Saturday, May 7, 2011

A transition

Thinking about my last post in which the subject of "pattern" came up, I remembered some drawings coming out of the "Talking Heads" series.  After so many "Pontificating Politicians" lined up, squeezed together, or otherwise caught in cartoonish relationships, I succomed to the delight of "abstract design". 
In this case, - Doodles!  

I guess you might have to call this "applied" doodles. One of my on-going artistic concerns is the arrangement of things in space, whether the positioning of items on a shelf or the relationships of elements in a drawing.  I like to see "parts" fit together.    One way I've found is to connect them with background, - here with bands of pattern and texture.  The figures are still dominant but all are tied together and the whole is (for me) much more interesting!

Eventually "design" became more important and I played with repetition and variation in shape, texture and pattern.  It's pure fun! The figures may be there but are not reflecting reality, they are almost as abstract as the surrounding shapes.  It's a situation in which we can work the way a musician does, -  playing a theme then doing intuitive variations as he explores possibilities. I did quite a few!

After completing this particular more moving bit of pen-work,  I became aware of a possible meaning in it.  I'd been thinking about a painting series in which I'd consciously explore the story of my original injury, trying to recall, re-experience and react to the various situations in which I'd found myself 20 years ago, something more formal than the earlier (frantic) "Wheelchair" posts.  I thought that this drawing, so different from past sketches, might be a beginning. It "spoke" to me!  Here were two of the five men in the hospital spinal cord injury recovery unit, cut off from past lives and cut off from much of their lower beings. 

It was strange being there, not knowing how to deal with this new situation, - not even in a sense, knowing "who" we were.  During my weeks of rehabilitation later, a therapist explained it this way. "You've been dropped into a strange country. You don't know the language or the customs.  Somehow you have to find your way,  learn to cope and make a new life for yourself." 

We'd started our journeys almost simultaneously, each arriving as if blind. Flat on our backs and immobile, we could not see each other.  Fearful in the night, we talked and worried what another day would bring. The guy to my right was a personable comic, a great guy!  He'd throw M&M's around, making black comments like, "Why not cut our heads off and mount them on skate boards?"!  He'd curse, scatter crushed ice on his body, trying to feel something, anything!  On my left another young guy cursed too.  He cursed the world, the room, the night and most of all, he cursed the nurse.  He called her every miserable name he could muster, crying that they, she in particular, were trying to kill him. As a high quadriplegic he had a very hard time breathing.  Me?  I just held on tight.  I hugged my pillow listening right, listening left. I could hear a mouse skittering around collecting M&M's from the corners.

I haven't yet been successful with that painting.  I've done a couple like that and thought I'd have another bit of color in the blog at this point.  The transition from black and white to color just hasn't worked well.  In trying to communicate the unease and fear in that recovery room,  I pushed too hard.  It was too garish.  But then, I suppose life can be a bit garish.  The young man on my left did slip away a day later.  My friend with the ice and M&M's managed his own business for five years, I think, and then I heard he'd killed himself.  


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