I am feeling very collage-like today.
In case you are not clear on what a collage is because you are unfortunately not of the artistic world, this quote from Wikipedia may be of use:
Collage (/kəˈlɑːʒ/, from the French: coller, "to glue" or "to stick together";) is a technique of art creation, primarily used in the visual arts, but in music too, by which art results from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole.
At least I - contrary to a lot of people - realize that I am a lot of things cut and torn, glued together, maybe stamped or painted over. Lots of bits and pieces. Paper, ribbons, lace, paper doilies, paint. The possibilities are endless.
A collage has to be created by someone who’s an expert at making them; otherwise, the result can be a hot mess. Or just a mess. If that were the case, and it might be, it would be more accurate to say I am feeling very pastiche-like. Pastiche is the technique of just sticking things together and has no whole.
We can wait a bit in order to decide if I'm collage or pastiche.
Back to the beginning: I am feeling very collage-like today.
That might mean that I feel like making a collage, not that I am one, as was suggested before.
It actually doesn't matter, because I can do, feel, or be both. I can be a collage who makes collages, can't I?
I don’t know for sure if my collage will turn out as I want it to, but I’m going to try really hard to do this self-portrait of me the collage. I’ve been fortunate enough to inherit some fantastic materials that have been saved just for this occasion, but also had to buy a few in order to pull off this piece. Here’s some of what I’ve acquired:
a white gel pen
a pink sponge like you use for dished
a magnifying glass
There are half a dozen more items, but there's not enough time to list them.
Well, it seems like several hours have passed. Time flies when you’re having fun is the old saying. I prefer the one referred to by artists and painters, the when you’re in the creative flow, as described by Csikszentmihalyi. In his books about this experience, he describes us as sometimes becoming absorbed in what we’re making. It's when time doesn’t matter, because creating does. The world doesn’t stop; it goes on without us. Then we get to offer our creation to it. Kind of like Emily Dickinson, who wrote a poem with the line: 'This is my letter to the world.' What I am making, and doing, is perhaps my own letter to the world. I can hope.
Wait, why did I bring up Csikszentmihalyi? Yes, well, because as I was using my collage-like feeling to make a collage and the process drew me right in, threw me into a realm of utter distraction. I lost all track of time, as they say. This thing I'm doing and feeling must be important.
With all the materials I had to work with, it surprisingly seems I have created a pink red white mauve wine burgundy pomegranate fucchsia magenta atmosphere. I say surprisingly, because pink is my least favorite color. Even less than white. So I'll try to focus on the deep burgundy and the mauve, which I feel are both on the cusp of another color that isn't pink.
There are candles in the place where I sit and stand. Some of these candles, made of earthy materials and trees, of time before the decline began, are responsible for the scents wafting through the dim, yet not threatening or invasive. They mingle, as they should.
These scents are rosy or vermillion, something like geraniums, raspberries, and carnations smell. Now that I think about it, I might need to change the carnations to something else because of some bad connotations they have for me that you don’t need to know. Silly ideas that you don't need to hear. Silly things that don't make me feel proud of myself.
And now that I think about it, there are incense fragrances that also feel warm and pinklike, like carnations. I feel better now, but must hurry, so a substitution can still be made.
Scents are so important for setting the scene, any scene. Ask me, I've written about this, although I never meant to do it. It was so ironic that I would suffer an agonizing several years with anosmia, the loss of sense of smell. So ironic and so painful, so sad. For me, at least. Fortunately, the anosmia was cured, or perhaps just went away. Otherwise, how could I be able to describe the fragrances placed in this spot?
A romantic celebration. We ought to ask first what occasions call for them? Readers of novels are the ones likeliest to find naming a whole list of them easy, but we don’t need to stop to do that. This occasion isn’t about a marriage proposal or anything remotely like one. It is something far different, but hopefully one that will be understood. It is also all I know of romantic, all I ever will. And it is enough.
The sensuality of creating the space. That is what I am trying to achieve. The feeling, the toughing, the moving of the fingers and palms over, learning textures without using eyes. I want to feel the soft colors, soft scents, soft sounds, even the soft pressure on the palate of a few items of food and drink.
