Meggi Raeder and Chandra Garsson

Raeder R

Meggi Raeder
Created using Chandra Garsson’s story (below) as inspiration

A Thing of Beauty
By Chandra Garson

Jane Campion’s Film on Love, John Keats and Fanny Braune, and the beauty of Wet Paint Drying

I am inspired to write a little piece on a film I love, Jane Campion’s “Bright Star” by a comment written by a colleague* who stated that watching the creative process of poets is like watching paint dry. The colleague is a writer. I am a painter and sculptor who sometimes writes.

I paint and I often paint my sculptures. I have spent many an hour watching paint dry. I am fascinated by this vigil; as I wait for liquid to evaporate, worlds open up to me. Sometimes, as with polymer media mixing with a variety of agents and vectors, textures and objects, ideas and colors, juxtapositional unpredictables, the drying can be relatively fast. The excitement is in watching the crackle/ripple/ whirlpooling in your face to distant space effects transform before my eyes. Oils take a bit longer. Dare I speak of it in geological years? Epochs? Centuries? Decades…years…months? At least. It is believed by scholars that Mona Lisa is still drying. She is many layers, as are all good oil paintings. X-rays reveal her in many positions, with many different kinds of smiles under multiple layers of paint. We watch her drying to this day. This is the meaning of the Italian Renaissance word ‘pentimento.’ It is built into our definitions of what good painting is, that we can see through every layer to every other one beneath it. It is estimated that on average oil paintings take about three-hundred years to dry. Only enough of a surface needs to dry enough, that gently, patiently, softly, a new surface of image can begin over all that came before it.

My students were never bored by these processes, in fact they were rarely patient enough for me to get to issues of the technical, chemical and scientific; past such issues as I hold dear in all the arts: composition, subject matter, self-revelation, memoir, insight, perception, content.
As I watch the paint dry, I go into a reverie, each time. I muse on where this work will travel, before it alights home on a flower in the garden of my earthly delights. I keep a vigilant watch for elements of my own bright star, my own truth as beauty, my own nightingale singing my life.

“Bright Star” brings the viewer if she or he is willing, into the realm of another time, when the world was only on the brink of science and technology as we know it today. It was an era when nature could be taken for granted still, when the nightingale singing was the same one who had sung for millennia, would sing forever. It was how John Keats saw himself singing eternally, with Fanny Braune the woman he loved. And this is why I love the movie “Bright Star”; it is precisely because it brings me to eternal infinity of slower possibilities. It is because I am forever in love with the revelations brought on by watching the paint dry.

* In my lexicon a colleague is any of the many kinds of artists who are alive anywhere in the world at the same time that I am living.


Raeder I

Meggi Raeder
Inspiration piece provided to Chandra Garsson

Moon Rising, a Phabulous Photo by Meggi Raeder, of a Phantasmagoric Rendering of Nature by Humankind, the most phrightening Creature on Earth, Presented Here Phor Your Halloween and Day of the Dead Phrollicking
By Chandra Garsson

How frightening the creature who beheads ancient noble Tree. Once so tall and proud, she existed for a thousand or more years. She had housed Squirrel and Bird, Rabbit and Centipede; Jerusalem Cricket had made his cozy little home in her. Through the ages she had stretched her mighty yet graceful arms outward to embrace Sun, Cloud and especially Moon. She had never discriminated: she welcomed all to her embrace. She was after all, an emissary of Mother Earth, her roots were deep in her mother, her head was perennially in the stars. She proudly gazed upon Ocean, His sound and smell were treasured by her in her seemingly eternal stance.

Oh, she had wept to see the damage done by mighty Volcano, even as she had gloried in his beauty. Understandably she, the rooted one, had yearned to run away from Thunder; instinctively she knew what terrifying Lightening might render. Tree nearly shrank at the thought. But no, nothing could stop her growth through the centuries, for she was a maximalist creature, a grower of trunk, branches, twigs, and leaves.

What Tree loved most to gaze upon at night was Moon. Ever changing, growing, shrinking, hiding Moon, who believed, just as Tree did, in her own immortality. Moon sometimes hid from Tree, out of respect. She felt she knew that she had much more reason than Tree to believe that she herself would live forever. After all, she was many miles away in outer space, far from the selfishly destructive and acquisitive creature who came to call itself … Humanity.

Moon shuddered through the ages at the ever exponentially reproducing, inventing, grabbing, acquisitive and greedy animal, the one who believed that it was all for him. He believed that Earth was his. He believed that he could destroy and take and have and eat and warp and hurt and rape and pillage and burn to his endless pleasure, for all he believed and still believes is that Earth is his; for his ego knows no bounds. The Hubris of this creature, Moon has always known, is boundless.

Tree never knew what hit her; how she lost all, save her roots still able to feel Earth, still able to give life. All she knew was that one day they came to cut off her branchy, leafy, twiggy head, arms, branches, body, trunk. She was cut off at the ankle, after so many centuries had passed. Then the abused boy had set fire to the forest and millions of acres of what they call California burned to the ground. Bird, Squirrel, Rabbit, Butterfly, Centipede, Jerusalem Cricket, flower, all other Trees everywhere for miles around, The horror…the horror. It could have been prevented by knowledge of Inventing Human, of what it meant to strip Earth of her ancient fossil fuels; thereby depleting Environment, and poisoning Air with carbon dioxide, greenhouse gasses, global warming. Parents caring for and loving their children, rather than warping them through neglect and abuse into the pyromaniacal state could have prevented it.

What Earth, Tree, Ocean, Air, and most tragically Moon did not realize, until it was too late for Moon, was that Human knew he had destroyed Earth, Tree, Ocean, and Air. In his insatiably greedy quest for more, he had in early October 2009 shot missiles at twice the speed of a bullet into Moon, hoping to find water, hoping to colonize. Human was looking for a way to leave his nearly ruined home on Earth, hoping to find a new home on Moon, Mars, somewhere out in the infinite, pure, pristine reaches of ancient omniscient outer space.

Wounded Moon righteously, hissingly hopes… he… will… fail.


Garsson I Raeder

Chandra Garsson
Adam and Eve 17 and 21
Mixed media installation (detail)
Inspiration piece provided to Meggi Raeder

Waiting to Be Whole
By Meggi Raeder

With eyes cast down
and spirit all curled up.
Waiting for an angel,
for the knight in shining armor
riding over the stars
on his beautiful horse
to claim me.
Waiting, dreaming,
to receive what’s offered.
Waiting to be whole

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One comment

  1. Powerful! Both the imagery and the poetry.

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