Friday, July 31, 2009

Willow along the fenway

This image was made over a year ago, and I am posting it now because I want to illustrate the things I was concerned with prior to last August, just a year ago. I've made reference to my various health problems; I discovered during 2006 that walking was very therapeutic, both physically and mentally, and so became a dedicated walker in the parks, by ways, and neighborhoods of Boston. Boston is a wonderful city for walking and I'd like to tip my hat (you know about my hat) to Antonia Pollak, our parks commissioner. This willow tree is in the fenway, right in front of Simmons College. If you know the area you will realize that the roar of traffic is only slightly to the right of this tree.

The pastoral nature of the image is deliberate. I was immersing myself in the beauty of God's creation. I was consciously trying to mend the despair I've spoken of in earlier posts by praising the beauty I found around me, but I was doing that by pointing out the unadulterated beauty of the natural world without any reference to man's place in it. Fortunately subjects abound in Boston and I have a great many images like this.

Medically,I was also trying to build myself up as much as possible because I knew I was facing a very rigorous year of harsh treatments, which I was warned would leave me bedridden for most of 48 weeks. That started in December of 2007, and for quite some time I continued walking from Holyoke Street to Beth Israel for my weekly treatments- hobbling I should say, but still with my camera, then only one way, and then, by last summer I was on the "T." and no longer walking in Nature.

I have included the detail because I want to illustrate what I have been doing with the images. I hesitate to call them photographs because they do not respond to the technical formalities that really fine photographs should, and because I have never considered myself to be a photographer. I am a painter, and I have managed to learn how to take the raw material my digital camera produces and translate it into images that I would have painted. I hope you can see in the detail some of the levels of manipulation, both of the image and of colors. I actually combined many images to try to give the impression of the movement of the air, and an experience of a moving viewpoint. They are very consciously not a depiction of the place they were taken, but a more generalized and romanticized image.

When I came to the point last summer that I couldn't get around my focus had to change, and my attitude also changed. For me, when I get really, really, sick I become very aware of the fragility of life. I had spent years in despair- I refer to this period in "Lent, part 2," then I had come to treasure this life and immersed myself in it only too find myself to weak to participate. That is where I was last summer.

I am going to show you now what came of it. As with Kingfishers it became a suite of images and words that I think of as a book- so the graphic presentation is also an important part of it for me. I will try to give some sense of the graphic presentation in the following posts. Let me also say, that the treatment ended and I've been recovering from it nicely so don't worry if the tone in the poems seems a bit dark from time to time- all is well and I am in life with both feet- at least I think I am. I sometimes feel that after my last "Near death" experience they didn't quite get all of me back, but that's another story, and a very nice one too!

I call what follows a "Portrait of August." You will get commentary as well as the poems themselves.

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