No, that doesn’t sound like a collage. Things don't feel or look pieced together in what I have just described. They flow too much.
This romantic affair is apparently straying from the original goal of using the art and sewing scraps, collaging them together. I feel that is happening.
Allow me to readjust my thinking and instead of making a collage I will to make a multimedia portrayal of collage me. Surely this is not a new idea for any art student. And just look at all those installation artists who’ve been popular for a number of years. I am imitating them, in a way.
Celebrate that. Celebrate this broader definition. This odd pair of phrases is running through my mind for some reason. Am I speaking or is someone else? Maybe this is a duo.
It would be appropriate to describe the table setting now. The eye falls first on white stoneware - it was hard to find - with tiny gold flecks. It looks as if crushed mica has been tossed into the clay before it was fired in some ancient killn.
White, yet not quite.
The stoneware plates are subtle support for the other things going on around them. Sturdy support. Heavy. Paired with them are cloth napkins of linen that is also heavy. It is linen like the kind you still see on beds in Portugal. Or like the sheets in the linen chests they used to raffle off back a lot of years. The raffle was for a community cause. The sheets were xpensive, requiring heavy ironing, but so worth it.
The napkins and tablecloth here are exactly the same color, which is a mauve also seen in Portugal, say in some of the ceramics typical of Coimbra. It's neither too striking nor too dark, but rather seems comforting, old, enveloping and warm. I do love Portugal. Always have, always will.
Flowers, of course there are flowers, all the usual ones, full of life and pinkish-like. Wait, now this warm place is doing something, something strange is happening, I don't know what it is, and am very, very frightened.
The whole pink atmosphere, choosing it when I clearly dislike pink, should have been the first clue. Following the rules of the romantic, of the heart, one chooses pink. I need to think more about art, about why we do it and what really creates collage, and not pastiche. I refuse to be a pastiche. I need to get rid of the pink and red, follow the colors of my heart.
What is this? The pink (I won't call it putrid) has definitely transformed, and my palette has gone from girlish rosy to lavender. Lavender can be very untrendy. It was fine in the 70s and now it's associated with women's groups, but the shades of lavender vary tremendously. I'm not a fan of lavender unless it's one of those that woad produces in pastels and oils.
I leard about woad from a wonderful time spent in the area of Toulouse, France, over several years. That is the only inland area I could consider living in now. I can still feel the earth and the sunflowers, the Jardin des Plantes of Cordes-sur-ciel. I need water, feel claustrophobic when I'm inland too long. Still, I love Toulouse, the whole Tarn area, its seductive medieval history, its woad trade. Its blues and yellows. I miss it very much. I will always feel it has a strong part of my heart and would go back in a minute.
I am getting distracted again, but there is a reason. You should know that this occasion is not romantic in regard to anybody who ever lived or died. It has very little to do with a specific person or persons. I am not in love with anyone, probably never was.
Perhaps it would be better to define romantic. One definition is "conducive to or characterized by the expression of love" and adds as an example "a romantic candlelit dinner." But the implication here is that "love" exists between two adults who are not related by blood, that they are a couple. A couple that also enjoys touch, fragrances, low illumination, music to sway be.
Another definition of "romantic" is "of, characterized by, or suggestive of an idealized view of reality," as in "a romantic attitude toward the past." In other words, foolish, out-of-tough, silly.
What I'm hearing from these definitions is that a person alone, or who only has family but no partner, is not eligible for a romantic dinner. Especially a candlelit one. That doesn't seem fair, when low lights have been used to cover up imperfections as well as to arouse desire.
We know of countless friends whose lives have been destroyed by person, someone they loved, maybe even married. Broken hearts are literally a dime a dozen. They bleed, maybe red like a valentine, or maybe with invisible ink. Some recover, while others never do. It hurts or festers inside, that lack of love and romance, but it always does its damage.
Why not, then, be imaginative, and try to keep the essence of romance pure, like the great Gertude Stein, who wrote "a rose is a rose is a rose." Stay with the word, romance, love. If you keep it pure and do not any a person, you cal be happy, always.
