Saturday, November 19, 2016

Describing Life's Journey and Experiences Through Art

A Brief String of Visual Metaphors and Expressive Pictorial Descriptions
by Vanessa Lemen

"Holding On and Letting Go"
I've held on and let go countless times,
And the balance between the two has always found its place.
I've found myself blindsided by what later seemed obvious,
And soared high above snakes who have slithered below.
I've scrawled out magic memories in the form of scribbles
That leapt from the page and took form as a lump in my throat.

"Tightrope Trouper at the Speakeasy"
I've walked on tightropes with my mouth erased,
And painted it onto another to speak for me.

"The Bob Tree"
I've seen faces in all of the trees around me,
And heard the applause of their dry leaves when it rained.

"Heady Machinery"
I have floated through time, ventured in space,
And walked in places it seems that time has forgotten.
I've been lost and have lost. I've come back from the void
To a place that was familiar but suddenly not the same.
I've shed tears in the happiest of moments,
And stood stoic in sadness, been numbed by betrayal.

"Letters To A Young Poet"
I've stowed away life lessons in my thinking cap,
And found most answers in my unconscious riffs.
I've wandered aimlessly with beings great and small,
Adventured with creatures sensitive and fierce.
I've laughed with them in the shadows,
Howled with them in the light.
I've held signs in crowds, roared among the tribe.

"Hold True"
In the most silent of moments, I've heard truth speak.
I've hibernated for what seemed like eternity,
And then awoke to shout from the mountaintops.
I've shared strides with characters from all walks of life,
And journeyed with those who defy gravity.
I've danced with fire spirits. I've bonded at bonfires,
Lifted by the power of human connection.

"Melt Back in the Wave"
I've lost my breath under powerful waves,
and reached the surface thankful for air.

I've sung with clowns and clones and wind in the branches,
Flown with birds and planes and cats.


I've felt the heaviness of darkness,
And have reached out to the most colorful of lights.

"Harvest Whisperer"
I've witnessed dry fields turn to flames, then black.
And in those fields, I've run through grass tall and green again.

I've traveled to worlds that have only machines,
And to worlds where no machines have ever existed.
I've listened to the tales of wise monkeys,
And swam in the veins of their ancestors.

"Tree Woman in Kakusu Forest"
I've grown roots and floated from limbs.
I've seen devastation, witnessed growth and renewal.
I've watched the sleeping breath rise and fall quietly
in the chest of the ones that I love and have grown old with.
I've been rescued and nuzzled with those whom I've rescued
Who remind me to rest, to play, to listen and hold true.
I've visited the spirits of those who’ve passed on,
And met new souls that possess magnetic energy.

I've been lifted up and loved, sung harmonies on long road trips,
And been comfortably quiet in shared spaces.
I have fallen, I've been broken.
I've risen, and I've healed.
I have been powerful and powerless,
Larger than life and microscopic.
Often times, I've been invisible.
Some adventures have been heavy,
Some have been as thin as air,
And most have defied the boundaries
Of the years that define my lifetime.

And so I will continue to paint what life shows me...


  1. So much good stuff in this post! Feast for the eyes and mind.

    1. Thank you Nicolay! I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Wow!!! Don't know what I enjoy more, the paintings or the words. Love this "I've listened to the tales of wise monkeys,
    And swam in the veins of their ancestors." Swam in their veins!!!!! Excellent!

    1. Thank you! So glad to hear that you enjoyed both the words and the paintings. :)

  3. Beautiful...I've often thought of perhaps having a poem as my artists' bio, but not sure if that would be undertood well.

    1. Hi David. From what I've read on MuddyColors and other 'authorities' on art portfolios / artist websites - it seems the general consensus these days is to have clear and concise information, with little to no flourish. That said, don't think it is a complete 'no go'. Cheers!

    2. Thank you, David. Also, I'd have to concur with Nicolay on this one. Sometimes, there are certain projects, shows, or publications in which you can express yourself a bit more in a bio type of write-up, but most times those calling for a bio would like it to be clear and concise information. What I tend to do is do a bit of research on what the gallery/publication/event/website has already used for other artists - or just ask. On your own website, you can do a little of both. On my website, for example, I've posted on my About page two paragraphs that I've used in different occasions for other things. I find them both to be helpful information about me, but in different ways. You can also reserve a page for your writing, or include write-ups/poems along with your art (which I do as well, usually a couple sentences). I used to include a lot more, but always wondered if anyone even read it. More recently, I've been keeping my writing to myself.. but I'm starting to think to share it again. Anyway, thanks again, and I look forward to seeing what you might end up doing too.

  4. Great, love the poems and paintings together. A bio really isn't the place for expressive flourishing but it needs to be put out there somewhere, as you said on your website for example.
    It really is an insight into you as an artist and despite talk of a painting or piece of art should stand on its own there is nothing as original as the insight of any individual artist. No one else can say it for you.
    BTW Vanessa, you paint some of the most graceful elegant hands. Often they are my favorite part of painting.


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