As both a poet and an artist, I tend to wander back and forth, crossing the invisible line between the two like a drunk on a bicycle.
I give many of my paintings poetic titles and I write poems about art. I’m not the only one who does this. One of my favorite books on the practice of writing is titled The Writer on His Own, and much of what’s here applies just as well to my painting.
Take this one, for instance, one of the many short bits of advice from author David Greenhood:
“Our main effort should be to imagine forth, rather than to be always backtracking. Ruing. Picking up stuff that fell off because we were overloaded or so badly loaded that we couldn’t carry it.”
I like this thought a great deal – for art, for writing, for life. “Imagining forth” strikes me as just the thing to keep the energy and excitement of the work, any work, going. And in my head it goes nicely with the great line from one of the songs in A Chorus Line: “Keep the best of you, do the rest of you.”
As we work in any creative arena, we learn new things all the time – at least we hope to if we’re creative and not robotic. Our work builds on these new things, and we either figure how to incorporate the old with the new or we drop the old. We “imagine forth” instead of backtracking.
It’s pretty simple, really. We start with our ABCs, but once we can read poetry and novels, we don’t backtrack to saying our ABCs every morning. Art, writing and life are about building, incorporating, imagining forth.
When I got back to my art a few years ago, I did collages. I’ve liked collages since I first saw those done by Picasso and Braque, so it seemed a good place to start – tissue paper, recycled images, a little paint. I gradually moved on to more paint and less paper, finally going full tilt with paint.
This week I decided to “imagine forth” about what would happen if I combined the paint with paper but in a new way, so I gave it a try. At the top of the page are four images of the result from start to finish. The piece looks nothing like my old collages or my newer paintings either. And it sure doesn’t look like Picasso or Braque. It was an experiment. And every time I try a new experiment, I am a happy fledgling again!
I really want an “Imagine Forth!” tee-shirt now.