Come to think of it, the room here needs more roses. What colors should I get? Every single color has one connotation or other, but unlike the carnations, roses are full of positive ones. I definitely am going to add white, red, yellow, peach and blue-lavender ones.
Something is odd again, because I sense a lightening I have not planned. It is not something I've torn, sewn, glued, or cut to make it fit in my collage, in me. By lightening, I don't mean the feeling of getting lighter, but the lights starting to turn the room we're in a pale yellow. I don't know how the lavender went to yellow, but I don't mind. I like yellow. I grew up in a yellow house that was and always will be home.
Table is set and the room is yellow, like the scent of bread in the over or like the feel of the fur on a special cat. Even the food we're going to have might be yellow or golden, if I look closely. This might all sound like one of the cooking scenes in Laura Esquivel's novel Como agua para chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate), or maybe the movie version. You can be sure there are no surreal ingredients being used here. So far everything I've been saying is perfectly simple.
As we were saying about the (yellow) menu. It is easy to be successful. Just choose the dishes from trusted cookbooks. You should have at least three main dishes, plus a salad or two and garnishes. This is what I saw growing up. Trusted and abundant. The food I knew was simple, with no great artistic technique other than the time invested in preparing it. It was food that painted pictures of love in my mind. It could have been romantic love what the food symbolized, but that may not matter.
I am just about getting sick of thinking about romantic love.
However, that food back then? It was food that said something. Maybe that's why I remember it yellow and golden, warm.
To this occasion, which is both romantic and a collage, I have invited my parents, who always seemed like they should have a romantic dinner but probably never needed one because every supper together was romantic to them. They always loved each other, to the end.
My parents (you don't know their names, but it's all right) are near me in this room I've put together to celebrate love. They appear in their wedding portrait which is on the table beside a bouquet of roses. The photograph was taken by a professional photographers and looks too posed, like they all did back then.
Maybe this is why my father looks like Frankenstein in it. He appears thrilled, but he just never felt at home in a suit. The photo is old now, but never did have any colors other than black and white, with yellow-gray tones. I should have asked what colors the bridal party wore. It's something I've always wanted to know.
Now I look like him, wide-set eyes. I never realized that until a little while ago. I do know my father thought he was a homely guy who was lucky to have such an attractive wife as my mother. Mom wasn't what you'd call bright, but she was not just pretty. She was kind, generous, wise in funny ways, and had the type of humor that snapped into her conversation out of nowhere. She could mourn with the best of them, but when she was in the mood, she was a riot, making us all run to the bathroom.
You've probably figured out that I’m too old for anything romantic with a real person, maybe don't believe in that sort of thing. Still, my parents were always in love, so I wanted them to see how I happy I am to have watched them go about their relationship. They taught me well. They were terribly silly at times and they were my personal symbols of love. I once thought I could find the same thing, but now know that wasn't going to happen.
There is a beautiful blue falling over all of us now, like an acrylic rain that turns transparent at just the right moment. It reminds me of summer afternoons running through the sprinkler, in and out, in and out. The blue reminds me of a song Dad would start singing, then be joined by Mom, then by me. I knew the title was "My Blue Heaven" but it would be years before I knew it had been sung by Gene Austin. It wouldn't be until now that I would find out it was from 1927.
Hi Mom. Hi Dad. Look at you on your wedding day. You're in black and white, but we're all still in 'our blue heaven' singing the song that made us a family. Please accept my apology, but I'm going to have you sing along with me. You've got the complete lyrics below. We substituted 'our' for 'my' in 'my blue heaven', so feel free to do that, too.
Day is ending
Birds are wending
Back to the shelter of
Each little nest they love
What makes the world go round?
Nothing but love
When Whip-poor-wills call
And ev'ning is nigh
I hurry to
My blue heaven
I turn to the right
A little white light
Will lead you to
My blue heaven
You'll see a smiling face,
A cozy room
A little nest
That's nestled where
The roses bloom
Just Mollie and me
And baby makes three;
We're happy in
My blue heaven
Blue for my mother, yellow for me. It's natural that green was my father's favorite color. Natural that it would be the perfect song to complete this multimedia presentation of a collage that depicts a romantic evening, with nothing missing and nothing extra. Minimalist technique.