Always Practice Your Imagination. life of an artist
On an ambitious whim I entered a contest for stories that rhyme from a place called NYC Midnight. Eight days to tangle only 600 words from a random assignment. Split into groups, rhymers from all over the world were given a genre, a theme, and an emotion to express in the story. My lucky strike was: Historical Fiction, Wanderlust, and Empty, as parameters.
Above is a picture of a tired pen on a break.
I can't say why I think the notebooks without lines are more useful.
I can say I'm glad I gave this a whirl. It's like a gym membership for the brain, cost me 50 bucks. Thanks for reading.
Mango Peel Roses
Leaving holes as he ran, Curtis Weston was a worldly self-made man. Prospecting for yellow sparkling dust, gold was the cure for his wandering lust. He went up to Dawson, the best boom town, and arrived on the day a circus rolled around.
Anna Birkus was part of that Klondike Circus, her sideshow left folks unsatisfied and curious. A billboard of her wearing just fruit, barely passed with teetotalling groups. The reason her show created a line was that it said, Dancing Exotic Peeler on the sign.
He paid five cents to go to her Tango Show, and soon became romanced. She peeled, cut, ate, and then folded, mango peel roses, by kerosene lamps as she danced!
Abandoning ChilKoot to follow her show, Curtis went in disguise so that Anna wouldn't know, and paid extra for the seat that got the rose. He smelted her a ring but continued with false starts, saved her roses in a folder and pressed them to his heart.
Miss Birkus had invitations in surplus and was protective of her propriety from men who thought she was not high society. She may have said yes, if he he'd just asked it, instead he sent passive aggressive fruit baskets. Never taking credit for her imported limes, he had dined with Anna seventeen times. She didn't mind or didn't realize; she was seeing one man as many, courting Curtis in disguise. Every night they dined: diner ended promptly at nine. Curtis quietly cursed in each town, when they sent in the chaperone clowns.
For all of his wealth, and lands he had plundered, he couldn't dig deep enough to say that he loved her. Not admitting he wasn't Reg, Fred, or Ed, he wooed her with tropical travel stories instead.
But tonight, he would beat those nine o' clock clowns, kneel on the ground, put his disguise to the side and make Anna his bride. After dessert he was ready to blurt that all of her suiters were him, when she leaned in and said,
'You are an inspiration Ted', and gently kissed him near his chin.
This was his chance, and while she'd been kissing, he fumbled for the ring to find it was missing!
Lost was the steam to come clean of his spoof. He needed the ring; it was the proof!
'Will I see you again?" he asked looking down.
"Maybe tomorrow. " Replied Anna, 'We play the port side of town. Thanks for supper. Here are my clowns."
Midday next the Jeweler exclaimed: "This here's a deal! Came in this morning wedged tight in this heel! 'Said she fell at rehearsal, thought it was a sign, set fer' overseas, the Portland left at nine. She mentioned hankerings to see some trees, your luck Sir, she sold this for a dream!'
He glared at the shoe and there on the toe was a perfectly crafted mango peel rose.
Feeling his heart had stopped, he rebought the ring he had dropped.
At the pier in the fog with his book of rinds, Curtis Weston's velveteen mustache drooped on one side. His heart filled with loneliness, knowing he'd lied, he stared out to sea as the ocean changed tides. Anna's shoes stood beside him: yellow ring in his hand, his biggest hole ever was in this gold band. Folding it into his flower peel binder, as the wind changed direction, he decided to find her.
Here I am standing in front of what may be my first real piece of art. What a great way to start a blog about championing creative action and the serendipity, blessings, and adventure that happen as a result. I can't believe I still have this painting, am I ever glad that I do. In high school I doodled a lot because I knew I couldn't draw, or rather just had not learned how. Our intrepid art teacher encouraged the keeping of a sketchbook so I bought one with my birthday money. It was the first blank book I had ever owned. It was up to me to fill it. So I doodled quite a bit because I knew I had to do something even though I thought I couldn't draw. Her class was no fluff class. She held firm belief in the higher powers of Art and practiced stern encouragement. Her sharp wit was vibrantly accentuated by funky pants, and the use of shouting if it was helpful. There are many things I have not thanked her for. One of them was advocating special permission for me to use the library boardroom to work on my doodle enlargement project. Looking back now this may have been when a mere interest switched into vocation, obsession, career. This was my first taste of 'studio time', an uninterrupted alone sacred space with specialized equipment (the overhead projector). The goal was to turn this tiny doodle into something much bigger so by way of perspective it would transform into artform, or something like that. It seemed risky at the time, it seemed important. I was responsible for the outcome to be art, even though I couldn't draw very well. Somehow 27 years later I still have the painting, the sketchbook, the original doodle cut from said book, and a picture of my disgruntled young artist self to link it all together. I will admit this is a bit hoarderish. In this case I'm fine with that. And I'll be stealing this idea from my 16 year old self because I found the book full of underdeveloped doodles from back when I didn't know how to draw. Maybe this is a digression of sorts; this business of honoring a doodle, especially because now after countless sketchbook hours, I have learned to draw quite well. When I think of all the pieces and projects, classes, shows, sales, failures, events, inspirations, and friendships that have come from living an artful life, I feel so grateful. Imagine if we took all of our smallest try's and expanded on them, if we made them way easier to see. Maybe the doodle is the most important thing. I'm glad this one lasted. Thanks Dad for making such a sturdy support. Thanks Tobias for filling the gap in the wall with it at Paul's Hall all these years. I would have maybe used it for a sign, burnt it, or painted it over. It's a great reminder that simple creative acts are the starts of better ones. It is true. I have been doing this for most of my life - working doodles into artforms.
- Sarah Irwin March 15th, 2021