Expressing Essence

21 May

I pick up boy-in-purple-shirt after school. Observe completion of homework. Listen to his interpretation of the day. Sometimes offer opinions, but not very often. He’s finding his own way through it all.

There are challenges to this routine. I question–should a first grader have homework? And if so…should it be done right after school? Or later? After play? But we’ve fallen into this routine because it seems to work. “Later” doesn’t. His focus, which can be tentative at best, is near impossible to harness “later.” So.

I’m thinking about the beginning of the year…months ago…the learning-to-read process. A struggle. Math a different story. I remember thinking, “I wonder at what point I’ll be useless with the math component?” It won’t be long. But reading…well I can read. In fact I love to read…but accept that it’s not something everyone loves. Including this boy. He does it. He does it just fine. Now. But he’d rather be doing other things. I get it.

So the progression of reading material over this past year–from the early stuff–pretty boring — to Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Treehouse series has been interesting to watch. And yesterday, the completion of a fantasy book about the Japanese poet, Basho. At the end, I asked if he’d like to try his hand at haiku. OK. I would transcribe. First effort was more of an epic tale. Shorten it a bit, I suggested. OK. A condensed version of the first. How about just pulling out the essential feeling you want to express? That resonated. So a haiku-of-sorts–

The words. Yes, a from-the-heart sentiment–essence distilled to a few words. But I also had the privilege of hearing the words spoken. Heard the love. Heard the sincerity. The honesty. So now it has me thinking about that …about essence, about distilling expression to the most basic common denominator.

The process of expressing through cloth seems similar to creating a haiku–with cloth substituting for words. But the challenge is the same. Distilling form to essence.

This green cloth, a sampler of many pieces of naturally dyed fabrics–earthy. And the intention– to capture the essence of the life force of the earth right now–the small patch of earth behind my house where a lovely garden vibrates with energy–
It started here:

then changes–






like the creation of a haiku–writing and re-writing–editing–paring down and re-doing–throwing away and starting over–pieces added, removed, rejected.
Still searching for truest way to depict the essence of something nearly indescribable.

19 Responses to “Expressing Essence”

  1. karmadondruplhamo May 21, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    purple shirt boy…the shape of his ear….

    and feeling the process here, being able to see all the possibilities and then the changes, each one, really, beauty full…
    but for you, not IT…and so you go. the sense of making is within all of these steps, isn’t
    it. how good it feels, to add, to take away, to change form and on until suddenly
    there is no need to do one single more thing…when the cloth speaks what the heartmind
    i love this process and love looking at it on Your table….Thank you for this….


    • Patricia May 22, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

      your comment activated a memory from my massage training–the ear–a minature replica of the embryo in utero–


  2. user107055 May 21, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    thank you for sharing such gifts ..cynthia


    • Patricia May 22, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

      and thanks for your previous encouragement


  3. Mo Crow May 21, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    love seeing these cloth sketches, the variations on the theme


    • Patricia May 22, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

      i must be in “form” mode today–read this first as “cloth skeletons”– i think there might be an idea there….


  4. Marti May 21, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    1st photo, last photo, contained essence. The boy looks serene, reading his book but you get the sense that he could jump up at any time and run with the dog he loves, The earth cloth, quietly lyrical in the beginning, sprouting forth in all directions, free flung,dancing to the season, roots extended then coiled, as if the exuberance of the season needs to be contained for a moment…

    Boy, earth, seasons, moving through the days…


    • Patricia May 22, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

      i’m going to take liberties with this comment and pull out the words that just knocked me over–can’t help myself–your words are just so beautiful

      a haiku in honor of Marti

      “moving through the days
      boy, earth cloth, contained essence.
      dancing to the season.”


  5. beth May 22, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    Love this distillation of essence.


    • Patricia May 22, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

      yes, it is truly something. to hone in on…to identify…to notice…to honor. who ever would have thought that the journey of cloth would reveal so much.


  6. deemallon May 22, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

    darling boy! save those writings. they are so precious. IMHO boys should not be pressured to learn to read until about fourth grade. but THAT’s bucking the system. I like seeing the variations of a WIP. Sometimes I think I’d like to create a catalog of variations, having THAT as the finished thing, instead of the thing that gets finished. am I making sense?


    • Patricia May 24, 2014 at 8:01 am #

      that’s an interesting concept–a catalog of wip’s as the product. let me know if you do it!


      • deemallon May 24, 2014 at 8:50 am #

        Well it’s one way to think of my blog! But not exactly what I meant.


        • Patricia May 24, 2014 at 9:08 am #

          oooooooo. can you clarify for me?


          • deemallon May 24, 2014 at 9:12 am #

            Most of the fiber work pictured on my blog is unfinished. Showing the many phases of finishing. But the “work” I am framing about would be digital. Some sort of pictorial record of the work as it progresses. THAT would be the piece, not the quilt, which for purposes of the digital work wouldn’t in fact ever have to be finished. Ache! Can u tell I struggle with finishing?


            • Patricia May 24, 2014 at 9:25 am #

              maybe there never is a “finish line.” and yes, this is what i thought you meant. and i hope this next observation isn’t off track, but if it is—-
              then this digital work you refer to would be a documentary of the journey…is that right.? and the journey… ah the things we can say about the journey.


              • deemallon May 24, 2014 at 9:29 am #

                Yes. A documentary. I think I posted a quick one this year. Middle passage quilt maybe? I don’t have the skills to do this very readily. And yes the journey…


  7. Nancy May 23, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    Oh, this boy. Precious.
    And cloth words…cloth. words.


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