A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 171: Coleur de Rose

rose

I want more lives in which to love
This world so full of beauty,
I want more days to use the ways
I know of doing duty;
I ask no greater joy than this
(So much I am life’s lover,)
When I reach age to turn the page
And read the story over,
(Oh love stay near!)

Oh rapturous promise of the Spring!
Oh June fulfilling after!
If Autumns sigh, when Summers die,
‘Tis drowned in Winter’s laughter.
Oh maiden dawns, oh wifely noons,
Oh siren sweet, sweet nights,
I’d want no heaven could earth be given
Again with its delights,
(If love stayed near!)

There are such glories for the eye,
Such pleasures for the ear,
The senses reel with all they feel
And see and taste and hear;
There are such ways of doing good,
Such ways of being kind,
And bread that’s cast on waters fast
Comes home again, I find.
(Oh love stay near.)

There are such royal souls to know,
There is so much to learn,
While secrets rest in Nature’s breast
And unnamed stars still burn.
God toiled six days to make this earth,
I think the good folks say—
Six lives we need to give full meed
Of praise—one for each day,
(If love stay near.)

But oh! if love fled far away,
Or veiled his face from me,
One life too much, why then were such
A life as this would be.
With sullen May and blighted June
Blurred dawn and haggard night,
This dear old world in space were hurled
If love lent not his light.
(Oh love stay near.)

Coleur de Rose by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 170: Here’s Looking at You

1947 Dark Passage

Bogart… Bacall… The names conjure up the style and feel of classic movies of the 1930’s and ’40’s. I love many things about the films of that time, tops of that list is the attention to design given by everyone who worked on them. Today I wanted to share a few posters of that era, each one is a movie starring Humphrey Bogart, the #1 movie icon of that age. The graphic art of these posters immediately connects with the era and often is more dramatic than the movie itself.

Here’s looking at you…

african queen frenchbigsleepCasablanca-posterkey largoPoster - Dead Reckoning_04Poster-Maltese-Falcon-The-1941_02sierra madreSiroccoto have and to have not

 

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 168: Saturday Life Quote – Nature’s Voice

road
“I’ve watched thee every hour;
I know my mighty sway,
I know my magic power
To drive thy griefs away.”
An artist often speaks in another person’s voice or pictures the world from another person’s perspective. It is part of the role of art to create empathy and to help us discover what it is like to inhabit someone else’s skin for awhile. But that creation of empathy doesn’t just apply to human relationships.
For this Saturday’s Life Quote I’ve chosen a poem by Emily Bronte that speaks in the voice, and pictures the world, from Nature’s point of view.  It almost reads like a letter written from a lover who seeks to woo back the one he has lost. And it becomes a great reminder of the relationship we are meant to have with Nature, the health and well-being that can bring, and the need we have for each other in order to thrive.
There are times when I feel the natural world around me is indeed wooing me back. This feeling comes on strongest when I am gripped by all the grey thoughts of the business of existing. Bronte give Nature a voice to call me – and you, as well – back to into its embrace.
Shall earth no more inspire thee
Shall earth no more inspire thee,
Thou lonely dreamer now?
Since passion may not fire thee
Shall Nature cease to bow?
Thy mind is ever moving
In regions dark to thee;
Recall its useless roving—
Come back and dwell with me.
I know my mountain breezes
Enchant and soothe thee still—
I know my sunshine pleases
Despite thy wayward will.
When day with evening blending
Sinks from the summer sky,
I’ve seen thy spirit bending
In fond idolatry.
I’ve watched thee every hour;
I know my mighty sway,
I know my magic power
To drive thy griefs away.
Few hearts to mortals given
On earth so wildly pine;
Yet none would ask a heaven
More like this earth than thine.
Then let my winds caress thee;
Thy comrade let me be—
Since nought beside can bless thee,
Return and dwell with me.

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 167: The Living Mosaics of Gaudi

pg 01

Lately I have been having some fun with mosaic. Or it has been having fun with me. It started with me cutting up some craft foam and playing around with it. Since then, a few artworks have emerged which I’ve posted to this blog over the last few weeks. Yesterday I thought I’d actually do some research into great mosaic art in the world and, lo and behold, I was reminded that I once spent a rainy Spring afternoon in the midst of a host of mosaic masterpieces.

