The morning comes up pink. There’s going to be sun today and already the cast of the day has changed. I anchor myself in what I see, the line of sky against the slopes of the fields to the east, the color behind the bare trees.
David tells me I should engage my visual talents more. My drawing has certainly improved over the last year, as I draw cows and horses and penguins for Emilio. If I look at an object closely, I can draw a reasonable representation of it. Collage work is completely engaging for me – someone else has already done the representational part of the work, I just need to arrange it in ways that remind me of arranging the language in a poem. Two years ago, during one of our many visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, David and I walked through a small show of collage works, and there were two pieces by Anne Ryan, a writer, painter and printmaker who didn’t begin working in the medium of collage until the age of 58. Before her death at 64, she created over 400 works. She was inspired to take up collage work after attending an exhibition of Kurt Schwitters, a German poet and sculptor, as well as collagist. “Since Anne Ryan was a poet, in Schwitters’s collages ‘she recognized the visual equivalent of her sonnets – discrete images packed together in an extremely compressed space.'”
Why not me? Why do I take out my box of cards and books with images I’ve saved for the possibility of collage, my papers and pens and colored pencils, for a day or two at a time, then pack it all up and put it back on the shelf? I can be inspired too.
Permission to engage in visual expression is all mine. I can create because I want to create, it doesn’t have to be useful. My goodness, in what way is poetry useful? In what way is any creative writing useful? If I can tie working on something to an ambition to get it published, it might get me to the desk more often to work on it, but my focus, my stepping into the flow, is the same once I’m working on anything creative. Without any realistic way to be ambitious about visual art, it gets pushed aside even more than writing. So maybe I’ll start pushing my ambition aside and just create. Drawing a cow for Emilio is enough because he wants to see the cow. Moving a collection of images and ideas out of my head on to paper in the form of a collage or drawing, rather than a poem or essay or story, is a world I may let myself start stepping into more often.