Debra Darvickenhance your now in word and image
Martin and I spent 12 days on the Amalfi coast this past spring. If ever there were heaven on earth…. This is just one of the many shots I took. If you would like to share in a bit of the sights we enjoyed – Sorrento, Amalfi, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Ravello, Capri, Naples – I can send you a link to the albums Martin is preparing. He’s the pro and you will swoon at the images he captured.
Each month, Martin’s photography club assigns a new challenge. This month they were to take a walk around town and capture abstraction in the mundane.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it here again, I love to see the world through Martin’s eyes. This one (have you guessed it yet?) took my breath for a moment or two and then again when I figured out what he had photographed. Don’t stop, Martin. Don’t ever stop showing us the world as you see it.
photo credit: Martin Darvick
Many of you know how dearly I’ve wanted to learn how to draw and explore creating visual art. This March will make 9 years since I began making good on a pledge to myself. I would chase away the ghosts, silence the inner voices saying I had no business picking up a paintbrush or a drawing pencil.
The Birmingham-Bloomfield Art Center has become the place for fulfilling that pledge. I’ve taken classes there on and off for years: pottery classes (wheel and handbuilding); a pleasant watercolor workshop; a disastrous drawing class that was way over my head; two fabulous out-of-the-box mixed-media classes. About three years ago I fell into a rhythm and began learning from a marvelous palette of teachers. They have guided me with patience, compassion and a drop or three of firmness until finally, I am beginning to see with an artist’s eye.
For the past week, I have kept this page on my desk. It was our final assignment in Drawing 2. I struggled mightily, redrawing lines, erasing, repositioning shadows. Our teacher offered a steady stream of encouragement and precise suggestions for improving our work. I measured and remeasured, asked my eyes again and again, What are you actually seeing?
Bit by bit, the woman in the photo became real. She has dimension. She expresses a mood. I still can’t totally believe that I actually drew this. But I did. Of course there are improvements to be made, refinements to be learned. I’ll get there. I’m keeping her on my desk a while longer. The ghosts have been silenced. Instead, I look at her and hear her invite me to pick up my pencil again and again and once again.
Martin and I see different worlds. When we’re out walking in the neighborhood or hiking out west, I point out sights on the ground: a camouflaged horned toad, a snail making its way across a stone, a teeny flower reaching for its place in the sun. He captures vistas that I’d need stilts, or at least a step stool, to enjoy.
Then there are the times I see something that would make a great photo, but I’m just not tall enough to make it work. This fall photo is the latest such example. Isn’t this a glorious cornucopia of color and texture? From where I stood, had I snapped the image, you would have the concrete platform supporting the flowers, leaves and pumpkins and little of the arrangement itself. I called Martin over and voila! In addition to capturing the arrangement, he was able to frame it with the fiery maple.
Ah, my world would be much the poorer without his vision.
I don’t know who I was with or how we got on the topic but ashtrays came up. A friend remembered that when she was a child, when company was coming, it was her job to polish the silver ashtrays.
The conversation reminded me that I have one of my grandmother’s ashtrays. It is heavy enough to do some real damage should I drop it on my toe. It doesn’t particularly inspire fond memories, or any memories for that matter. Like most in their generation, my grandparents were big smokers so I assume this ashtray got plenty of use. No longer. It’s been in the basement for years taking up a small square of space.
Have any of you repurposed an ashtray? How? I can’t exactly imagine using it as a serving dish. I already have a catch-all for the car keys and at this stage of the game I don’t dare change the routine. I could float a single flower blossom in it. That could look chic. Or maybe a pillar candle? That would have some resonance of its original purpose. I’m not going to take up smoking. Stay tuned.