In the beginning...

This is an older work.  I've experimented with different formats for putting poetry and images together to make one work of art that serves both forms.  If the poem is short, then I can get it onto a canvas without it becoming too large.  So far, the largest works have been 36 x 36 inches.  If the poem is longer then it becomes difficult to get the whole thing on a canvas, with images to go with it.  I started by doing collages in the computer, then cutting them out and gluing them to the canvas, and painting the background.  They're interesting close up, but I don't feel they work as well from a distance.  My next solution was to pick one verse, and enlarge one word or phrase in the verse.  This produces a better image from a distance, but then you're not getting the whole poem.  My next solution was to write a book, and have the paintings beside the entire poem.  I'm still working on that.  It's like juggling chainsaws.

  About the writing:  I started out by writing verses, and counting the number of syllables. 

It took me 190 poems to figure out why this worked sometimes, and didn't work other times.

The basic idea is that you're singing, even when you're speaking.  Every syllable is a note.  You can play the words, syllable by syllable on a piano, or other instrument.  Unfortunately, I'm not very musical.  I wrote one verse as musical notation, for the book 'dancing down entropy street'.  I had to get a music writing program for the computer.  I got a free version of Forte.  It was a struggle to do it, but I managed to write a couple of bars of music to go with a verse from the poem 'mechanical failure.  I'd like to read a poem, and have back-up vocalists, like back-up singers, who say one word or one line of the poem at the same time as I do.  I think it would sound interesting.  I'd like to make a one-verse video, where you can read the verse, hear the music, and see the music written as a score.  This could take some time to research, but as they say, Google is your friend.


This painting/collage is called 'anchor'.  It's about my mother, Trudy Small, who was a great artist.  There are only 8 verses.


'She moves like the world leans hard to the right',

the first line is about the day we were out for a walk, and she started leaning to the right. 

I didn't realize she was having a stroke.  It took several hours before I finally figured it out.


The heart-shaped stone came from a beach in New Zealand, also called 'the land of the long white cloud'.  The photo is of her as a bridesmaid at her friend Frankie's wedding.



The central heart is an air-dried sculpture I made, and painted, then photographed.  The bones are real chicken bones, photographed.


'She slept with her head at the foot of the bed',

She was weak on her left side, and couldn't get in and out of the bed in the bedroom.  There wasn't room to turn the bed around, and it was too hard to walk around the bed, so my dad put the pillow at the foot of the bed, and she slept upside down on the bed for the next four years. 


This is the verse that goes with the central image of the skeleton dancing in high heels. 


She lost years worth of memories when she had her stroke.  This verse is about that.


This is a photograph of an anatomical skeleton from the dollar store.  The verse is about the idea that there is an afterlife, which I actually don't believe in.  It's wishful thinking.  Voodoo.  But all things are possible in art.


This is a close-up of the skeleton.  It's going to be the cover of my book 'dancing down entropy street'.  I started off with a red background, and painted the vines in reverse in black, on top of the red.  It's harder to do, so more fun for me.  The nightgown was an old curtain, which I sponged painted through, on top of the painted skeleton. 

This is a verse for a poem called 'the unspoken language'.  It's a small collage.


This is a small collage, with one verse, and attachments added to the bottom of the canvas.

They're beads, a chicken bone, a styrofoam moon with textured medium and pearls, and found objects.

I wake in a room, where time has no meaning,

confused by the look on your face,

you look at me like

you've never seen beauty,

shiver in the devil's embrace.


Close-up of the collage.  I printed the images, then tore them out, then painted the background and edges, then collaged them onto the black canvas.


This was another solution.  One verse per canvas, and the whole poem painted.  I need better photos of this.  They're only 8 x 10", so they were faster to do, but hanging them was a problem.  It was hard to get them to hang perfectly level with each other.  Also, they took up a lot of wall space.

seaglass 1.JPG

seaglass all together.JPG


This was version two of 'seaglass'.  All the verses on one canvas.  There are beads attached to the canvas on top of the collaged verses.

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This was the form I finally settled on.  One verse, with one word painted larger.  I'm still printing the text on the computer and cutting it out and collaging it onto the canvas, which I've decided I don't like now.  I have hand-painted all of the text, but that's a lot of work, and time consuming, but it makes a cleaner image.  There's also a lower limit to the size of the text I can paint that way.

'the circus of the walking dead'

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This is the painting with the text hand lettered.  I like it.

drink me now small collage down.jpg

I also do very small works, sometimes without a verse of poetry, just a few words.  This is an altered corned beef lid, with a recycled tube of glue, a spring, beads, wire, and a magnetic poem words 'drink' 'me', and beads with lettering 'now'.  It's about Alice in Wonderland's bottle that said 'drink me'.  They're fun to make, and they don't take long to do, which is great if you're the kind of person who likes to finish things.