Sunday, January 25, 2009

Of Poetry and Painting

Last Light at Palo Duro
15 x 15 oil on linen

Available at the Panhandle Plains Museum Invitational

"Life is a spell so exquisite that everything conspires to break it."
Emily Dickinson

I have always felt a strong connection between my love of poetry and my painting. I'd like to take credit for that as an original idea, but, alas, its one that's been around since antiquity. As I was driving over to Sherman the other day, letting my mind wander and my eyes enjoy the landscape, it occurred to me that what I love most about poetry (aside from just the sound of the words) is its dual nature of compression and expansion. What I mean by that is that an experience or idea is compressed into a poetic form-a few words- each chosen carefully for maximum impact of meaning and sound, and in that very tightly woven group of words, whole worlds can be described and felt. The compression, the winnowing down seems to distill the meaning and feeling into something more intense and expansive. That's exactly what I'm trying to do in each painting. And, yes, I really think about stuff like that when I'm driving.

A note to my blog subscribers: For some reason, Feedburner (the service I use to deliver my posts via email) has redelivered an old post from December several times this week. I can't figure out why and can't seem to stop it. I do know that Feedburner has been experiencing many problems lately. I'm sorry- just wanted you to know I wasn't obsessively pushing a button somewhere like that guy in Lost.


Ed Terpening said...

I see an analogy between poetry and novelists. A realist painter is much like the latter. He "fills in the blanks", whereas a poet suggests a world with just a few words. Did you know Serge Bongart was also a poet? Certainly shows in his paintings.

Suzanne McDermott said...

Love this painting, Deborah!

I have thought of each of my Landscape into Art paintings as little poems which is why I so often find it difficult to write descriptive text about each. It seems superfluous, but those bots need words to find as they run around the web.

Stacey Peterson said...

I love this concept Deborah, and think about it a lot. I love the way that poetry can say so much with so few words. Often, the spare words of a poem say so much more emotionally than more descriptive text. It's as though our mind and heart can fill in the blanks with our experience, and make it more meaningful than it would be if it were all spelled out. That's something I'm working on in my paintings - saying more with less - more poetry, less reporting.

Unknown said...

Hi Deborah, I used to write a lot of poems in earlier times - especially when I felt sad and out of touch. It helped a lot to give emotions a valve.
Now I am painting - sometimes for the very same reason.
This painting is just a poem in itself - I just love it. Very sensuous.
Warm regards, Petra

Robin Pedrero said...


I too am drawn to the power of words. I love your work and didn't mind at all receiving that older post as I'd not read it before and found it soothing. Your work communicates that all is right and good with the world.

Nancy Moskovitz, artist said...

Art is visual poetry.

That came from my head years ago and used to be part of my artist statement.

And yet, as you said so well, the concept has been around forever. Even that exact phrase has, no doubt.

Deborah Paris said...

Hi Ed. That's an interesting analogy- I like it!

Hi Suzanne- darn those bots! Thanks for visiting!

"More poetry, less reporting" That's a great way to put it, Stacey!

Hi Petra. Its good to hear from you-I hope things are going well for you.

Hi Robin. Thanks for visiting and for your patience about those posts!

Hi Nancy- I've also used the phrase "painted poem" as well- its interesting to read about how this idea had been floating around for centuries and gets recycled by each generation.

Anonymous said...

I've been attracted to your blog by following your conversations with Elspeth Murray on twitter. What lovely images you make. I hope you'll consider visiting me at Very Short Novels where I've been experimenting with compression and expansion for some time now.

Deborah Paris said...

Thank you for visiting davidbdale. Very Short Novels is wonderful! I am looking forward to reading you regularly- and congratulations on that Pushcart nomination!

Janelle Goodwin said...

Deborah, One of the reasons I enjoy visiting your blog is because of your poetry/prose which accompanies your beautiful artwork. I would really love to take your workshop, but unfortunately, the trek is impossible at this time. I was wondering, have you ever considered writing a book?

Deborah Paris said...

Hello Janelle. Thank you for your kind words about my work- I'm sorry you can't make it to the workshop-I think its going to be a fantastic class! Several people are encouraging me to do a book, and I am seriously thinking about it. At the very least, I will do a portfolio book with some brief writing selections some time this year. Thanks for visiting!

michael orwick said...

Wow what a great first blog entry to read of yours...a new fan.

Holly Friesen said...

I am also very drawn to poetry and often feel words emerge as I am painting. It often feels like a process of distillation to get to the essence of what it is that needs to be said.