When I was 21 I studied in Spain during the Winter and Spring of 1987, living in the small town of Denia on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Each month we had a weekend excursion to a different locale to learn more about the culture and history of Spain. One of those trips was to the incomparable city of Barcelona. It was there that we spent a chunk of one of our days roaming around Parc Guell, a stunning public park designed by the one and only Antonio Gaudi of La Sagrada Familia fame. Here is photo evidence of me at the park in Barcelona on that soggy Spring day:

Ron at parc guell

Handsome young fella, isn’t he? Wonder what happened to him…

Anyway, the park! Well, the park felt like it was alive. Gaudi’s creations are so organic, so full of motion and soul, that you feel like they’re growing and breathing around you. There isn’t a straight line to be found, much like the reality of the natural world we live in. It is us who have tried to superimpose order on what is meant to be much more free-flowing, entwining, and, yes, invasive. Gaudi sought to reclaim some of that in his architecturally brilliant and eccentric creations. Parc Guell is another magnificent example of his genius.

So in celebration of the mosaic and a true master of the form, here are a few photos of that incredible place I had the good fortune to visit all those years ago…

pg 02pg 03Barcelona April 2004pg 05pg 06pg 07pg 08pg 09pg 10

 

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 166: The Four Musicians

 

4 musicians

Often what are called Fairy Tales or Folk Tales are considered simplistic children’s fare. In reality, those stories so often contain the very stuff essential to the core of humanity, to morality and to a healthy concept of our relationships to each other, God and our world. It reminds me of what C.S. Lewis once said, that a myth isn’t a story that’s not true but a story that always true.

About three years ago the art studio I help manage was given a commission to create a painting based on the Grimm’s tale “The Town Musicians of Bremen” or “The Four Musicians of Bremen”. I work for an organization that serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The staff retreat theme for that year centered upon this Folk Tale and the important concepts found in it that directly related to the work of the organization: The value of all individuals, no matter what society might deem to be “valuable”; the value of cooperation and inclusion; and the value of each individual’s gifts and personality.

As an art studio, we used the basic colors of our organization, the orange and blue, and crafted the above painting. I drew out the design and outlined it on the canvas, which was filled in with color by a number of different people. The painting now graces the training room of our organization.

I had  never read this particular Folk Tale until we were given that commission. Now it has become one of my favorites. I share it to this blog in hopes that I can introduce it to others or remind some of the story they read or had read to them long ago.

The Tale of the Town Musicians of Bremen

Once upon a time there was a man who owned a donkey. The donkey had tirelessly carried sacks to the mill for many years but was now growing old and weak, and was no longer fit for work. His master was thinking about giving him away. But the donkey, sensing an ill wind, ran away and headed for Bremen, where he thought he would become a town musician…

When the donkey had gone a fair way, he came across a hunting dog lying by the wayside, howling woefully. “Why are you crying so, old fellow?” asked the donkey. “Well”, said the dog, “because I’m old, get weaker every day and can’t go out hunting any more, my master wanted to shoot me. So I fled. But how am I to earn my keep now?”

“I’m going to Bremen to become a town musician.”
“Come with me and take up music too. I’ll play the lute, and you can play the drums”, said the donkey.

The dog agreed, and they walked on together. After a while they came across a cat sitting by the wayside with a face as long as a fiddle. “What’s making you so miserable, old whiskers?” asked the donkey. “How can I be cheerful when I’m in fear of my life”, answered the cat. “Because I’m getting old, my teeth are getting blunt and I’d rather sit purring by the fire than go chasing mice, my mistress wanted to drown me. I did manage to slip away, but now it’s hard to know what to do. Where am I to go?”

“Come with us to Bremen!”
“You know all about night music, you can become a town musician.” The cat thought this was a good idea and went along with them. By and by, the three animals came to a farmyard, where a cockerel was sitting on the gate, crowing with all its might. “You’re making an awful din”, said the donkey, “What’s the matter?” “The lady of the house has ordered the cook to chop my head off this evening.
“They’ve got guests coming tomorrow, and I’m going to be turned into Sunday soup. Now I’m crowing at the top of my voice, while I still can.” “Well, I never”, said the donkey, “Come with us, we’re going to Bremen, you can find a better fate than death any day. You’ve got a fine voice, and if we make music together, we’ll make a wonderful sound.” The cockerel was pleased at this suggestion, and all four of them went off together.

But they could not reach Bremen in a single day.
As evening fell, they found themselves in a forest where they meant to spend the night. The donkey and the dog lay down beneath a big tree, the cat climbed up onto a branch and the cockerel flew to the top of the tree, where he was safest.

Before going to sleep, the cock looked around in all four directions and noticed a light shining. He told his companions that there must be a house nearby because he could see a light. The donkey replied, “So let’s get up and go there, because this isn’t a good place to sleep.” The dog thought longingly of a few bones with some meat on them.

So off they set, heading towards the light.
Soon the light grew brighter and bigger, and they found themselves outside a brightly lit brigands’ house. The donkey, being the tallest, went to the window and looked inside.

