Oro del Alma

“The purest gift is not of gold, but in art that awakens the soul.” –Jack Gladstone

I have been concentrated on consuming the art of others for many weeks now and it has been very exciting, delicious and inspiring. I’ve also been digging deeply into myself–into my heart, my darkness, the essential marrow of me. I found only a few flakes of gold so far but it is encouraging and I know I must continue seeking if I am ever to hit a major vein. I am presenting to you, dear readers, the imperfect products of my most recent artistic endeavors. Part of my healing process involves forcing myself to share my work; whether it embarrasses me or makes me proud is irrelevant because it is the act of exposing that is important. Although I am tender, I trust that I am strong enough to allow you to look. You are invited to bring your gentleness.

Espera; charcoal and watercolor

Espera; charcoal and watercolor

This is a portrait of Segundo, the special dog in my life. I love him. He is a precious old man and I admire him for his outstanding patience. It’s not entirely finished but this is how far I’ve gotten in the process; I am dissatisfied mainly with the background because it suffers from the same issues that my work usually does–I’m slowly learning about composition. It was also meant to be one section of a bigger piece and I’m trying to decide if I will continue on with it or let it be as it is. I wanted it to be surreal and dream-like because it is about the deep spiritual things that Segundo represents to me.

It takes me a lot of time to make art. I have to consistently remind myself about why art is important; I like to ask people this question frequently. I know that I like some of what I see so much that it causes me to be really happy, though I’m not certain if a consistent pattern exists that links whatever produces this feeling. I recognize when a piece moves me through its use of light, color and powerful or wonderful subject matter. I like it when art makes me challenge my preconceived notions, when it makes me a little uneasy or shakes me up a bit; when it has a statement to make and I get it. I like it most when art is imaginative and playful.

I’m more comfortable doing artistic studies of subjects that are there in front of me, at least in a photograph. I have not committed to memory the way things appear and am therefore often displeased by the free-styling of my imagination, at least when it comes to creating visual art.

Greg at Brooklyn Art Library

Greg at Brooklyn Art Library

At the same time, it’s very challenging to sketch things from life that are animated, such as people, animals, etcetera, because it takes me for damned ever to get it right. I know that my hand will become better trained and my eye more practiced at directing it so that each line, shade or highlight will be delivered to the paper with confidence and accuracy…but that’s not now. I’ve taken to sketching people as we are casually sitting together; I draw their various parts (ear, upper lip, etc.) however it is it looks at the moment I am focused on that section, regardless of it’s relationship to the other parts of their face or body in the drawing. Does that make sense? It’s amusing because it produces funhouse-looking faces that resemble the subject but as their doppelganger in a strange and stretchy, alternate reality. The above drawing is from my sketchbook and is a less dramatic example of that process.

I’m still learning the most basic of technical skills. Here is an ovoid, which was the first drawing I did in my art class with Andy Reiss. It’s on a huge sketchpad so it was difficult to scan. This drawing went pretty well overall and I found it an enjoyable process that boosted my confidence.

Ovoid; charcoal and pastel

Ovoid; charcoal and pastel

Cylinder; charcoal and pastel

Cylinder; charcoal and pastel

I dislike drawing cylinders very much. Or anyway, this drawing presented a number of challenges which ultimately improved my knowledge and skills but I didn’t enjoy doing it. It took me many weeks to complete. It was also on a huge sheet of paper and is therefore cut off, having been cropped by the scanner also.

One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I have a tendency to hold things too tightly. This applies to every aspect of my life, really. I’ve been aware of this since the second grade, when Mrs. Graves scolded me for the vice-grip I had on my pencil during handwriting exercises. My white knuckles betrayed me then and they still do. This translates into very intense, tightly controlled work, like super-tight knitting or, in the case of charcoal drawing, really dark lines. My art teacher had to call me out on it during the cylinder debacle because I put in the blocking lines (a beginning sketch) way too dark and wasn’t able to erase them as I needed to. They still show up on the final drawing.

My teacher gave me an exercise to do wherein I had to practice making value scales to get the feeling of drawing very dark and heavily, progressing into the lightest shade I could muster. He also gave me many other shapes and lines to draw that would allow me to practice lightly pressing while engaging these different movements in a rhythmic way. He told me that I needed to feel every bump in the grain of my paper through the tip of my pencil, as if it were a sensitive extension of my body. It totally worked but I still have to practice these before drawing almost every time, or else I do it when I notice myself reverting into psycho-hand.

This is a page from my sketchbook. It’s a simple image that I began as a study of my left hand, but then got inspired to imbue with symbolism, belying certain truths and other fears associated with this appendage.

My Hand; graphite and lipstick.

My Hand; graphite and lipstick.

I have also been working on poetry lately. I’ve been writing for almost all of my life but now I am translating it into Spanish, as well as writing new poems in Spanish. I am currently learning the language as an “advanced beginner” so I’m not sure that my word choices and phrasing are appropriate, effective, or correct, even. It’s quite challenging but I like translating poetry. It’s like working with three languages all at once. The doing has expanded my vocabulary and use of the language in general, if nothing else. Here is some of my work in progress, beginning with poesías nuevas and travelling deeper into las viejas.

Sujetando Dulce

En mis brazos tengo abrigo

estoy un hamaca

para los perros

de todos

para sus hijos

que quien sera tranquilo

porque tengo brazos vacios,


rebotar ellos

envolver con amor puro

mejor que la mejor tía

¿necesitas los brazos libres?

tengo dos


Mi Segundito

Fantasma lustre de glaucoma

balizas palidas

lanzan la luz anhelo

sobre la cara de medianoche;

sobre los dedos con tocino engrasado;

tocante la puerta

y caminar wobb-wibble

a lo largo de los calles

adornado con basura

suspiro doble hondo;


ganada duro

Ceremonia Iniciación

velo se levanta;

bombos estruendosos

y pies patean

 polvo levantarse


arco palpable del intercambio

apertura a apertura


un frotis de pasta resinosa

-de sangre, flores y cáscaras-

mejillas sonrojadas anuncian

golpeteo, orejas golpeteo, pecho

las perlas de



hedor sutil sobre

las puntas de plumas


 impregna, delata

llamando, cuervo llamando, grito

y la fuerza polar

emite una demanda:


así lo sea.

Agazapado Sobre Calle Diagonal



me que acallar

mi mismo

y observes sólo.

Ella preguntó para


y yo tuve que

venir arrastrándose

cada momento

para tratar de cesar

las posturas interminable,

el contorsión de mi cara.

Rosada desteñido

dentro de naranja

en azul

y fui testigo

a una salida grácil

(el tipo que hace

su corazon menos consciente

de lo que esta rompiendo

mientras que ella se escapa

con calidez,

luz, vibrance).

Mis huesos


y golpear

y saber

ahora es el tiempo

abrirme a luna.

Yo se aflojan;

ciertos musculos mantienen

una medida de nervioso y tenso

contra sus dedos

inquisitivos y frios.

Ella ha lo encontrada

para lo que buscaba

y la quemadura de humilliación

se expande

dentro de mi cara

y ahora, contracción.

Me hundo.

Estoy callada.


Encaje es


las mejillas son hundido


ella no viven en eso mundo

nunca mas

ella parlotea

sobre los quimicos

y la falta de valor

en la vida humano

“preferiría salvar una animal…

lo no es comicó


ella dice a mi sonrisa

a mi espalda

estoy curiosa sobre los sueños de ella.