Posts Tagged With: Art

Lost in the Translation or Perfectly Rendered?

photo 1-5 copy 9

Yesterday my favorite three-year old gifted me some drawings from pages of her “books.” These books of hers consist simply of a nine by twelve sheet of paper folded in half, then folded again, creating a four page book. Not bad work for a budding artist. I admit to some partiality.

I didn’t take the time to ask her about each drawing, which I should have done. I suspect one is a ghost and another a pumpkin since she’s been into Halloween stuff recently. I like that her people are smiling. That’s a good sign.

photo 3-4 copy 16Do people really look like that when she sees them through her young eyes? I doubt it. Round orbs with sticks for legs and arms. No. I’m sure she sees what you and I see, a fully fleshed out body with nuances and structure and complexity. But with her raw young skills with crayon and pencil the translation of what she sees into what ends up on paper captures only the barest essentials. Eyes, a smile, stick limbs, a scratched scruff of hair convert successfully, for her anyway, into a person.

It struck me this morning as I looked over her drawings, that we all lose something in the translation of what we see and think and feel as we try to communicate it. We also stumble in translating and converting desires and dreams into reality.

I often have ideas I want to convey but try as I might the words fall short in giving skin, bones and muscles to an idea sufficiently so that anyone else can understand. Or I might get the gist of it, but not the whole as I thought of it. That can frustrate an artist, a writer, a musician, a human.

If as an adult I struggle with this translating process, imagine how frustrating it is for young children to try to convey thoughts and feelings into understandable ideas and words.

The secret, I would guess, lies in not giving up too soon. Not giving up in conveying the ideas, as well as not giving up in trying to understand them.

Her momma, perhaps, since she has long flowing hair.

Her momma maybe, who has long flowing hair.

In fifteen years my favorite three-year old will look at these drawings of hers and scoff at their simplicity, and that’s a shame. She’ll compare it to her artistic abilities after years of practice and lessons and laugh at her young self. I would hope she’d also see the purity in her efforts.

We all struggle to translate what’s inside our heads and hearts into understandable terms that forge relationships and communicate ideas. We’re all at different ages and stages of skill at making sense of the world. We wrestle making tangible the visions of who we are or want to be.

A secret life-decoder ring would come in handy wouldn’t it? Dial a few codes in, and read an outcome, carry out the instructions and voilà. But, that’s not how it works. Ever.

We explain, puzzle out, infer, deduce, interpret all the time. And so often, so very often, the messages end up lost in translation.

My take on all this?

1. We’re all drawing the best we can, with what we have, where we are.

If that isn’t true, if we aren’t putting our best efforts into being and doing what’s before us then we sharpen our colored pencils, or peel back some paper on our crayons. Then we pull out a sheet of paper, and see what sort of drawing we can come up with when we try a little harder.

2. Everyone else’s drawing means something to them and probably something slightly different to us. Maybe I ought to ask what their drawing, words, music or actions mean so I can understand better.

It shouldn’t hurt to ask. It only takes a second. “So tell me about this,” you could say. Or maybe, “I like your color choice, any particular reason you picked that color?” A thousand other questions could clarify, untangle and help us understand better.

That’s all.

Maybe I’ve overthought this whole thing. That’s certainly a strong possibility.

Sometimes a stick person is just a stick person.

~~~~~

“Art is as natural as sunshine and as vital as nourishment.”

-MaryAnn F. Kohl

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Categories: Books, Communication, Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

It Pays to Look a Little Closer

What in the world?

What in the world?

I’ve driven past this sculpture countless times in the past few years since it went up,  baffled and only slightly curious. I’ve even walked under or around it in the past few weeks, but that doesn’t mean I really saw it.

It’s about twenty feet off a main road and fronts a canal with its two paved walking/biking trails. A cop parks there some mornings, either for a donut break or to catch speeders. It’s not really a spot that encourages visitors to sit or slow down long enough to pay attention to it.

Weird!

That’s what I’d think to myself. Until yesterday.

Yesterday I slowed down, wandered around it and took a few photos. I also read the inscriptions.

Turns out it’s a representation of an invention drawn up by Leonardo da Vinci called an Airscrew, kind of an early concept of the helicopter. You can read more about it here and here if you want more details.

Leonardo's sketch of a flying machine.

Leonardo’s sketch of a flying machine.

Several quotes encircle the base of the sculpture. A fun spiral word mirror for the “wings” above the inscriptions. To read each quote I had to walk all around the base. An interesting interactive twist, wouldn’t you say? Here are the three masterfully chosen quotes.

“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered. The point is to discover them.” – Leonardo da Vinci

