England Word Pictures

Word Picture May 8th, 2015

Yesterday in Ampney Crusis

Rain pelts down.
My little paint box
Overflows onto my hands and trousers;
Crimson, sap green, cerulean.
My sketch of wisteria
Is water spotted
And then fades to a pastel blur.

As quickly as the shower starts,
It ends.
The sun shines.
I am frozen in my damp clothing.
I start a second sketch
On dry paper from my pack;
The wet street,
The fresh greenery,
The pale stone houses,
With dark slate roofs.

Just as I start to add the colour to the sketch,
The sky opens again.
I pack up,
Intending to quit for the day.
Before, I have walked far,
The rain stops
And something else calls "paint me";
A profusion of flowers
Backed by a stone cottage
With old blue trimmed windows.

I stand, leaning against a wall.
The garden, wild and exuberant,
Is eye level.
Pink tendrils of current flowers
Lean over bluebells, corn flowers, forgetmenots.
Just as I begin to paint,
The rain resumes.
I dash into an archway,
But of course from here,
I can't see the garden.

When the shower stops,
I go back to my spot.
On another piece of dry paper,
I sketch the down spouts.
The rain doesn't return.
I decide to try a quarter sheet painting
Of the flowers.
This painting will have no drawing.
I am using new paper as well.
It is Lana 300 pound cold pressed,
But from the way the colour slides across the surface,
It feels like hot pressed.
Nervously, I lean on the wall
And peer into the garden.
Gradually, the painting consumes me.
I relax and the hours fly by.

I enjoy the many villagers who stop and stare.
Don, Jim's mate from yesterday,
Who brings me orange juice.
His daughter and his carpenter.
Nan, the red haired old lady,
Whose garden I am peering into.
Various home care workers and delivery men,
And the flight commander from across the street.
While trying to take a photo of my painting 
To show his invalid wife,
He drops his ipad,
And it instantly smashes.

Along comes a Gran 
Holding a small girl's hand.
When school lets out,
Bunches of kids on bikes or skate boards
Whiz down the road.
It is narrow and winding
But there aren't many cars.
One boy, with his two sisters and his mother,
Looks at my painting and says:
"I saw this on the telly.
But I thought it was in the olden days.
I didn't know that people still did it."
"It" the act of braving the elements
And capturing life as art.

Word Picture May 17th, 2015

Like the swirling apple blossoms petals,
Landing on my head and hands and heart,
Snippets of songs, stories, puppets, poems,
Warm hugs, magic tricks, and cinnamon smells
Dance around my tiny self.
Some are but a sweet caress.
Some cement to my soul.

Surrounded by my parents and mother's parents,
Four pillars of constant affirmation and support,
I take my first steps,
Tell my first stories,
Draw my first pictures,
Bake my first cookies.

Now, almost in my own old age,
I have travelled back to the birth places
Of my grandparents.
The blossoms are once again swirling.
New stories awaken old stories.
Long dead grandparents continue to nurture.
Every seagull is still a Herman or a Gertrude.

Word Picture May 21st, 2015

National Gallery, London

Has it always been thus?
Curators, reviewers,
The powerful of art speak,
Control taste and fashion.
They show and write about
What they know and love. 
They slam, shame, or ignore
All that doesn't fit their mould.
The buying public 
Lack the confidence
To see the naked emperor,
Or to champion the under-dog.
They prefer to buy admired work.
Occasionally a person
Of vision, taste and money,
Decides to try to change 
What is safe.
It can be a wise 
Business decision.
It can be a disaster.
Mean-while, artists
Just continue.
We paint our visions
Despite the occasional 

Flurry of reverie or disdain.