Ekphrastic: A Greek word for getting inspired by art and responding to the visual by writing. Two weeks ago Saturday I attended a writer’s workshop called "Writing From Art: Through the Eyes to the Paper". Basically we were creating another piece of art in response to a piece of art. Some of us were much simpler and inexperienced with the process, but the group leader Ellen Rust helped us blend into a responsive, supportive group.
The Frist Museum is currently hosting an exhibit From Monet to Dali (from the Cleveland Museum of Art traveling collection). While I enjoy impressionism, I don’t have enough background in art history and art criticism to explain ANYTHING about art, but none of us needed to be experts for this workshop. The experience of looking was our impetus for writing.
The leader provided story prompts for us and we were encouraged to interact with the characters of various works. The entire group gazed at Monet’s The Red Kerchief and wrote for just 5 minutes.
My response to Monet’s "The Red Kerchief"
Madame, don’t look so bleakly at me.
The world you see and nature disagree.
Look back to me and dream through the glass,
but what you yearn for isn’t here, it’s in the past.
Our life has drained the colors from my soul.
You take my heart as sorrowfully you go.
Clutch the colors of the world outside
and go in peace
as in my heart you bide.
So, I’m not out to win any prizes with my writing, but I was learning to respond in different ways to art. While there were many experienced writers in the group, I learned that a major part of these writing groups was the sharing of writing and other’s responses to us.
One of my so very talented cohorts went outside the box enough to write as if she were the elaborate picture frame surrounding a work of less than perfect beauty. I wish all adults could experience a group like this. Perhaps they’ll develop an evening writer’s group that I can join. Blogging can be such a lonely experience. It would be nice to hear immediately from listeners/readers.
So, on to my rated PG version of my response to Claude Monet’s Gardener’s House at Antibes, 1888. I decided this work deserved far more than the cursory glances of onlookers who seemed to say, "Oh, that’s a lovely snapshot of a cottage" and then moved on to other works. This painting told me that it was no ordinary scene painted while the artist was waiting in Antibes and writing to his second wife back home. No, this painting became a love letter to me, a letter of color, techniques, and strokes. You see, like books, works of art & music become the interpretation of others as soon as they leave the creator’s hands. This is what the painting said to me:
Come to me and breathe my air.
The sky is filling me with hope
The clouds lift up my spirits,
never pressing down.
My love, the light here beckons you.
Come dance with me and sparkle
as the yellowing green buds of
life are born.
The trees will wave to you and
pass my love as whispers
slither through the air.
Come lie with me in vivid verdant paradise of growth.
We’ll roll and laugh
delighting in the wildly waving weeds
that hide beneath the gardener’s watchful eyes.
Believe with me that life begins
There is no darkness seeping in
to taint the shadow of our tree.
Delight with me the simple home to linger and sip tea.
We’ll share a glance with rosy cheeks, our flesh aglow anew.
Our visit to the keeper of our dreamy paradise will note
a moment passes but we live a life of two.
Come in my arm and gaze with me
at distant sleeping hills.
We’ll laugh at those who cannot see
the rainbow coming soon.
You cannot come to dream with me,
but wonder at my words?
I’ll seize my brush and press
my light and life into my hues.
Look closely and you’ll see
my fingers lightly teasing you.
You cannot cry. I’ll wipe your tears
and blend a line or two.
Read my worry muddled grey
along the wall you build.
Step back my love and do not try
to focus on my words.
The individual dissolves as meaning intertwines.
No word, no stroke, no tender touch conveys totality.
You must be calm, relax, and feel
to know my love for thee.