“What can you see, old chap?” asked the cockerel. “What can I see?” replied the donkey. “A table laid with fine food and drink, with brigands sitting round it enjoying themselves!” “That would do nicely for us”, said the rooster. So the animals considered ways of driving the brigands away.

Finally they had an idea. The donkey placed its front hooves on the window, the dog jumped onto the donkey’s back, the cat climbed on top of the dog, and the cockerel flew up and perched on the cat’s head. Once in position, at a given signal, they began to make their music: the donkey brayed, the dog barked, the cat miaowed, and the cock crowed. Then they all burst through the window into the room, with glass clattering all around.

The horrible yowling frightened the brigands out of their wits.
They thought a ghost was coming in, and they fled, terrified, into the forest. The four companions then sat down at the table, and they all enjoyed whichever food they liked best to their heart’s content. When they had finished, they turned out the light, and each animal found a comfortable place to sleep . The donkey lay down on the dung heap, the dog behind the door, the cat on the hearth near the warm ashes, and the cockerel flew up to the roof. And because they were tired after their long journey, they soon fell asleep.

Once it was past midnight, the brigands noticed that all the lights were out.
Everything appeared to be quiet, and the chief brigand said: “We really shouldn’t have let ourselves be frightened off like that.” He sent one of the brigands back to the house, to check whether there was anyone still there.

The brigand found that all was quiet. He went into the kitchen to get a light. When he saw the cat’s fiery eyes, he took them for glowing coals. He held a match to them, thinking it would ignite. But the cat, who was not in the least bit amused, jumped up into his face and clawed at him with all its might. The brigand was terrified and tried to run out of the back door. But the dog, which was lying there, jumped up and bit his leg. As the brigand ran across the yard and past the dung heap, the donkey gave him a mighty kick with its hind leg. And the cockerel, woken by the noise, cried down from the roof, “Cock-a-doodle-doo!”

The brigand ran back to his chief as fast as he could.
He cried out, “In the house there’s a hideous witch who hissed at me and scratched my face with her long fingers. By the door there’s a man with a knife who stabbed me in the leg. In the yard there’s a black monster which attacked me with a wooden club. And up on the roof there’s a judge shouting, ‘Bring the scoundrel to me!’ So I got away as fast as I could.”

After that the brigands never dared go back into the house.
The four Bremen Town Musicians liked it so much that they never wanted to leave.

From the tale by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 165: You’ve Been Warned

the warning

Social media is full of videos we take a look at, go “Wow! That was cool!” and then we move on to the next thing that attracts our attention for 36 seconds or so. We are all gaining the attention spans of fleas. However, occasionally, we see something that makes us stop, really watch or listen or both, and want to find out more. That happened to me when, via SheHeroes, a Facebook page I follow, I came upon a video of a trio of Mexican girls playing a cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”. They are called The Warning and they made this video as a kind of audition to be able to perform on the Ellen DeGeneres Show back in 2015. Take a watch/listen before you get properly introduced to these girls:

The Warning is from Monterrey, Mexico and is comprised of the Villarreal sisters: Guitar and vocals, Daniela (Dany); drums and vocals, Paulina (Pau); bass, Alejandra (Ale). At the time the above video was made they were 15, 12 and 9, respectively. Upon seeing the video, which has since received over 5 millions views, Kirk Hammett of Metallica remarked that the drummer, Paulina, “kicks maximum ass”.  Truth is, they all do! And the video did get them a shot on the Ellen Show and so much more.

Here is an edited clip of their appearance on that show which includes an abbreviated cover of Black Sabbath and part of their interview with Ellen.

Just being real here – I teared up at the girls’ reaction to receiving $10,000 each towards their goal of going to music school. They are so sincere and I couldn’t help but be swept up in their drive to play music together. They have since secured a record deal and released an album of original material. As I searched around the web for them I realized just how far they have gone in such a short span of time. Their story is inspiring and joyous in so many ways. I was caught up in their level of musicianship, in their love for each other and love for music, and in their genuine and honest character. The fact that three girls from Mexico could embrace a genre so often considered uber-male and absolutely crush it was thrilling to me. They should be celebrated and I am so happy that we live in an age when that thing called “social media” – sometimes a curse – can be a blessing and make something like this possible.

You can find out more about them yourself by simply searching them out. Their website is http://www.thewarningband.com. You can also find them on Facebook and, of course, see many videos on YouTube, including a TED presentation from the University of Nevada.

Below is a music video of their cover of the Foo Fighters’ “The Pretender”. Ironically, these three are NOT pretenders at all but the real deal.

Rock on, Dany and Pau and Ale! Can’t wait to see where this musical journey takes you and all of us over the years.

