Discover more from Chronicles from afar
Meeting others, meeting myself
How I learn and find artistic step parents
Privet, dear reader,
I hope my dispatch finds you in good spirits.
You may ask what a hell is a plant name doing where a greeting word is supposed to be? Well yes, a privet is a flowering shrub native to Europe, north Africa and Asia. But also it means “hi” in Russian. Harry Potter lived on Privet Drive. So it always was like a funny special feature to me.
Firstly I would love to start with a little digest of what I did as of late.
I am working on a series of prints combining lettering and illustration inspired by my life in Turunç. Yes, I am still grieving over our leave and the immense change that I am going through. And this grieving is in a quieter mode now, it becomes more of a longing, and a source of inspiration.
Let me introduce you these 3 artworks (the finished series will be of 7 pieces, I will show you for sure).
And the second work I published is this new video from Turunç area. It depicts me and my friends on a hike and a walk. The whole challenge took us 7 or 8 hours and it was an amazing experience, which is not saved as a time capsule in this video.
I also experiment with voice overs and trying to convey ideas what I believe are worth sharing. And show great beauties of the region.
Today I would love to share with you a few interesting pieces of art that caught my attention lately. You see, as my son is going to the school here in Spain, I finally have time to work, but also time to reflect, watch and read.
It feels absolutely special, I have this space in my brain that I can fill with ideas. I am able to form my own, and reflect on what’s provided my others. I started to read more again. I still would love to read more then I do, but I have what I have now. Do you read a lot? What is your “reading cave”?
One of recent re-read is “Comet in Moominland” by Tove Jansson, one of my all time favourite pieces of writing. I read Moomin stories as a child a lot, I won’t lie if I say that they formed a lot how I see the world. All the characters have these very special personalities. Even as a child I was mesmerized how clearly Tove describes each creature.
And of course art! Oh, those little simple drawings were endlessly observed. Again economy of line is as precise as economy of word. I will leave you with the cover and a couple of illustrations.
When I grew up I realised that Moomins surprisingly are not world wide known stories. I feel incredibly happy that they were quite generously published at the end of Soviet period. Also animation pieces were frequently aired, and I now want to re-watch them together
“What are you thinking of discovering?"
Moomintroll cleared his throat and felt very proud. "Oh, everything," he said. "Stars, for example!"
Snufkin was deeply impressed.
"Stars!" he exclaimed. "Then I must come with you. Stars are my favorite things. I always lie and look at them before I go to sleep, and wonder who is on them and how one could get there. The sky looks so friendly with all those little eyes twinkling in it.”
A friend of mine suggested me this video and I spent two days slowly listening to this interview or rather monologue with a few gentle questions. It is an interview at Soft White Underbelly with Chuck Palahniuk. My friend and I are huge fans of Mark Laita work at Soft White underbelly, but I was a bit behind with new videos for last couple of months.
I realised that I actually never knew how Chuck Palahniuk looks like or how he sounds. You see, I read his books in pre-Internet time, when authors were not so much in the spotlight doing marketing circus to sell more books. Chuck’s solemn and strong posture, his way of choosing pause to come up with words rather then blabber away captivated me.
“When you’re able to articulate your experience, you give other people the opportunity to recognize their experience isn’t so crazy or silly, that they can’t talk about it themselves” - this speaks to me.
His stories of bad performance artists and shenanigans they put up with Cacophony Society (Chuck was a member and also this group were among founders of Burning Man), his ideas on how self-censorship and censorship in general works, story of his life and history of his family, his approach to writing, everything in this interview gave me such a dense food for thought that I can easily just finish my dispatch here and urge you to go and watch it as well.
Do it, no kidding here. And I definitely will be re-reading some of his works that I liked as 20yo and read his new stuff I had no idea he wrote.
My calligraphy teacher published a selection of works of this artist, Javier Mariscal. Because there was a Barcelona lettering, I got extra excited and set to explore his website.
Besides his art being amazing and interesting, what caught my attention was actually his vigorous and flamboyant about me page. Lately I am very proud of myself actually for finally getting to know my voice and my vision of life and art. But before that there were years of being very small and unsure. I would love to adopt some of Javier joviality. When I struggle with how to call myself he goes - “graphic designer, illustrator, furniture designer, filmmaker, painter, sculptor and ceramist, Javier Mariscal is an artist who loves challenges”
When I got confused when I am asked what is my favourite thing, Javier goes - "All colors are beautiful and all disciplines are beautiful. In all of them the base is drawing, so they are not opposite things. I feel comfortable in all of them and I like to work in all of them, without distinction"
I pronounce Javier Mariscal my artistic step-dad for some time and start learning from him. As much of Chuck Palaniuk too, by the way.
It is interesting though that both of those artists that moved something in me are men. It is simple fact that men and women have unfortunately different starting positions in many things (not all, but many, even now). But then wise and wonderful women come into the picture to become my artistic step-moms. In the beginning of this dispatch I talked of Tove Jansson, and at the end I would love to mention this beautiful and loving essay on another wise witch - Ursula K. le Guin, by Jared Henderson. It reminds me that the way is life long and that I discover certain artistic powers within me when time comes.
As I delve into my own thoughts and become bolder and more unapologetically me, I move closer to - oh the sound of dread - the poetry. You see, poetry is often taught awfully in Russian schools (at least when I was in school, lucky were those who happened to have a dedicated teacher. It was not my case). So I grew up hating poetry and not really getting what a hell is it? But then I grew up and discovered poetry in English. Somehow it didn’t feel that cringy. I discovered modern American poetry, a bit of British one, and some of Latina poetry translated into English. I sometimes feel that I may be on a verge of writing my own poetical verse (I warn you well in advance).
So. I thought that I would love to share a poem at the end of my dispatch sometimes. This one beautifully reflects this date with one’s own, after learning from various artistic step parents, in the end I come to the mirror and just see me.
LOVE AFTER LOVE by Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Thank you for reading me (and for subscribing), see you next week,
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PS: I notice that when you receive my letters you have a note down below that says you can pledge me money to support my writing, please don’t. I appreciate Substack desire for authors to earn, but I won’t have a chance to access these money. I will establish a tipping/membership thing soon, and will let you know. Also these writings will be for free forever.