Then again, maybe not

I said in a previous post that I liked reading about poetry. I was thinking of long ago undergraduate English classes. I got some criticism books on the poets and started looking thru  them. And what I discovered is that I’m no longer fond of reading what other people say I should see in the poems. I thought the criticism would be a short cut to the paintings but instead there’s not much there for me.

Eliot said” The whole interest of the process is in getting your own meaning out of it”  Caroline Behr, T.S. Eliot: A Chronology of his Life and Works (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1983) 66  And ” I want my readers to get their impressions from the works alone and from nothing else. T.S. Eliot, Invention of the March Hare:poems 1909-1917, ed. Christopher Ricks (New York; Harcourt Brace and Co. 1996) xix. He also wrote that ” a good poem should have a potentiality of evoking feelings and associations in the reader of which the author is wholly ignorant. I am rather inclined to believe, for myself, that my best poems are possibly those which evoke the greatest number and variety of interpretations surprising to myself” (these quotes were found in the first chapter of Reading and Interpreting the Works of T.S. Eliot by Naomi Pasachoff, Enslow Publishing, 2017)

This reminds me of a discussion in an undergraduate painting  class about conveying meaning in painting. Did we want the viewer to see a specific meaning or to leave the painting open ended for multiple interpretations? My painting professor asked whether we would  be ok to run the risk of someone misinterpreting our work. And the consensus in class was it was ok, that if one sees something and can explain why then that is fine even if the artist did not intend that. I had a caveat in that by  creating images a certain way, that I was creating boundaries for that meaning. If I painted an apple and someone thought it meant a pear (trite and silly example but hopefully you get the idea) then that is beyond the parameters I had set up by painting an apple and not a pear.

And so, the books go back to the library. Maybe the whole point was for me to discover the quotes by Eliot. In any case, it has been a very long time that I have done a poetic dissection and is not necessary for me now. The poems I have chosen have personal meaning for me and that is enough.

The painting on the left is from the 4 Quartets suite called Still Point and the one on the right is in progress and is call Gyre(?) both are 12″ x 12″ Still Point needs some sprucing up and Gyre is drying some more.

stillpoint and gyre







Last of the “anger” paintings for awhile

black anger in progress brown and red anger

The painting on the left was the one that had been on my easel  for the past few months. The one on the right is that same painting. As you can see I got aggravated with it. The parts looked ok but as a whole it just didn’t work no matter what I tried so I vigorously painted over it. Sometimes you paint the painting and sometimes the painting paints you.

The Poetry Paintings

For my MFA thesis exhibition I had a work called 4 Quartets. They were not hung together as there wasn’t enough wall space. They lost their power, imo. The paintings were about 42″ x 40″, 106.68 x 101.6cm. I don’t know where they are now. I think I may have painted over 2 of them, hard to say. But what I do have of them is the study I did, 4 canvases 12″ x 12″ 30.5 x 30.5 cm. I kept them all this time. They are one of my all time favorite works.

4 quartets study

They’re not level or in a straight line. They hang in my studio. Eliot’s 4 Quartets poem is one that I have read many, many times. I don’t begin to understand it but the  words sparkle for me.

I’ve had repeating in my mind the line “Rage, rage against the dying of the light”  from a Dylan Thomas poem, Do not go Gentle into that Good Night and that pretty much sums up how I’d been feeling these past few months. The paintings are a bit more straight forward, almost literal. I added too much medium to the paint so while they look nice and juicy they’re taking a long time to dry. I have a few little areas to refine but for the most part they are done.

dying light dylan thomas

They are 8″ x 8″, 20.3 x 20.3 cm.  The other poets I am looking at are e.e. cummings and W.B. Yeats. I got some books from the library to help inform my paintings. I want to be sure I am in the ball park with my understanding.( its been a very long time I’ve done any studying of them) And I like reading about poetry anyway.  A good poem is like a good painting. You keep going back to it over and over again.


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