 

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 164: Let Fury Have the Hour

the-clash

“Kick over the wall/ Cause governments to fall/ How could you refuse it?/ Let fury have the hour/ Anger can be power/ You know that you can use it”

It is the Clash’s “rage against the machine”, simply put, and may be one of their greatest songs. I heard it on the radio as I was driving around a couple of days ago. If you know me at all, you know the Clash is pretty much the soundtrack that runs in my brain 24/7. When a station actually plays something beyond the usual three or four Clash tracks on rotation I sit up and take notice. “Clampdown” is full of wonderful Joe Strummer lyrical moments like “In these days of evil presidentes/ Working for the clampdown/ Lately one or two has fully paid their dues/ Working for the clampdown”. It is a song at the soul of punk in so many ways.

The live performance of this song is maybe the best example of the power of this band when they were called “The Only Band that Matters”, before typical rock band pettiness crept in and blew the group apart. This isn’t awesome because of the stellar musicianship. This is awesome because of the power, conviction, energy and, yes, fury that can be communicated by four guys with the Drive.  Here is that video. If you don’t understand the lyrics, as Joe once said, “Don’t worry. You’re not alone.” However, I have printed them below just to be helpful. You’re welcome.

HA! Gitalong! Gitalong!!

What are we gonna do now?

Taking off his turban, they said, is this man a Jew?
‘Cause they’re working for the clampdown
They put up a poster saying we earn more than you!
When we’re working for the clampdown
We will teach our twisted speech
To the young believers
We will train our blue-eyed men
To be young believers

The judge said five to ten-but I say double that again
I’m not working for the clampdown
No man born with a living soul
Can be working for the clampdown
Kick over the wall ’cause government’s to fall
How can you refuse it?
Let fury have the hour, anger can be power
D’you know that you can use it?

The voices in your head are calling
Stop wasting your time, there’s nothing coming
Only a fool would think someone could save you
The men at the factory are old and cunning
You don’t owe nothing, so boy get runnin’
It’s the best years of your life they want to steal

You grow up and you calm down
You’re working for the clampdown
You start wearing the blue and brown
You’re working for the clampdown
So you got someone to boss around
It makes you feel big now
You drift until you brutalize
Make your first kill now

In these days of evil Presidentes
Working for the clampdown
But lately one or two has fully paid their due
For working for the clampdown
Ha! Gitalong! Gitalong! (working for the clampdown)
Ha! Gitalong! Gitalong! (working for the clampdown)

Yeah I’m working in Harrisburg
Working hard in Petersburg (working for the clampdown, working for the clampdown)
Ha! Gitalong! Gitalong!
Beggin’ to be melted down

And I’ll give away no secrets

Written by Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 163: Rage, Rage…

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“Rage, Rage…” Mosaic on canvas, Craft foam and coloured burlap , 2017

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas and one of my favorite poems inspired my latest artwork. I have been into the mosaic form of late, trying out some new things, experimenting a bit. I had purchased what I like to call “Wal-Mart Art” from a second-hand store in order to use it for artwork but didn’t really know what I was going to use it for. By “Wal-Mart Art” I mean those factory-produced pieces you can purchase at a store for home decorating. I know that sounds demeaning but, honestly, if you’re going to spend money on art, buy some made by a local artist, not a your local Ikea or whatever. That being said, I appreciate that someone originally bought that so that, eventually, I could buy it and turn it into something else!

Ah, life is full of ironies…

I recently came home with a book of poetry (also purchased second-hand… I sense a theme here) in which I’ve been discovering or re-discovering some amazing works. The Thomas poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night” resonated with me strongly, probably more so now that I am into my 50’s, dealing with some physical and mental strains, than back in my 20’s when I first studied the poem in college. As I thought of those powerful words of the poem, “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” and my work in mosaic of late, I decided to combine the two.

First, I painted the entire “Wal-Mart Art” piece black (start humming the Rolling Stones tune… now!). I then did some sketching out of how I wanted to space the words. I cut out some templates for the bigger words to make sure everything fit and drew some light outlines of them on the canvas. Then I chose what colors and what shapes I wanted to use, sliced and diced my craft foam and colored burlap, got out the Modge Podge and went for it.

I didn’t do a great job of photo-journaling the process, but below are a few pics to help you see the start-to-finish of this work. First, I’ve printed the Dylan Thomas poem again:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

 

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A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 162: Sunday God Quote – Donne

john-donne-portrait-1030x579

John Donne (1572-1631), English poet and preacher, is best known for quotes such as “Death be not proud” and “No man is an island” but he also composed a series of what are called Holy Sonnets (where the “death” quote originated, actually). For today’s God Quote I share Donne’s Holy Sonnet XIV…

Holy Sonnets: Batter my heart, three-person’d God
Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.