grown-up children

POSTCARD#301: Chiang Mai: I got back to the apartment in the afternoon, slightly deaf and the feeling of being shipwrecked. It was the immediate sense of the journey that brought me here, the tuk-tuk, lady driver’s alertness and skill in what was for me a sudden urgency of speed. And those of us who don’t know the Thai tuk-tuk, it is a three-wheeled vehicle with a low canvas roof and no walls. The sound of its 2-stroke engine enhances the sensation of the whole vehicle entering into the passenger’s body/mind consciousness in a strange embrace, and it’s this, only this, that prevents you from falling out. That’s how it was for me; like gale-force winds, the whole outside, rushing through the inside, and everything on either side shielded from view because of low headroom and overhang of canvas roof. So the only place to look is over the driver’s shoulder, through her small windscreen and thus captivated by the directionality of the journey hurtling through a wormhole in space/time, and plunging towards a vanishing point that looks like it never arrives.

Definitely, it would have been easier without the large cork notice board I was clutching, fingers adhering desperately to this ‘thing’ measuring 47½ inches by 31½ inches, that wanted to be a sail in a sailing ship. Perhaps buying it in that discount place slightly out of town (and taking it back in a tuk-tuk because no car available) was a foolhardy idea, now it was tugging in the wind, and I’m seeing the very real possibility of it escaping my fingers and flying away like a kite without a string. But it didn’t, we reached the place, and tumbled out on to terra firma. The board and its sudden flatness, placed on its narrow end, up in the elevator and into the room.

Why this sail-like notice board, uncomfortably dwarfing nearby objects which shuffle out of the way to make room for it? Well, I could fix it on the wall with a hook, but right now it’s good just standing and leaning against the wall. I can move it around and pin things on it with a small box of pins I got at the discount shop. What things get pinned? Drawings that would be otherwise hidden, animated scribbles, and things developing more and more into what we can say is Art.

Let them see the light of day! Exhumed skeletons from long ago and far away, when and where I was an artist, intending to be an easel painter, studied 4 years in art school, exhibitions and all of that. Then one day my investigations led to a dead end, a place where everything was called into question, Creative Block… one’s own worst enemy. So I gave up, became an anarchist, conceptual tight-rope-walker, then stepping into the light, a teacher and the world of respectability. Anyway, the path led me to where I am now – that was decades ago and I’ve carried this sense of incompleteness all that time. So now, thanks to voices of encouragement from blogging friends, and my Thai niece M aged 14, I’m beginning to see that there is a way out of this conundrum.

Bring them out of hiding, pin them on a board: I had planned it only this morning. I have a printer so, cut, crop, say it’s finished, print and pin it on the board. Rediscovering these old plans for pictorial adventures and voyages long forgotten, pin them on the board as they are. With that, no tugs and pulls, push and shove, everything becomes neutral, non-intrusive random thought mechanisms that function at the edge of a dream pull me into the gentle whirr and flicker of thinking-about-things.

Each page of the world turns over and there’s another, and another. We’re all grown-up children, every song that’s sung, spoken in rhyme, is done in a spontaneous leap of words that, falling to the floor, arrange themselves, themselves.

See the Art page in this blog. Note: photo taken in a quiet moment at the red light


23 thoughts on “grown-up children

    • Yes indeed, the fool archetype. I looked seriously at this aspect of creativity and the ego a long time ago. What I didn’t consider at the time was the spiritual sense of the fool archetype bringing the artist through the breakdown and out into a greater understanding of the all-inclusiveness or something like that… so thank you for the article and links, they came just at the right time.

  1. I love your work! Your writing is so vividly descriptive that I shared it with the Mister this morning. But the art is amazing. I’m so glad you’re getting back to looking at it. More will follow! I used to paint with oils and pastels. It’s been years. Now that we are moving down here full time, I’m going to bring my easel down here, out of the closet where it has sat for almost 15 years, and elsewhere before that. Now I play with myiPhone photos for my creativity, and blogging. The cat on the table is sweet! Looks just like our Daisy, whom we take to the vet this am, the Mister vicariously anxious about it for her.

    • Hi Sunny
      ‘Vividly descriptive’ it’s a lot to do with the experience of going at top speed along a straight flat highway in a tuk-tuk and holding on to a notice board that wants to sail away in the wind. But yes, inspiring. Nice to hear of your oils and pastels, I started to get interested in cold wax medium and oils also pigment sticks. There are so many YouTube videos on that subject. Pamela Caughey is the one I really have some respect for.
      And yes I know how it is having iPhone edit function and also Photoshop on the computer… they take away the here-and-now experience of working at the easel. There’s a way of doing both that could be helpful. Happy to hear also your Daisy looks like the monastery cat in Switzerland, I was thinking I’d write a post about that…

  2. a very apt and accurate description of the Tuk Tuk experience. I’ve found my time spent in the back of those contraptions to be an exercise in suspending disbelief. One is left with no choice but to trust that things aren’t as dangerously horrendous (horrendously dangerous?) as they seem. It’s been a while since I looked at your art, and your photo of the lovely drawings on your cork board prompted me to click on the “Art” pages on your menu. I’d forgotten how interesting and engaging your work is, and I do hope you get back to it. I’ve recently adopted the practice of a 3-page morning free write, as recommended by Julia Cameron in her book, “The Artist’s Way,” as a means of opening myself to creative energy. We’ll see what happens. If nothing else, I will probably post a bit more consistently….

    • ‘Suspended disbelief’ that sums it up. It’s interesting that you never hear of an accident with a tuk-tuk, but maybe somebody is going to write with info to the contrary.
      Thanks for the words of encouragement about the Art page, the thing is, there’s an unfinished feel about that part of my early life, can’t seem to let go of that.
      Ah yes Julia Cameron. I studied that years ago, and remember the 3 page free write every morning. I couldn’t get it to stretch to 3 pages some days but I got the idea of it; just write it straight off the top of my head. That book helped me immensely. I still have the stuckness with painting sometimes…

    • Encouraging, inspiring words, thanks Val. It’s the reason, I suppose, I decided to display a small part of the work that’s been hidden all these years… creating support among blogsters, wonderful, gratitude

    • You are most welcome Ben Naga, good to have you here. For a long time I’ve been thinking about moving the direction of things more and more this way. Words don’t stretch far enough…

      • It’s good to hear you are getting such clear guidance on the way forward along with the opportunity to follow it. My artistic abilities are minimal; it appears that words are my main channel.

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