Matisse, my camera, and Inner Ah!

I have never been much for taking photographs. Once I read an article by Alice Walker, author, about the fixed nature of pictures versus the roominess of the written word. It was fascinating and helped me understand why I preferred to write in the place about being in the place rather than take what I assumed would be a static snapshot.

This habit served me well when I went to England with a group of students in 2003. Everywhere we went, I had my notebook and would write first impressions, things I thought important, time of day, weather, where I stood, what I was seeing, what was going on around me. I lost all of the pictures I took in a developing accident, but had this marvelous record that I was able to share with friends.

With that as a preface… several years ago I went to an exhibit of Matisse paintings and the material that inspired the patterns he used within them at the Metropolitan in NYC. A number of things stay with me from that exhibit. One, everyone in the room was smiling. It was a place of joy–to see the brilliant colors, the contrasts, the textures, the play, of threads and patterns and then notice how he encorporated what he experienced in the particular cloth into a certain painting. Another thing I recall is that while I was walking through, I marvelled that I understood what he was doing with colors and textures because I hear the same thing with language! The rub, the blend, the contrast, the pleasure of texture, the evocation of feeling simply by how you place a brushstroke or combination of letters. The intentionality of each element in order to evoke response.

Before coming to Chile, I bought a digital camera. I knew I would need to take pictures and would want to be able to share visuals with friends, so as to invite them in…to virtually tap them on the shoulder and say HEY! Look at THAT! Hey! Doesn´t that tell a story? THIS is part of my daily reality and I wanted you to know it too… Somewhat reluctantly, I bought this camera. Functional, not flashy, no bells or whistles, one button and voila. I knew I would need to remind myself to take pictures and not simply take up my pen and write.

It did not help my motivation that for a while there seemed to be no way to download the photographs I had taken. Why take them to keep them, I thought. If I take them, I want to share them. Funny, that. That thought should have been my first clue…because while I do write for myself, there is also a large part of me that writes knowing that she will share the results with others. Particularly poetry.

Several days ago, I found a way to download those that I have taken so far. A significant help in the motivation to take more. In looking at the snapshots again, I realized that I really must enjoy composing the shots…thinking about the colors, the patterns involved, the shadows and lines. In the days since–now knowing a sure method of sharing what I see–I have walked and walked with my camera in my bag and have found myself truly enjoying putting together a picture–nothing too constructive–perhaps simply putting a leaf against the pattern of a chairseat.

I find it truly satisfying and pleasing and evocative to notice the textures, the angles, the light. It is an unexpected gift, that.

And as I was writing about it this morning, I realized it is not a new interest that is blooming. No, instead it is another way of expressing a long held joy and intuition. That to draw a person in and invite a person out, one must pay attention to silence and spark, to meaning, to context, to movement, to music, and to integrity…

I suppose it is a desire to explore, to probe, to suggest, the fullness of a thing…knowing that in the entering, there is so much more. In that is the Ah!

(In a funny irony, I am not able to upload any to the blog at the moment! Augh!)

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