Human Landscape – a picture book

When I am moved to sketch someone, I reflect deeply on their situation and travel a little of their journey with them.  Nowadays I reach a likeness with great difficulty  and much rubbing out and re-doing – so I no longer do it professionally – or very rarely!  It is a labour of love.

Soldier with child

Soldier with child

This soldier with his child or grandchild was a long road this morning.   For a long time it would not come right.  Approaching the likeness, it just began to breathe – it is never exact;  but then I could let it be:  the road with him, so travelled – the connection is honoured.   I pondered soldiers I have known – their families, their destiny, their duties, and whom they have to protect;  and what it is like to be a soldier in today’s civil-war zones, when hell breaks out in one’s own soul at what is done and seen.  I had to stick more paper on, for his hands and the way the child rests on him.  He has been written all over:  the child is still an “empty” book, and was easy to draw.  Portraits are windows of the soul.

The following poem is his.  It is by John Coyote – a veteran of Vietnam and Iraq.  He knows and tells it from inside, through ways of love:  the passion to be kind to each other in the human family paradox.  Here is the link to his work.  I love this poem, recently posted:

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An empty book.

Poem by Coyote Poetry

“Need to enjoy life. A good life is many friends and a lot of laughter.”

An empty book is a lonely story.
The great writer’s lived their life with gusto and no fear.
You can read in their stories a life filled with sadness and happiness.
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Hemingway went to war as a Soldier and a reporter. Learn of death and fear.
Kosinski roamed Europe as a youth learning the truth about the nature of man.
Neruda wrote about love with experience of knowing the paradise of the kiss
and tender touch.
Gibran wrote with love and kindness. Trying to teach the world a better way.
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We must travel blindly into life and chance with no fear.
Open new doors of friendship. Have long conversation about everything.
Need to dance on the edges of pleasures and take what we can from the gift of love.
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Don’t waste words on people who do not want to hear them.
Learn from regret and move on to better places.
Forgive the people who hurt you and try to seek forgiveness from mistakes made.
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Great writer’s must live and test life.
Need to swim in the great oceans.
Stand with the clouds on top of the splendor of the powerful mountains.
Walk on sandy beaches.
Hold sweet lovers tightly till morning light.
Don’t surrender to fear.
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Good to laugh and cried often.
We create our future and need to make sure we balance our life.
Work and money is part of life. Can’t take worldly things with us.
Love and friendship are what will matter when death is upon us. A complete book is filled with pleasure, pain and story of family, laughter and
great journey. Today is a new day. Enjoy life. Be kind and make a new friend. Coyote
.

© 2013 Coyote Poetry

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We meet across blog-land … making friends.  That is the wonder and transmission of this creative global medium.

And now a collection of my own, from old photos.  Some of these – whose names I do not know – were done for a humanitarian society.

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Portrait gallery for Human Rights Foundation

Portrait gallery

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ruth and zak

ruth and zak

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Bryan Herring

Bryan

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Moira when she was young

Moira when she was young

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Paul

Paul

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Marisa

Marisa

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David

David

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Rachel and her son Chaim

Rachel and her son Chaim

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Hector Berlioz

Hector Berlioz

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Black belt teacher

Black belt teacher

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noah and mark

noah and mark

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winter

winter

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The lady in red below, was a child prodigy on the harpsichord until repetitive stress forced her to take her life apart – a born Aries however:  courage.  She too is a freedom fighter.  She became a very interesting artist.

GALLERY

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Here is Ros’s story.  Because she is allergic to paint, she uses strange gritty materials to touch her human essences into life, like sounds from piano keys.  Her portraits and inner landscapes look like rocks.  Each individual is instantly recognised by all his or her friends.  They are her sensual life.  Her life is painfully allergic, destroying her hands’ mobility.  Her psyche is playful, smearing water and the sands of time.

She was a lonely and gifted child in Lancashire.  She ran out of the house and talked to bundled up shoppers and babies at the bus stop, because she was curious about human beings.

The soul’s DNA through the afterlife glows in a magical horse’s eyes.  She worked the horse’s head from wax and dental dust.  It seems to canter eternally by the sea;  it emerges through the mist.  Her creativity thrives on accidentals, and on a wash of mud with sky.  Rocks, essences – her finger pads.  A local miracle, tenderly placed, transcends the public galleries “out there”.  The wider world is not aware of Ros, because she had to give up her music career, but her circle of friends are touched and gilded with her vibrant, bare faced honesty.  When she has an exhibition, those ruthlessly exposed rocks on the mantelpiece come to life.  They arrive from the street outside.  As human beings – her friends – they struggle down the stairs – some of them are very old – and into the room for biscuits and tea, to greet, to recognise, to appraise and perhaps to buy one another.

When I met Ros in 1987, her scarlet specs matched her lipstick.  She inspired my odyssey, because she had twenty years of psychoanalysis, and talked to me openly about it.  Her frustrations and adventures with her demons, her frailty and the playful gleam in her eye, gave me the courage to turn around and look at mine.

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I searched all over the house for the drawing she did of my head, like a rock on the mantel piece, but cannot yet find where I put it.  Maybe tomorrow.  Meanwhile, here is a drawing I did for her:

Hades and Chinaman

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My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

Sketches of Father Maximilian Kolbe

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I am preparing a new post – my diary while painting Father Kolbe in 1983.  I pruned it right down, but it is still a big document.  So here first are a few newly discovered online photos of him;  and then my old working sketches of him which I rounded up.

The diary of the creative process is interesting, because it demonstrates Father Kolbe’s impact on a circle of life.   It will be published here soon.

