Hope

One of the poems collected in my sketchbook:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb from me.

                  – Emily Dickinson

I just read that only seven of Emily Dickinson’s some 1800 poems were published during her lifetime. If you are interested more of her writing can be found at www.emilydickinson.org.

Love, painting by Koko
Love by Koko, acrylic on canvas, 1983

One of my favourite online galleries features the artwork of gorillas Koko and Michael.

There you will find this quote:

“It is part of ape nature to paint. Apes like to use crayons, pencils and finger paints. Of course, they also like to eat them.” – Roger Fouts

(But then again, so would my baby, which is why –for now– he only paints with frozen blueberries.)

Can the art market tarnish the purity of this type of artwork? Does it take away the joy or even inspiration that can be found in images produced by chimp artists? For me, commerce can do no more to undermine the true value of animal art than it can make a child’s finger painting any less wonderful, or sully the spirit that transcends Van Gogh’s masterpieces.

I came across an interesting essay on animal art, but I have to admit that for all I have in common with Koko (and we are even the same height), I have mixed feelings when I read:

The resistance that women faced in gaining recognition for their contributions to art is not that different than the resistance that is given to accepting that the art that is done by animals can be true art.


Mother's Day Locket
Mother’s Day Locket (Portrait of Artist and Artist’s Sister), Watercolour; © Jennifer Pohl

Few people have seen this piece, and it will likely be the only larger-than-life image that I will be posting on this blog. The actual paintings are each only about the size of a pinky nail. My sister has posed for me fairly often, but this is the youngest portrait I’ve done of her.

These tiny locket paintings were done years ago along with another “wee little” diptych as my Mother’s Day gifts to my mother and grandmother. I had to cut one of my brushes down to a few hairs, and was placing hot wet cloths on my sore neck by the time they were completed, but the joy it gave made it more than worth a little muscle strain. With all the paintings I have out in the world –most of which I will never see again– I’m very glad that I took the time to do these little paintings for two of the women who have been a great source of inspiration and strength for me.

Scribbled in my sketchbook:

It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look. To affect the quality of the day – that is the highest of the arts. – Thoreau