[paint by numbers]
The work on the page begins a blizzard. You fill in all the spaces and once they are filled, the scene is weightless, lifted up by the wind.
To translate is to betray, to falsify. My paper-skate fountain pen loops over the black ice. I speak every syllable, look out at the birch trees at intervals, as if to mark some place on a compass of the visible against this drift in language.
What I translate or paint adds up to the invisible, the unaccounted for, a dimension falling too fast for pen, voice or brush.
I know the vintage paint by numbers my sister wants for Christmas like the things we see in our sleep. The forms are simple, the colors muted, the sky blue-grey.
A word is coming up on a metallic screen so slowly you can’t imagine what it will be. It has been etch-a-sketched on her birth certificate. It has made a place for her odd longings inside her baby footprints.
In fist formation she presses her hand into the snow on the top of the mailbox. Like this, she says. One fist, then the other; each faces the other. She pokes a finger into the snow crust to make the toes, descending dots on top of each tiny foot. The next person to mail a letter will think a baby stood there, barefoot in the snow, she tells me.
And all the while the word I am looking for still has not written itself.
Unimaginably bestial and too slippery for the fingers of day, the blizzard we dream opens into a room. The snow comes down and we are without compass. And in the deep woods the deer suspect (with the poets) that all we see or seem is here in this moment.
As the wind picks up, erasing all but a white whirling space without direction, we enter another room through its keyhole, a small dying.
A little taste of nothingness gathers in our mouths.
Annie G. Rogers is a poet, a Pushcart Prize Nominee, the author of three books (A Shining Affliction, The Unsayable, and Incandescent Alphabets), and a member of Zea Mays Printmaking. Her art often traverses images and poetry (amosamongus.wordpress.com). She is Professor of Psychoanalysis at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and a practicing psychoanalyst. She is currently working on a poetry collection.
Maya Malachowski Bajak, unaccounted for, etching on Hahnemühle copperplate
“My print was inspired by the line in Annie’s poem, “the invisible, the unaccounted for.” That line resonated with me and the attempts I make in some of my work to study and expose the sometimes invisible forces that shape human movement and use of space in the built environment. My print for the portfolio is based on these thoughts and is an abstracted exploration of a type of concrete barrier used in the urban landscape.”
Anne Beresford, Pen-skating, photopolymer intaglio with hand colouring on Capellades Watermark Handmade paper
“My image began to emerge as the poem did – the lines from my “paper-skate fountain pen” looping over the paper/plate.
There are tree forms in the looping pen strokes, words, images. The little figure-image at the center of the archway (highlighted in iridescent blue), is of ink swirled in water – “weightless, lifted up by the wind”. The archway is also a mailbox, becomes a keyhole, or another room. Through the archway/keyhole you can make out the vague outlines of the paper’s watermark … almost invisible, in a “white whirling space”: but hold it up to the light and it appears, reminding me of impressions made in snow.
The image was created in concert with the paper choice.”
Annie Bissett, Paint By Number Yellow Lab, watercolor woodblock (moku hanga) on Echizen Kozo
“The first section of the poem is called “paint by numbers,” and “paint by numbers” is a pretty accurate description of the traditional Japanese process of making a woodblock print, where colors are printed one by one and most of the major decisions about the image are made in the sketch phase. My recently deceased labrador retriever Ty was very much on my mind when the time came to create this print, so I decided to do a paint by number portrait of him. “What I translate or paint adds up to the invisible, the unaccounted for” states the poem. I decided to do a very close and intimate view of Ty’s fur rather than a typical face portrait, to emphasize the physical loss of his presence.”
Judith Bowerman, Open Loop, Lithograph on Revere Silk
“The first section of the poem transported me back to my youth. In particular the phrases: the scene is weightless, lifted up by the wind. My paper-skate fountain pen loops over the black ice
Skating was our winter activity. We’d claim a pair of skates that was closest to our size from the big box in the basement.
On the weekends and vacation days we’d skate for hours, (way beyond the point where our toes were too numb to feel), at our local park located where Lake St Clair meets the Detroit River and at night on our backyard skating rink. My brothers loved the newly flooded and frozen glassy surface for playing hockey, whereas I was mesmerized with the arcing and looping blade marks and the transition of color from the milky white to the aqua blues and the uninhibited feeling of gliding through space while skating at night on the almost invisible black ice.”
