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A continuation of my interview series with bloggers. Patrice is an artist who I deeply admire and wanted to give her what exposure I could.
1. Patrice, how long have you been blogging? How has your own blog changed your life and how have other blogs changed your life?
I arrived in blogland via a side door about four years ago. I’d been trying out online dating (I don’t recommend it) on a site called Matchdoctor, which is actually a pretty neat place – it’s free – no really, it is, and one of the features there was a blog option. Timidly at first – and then with accelerating zeal – I began to write. After a while it became apparent to me that making connections through my blog posts was much more gratifying than exchanging inane emails and dodging instant message types. A man that I fell for introduced me to Blogger, even setting up my first blog. To this day emails notify him of my new posts via his old email addy. They are always returned as undeliverable… Undeliverable – just like he turned out to be – just like the promise of finding a good man online.
Has it changed my life? Absolutely. Living alone in the Deep South with its mostly narrow and negative view of differences and resistance to change or alternate points of view can be stifling and intellectually lonely. Yes, I’ve friends, but my circle is small and my politics and religious beliefs are radical compared to those I know. Add to that my precipitous financial state, and it’s a recipe for isolation. But online I find peers, kindred spirits, fellow artists and creative people of all ilks. Though I can’t afford trips to Atlanta to the galleries and museums, I can see incredible artwork every day and interchange ideas, ideals and methods with those who “get” me. I’ve even sold a few pieces online! But it’s the connections that have meant the most to me and which continue to challenge and inspire.
2. In the beginning, things happened, the world was created and all that. And then artists were created to communicate the things that happened. How did you become an artist? Did you always see things others couldn’t/wouldn’t? Is art innate? (This is the Powerhouse Question.)
And in the beginning, (before photography), civilization depended upon artists to accurately portray events from history, legend and fiction. Art for arts’ sake is a relatively new phenomenon, where the creative and unique aspects of art are more important than absolute realism.
Oh me! Such a tiny, timid little girl, frightened of other children, and so, so shy. The only thing I could do better than anyone else was art. Even at age seven, I could paint a realistic Meadowlark – and the praise and attention for that first masterpiece (heh) gave me a new confidence. I had found my niche. And, yes, I did see things that others couldn’t. I was a solitary child who reveled in nature and insect life and spent hours and hours observing. Most people think art is about drawing. But being an artist is about SEEING. It’s about looking at things with fresh eyes – as if seeing a thing for the first time. You look and look and analyze and only then do you begin to draw. Drawing – and the ability to draw – is more of a technical skill. Learning to see means overcoming the symbolic language that is the first language. You have to trick your brain out of its old patterns. That’s why you often see an artist turn a painting upside down to check composition or value or accuracy of design.
And then, when you learn to see and can draw, paint or sculpt accurately, then it is time to think more about being creative than rote copying. I mean, if you want a perfect copy of something, take a photograph. Don’t get me wrong, one needs the techniques, but they are less important than verve. Technique alone does not make for dazzling art with its own point of view. To me, this is what separates an artist from a tradesman. I can teach anyone to draw better, but I cannot teach them how to be uniquely creative. That is the true challenge of being an artist.
3. In a cage fight between Popeye and Ms. Piggy, who would win and why?
This one is easy. Ms. Piggy would win hands and hooves down. Why? Because we women have the ability to talk and talk and talk. We pummel men with words and reasons and knock them silly with our command of language until they’ve no stomach for battle. Hey, we’ve all seen their eyes glaze over right before they head for the exit.
4. What are your feelings about using “Goddamn”?
As a non-believer, I’m neutral. I can’t condemn it anyway because cussing is important. One needs outlets for rage and pain and cussing is perfect as it harms no one whilst allowing venting. I may avoid the cruder forms of expletive outbursts (such as “you cunt” or “he’s a fucking shit-faced prick”) in mixed company, so as not to offend those who feel differently, but hey – it’s only words. My personal favorite cuss phrases (the ones I utilize when I slam my arm in the gate or stub my toe or whatever) are “Jesus Fucking Christ” or “God Fucking Damn.” As reading this blog is an elective activity, (and it’s not my blog after all), I’ll let you worry about the offenses herein…
In addition. I love italics. You probably noticed I answered all your questions in italics. Italics make me feel like I am having a dialogue. It’s thinking visually expressed. I’m quite sure authors like Proust thought in italics. Total stream of consciousness dialoging with the subconscious.The only problem with italics is that one can’t re-italicize for emphasis. Someone should invent a font for re-italicization.
