THE ART SPIRIT

Back in June, 1936 I was awarded Best Drawing Award at the Museum School of Industrial Art, now Philadelphia College of Art.  It was my first year at art school and the prize was a book by Robert Henri, ‘The Art Spirit’.

Henri’s name is no longer familiar, but he was an eminent painter and extraordinary teacher, and I found inspiration from his approach to art over so many years as I developed as an artist.

Here are some of his views:

“Don’t worry about rejections. Everybody that’s good has gone through it.   Don’t let it matter if your works are not accepted at once. Just remember that the object of painting pictures is not simply to get them in exhibitions. It is all very well to have your pictures hung, but you are painting for yourself, not for the jury.

Every student should put down in some form or other his findings.

All any artist can hope to do is to add his fragment to the whole.

No man can be final, but he can record his progress, and whatever he records is so much done in the thrashing out of the whole thing.  What he leaves is so much for others to use as stones to step on or stones to avoid.

The student is not an isolated force.  He/she belongs to a great brotherhood, bears great kinship to his kind.  We take, and we give.  We benefit by taking and giving.”

……………………………………….

Why am I sharing this today?

I pulled out a book and there it was, the spine of THE ART SPIRIT!

Just in passing.

What a curious phrase to use for what we do:”thrashing out the whole thing”!

Henri’s life itself was full of drama and heart; perhaps this enabled him to pause and seek out the individual possibility in each student, embracing all differences.

Just an homage to all who serve as teachers.

always with love,

Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

Robert Henri (1865-1929)
Self Portrait
1903, oil on canvas

ON BEING GOOD

This morning I had the pleasure of roaming through a few poems that were good, but not right for this particular morning.  Just a feeling.

Until I happened on this one which forever calls to me and you may already know it, too:

” W I L D   G E E S E

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.”

……………. MARY OLIVER

What will the sun offer us today, when it rises above the

horizon?  Can I stir this warm soft animal of my body to

really love what it loves?

The poet in each of us is calling, not waiting for the weekend.

Today might be just the right one for feeling totally at home

in our bodies, and let the imagination soar.

always with love,

Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

Today might be just the right one for feeling
totally at home in our bodies,
and let the imagination soar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THERE’S TIME

Just 4 a.m. on the nose.  There’s time to share this poem:

“And it was at that age … Poetry arrived

in search of me.  I don’t know, I don’t know where

it came from, from winter or a river.

I don’t know how or when,

no, they were not voices, they were not

words, nor silence,

but from a street I was summoned,

from the branches of night,

abruptly from others,

among violent fires

or returning alone,

there I was without a face

and it touched me.

 

I did not know what to say, my mouth

had no way

with names,

my eyes were blind,

and something started in my soul,

fever or forgotten wings,

and I made my own way,

deciphering

that fire,

and I wrote the first faint line,

faint without substance, pure

nonsense,

pure wisdom

of someone who knows nothing,

and suddenly I saw

the heavens

unfastened

and open,

planets

palpitating plantations,

shadow perforated,

riddled

with arrows, fire and flowers,

the winding night, the universe.

 

And I, infinitesimal being,

drunk with the great starry

void,

likeness, image of

mystery,

felt myself a pure part of the abyss,

I wheeled with the stars,

my heart broke loose on the wind.”

 

……PABLO NERUDA,

translated by Alastair Reid. as I read it

in Kim Rosen’s book, Saved by a Poem’.

 

I look out my window, not a leaf moving.

In this stillness I can look at this poem,

go over it again and say, ‘yes, there’s time.’

Always with love,

Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

Yes there’s time…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TO STAY IN TOUCH

I want to stay in touch, in spite of a sticky mouse.

A while back I spilled some liquid all over the desk

top here, and thus I have had to use only a few words

to stay in touch.

Ah, Emerson, of course.  Are Easterners the only ones

who retreat into the wondrous meandering writing that

is Emerson?  Pay it no mind, I have a short one here:

” I

pluck

golden fruit

from rare meetings

with wise men.

I

can well

abide alone

in the intervals,

and

the fruit

of my own tree

shall have

a better flavor.”

…… Written in May,1837,  when Ralph Waldo Emerson

was 33 years old.  From the book, EMPHATICALLY

EMERSON, selected and arranged by Frank Crocitto.

And so it is ever thus, simplicity allowing room for all

that each of us would simmer down to the core as we share.

always with love,

Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

Painting by Katie Kindilien.

WELCOME MORNING

The trees are still dark against the light blue of dawn.
Clouds, touched with gold, herald the rising sun.
It is time for a poem.

“WELCOME MORNING

There is joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
each morning,
in the spoon and the chair
that cry out,”hello there, Anne”
each morning,
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
each morning.

All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning
lest it go unspoken.

The joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,
dies young.”

……………ANNE SEXTON (1928-1974)

Her words, as alive today, show there is no ending,
only a transition to another awareness.

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

"Laughter of the morning..."

WHERE WE ARE

It’s Monday, not yet sun up. How would I like
to spend this day, this week? Say it’s my choice
and not a day when I must be somewhere, doing
some thing to earn my way. Maybe a poet could
spell it out, for example:

“I envy those
who live in two places:
new york, say, and london;
wales and spain;
l.a. and paris;
hawaii and switzerland.

there is always the anticipation
of the change, the chance that what is wrong
is the result of where you are. i have
always loved both the freshness of
arriving and the relief of leaving. with
two homes every move would be a homecoming.
i am not even considering the weather, hot
or cold, dry or wet: i am talking about hope.”