 ~~~

“The process of scientific discovery is, in effect, a continual flight from wonder.” -Isaac Newton

 ~~~~~

“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” – Leonard da Vinci

This Night Heron is about a foot tall.

This Night Heron is about a foot tall.

Did I fail to mention the sculpture also sits at the northeast corner of the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch? That’s an important detail, I suppose, in coming to an understanding. You see, The Rip, as I affectionately call it, is a renowned birding location. Several rare birds hang out there.  I suspect Leonardo’s curiously odd drawing (and now work of art) of a way to achieve flight serves as an homage to the bird refuge that the riparian preserve has become.

Not only that, but I think it serves as an invitation to discovery and wonder. I’ve logged a bunch of miles over the 110 acre plot of land and have never become bored. I’m always seeing something new or in a different light, always surprised, delighted or refreshed as I round each curve in the trail.

Looking up through the sculpture's wings.

Looking up through the sculpture’s wings.

On researching a bit more, I found out that this sculpture is considered “the crown jewel” in the city’s evolving trail system. Meant to provide shade, a place to rest, and a chance to refill a water bottle at the fountain there, it also invites curiosity and contemplation for those willing to take the time to wonder and pay attention.

Draw your own conclusions and metaphors.

I regret that it took me so long to look closer at this work of art. Driving or walking past, this spiral can now remind me of the possibilities waiting for me along my path, wherever that might lead.

 

The attribution, cemented in.

The attribution, cemented in.

 

 

Categories: Outdoors, phoenix, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Crawling Between the Seasons

Here’s another selection culled from my personal book of poetry. Look here to see a previous entry.

The editor in me wants to change it, correct bits, rewrite or hide it. The blogger in me thinks this is simply who I was when I wrote it and it shouldn’t be changed. I’ll let you decide.

So, here it is, a poem about a sunset. It was written a long, long time ago, another lifetime ago.  I can still remember the sunset, feel the cool air, feel the me I was.

Wish I’d taken a photo. Maybe this poem serves as a replacement for a photograph. A snapshot of my much younger self, daring, confident, certain of my view of the world and ready to share it.

Categories: Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A View from Younger Eyes

I once fancied myself a poet of sorts. I let go of that idea for a long time. Then, I recently came across a book of collected poems by my younger self. Each poem was typed, then cut out and carefully pasted into a blank book.  The gold lettering, hand-pressed to the outside cover and spine, still looks pretty good. It’s the most professional look I could manage given the technology of the time.

Now I could key in an address, get out my credit card and order up a professionally printed, bound, self-authored, illustrated book. Maybe someday.

There’s an honest quality to the typewritten page. The corrected type speaks volumes. The indentations that punctuation make into the paper  give the poem a tangible finality.

The temptation to edit and polish the poem before sharing it was strong. But, I like the unjaded, unedited perspective of youth. To quell the editor in me I simply photographed the poem from the page in my book to share right here.

- Kami M Tilby

– Kami M Tilby

I’m not sure I have it in me anymore to write poetry. It’s a stark, open-bellied, sense of exposure  to write a poem. There isn’t any excess verbiage to hide behind, no explanatory prefacing. It’s like a literary photograph. The writer must say, “This is my perspective, this is what I saw, nothing more, nothing less. Take it or leave it.”

Categories: Outdoors, Poetry, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Twenty Years From Now: A Letter to Myself

Dear Me,

I’m writing this letter to you today to let you know how far you have come in the past twenty years.  I know at this point in your life you’ll be looking back and flailing yourself with all your perceived shortcomings, missed opportunities, poor choices and heartaches.

Knowing this about you, I’m writing to remind you that you made two decisions that impacted your life and have made you the person you are. I’m certain you haven’t forgotten those decisions, because they shaped you in ways no other choices could have done.  To clarify and to help you feel better about where you’re at right now, I’m writing to remind you that these were your conscious choices.  You knew, at least to a small degree, what direction choosing such things would require.

The sacrifices have been worth it.  Whatever fell to the sidelines, whatever was left undone was as it needed to be.  It was part of the design you set for yourself when you put your feet on this path you now find yourself on.

The first decision you made was to choose people over things.

One of my favorite people!

Do you remember when you made that decision?  Probably not, it was a process, not a one-time thing.  You had found, through helping a few people along the way, in spite of how busy you were as a young mom, as a mom with teens, as a working mom, that reaching out and helping someone, even at the cost of something you wanted, was always the better choice.  The relief on another’s face was a balm in your own wounds.  The joy in a child’s eyes reflected back into your eyes.  The time sacrificed, again and again, always felt like the best expenditure of that time.

You were honest with yourself about the sacrifices that decision required.  Sometimes they hurt.  Sometimes giving was the last thing you wanted to do, but it had become who you were.  The tricky part, do you remember, was finding that tipping point when it was time to regroup, fill your bucket, shore up your own reserves, care for your tender worn spots, so that you could once again care for others.

That balance was not an easy thing to maintain.  The pendulum often swung wide to either side, excessive  giving to others, or a kind of self-indulgent, inward cocooning.  But you have worked at achieving a rhythm to your giving, your sharing, your service, and your self-care.  Now you can look back on your life of generosity and selflessness.  You should feel a sense of, not pride, no, not that, but of integrity.  You stuck to your decision to choose people first.

The other life decision you made seemed almost contradictory to the first one.  But, by time you read this letter, you will have made the two into proper companions, a perfect marriage of ideals. This decision, too, required sacrifices.  You set aside a sense of security and safety for a life of openness and sharing and of uncertainty.

the written word

the written word (Photo credit: paloetic)

You chose words.

That was a very deliberate decision on a very specific day.  You decided to honor that spark of creativity, intelligence and joy that burned so bright from your early childhood.

You chose to be the writer you wanted to be.  You chose words as your paint, words as your clay, words as your film, words as your musical notes.  Words gave life to all you saw, thought, felt, and experienced. Then you shared those precious words in as many ways as you could think of.

The people you loved will have known to their very bones, that you loved them.  You will have shown it, you will have said it.

Actions and words showed the world and yourself who you are and were.  Feel secure and sure in the way you have used your life.  It was well spent.

Regrets?  You probably have many.  But not about these two decisions.

People.

Words.

The best choices you ever made.

All my love,

Me

Categories: Relationships, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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