, pulling me off task. Not to mention the test results have inspired my dad to send a string of spastic texts, of unfortunately intriguing info at approximately 20 minute intervals.
Here is an example of a typical exchange:
Dad: mace morgan
Dad: did u find
Me: Didn’t know I was looking…who, pray tell, is Mace Morgan?
Do you have an approximate year of birth?
Dad: think murdered them
Me: Murdered!?! Murdered who?
Dad: grandpa grandma dad was baby
See what I mean? You try and focus!
It wasn’t a total writing washout this month. I did manage to finish the one page “inspiration” piece to accompany my Deciduous Diva painting, that’s part of the Root and Limb, Art around Bonsai exhibit that opens this week at the SOHA Gallery. Granted, I finished it at the end of the day it was due, but the important thing is that it’s finished and it’s about art, my art to be exact. So I thought I’d take a page from Dennis and Devon’s book, and reuse a perfectly serviceable piece of writing. If you havn't had enough of my ramblings for the month, it follows this paragraph.
Don’t judge me…because Olivia Pope has just been outed as the mistress of president Grant, and I’ve got 2 more seasons of scandal to get through!
Who knew a Bonsai could be a forest? Not me! I didn’t know what to expect when I was asked to participate in Root and Limb, Art around Bonsai, but was quickly inspired by my “model”, the miniature Maple forest.
When I create, I have a tendency to both find and impose a personality, either borrowed or imagined, on all of my subjects. For me, it makes the process more fun when the image on the canvas can “talk back” to me as I paint.
At this point I feel honor bound to point out that I KNOW this sounds crazy, but I hold on to a remembered fragment of a lesson from a long ago college psych class. It was impressed upon me that “crazy people don’t think they’re crazy”, and if this is true, then logic suggests the converse must also be be true…so, because I know that it sounds crazy, that means I’m NOT crazy…it allows me to sleep at night, so just let me have this little rationalization.
I’ve always thought of the Maple tree as the peacock of the forest. At it’s zenith in the fall, it can be visually stunning, with it’s vivid array of colors…that is as long as it received all of the attention, also known as appropriate rainfall and gradual temperature decline, that its demanding nature requires. A Deciduous Diva, if you will…a lot of glamour, with a bit of an attitude.
Comparing photos of full grown Maple trees to images of the Bonsai variety, I noticed some correlations between the two Maples. As so often happens in life, when one is diminutive in stature, they tend to be excessive in the personality department. I was instantly reminded of a former neighbor, ironically named Mabel Forrest. She was a septuagenarian sprite, always on the verge of some dramatic situation, as she rode herd over the denizens of the neighborhood.
When I opened the first picture sent to me by the curator, Mabel and the Maple easily merged. “Oh what, you think you’re gonna paint me looking like this? This is just my winter outfit; I can’t be seen in just my sticks!”
The second picture featured the Bonsai forest in the fullness of summer, and I thought of a time I complimented Ms. Mabel, at the mailbox, with a “don’t you look pretty today.” To her response of “Hush up now, you know this is just a Wednesday outfit! You need to look for me on Sunday, now that’ll be something to see.”
The curator’s notes said that she thought it would be possible that “Maple” would be starting to leaf out by the time the exhibit was open…but what I heard was “Oh no baby, I will not be exposing my budding leaves. If you think you gonna paint me, you gonna paint me in my Sunday best!” It appeared that the glory of fall was the only feasible option if I wanted to remain on her good side.
Technically, this piece is classified as a Mixed Media, Acrylic Collage. It involves a variety of paints and inks, mixed with both gloss and acrylic pouring mediums, that have been allowed to dry on a secondary surface before being peeled up, cut apart, and collaged onto a painted canvas. I chose to take an introspective approach, looking at what elements seemed quintessentially “Maple”, and for me, ended up with what I like to think of as a glimpse into the soul of my friend Mabel.
Deciduous Diva, 36” by 36” by 1.5”, $900, by Tim Kent-Moore