Salem Poetry Festival
I was invited by the Salem Poetry Festival to paint while two poets read a series of their poems during the Salem Poetry Festival. Last Thursday, I arrived early at the Ike Box in downtown Salem to set up my table. I chose to bring four 11 x 14 canvases and two table easels, with the plan to paint two pieces as each poet read their poetry for about 30 minutes each.
The idea was that my painting would be in response to the poems being read. To prepare for the evening of painting, I repurposed four canvases I had bought at SCRAP, painting over someone’s previous painting to prepare it for my use; I painted two of the canvases black and two in hot pink and orange, giving me something to respond to other than a blank, white canvas.
Poet Carol Hottle kicked off the event and my first painting was in response to her reading a series of poems about a transformational experience she had, surviving a horrific auto accident.
My second painting was in response to a series of poems that reflected positive experiences, and I allowed myself to focus on the visual images Carol painted with her words.
When it was time for poet Mike Shuler to read, I listened as he read until I picked up on a poem about children joyfully playing along the banks of a river, and I couldn’t resist painting a bright abstracted landscape.
The second piece I painted was in response to Mike sharing how much he loves hiking in the Cascade Head area, a place that is near and dear to me because it is where Sitka Center For Art and Ecology is located (and where I taught two painting classes this summer).
The whole experience was positive and fun and once I started painting, I tuned out the room full of people and just focused on the flow of words and the flow of paint. At the conclusion of the evening, I invited both poets to choose a painting to take with them.