Art, Poetry and Finding One’s Posse

holding on became the hardest thing
copyright 2022, Molly Larson Cook
Acrylic, gouache and paper
28″ x 22″

Another Maine poem, another new painting. Whither this project?

Well, the project has been on hold for the past few weeks thanks to the holidays and a frigid weather spell that kept me out of the studio. There were also a fair number of other distractions large and small about work, weather, and the future of art and creativity in the days of AI and new technology.

Which is all to say that even artists who love what they do can pull up a list of excuses for not doing their work at a moment’s notice. In regular jobs, you get weekends and vacations off on a regular (and more or less enforced) basis. Working on your own is different, and it doesn’t matter really what kind of work you do. We all need holidays.

Wordsworth wrote that “Poetry is emotion recollected in tranquility.” No matter what your medium is, art is the same. If it’s a landscape, a portrait, a still life, you’ll be able to recall some kind of emotion the first time you saw or began to work on the project. If it’s abstract, the emotion comes with the colors.

These new pieces are titled with lines of poetry, much of it about Maine, and were indeed written as “emotion recollected in tranquility.” The titles reflect some of that emotion as well as the stories behind it. I’ll save the details for a private conversation, but they’re all good, believe me! Let me just say that we artists do love metaphors…

The title for this painting comes from a short poem that is part of a series of poetic sketches about Maine, collectively titled “Swimming Lessons”:

We flew the kite that day at Popham Beach
in wind so strong my arms ached.
Holding on became the hardest thing,
fighting that wind.”

I am no longer in Maine, and my inspirations now come from an entirely different place, something altogether else. For one thing, the part of Maine where I lived was filled with art and artists. I now live in what some might call a cultural desert – or in my case, here in the Oregon woods, a cultural forest. As an abstract expressionist, I find few places within 50 miles where I can see the kind of work I do or meet with artists who do it.

This is something of a problem when looking for an art posse. Seeing work in books is great, but it’s not nearly the same as standing in the same room with the art. Several years ago, I wandered upon a show of Van Gogh’s miniature works at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. I had not expected the show, but I was delighted that it was there. I was intrigued by Van Gogh’s brushwork, brushwork that does not show up in photographs. So intrigued, in fact, that I put a hand out to touch it when I was stopped by a kindly art guard. “Everybody wants to do that,” he said with a smile. And I knew why. Seeing art in person lets you see the brushwork and every other detail of the work including the true colors, details that just don’t show up in the photos.

So, here in this cultural forest as it were, I’m working to find a place where I can not only show my own abstract work, but perhaps offer space to other artists to show theirs. It’s a challenge in a place where flowers and ducks and real forests are much more to be desired. I’m not criticizing. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things. Tastes vary and mine do, too. And I appreciate the hard work of all kinds of artists.

But sometimes a person, an artist, just wants to bask for a while in the welcoming light of our own kind. Slowly but surely I’ll find it.

That said, I conclude this last post of 2022 with a thank you. Thank you to everyone who reads this little site and to those who sometimes comment and to those who follow and let me know what they’re up to themselves. Whether you are practicing artists or not, you are “my community, my own kind.”

I wish you all a Happy New Year and I hope to hear from you now and again in 2023.

Much love and many blessings…

6 thoughts on “Art, Poetry and Finding One’s Posse

  1. Ah, dear Wendy…You’ll ride at the head of the posse! Thank you and Happy New Year!

  2. Such nails you hit on the head Molly!! Thanks a million for being who you are and sharing it..xxoo

  3. Molly, you are great at making lemonade out of lemons. Thanks to technology, you have a posse, albeit, not in person, but there nevertheless.

    All the best for a happy and productive new year.

  4. I so look forward to seeing you again. We’ll have stories to swap! Happy, happy new year in every way.

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