Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Color of Blogging

Sharon Wildwind

I’ve spent the past week drowning in color thanks to a magazine called Artful Blogging: Visually Inspiring Online Journals, published by Somerset Studio®. Volume 2, #3 features 23 women who communicate with the world through visual arts blogs.

Their images and use of color is stunning, whether it’s a house in Florida filled with red, yellow, and white pottery, or a charcoal study of black, bare tree branches against a grey-purple winter sky.

Their stories read remarkably similar.

My family, as terrific and supportive as they are, don’t “get it.” They don’t quite understand why I’m compelled to spend hours a day caressing cloth, or slapping paint on canvas, or gluing ephemera in tiny boxes.

One day I discovered blogging. I thought, I could never do something like that, but my teckie-minded husband/12-year-old son/neighbor down the street showed me the basics. I started with this simple little blog.

Someone wrote me back! She understood what I was doing! The world opened up for me!

Now . . . I sponsor a painting-a-week challenge and we get between 500 and 1,000 entries each week. . . . We raised a huge amount of money last year for charity through our art. . . . I have an on-line tribe, who is there for me no matter what. . . . I get up every morning at 4:30 to blog. . . . I travelled across the country to meet two women I’d met on line, and we went out and papered the town with guerilla art one afternoon. . . . I’ve learned what real beauty there is in the world.

First of all, I’m one heck of a lot jealous.

With a few word substitutions, those same stories apply to writers, only we have a devil of a time turning what we do into visual art. “My critique partner made a suggestion for the most perfect use of the gerund I’ve ever seen,” can not be successfully illustrated, no matter what medium you choose. In fact, most of us, even though we use them every day, have trouble even articulating what a gerund is.

A gerund, for those of you now curious, is a word, ending in -ing, used as a noun. Not to be confused with a present participle, which also ends in -ing, but is used to complete a progressive verb or act as a modifier.

You try illustrating that in paper clay!

Second of all, I was calmed and comforted. The time I spent in this world of art blogs gave me a break from news of war, environmental disasters, and rising food prices. None of the images were disturbing. I wasn’t likely to have nightmares from looking at them. People expressed joy. They reveled in being talented women, who were taking their art and life literally into their own hands. Boy, did I feel inspired after a couple of hours in that world!

Finally, I felt disturbed and I’m not sure how to work through this feeling. These are all blogs of excess. No matter how great the sale, it costs real money to accrue thousands of pale blue buttons, a houseful of colorful pottery, art supplies, or the digital cameras and computers needed to assemble and publish the blogs. Would the poorest of the world’s poor, if they could see these same blogs, have the same joyful response to the art that I did?

Yes, it’s terrific that we—whether the we be writers or visual artists—come together as a on-line tribe. The e-contacts truly do nourish the soul, but what about our off-line commitments? All care-and-concern groups, whether it be churches, or food banks, or people who read to seniors, are declining, in some cases disappearing, for lack of volunteers. There is a huge surge in gated communities, where residents want to raise their children, “among the right kind of people.” Even on so called public transport, most riders ride in their own little cell phone, ear bud, text-messaging world. In reaching out to the large blog community are we, in fact, creating more isolation in our local communities? I have no idea.

Art credits:
Lake Martin, New Iberia, Louisiana ©Beth Guillet, and used with her permission.
Flowers and words and Tilden and Thumbelina ©Sharon Wildwind

Writing quote for the week:

If you want to write well, play with color and texture. Play in water. Have a space in your writing area where there are no words, only colors, shapes, relationships. Meditate on that space every day. Change what’s in at least once a month.
~Sharon Wildwind, mystery writer


spyscribbler said...

Have you been to timebanks.org? They have an amazing program that is building the old kind of communities where people hel ped each other more.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Spyscribbler. I'll check it out.