Friday, October 23, 2009

About Anger

"Anger" Private Collection
"A good anger acted upon is beautiful as lightening and swift as power. A good anger swallowed clots the blood with slime." -Marge Piercy, Author
"...because I don't keep a lot of shit bottled up inside me." - Tina Turner, Entertainer
My painting, "Anger" is a depiction of the many faces of that emotion, and was painted as an expression of one part of the grieving process when my mother passed on several years ago. She died in 2002 and it was 2007 when I painted some of the emotions I felt at that time, including anger.
It is an emotion that I allow myself to feel, but which - depending on the anger - am thoughtful about how I express it. Some anger is hot and fast, rising quickly to the surface before you have time to think about it, sometimes causing you to react in ways you might later regret. This is the type of anger we have to step back and think about. It is good to do so because such anger often leaves as quickly as it comes. This is the type of anger that I'm most likely to feel when I'm driving responsibly in traffic and another driver is aggressively tailgating, or when I'm dealing with rude service people in public.
Another type of anger is the kind that stems from having strong emotions about a particular situation, remaining intense over time. Trying to supress it only makes it worse. In order to best handle it, you must admit that it exists. Anger withheld is anger denied, and anger denied is a form being dishonest with yourself. Anger denied can lead to physical illness or make you mentally become a person with "issues," which are often obvious to those around you, but not always obvious to you.
In my lifetime, I've only heard two people say they have never been angry. I'm still wondering how this is possible - how do they do it? Because we are human, it is normal to occasionally feel anger, regardless of whether we show it or not. Rare is the person who never feels anger about something, be it a job promotion that was given to someone else, betrayal by a friend or a reckless driver who cuts you off in traffic. If someone never feels anger , I would wonder if they were out of touch with their feelings or if they were emotionally numb most of the time. Perhaps such a person thinks it is wrong to feel anger.
How do you handle anger? Do you feel it is unhealthy to express anger?
Note: Although I promised to post "The Pleasure of Paper/ Part II," I am not quite ready to do so because of technical reasons. Please bear with me.

The Black Man Talks of Reaping

This poem by Arna Bontemps is one of my favorites from the Harlem Renaissance Period. It is one I have read many times, enjoying it more each time:

I have sown beside all waters in my day
I planted deep within my heart the fear
That wind or fowl would take the grain away
I planted safe against this lean, stark year

I scattered seed enough to plant the land
In rows from Canada to Mexico
But for my reaping only what the hand
Can hold at once is all that I can show

Yet what I sowed and what the orchard yields
My brother's sons are gathering stalk and root
Small wonder then my children glean in fields
They have not sown, and feed on bitter fruit

Arna Bontemps, 1902-1973

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Warrior: Archetype of the Artist

It has been said that the written word is mightier than the sword. I agree. Anything documented, whether imagery or words, has a sense of finality about it. Perhaps etched in stone? Maybe that is why, during previous war times, the artists and intellectuals were the first to be imprisoned or banished.

Written words and imagery often carry a lot of weight, with the ability to influence both consciously and subconsciously. It is for this reason that certain imagery could possibly be considered propaganda.

An artist's imagery is his sword, as is a writer's words. Whether we understand or not the subject matter, looking at a documented work can sometimes seem as powerful as the actual creation of it, particularly if our emotions are engaged. That is how I have sometimes felt when viewing great abstract art, where my connection has often been more on a primal level rather than a cerebral one. The warrior-spirit of such works shine through strident and strong.

The warrior is the archtype of the artist because of his courage in using his sword, among other reasons, I'm sure. He knows that he takes a risk each time he uses it. Rarely does he use it recklessly. It is drawn with forethought and purpose. It may be drawn to document, teach, report, deliver a message or simply to share beauty or impart wisdom.

The warrior is essentially peaceful. He is a leader in the quest for harmony, and rarely seeks out enemies. Most likely, he chooses his battle based on the force of his need to express, as well as the content of the subject matter. In seeking to achieve harmony throught the art principles and values of line, form, color, balance and shape, the artist-warrior makes his mark and hits his target, either multiple times or a few.

Being artist-warriors, even the most passive-appearing artists are vociferious in alternative ways, aware of their freedom to speak through their avenue of choice. Moreover, they are confidently aware of the powerful warrior spirit that dwells within, unleashed time and again with positive purpose, having its say. Making its mark.