Passage

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Between what’s real
and make believe
A narrow pass,
a jagged arch
Always open,
but hard to see
Through these cold stones,
to soft green leaves

A hidden view on the grounds of Blarney Castle, Ireand
Photo (2009) and Words (2014) by: c.b.w.

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c.b.w. 2014

Playing With Junk Mail

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I’m a couple days late on this prompt, but I loved the idea so much I decided it’s better to be late than not participate at all.

Courtesy of The Daily Prompt: Bookworms:

Grab the nearest book. Open it and go to the tenth word. Do a Google Image Search of the word. Write about what the image brings to mind.

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After opening Elegy for Eddie (Maisie Dobbs#9) to a random page, I counted ten words and ended up on the word “porter.” This is one of the images that showed up in a Google image search:

800px-Magdalene_Cambridge_porters_lodge

Magdalene Cambridge Porters Lodge
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

When I was a kid, my sister and I loved to play post office. My grandfather took a cardboard box and added slots along with labels, so we could pretend to sort mail like they do at the post office. To make it even more realistic, we’d go to the post office and take all the junk mail out of the trash cans so we could have “real” mail to put into the slots. Looking back, I can’t believe we dug through trash cans and took other people’s discarded mail. My grandmother, however, justified it by telling us it was trash and therefore belonged to no one. I laugh about it now, but as an adult, I never ever throw anything into a post office trash can!  After all, there could be a child with an overactive imagination digging through the trash.

We got envelopes that were stuffed with everything from coupons, credit card offers, insurance pitches, product advertisements, charity mailers, and Publisher’s Clearing House entry packets. When we weren’t sorting the envelopes into the slots, we were opening them and playing with the contents. I must have filled out hundreds of credit card applications (in a way this prepared me for adult life!) and completed dozens of Publisher’s Clearing House entry forms.  Publisher’s Clearing House envelopes were my favorite because they were filled with so many fun things! Back in my day, they sent a folded sheet of magazine stamps or stickers to stick on the entry form. I played with those stamps on the entries, but I also pretended they were postage stamps for my play mail.

After playing with the insides of the envelopes, we’d seal them back up again and sort them as if they were coming into a different post office.  This little game of imagination entertained my sister and I for countless hours. It’s amazing how something so simple can be so much fun.

While children today enjoy incredible technology, I often wonder if they are missing out on simple imaginary play. My sister and I could play all day without a battery charger or a lit up screen. We played everything from office, grocery store, salon, and restaurant. They were games to us, but they helped us face the real world with a creative spirit and a certain element of fun. To this day, going to the post office makes me smile.

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c.b.w. 2013

Pondering Pissarro

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With the same fervor as Monet and Van Gogh, Camille Pissarro has captured my imagination with his unique style and perspective.  He is well known for making significant contributions to Impressionism and Post-Impressionism as he influenced the likes of Renoir, Cézanne, and Van Gogh. While his accomplishments are monumental, I find myself drawn to his work because of his emphasis on finding beauty in unexpected places.  His focus on simple subjects, rather than ornate is refreshing and asks the viewer to look beyond the obvious.

Self-Portrait (1903), Camille Pissarro

In the National Gallery of London, I was mesmerized by a Pissarro painting, (The Côte des Bœufs at L’Hermitage, 1877), not only due to its sheer beauty, but the epiphany it brought.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been drawn to Impressionist painters, but I never fully understood why they effected me so deeply.  Monet and Van Gogh always conjure an emotional bubble that often translates into inexplicable tears, while Renoir and Degas soothe the edges of my soul with their graceful images.

While sitting on a bench at the National Gallery and soaking in Pissarro’s brush strokes, I started to ask myself why Impressionism speaks to me with so much force. At first, I mused how Impressionist paintings seem to depict what the world looks like through the rain – my favorite kind of weather.  Whether it be a field of flowers through a water-streamed window or the streets of Paris caught in a downpour, the scene is blurred and refracted.  However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that was just a small part of the puzzle.  I strolled through the Impressionist wing of the museum, absorbing the likes of Monet, Renoir, and Seurat, until the answer slowly started to materialize.

These “blurry” paintings allow for imagination.  Mood and atmosphere are created by the artist, but the individual viewer gets to decide the story and the minute details.  Prior to Impressionism, the goal was to create as much realism as possible. The artist strived to portray everything with immaculate detail and gave the viewer little to do but look.  While amazing accomplishments, (and really quite beautiful) there is no room to wonder.  My creative spirit needs to play with the images I see and fill in the blanks.

Pissarro is often viewed as a father figure to Impressionism, so it seems fitting that one of  his paintings should lead to a new understanding of my admiration for the genre.  Below, I’ve put together a small slideshow that includes some of my favorite Pissarro paintings, including the painting that triggered my epiphany.

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Impressionists gave tradition a total make-over.  Free will became part of each painting with as much emphasis as color and subject matter.  The combination is intoxicating and explains why I lose myself so easily in the blurred edges of reality.

What kind of art speaks to you and why?

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All images courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

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c.b. 2012