Yesterday was sunny and warm. We sat on the bank and I drew my husband’s daffodils. My daughter reclined on the grass nearby. The big dog came and leaned against my back. Throughout the neighborhood birds were singing. A persistent breeze moved the flowers, shook them regularly, reminded you that you’re here for the experience. They won’t pose.
I had decided to record time — or my thoughts as I swim through a passage of time. I was taking notes. Spring’s stenographer. I applied old skills to a new situation. I’ve sat through many a lecture where I took notes. Why not apply that diligence to a session in the yard? With pencil and paper, you take pictorial notes. They concern the edges of daffodil petals.
What shape catches your eye? What line is most graceful among the scattered candidates? And how much of that grace can your mind follow? Perhaps not much, but I’ll catch what I can. I sought to register the contours of petals and the shapes of the spaces between petals and to capture some of the tonal notes where a dark shadowed patch of grass lay adjacent to a flower’s brilliant sunlit form. Very dark here, less dark there, very light here, almost like light in your face. Too complicated — so many things everywhere – fonds of grass, bits of weed, leaves with internal segments like quilts, smooth bending leaves, heart shaped leaves, shadows of leaves, criss-crossing of leaves.
In truth there’s so much to see that, like an auditor of a mesmerizing lecture, I could only get bits and pieces while riding a wave of sensation. Okay, I tell myself. Yet, however much it might have been fine to get a life-likeness, I would limit myself to my specific task which was to notice these small parts — the shape of the flower, some element of its architecture, and to ignore as much as I could the schemes that run through my head, echoes of art school proposals and how-to book suggestions, systems of thought that might get you a semblance only. A visual idea sifted through a pre-existing scheme.
You might produce a picture of flowers, one that seems like it gets the whole. Yes, maybe. And isn’t that a bright task for perhaps another day? But today is for surfing Time’s wave. I needed to listen to the birdsong while making pencil lines. And lines must be lines. Theses pictures of flowers are like birdsongs. One flower, one song. Breathe. Start again.
Do birds, like singers, think about breath control? To they sense the rests in the music almost equally to the notes?
Drawing with a pencil you have no color at all. But what of it? This is abstract. I accept it. Color also for another day. Steely graphite will have to do like the charcoal mantle of the annoying Starling bird. I still see the color. Indeed, my pencil took my eyes through a lovely ant pathway of color sensations and macular cell excitations alerted as a grey traveling line focused my thoughts upon a changing cascade of shades of yellow, shades of green.
Now those colors are memories. In the brain cells remember firing at colors.
I wasn’t trying to make a drawing of a group of flowers. I only wished to catch that passing moment with its passing thoughts. My flowers land randomly on the page as notes from the Lecture that Nature offered that day. Reality is so messy and chaotic — or so it seems. But perhaps Nature the virtuoso has a bigger logic that I couldn’t properly grasp.