Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Work Is What You Do To Live: Blue

Ravenna Taylor, 2012, Heat Waves #7, watercolor, pencil, 8 x 10 inches

This day was so crisp and bright, breezy, heaving scents of honeysuckle and wild multiflora rose! When I woke this morning to a chilly, dry, gem-like day, I immediately felt I'd had a long, complicated and colorful dream, although it took my looking away for it to come back to me. 

 Ravenna Taylor, "Rent Time," 2009, gouache on linen, 6 x 4 inches

In the dream, I remember there was a pair of birds with their fledgling chicks - somewhat large, ground-dwelling birds with big heads, like the Whip-poor-wills that used to suddenly flush from the ground in Arkansas.

Ravenna Taylor, "Facture #5," 1999, collaged watercolor and printed papers, 6.5 x 6.5 inches

(In summer there, in the Ozarks, one could actually hear the approach of twilight - the Whip-poor-wills began their calls at a very particular moment of the evening, so their song rose at the same even pace that the sun fell, and starting far away to the east, would come increasingly near to us on the almost-visible waves of dimming light.)
Ravenna Taylor, 2000, watercolor, gouache, collaged paper, 4 x 6 inches

The birds in my dream were fluttering as if injured, a defensive ploy to deflect attention from their helpless brood that hadn't yet grown their flight wings. Their colors blended with the leaves on the forest floor, but their eyes were bright and dark, penetrating and watchful.
Ravenna Taylor, 2000, watercolor, gouache, 4 x 6 inches

I had no water in my studio today. I looked around in my boxes, drawers, and on the walls, for small works that featured blue. These are a few that drew my attention. Here also, a small painting from 2008, which is back on the easel now - I don't think I'll change it much, but I've always known that it needed something, a very delicate kind of shift in the surface, while not demolishing the already delicate sense of something either coming into being, or disappearing -- which? After 5 years, I'll attempt this balancing act again, with hard-won grace, I hope.
Ravenna Taylor, "Susurrus," 2008, oil on wood, 8 x 7.75 inches


I don't know what there is to know.
Maybe time's a trinity—
before and after
pressing in on present—

meeting at the fragile skin, and bone—
the taste for sweets,
the nodding off—
beginnings loop to meet their ends.

I don't know what to know. 
I fall back upon the three,
the whole trinity -
the middle age belongs to now.

Summer comes, the hourglass
still fills with grains of light,
as lengthened days fill with sensation—
each scent pinpoints a shadow:

honeysuckle; ripened hay; multiflora rose;
low tide, and sun
on a rough woolen blanket.
Its olive weave smells just like sand.

My tender skin of eyelid shut
to better see my dream;
my inner ear is tilted to my heart.
This, the work we do to live.


  1. Thanks for this beautiful, evocative post. The images and feelings you describe in your writing, both prose and poem, open up thoughts and memories. I love the idea in the poem of the "wholly trinity" of time. In a similar way, the works reproduced flow from one to the other, each picking up a theme from another.


Please help the spam filter, by confirming word verification. Thank you!