We are traveling again. I wanted to share some words and photos with you but thanks to WordPress, I cannot. Being the security conscious subscriber I did as suggested by WordPress and set up a two step security verification. It did not work and worse, when I tried to disable it, it has blocked me from my own account (except it seems for publishing?) as well as from commenting or ‘liking’ other blogs. They have not seen fit in over a week to answer my query for help so I can assume I’m on my own. This may very well be my final post on WordPress, but I do have another blog on tumblr called amosthemagicdog if you are inclined to have a look. Thank you all for a lovely time, all the best to you, and hopefully we will meet again. XX
Two years ago when we were in Paris we had the good fortune to discover the Musee d’Orsay closed. What’s that I say? In fact it was to have reopened that very day, after recent renovations, had it not been for an industrial dispute that kept it closed. Of course, initially, we (especially I) were disappointed. Late works by the Impressionist artist Manet are a favourite of mine but difficult to find except in this museum which has a large collection of Impressionist art. And I was on a Manet jag at that point in time. There was nothing to do, but resort to our ‘plan B’.
‘Plan B’ took us to the Jeu de Paume museum which specialises in photographic exhibitions. The weather was unseasonably warm and the queue was unexpectedly long. Neither of us had heard of the photographer whose exhibition had recently opened, but it was our last day in Paris and we had done most of the things in the city area that we had intended to do so we decided to take a chance that the long queue was a good indication of what lay inside.
The photographer’s name was Diane Arbus. Like many artists she diligently worked at her art form, but fell into the subject matter accidently. She became intensely dedicated to photographing those in our society who dwell on the ‘fringes’. Her own tragic demise, suicide, probably to escape the debilitation of a fatal illness, ended a career that shed light on part of our society in a way little else has done.
When I read the following stunning quotation of hers, it changed forever my view of photography.
They (photographs) are the proof that something was there and no longer is. Like a stain. And the stillness of them is boggling. You can turn away but when you come back, they’ll still be there, looking at you.
–Diane Arbus -response when asked for a brief statement about photographs, March, 1971
Next time, we’ll just make ‘plan B’ our first choice!
(if you select the above link, you will find a portfolio of some of Diane’s work, and very, very teeny tiny at the middle bottom are the forward and backward arrows so you can view it)
Today I found myself wondering about ‘encouragement’. You hear the word ‘support’ a lot these days and that’s a good thing, but it doesn’t seem quite imbued with the emotion that the word ‘encouragement’ conveys. Perhaps it is just semantics, but whatever you call it, it’s what we give to those who are either struggling or who are working at something. We validate their efforts. It needn’t be a verbal thing, it can be a smile or a nod, or it can mean just ‘being there’ for someone… and it needn’t even be physical presence, but the kind of enduring relationship where the other person knows you are ‘there’.
More specifically, I was thinking today about an experience I had yesterday which was immensely satisfying. I’ve been attending Life Drawing sessions for a few weeks, twice a week. Last week was an awful session where I was sure I had some stranger’s hand attached to my body, it was so unwilling to do what I wanted! I found myself questioning why I was pursuing the Life Drawing and I really had no rational answer, except that it just felt like something I wanted to do. (I’ve learned to pay attention to that still small voice that encourages me, even though I am not sure why!) I’ve never been particularly interested in drawing or painting the human form but for some reason last year I had the urge to take it up again (we had to do it years ago at University and that was mostly where I left it except for a few very brief encounters). I had gotten only a few sessions under my belt when cancer and travel interrupted me for the remainder of the year. When I emerged from the challenges of last year, I found my first thought was to get back to Life Drawing. Wow. Where is that coming from?
But even after the unhappy result of last week’s session, something moved me ahead. Out of the blue, a friend offered me some new paper and some pastels, and then I put one foot in front of the other… a little sketch, an experiment with materials, an instructional DVD, a card from the newsagency with a pastel drawing of Degas ballerinas. I had the feeling they were all feeding something inside me, and then… Yesterday when the time came for Sunday morning Life Drawing, I was just glad to be there again, with no expectation of a particularly good result, but ‘hope springs eternal’. in a very short time, I found myself ‘in the zone’, and the drawings, while not masterpieces, were flowing and had some life to them, and something had shifted. My fellow artists were complimentary, and not in a general way. They had specific comments that I recognised as ‘true’ and sincere. It was so encouraging. It was… life affirming. I was in the creative flow again, and the reward was joy.
This morning Ali’s email said she is finding it a struggle to settle on a topic for her first essay of her Master’s Degree program, and to wade through the academic reading to find what she needs. Indeed. I will write to her and encourage her, because I have realised if I am not too old for encouragement to be helpful, her 23-year-old-self certainly is not! Are we ever too old to enjoy words of encouragement? I hope not.