I found this photo just now on a site called The Ever Blessed.  It heads an article titled Saint Maximilian Kolbe, and loving Mary too much.  The access now to online images and archives is a marvel …  from the research toil and trek of 30 years ago!

An early sketch … not quite there.

 This  photo is one which I would like to have used for my painting.  It is from “Brothers of Life”. It shows – like the top photo – his profile, forehead and bone structure.  He was a spiritual soldier, a gifted inventor, and a media pioneer.  He founded a global printing press on pennies from heaven, built a town called Niepekalanov – city of God – and travelled as a missionary for several years in Japan.  Working with Buddhist and Shinto sages, he grew the beard.  The Franciscans are clean shaven, but are allowed to grow a beard on missions abroad.

I don’t have the order the sketches were done in, but I think this was an early one too.  Getting warmer!   Working with him was a conversation.

Another one …  feeling my way towards.  I had at the most half a dozen old snap shots in two library books.  The contact develops day by day, with the imagination’s antennae.

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Here is Bruce Heitz painting St Max Kolbe – copyright 2003 by KolbeNet.   I like this portrait!   Beautiful.  It speaks … and the artist looks up, and outward;  the brush, the touch, the coming to life.  They were having a chat, and someone came in.

This sketch “connects” to the painting I was nearly ready to do.   When I worked as a portraitist, there came a point during sittings – live or from photographs/research – which I called “the connection”.   Something altered in the space between us.  Something came down, entered and cohered.   From that moment I knew the painting – whatever the difficulties – had taken over and would do itself.  It came to meet.  The subconscious gets the message, and delivers.  It is a spark of love, and then the labour.

Drawn up into a 
dark cave whose glory drop by drop 
the rain through aeons carved, 
as stalagmite to stalactite 
   my soul evolves
from floor to point of meeting. 
Let us draw time, 
draw together this space. 

My flame drinks wick;  in watered rock 
   my mirrored twin appears ...

I may have quoted this in my earlier post Drawings of Timothy West at the Red Hedgehog, but it serves here as well.

As he loved her so much, here is a copy of a Botticelli Mother of Christ, done when I was about seven years old.   As children we enter the temple of the blessed, and are not constrained.

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After Maximilian Kolbe’s return to Poland, he worked ever harder at his press and newspaper circulation, though suffering from TB.  The Nazis arrested him because he refused to collaborate, and sent him to Auschwitz.   At a random roll-call to the starvation bunker, he stepped forward and offered himself in place of a younger man who had a family.  The guard agreed.   In the starvation bunker, Kolbe helped hundreds of persons to die in a state of grace.  He uplifted them, and kept them singing.  Everybody could hear it. Weeks later, he was the only one remaining alive, and he was put to death.  The man he saved, survived the camp and told the tale.

  You can see Kolbe’s portrait behind them.

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This, and the drawings that follow, were jotted down in a small notepad, on a visit to The Universe headquarters in Farringdon.  They found the photos for me.  Kolbe was quite well documented, as it was the year after his canonization.

On bike.  Father Kolbe is recognised as one of the community of Saints, not only for the way he died, but for the way he inspired and uplifted others all his life, and continues to do so;  and for his spiritual depth.   Intellectually, he was a “renaissance man”, a polymath.  As an inventor, he was practical and “hands-on”.   So strong is his spirit, that his physical frame was a passing show.  Thus he continues to work within us, and to counsel.

 Another old photo …

… and a drawing …

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… and the painting.  I shall get this professionally photographed, so that the detail around the Miraculous Medal and his rosary is clear.   Another photo of it is in my earlier post (15 June) Portrait Gallery One: Father Kolbe, Princess Alice & Others.

When I painted the rosary beads, it felt like a little galaxy:

“I would like to paint the reverse side of the Miraculous Medal – the “M” and the two hearts – very delicately above his right shoulder, as Kolbe is a Knight to Our Lady.  In an odd way, the rosary is his “sword”, especially the angles of the crucifix and the medal, which give “body” to his disappearing left arm.  He helped me place them, and the beads, which can float around them like a galaxy of angels.  I was astonished how well it turned out. 

“My original concept of him had more of a smile – the smiling face of God – but there is here the merest hint of a smile, as martyrdom and realism is in his face, and this is how he emerged.  I shall be able to soften the lines from nose to mouth, just a little, in the coming weeks.  His hand has become a gardener’s hand, rather like Father Alan’s.  From a distance it is strong, but close up the draughtsmanship is weak, especially the little finger.  The form of this hand relies on the effect of light on it.  It is supposed to be a completely unassuming hand, such as St Francis might have had.  I left in a fortuitous shadow of stigmata.  I emphasized the pleats and folds of his habit beneath the girdle, and did a little bit to the creases at his left elbow … and was enjoying Beethoven very much.”

from journal, November 1983

Painting Maximilian Kolbe was my initiation to a way which began to break ground a few years later.  My writings at that time, note a threshold, a watershed from which a river flows.

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And …

“Prayer is not better when it gives consolation, but rather when it exacts greater fidelity to return to what you’re doing.”

“God gives us this white ladder and wills that we use it, to scale the heights to come into his presence.  This is only poetic imagery:  the reality is incomparably more beautiful.”

“To arouse that love for the Immaculata, therefore, by enkindling it in one’s own heart, to communicate this fire to those who live close to us, to set on fire with this love all souls and each one in particular—those who live now and those who will live in the future, to make this flame burst forth ever more intensely and without restrictions in ourselves and all over the earth: such is our purpose. Everything else is just a means.”

St Maximilian Kolbe 1894-1941

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My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books) – along with many other creations in house.  

I write, illustrate, design and print my books.   Watch this space.