………….GERALD LOCKLIN, from Good Poems,
selected by Garrison Keillor.

I didn’t want to give away that last line by entitling
this daily as HOPE. What better way to begin a week,
than with ‘hope’ on the agenda. That reminds me
of what the winter has lost track of: my lavender
hours, scattered here and there across any week.

Three lavender hours, scattered here and there
across the week, in which to pause and do anything
I choose to. Call a friend, sit in the sun, wander through
the library for a book. Listen to music, dance if I feel
like it. Sleep on my yoga mat with the shades all the way
up.

What would you do with three lavender hours now and
then?

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

Lavender Moments

Antoinette Martignoni
Inner Portraits
203.254.2118
Website: www.youareseen.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/InnerPortraits

“So may we, in this life trust to those elements we have
yet to see or imagine, and look for the true shape of our
own self, by forming it well to the great intangibles
about us.” ~ David Whyte

AWAKING

To step outside yesterday, today, this time of new life,
Spring! Some old memory of a time of shedding one’s
skin, emerging raw and new and shiny in a summons
to new hope, new energy, like walking through a
waterfall.

There is a sharpness to this call of spring-time.
Poets catch this and put out the call to us to hear, to
heed this opportunity:

“I don’t want you to just sit down at the table.
I don’t want you just to eat, and be content.
I want you to walk out into the fields
where the water is shining, and the rice has risen.
I want you to stand there, far from the white tablecloth.
I want you to fill your hands with the mud,
like a blessing.”

……..MARY OLIVER, an excerpt from her poem, RICE.

We each hear this call, we each ache to respond, to
find that simple step outside of our usual routine of
a day. Or the routine of a part of a week, well, how
about a month?

Let’s catch it while it’s here, now, today.

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

Some old memory of a time of shedding one's skin

A STRING OF WORDS

Gunilla Norris wrote a book, A MYSTIC GARDEN, Working
and Attending to Soul. For years I have opened this book
at the turn of the seasons to welcome the changes, and
to honor the passage of life during the previous time.

This book has lost its spine, and as I picked it up this
morning, it fell open to page 25, chapter title: SPRING.

I love books. I love the empty pages that face a new
chapter, and oft-times I have written notes therein.
Wow.
Here’s what I found noted there in pencil:

vulnerable
beautiful
dependent
dynamic
needy
bursting at the seams
humming
aching
……………………………

All of that is part of Spring. Could you stay a moment
with those words? No poem needed, just the hum of
feelings allowed and spurting up through the cracks.

It feels like an early Spring here in southwest Connecticut.
Let’s see what we take with us into this season.

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

bursting at the seams
humming
aching

RENEWAL

This was written on the eve of the first day of Spring.

I think of each of you, joining me at odd hours for a
poem, a reminder, a thought with which to begin this
day, and the next.

We, in Southwestern Connecticut, have been spared the
weather harshness of a winter this year. Yet, for so
many the winter months have contained challenges as
bitter and demanding as ever.

Today, with Spring ‘arriving’ tomorrow, March 20th,
this winter has ended with a major shift in the lives
of my daughter Sandy and her husband,Cliff. Health
issues have inspired them to renew their marriage
vows, and to see them moving forward with renewed
intention and energy.

For them and and for others who may be experiencing
this opening to release the past and welcome today,
I offer this poem:

” W I N T E R C H I L D

Myself at my door
like Blake
at home in his
heaven
my own heart
newly opened
by the news
and my face
turned upward
and innocent
toward them.

All the stars
like a great crowd
of creation singing

above the blessed home.”

……………DAVID WHYTE, from new & selected poems,
1984-2007, also already shared with you before this
in January, 2010.

always with love,

Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

"my own heart
newly opened.."

ANCIENT WORDS

The silhouette of the bare branches of the tree outside
my window shows a lacy mist made up of new buds;
amazing to suddenly see that, to register that Spring
may, indeed, be at the threshold.

I can re-think how to approach my day, can I not?
A new wind, a sense of magic, for I have done nothing
to cause this to happen.

Because this makes me think of the days beyond
counting that this has been happening for us, I went
to the bookcase and pulled out an old classic:

“When a lawyer said, But what of our Laws,
Master?
And he answered:
You delight in laying down laws,
Yet you delight more in breaking them.
Like children playing by the ocean who
build sand-towers with constancy and then
destroy them with laughter,
But while you build your sand-towers the
ocean brings more sand to the shore,
And when you destroy them the ocean
laughs with you,
Verily the ocean laughs always with the
innocent.

But what of those to whom life is not an
ocean, and man-made laws are not sand-
towers,
But to whom life is a rock, and the law
a chisel with which they would carve it in
their own likeness? ….

What shall I say of these save that they
too stand in the sunlight, but with their
backs to the sun? ……

But you who walk facing the sun, what
images drawn on the earth can hold you?
You who travel with the wind, what
weather-vane shall direct your course?

People of Orphalese, you can muffle the
drum, and you can loosen the strings of the
lyre, but who shall command the skylark
not to sing?”

……… KAHLIL GIBRAN, from The Prophet,
written in English and published in 1923.

Those buds on the trees, revealed by the
lights of our parking lot before the day starts,
are a song. Seeing them is my heart’s song
for this day.

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

"..but who shall command the skylark not to sing?"