Meredith Broberg, This Moment, photopolymer intaglio on Kitakata
“My image arose in response to this line in the last stanza (or whatever they are) of the poem:
And in the deep woods the deer suspect (with the poets) that all we see or seem is here in this moment.
In earlier versions of the image I included more specific imagery among the trees that the deer carries, trying to suggest “all that we see or seem”. This evolved into a more abstract approach where trees merge into the night sky, which–for me–implies the entire universe. I wanted it to become dreamier and more open.”
Lyell Castonguay, Fleeting Longings, Woodcut on Chiri
“My response to “Traces” was related to the structure of the stanzas. I interpretted a shifting viewpoint in the narrator as he or she collages personal memories together to form the poem. Similarly my piece collages elements of bluejay wings, seen from different angles, to tell an ambiguous story.”
Liz Chalfin, Encompassed, etching, aquatint and drypoint on Hahnemühle Copperplate
“I responded to the sense of nostalgia and special place that permeated the poem. My image seeks to portray a kind of coming home or memory of home – the warm light at the end of a road on a winter evening.”
Daniel Chiaccio, Remnant, etching, aquatint and drypoint on Revere Suede
“My print was intended to invoke a fleeting feeling of warmth and nostalgia. Much like the small scale Christmas villages only erected once a year, the feelings of youth and warmth pass on, to be lived through objects and feelings. The passing motion of a train, the dim light of a distant street lamp, snow slowly falling absorbing surrounding sounds. Much like the title of the prom my work represents a trace outline, that of which can never be fully remembered, yet traces endure through ephemeral visual reminders.”
Sally Clegg, The Sunburn Dream, hard and soft ground etching with aquatint on Hahnemuhle Copperplate
“Reading Annie’s poem was for me like stepping inside another person’s memory or dream and being propelled through it. It took me to a place in my own mind where these types of memories are stored, and there I found the memory of the skin-crawling sensation of getting a sunburn, which became the story behind my print.
It also evoked swarming and clustering imagery for me: the blizzard, etch-a-sketch, an incomplete paint-by-numbers.
I think it’s a terrific poem. My first reading of it felt as out of focus as a fading memory, and my most recent reading revealed an intricate allegory for the act of making a piece of art. I’ve found it genuinely inspiring as a prompt.”
Nancy Diessner, Open Territory, intaglio on Magnani Pescia
“I love what happens when we read a poem. I love that I’m pulled in deeper and deeper and what emerges is a very dense, wordless space that is so completely and utterly human that we all know what it is even when it is not spelled out, letter by letter, image by image. That space is filled with invisible sensations and truths—about being human, about having a body, about deception, about the limitations of interpretation, about nature, life, and death—and it is nothing short of the most moving miracle that we understand each other in that space. That’s the space I mined in creating my print.”
Anita S. Hunt, Relic, etching, spit bite aquatint, chine collé on handmade Japanese Gampi, Magnani Pescia backing sheet
“I responded most to the line “And in the deep woods the deer suspect (with the poets) that all we see or seem is here in this moment.” This particular sentiment strongly resonates with my personal philosophy and approach to image making. I’m sometimes lulled by the cycles of the seasons and the stars, the daily turning of the clock and the weekly flipping of the calendar, into feeling that life is filled with repeating patterns. But I also deeply understand that nothing in the world ever truly repeats. Each moment is unique. As an artist I’m always trying to pause the flow of time so that I might catch hold of elusive thoughts, feelings and observations just long enough to record visual memories of my experiences. My portfolio print, “Relic”, is a synthesis of transient perceptions, an instant of ethereal beauty, a memento.”
Louise Kohrman, Filling in All the Spaces, coffee-lift aquatint etching on Gampi
“I was inspired by the opening lines:
The work on the page begins a blizzard. You fill in all the spaces and once they are filled, the scene is weightless, lifted up by the wind.
As I worked I filled both copper plates with coffee-lift dots, filling the plate in a circular, spiral fashion. The repetitive motion is like a meditation, calm and quiet like the peace one can find in a blizzard. The color reference in this line determined the palette in my print:
The forms are simple, the colors muted, the sky blue-grey.”