5. As you know, I’m a fan of bleeding trees (Note: I’m buying one of Patrice’s paintings), what are you working on now?
And now and now and now…
My (now your) “When Trees Bleed” (http://patricelynneyoung.blogspot.com/2009/05/had-to-get-this-one-out-of-my-system.html) is probably the highpoint of a series of paintings about the earth and its glories and phenomena. It’s definitely my favorite painting done this past year. (And by the way, thank you for recognizing my serious work! It’s an honor for me as an artist to feel that there are those who honor what I do.)
As you’ve surmised by how long it took me to send you my answers, I’ve been keyed toward survival. That means I’ve taken a bit of a break from what I consider my serious work (such as the bleeding trees) to do some commissions and some more readily saleable smaller pieces. It’s paid off in that I’ve survived the past two months, but it’s frustrating to feel that my best work is not what the public necessarily purchases. I’m not saying the smaller works are just fluff; they’re important to me. It’s just that I like to work larger. I’m working toward a January show where I will be one of the featured artists and the broad theme is one of “branching out.” Thus I’m gearing some imagery toward literal branches and trees – but also allowing for a more expansive definition such as going in new directions, following the light, seeking ones own space to fill, etc.
So you see, I am not just a person of many images, but a person who likes to expound with verbiage.
Check out Patrice’s blog at http://http://patricelynneyoung.blogspot.com.
I received a prestigious award (some sort of Lovely Blogger thing) from Bindo, who is my male poetic twin. We wallow together and that takes effort.
I don’t like the word “lovely” in this case. I shall rename my awards as Motherfucking Good Blog Awards.
- Bryan Borland. Friend and Pseudo-Foe. His words are possibly the love of my life.
- B.R. Belletryst. A poet bursting with potential who sometimes forgets that.
- 1writegirl. Honesty, vulnerability, and humor are the shit.
- Val Russell. No bullshit, a hard ice edge that can slowly be melted.
- Paul Squires. Beautiful prayers that move my soul.
- Bindo. I like it raw and dark. A blog that feels like home.
- Patrice. Reminds me art is beautiful in all forms.
- Paul Russell. Delicacy incarnate.
- Jessie Carty. North Carolina and you have a good harmony going on.
- Uncle Tree. Wisdom with a good dose of humor.
- The Mess Pot. You make me hungry. What’s for dinner?
- mariana. Philosophical you.
- Savage Chickens.
- Fuck You, Penquin.
In my continuing James Lipton-channeling interviews with fellow bloggers, I’ve had the pleasure of picking 1writegirl’s mind in typical ML seriousness/silliness. Be prepared to laugh and think, dear reader. Enjoy…and I know you will.
1. I’ve heard people say that they can’t write because they haven’t had anything terrible happen to them…or at least nothing interesting in comparison to what others deal with. (For example, someone might say that it’s silly to write a poem about split ends when there are people who could recount their death camp survival stories.) Do you find yourself needing to justify or validate the importance of your writing?
Not really. I mean I compare my work to that of other writers, I can’t help doing so, but everyone has their own story to tell, and not everyone can be a death camp survivor (Alas? Fortunately?). Granted, if all you ever wrote about was split ends, people would quickly tire of reading your stuff, but the trick is to take whatever you have to say and say it in such a way that other people find it intriguing. I think it’s true that much of the great writing in the world comes from either great despair or great joy, these are the times we are most inspired to write and as a result, produce deeper and more reflective pieces. But it can be done at any time, it just takes a bit more digging and more imagination when you aren’t being bombarded with some catastrophe or ecstasy. Look at Jane Austen. She wrote detailed novel after novel about complicated and intricate relationships between men and women, while in reality, she never experienced anything like that. Ditto with the Bronté sisters. It was strictly their imaginations that created those works that, amazingly enough, at least half the world could relate to, generation after generation. The other thing that keeps me from feeling a strong need to justify my writing is that I write first and foremost for myself, and secondarily, for others to read. Most writers I think are like this, at least those of us who don’t make a living from our writing – compelled to write, not sitting at a computer generating words because that’s our livelihood. We find time to write in spite of all else that’s going on in our lives, so naturally, what we write about is going to be important (to us, anyway.)