Tekla McInerney, Nothingness Gathers, monotype on Revere Silk
“My print is a response to the entire poem, reduced to a single word: impermanence. I tried to be true to the poet’s renderings of fleeting moments, both in my process—tracing the shadows of sticks and twigs—and in the final image of a fading branch.”
Larinda Meade, Moment Adrift, Softground Etching and Aquatint on Hahnemühle Copperplate
“When I read the poem, I was struck by the feeling of nostalgia—the sense of remembered memories and feeling: knowing feelings are fleeting in time, noticed in a moment—and then changed in the next moment. I am drawn to nature for comfort and there is a feeling of comfort in the poem. I tried to convey feelings through the use of light and line. The line in my print says—go look here—the way memory asks us to look in a certain direction. I was also drawn to the image of snow and wanted the image to be ambivalent in that the light could be snow or light on water or light on rocks—letting the viewer make meaning from the image.”
Frank Ozereko, Traces, Monoprint with trace monotype (variable edition) on Rives BFK
“My print included in the portfolio “Traces”, depicts one of the images I repeatedly use in my prints, a vessel. I represented the Vessel by using a fractured and smudged technique. Pale colors and overlapping planes mask the vessel making it undefined and insubstantial, almost dream-like. I interpreted the poem ”Traces”, to state that it is difficult it is to retain and have clear and accurate memories of our past and present experiences. My vessel, present but not defined, tries to make a visual statement of this experience.
Lynn Peterfreund, Into, Etching and Aquatint on Hahnemeühle Copperplate
“Into”, the title, is from the line of the poem I focused on, from the third stanza of the poem (blizzard) “The blizzard we dream opens into a room…” is the particular line but I think the sentiment I found there is present throughout the poem: the ephemeral nature of what we want to control, the constant movement and change. The truth in the moment is that that moment will quickly become another, obscured by the blizzard.
I used gestural marks to evoke the movement and power of the blizzard, the layers of time that have no point of focus. And, that we try to create structures, or rooms to contain time, change, feelings, thoughts, memory.”
Joyce Silverstone, all we see or seem, relief (variable edition) on Kozuke, Magnani Pescia backing sheet
“The right side of this print was inspired by the line “paper-skate fountain pen loops over the black ice”. This felt like a beautiful way of describing the process of writing verse and how we are etching and etched by our personal narratives.
The form on the left side of the print was made by wetting the paper variably, conveying the transitory feeling of the line “all we see or seem is here in this moment”, and the gathering of a taste in the mouth — here for a moment of watery experience — and then gone.”
Nanette Vonnegut, A Child’s Dictionary, Photopolymer intaglio on Rives BFK
“We’re I to do it justice, I would’ve creating a moving picture! But, I ended up putting a grid on simple line drawings inspired by a 1950’s Children’s Dictionary. I felt childhood and memory as I read it and ended up trying to map and organize it all; all these “things” are random and passing, caught on paper.”
Carolyn Webb, Compass, Etching and Drypoint on Hahnemeühle Copperplate
“The lines from the poem that spoke most directly to me and my artistic vision, were:
‘…a compass of the visible…
…adds up to the invisible, the unaccounted for…”
Every thread followed throughout my artistic career is based in a profound curiosity about the natural world, and a sense that all that we can easily see is not the entire story. Underlying the complexity of the known world I intuit systems, patterns and structures that echo, repeat and grow within a grand wholeness.
For several years now, the structure and architecture of trees has consumed my interest. I see trees not as forms or objects in and of themselves, but as manifestations of forces and patterns in the natural world, many of them unseen. In the chaos of branches and leaves, the interplay of sticks and sky, I find evidence of systemic patterns and metaphors of other natural systems, such as the cellular patterns that form our own bodies.
All of my work is a search for “compass”, for centrality and focus in the spiritual, emotional and multi-dimensional situation we call life.”
Angela Zammarelli, Space for Odd Longings, etching and sandpaper aquatint, recycled cotton sheet
“Idyosincratic imagery that is still waiting for the word that has not written itself. I filled a copper plate with a blizzard of tiny holes made with sandpaper. Then filled the holes in with imagery relating to shared familial space and unreal babies.”