2. Let’s just say you are on a deserted island and there is little hope of rescue. There is, however, a broken CD player that constantly plays one song over and over and over again. Let’s also say you cannot access the CD player. It is in a tree and being guarded by a tropical raven-hawk beast, but you can choose the song. What would it be?
Ha! Okay, well, I guess I could rack my brain to come up with a song that I wouldn’t mind hearing over and over again for the rest of my life, but truth be told, there probably isn’t one. So I think I’d pick Beethoven’s Für Elise, that way I’d know the tune by heart but wouldn’t have the lyrics scrambling around in my brain interfering with all the great writing I’d be doing while stranded on this desert island.
3. How do you think blogging has influenced (your) writing?
First and foremost, it’s encouraged me to be more disciplined, writing almost daily. And secondly, it’s allowed me to experiment with other genres (like poetry) besides creative non-fiction and lengthy fiction, which is where the majority of my energies went previously. Prior to starting my blog, I wrote very little poetry. In addition, having an audience, one that gives you feedback, is conducive to improving qualities like clarity and subtle meaning you want the work to reflect. It’s harder to get these things when your work doesn’t see the light of day.
4. If you were sitting in a bar with your brain and you had a conversation, what would it be like?
Me: So, I’ve noticed you light up every time you’re in the presence of this guy, or even just thinking about him. Are you crazy-in-love with him, or what?
Brain: Most people would refer to it as being crazy-in-love. Apparently, however, I’m chemically addicted to him.
Me: I see. Is he chemically addicted to you?
Brain: I think so, but to a lesser degree.
Me: What will you do now?
Brain: I could really go for a cappuccino. Or, I could go jogging, and then get a cappuccino… I made it all the way down to Orcutt Street yesterday without stopping.
Me: Very funny. You know what I mean.
Brain: Damn, I just can’t fool you, can I? Okay, what will I do… just accept my feelings; accept his feelings. Stay unlocked (that’s brain slang for “keep an open mind.”)
Me: What’s your latest unexpected and/or random thought?
Brain: Hmmm…Well, I’ve been toying with the idea lately of joining a convent. Patience is a virtue, you know. I hear the nuns are all over it.
Me: I thought you didn’t believe in God?
Brain: Is that going to be a problem?
Me: Besides, what would you do with your son?
Brain: What, Catholics don’t like kids? That’s not what I’ve heard. But maybe you’re right. Maybe the convent isn’t the best place for someone like me. I mean, do they even serve cappuccino? And what if I want a smoke with my cappuccino? No, probably not a good fit…
Me: So, what are your plans?
Brain: What is it with plans, anyway? Does there always have to be a plan? Okay, okay…For now, work, make money… Learn to play the guitar. Learn to speak Spanish.
Me: What about long term?
Brain: Write. Travel when I can. Find joy in little pockets here and there. Live simply. And try to grasp some sort of comprehension, if possible, with regard to our existence, or lack thereof, in this universe. Then, of course, the grand finale: Die.
5. Seriously, what is your stance on black being neutral and “going with everything”?
ML, you’ll never catch me saying that black is over-rated, though neutral probably isn’t a word I’d use to describe it. Going with everything? Come now, a white cotton strappy sundress with clunky black heels? A navy blue suit with black pumps? I think not. I do love it, however; it’s the predominant color in my wardrobe. Not everyone looks good in black either. I happen to wear it well because it contrasts nicely with my blonde hair and fair skin. Or so I’ve been told. And I choose to believe it. Please don’t burst my bubble.
Check out 1writegirl’s blog at http://1writegirl.wordpress.com/.
We’ve built a happy home
created the life we wanted
the bubble that won’t pop
the reality blissfully skewed to our liking
With adopted children from the midsection
cousins in far away places
uncles and aunts
and mothers and fathers from all those places we’ve never been
writers, conspirators, sympathizers, antagonists all
don’t stay away too long