Sunday, October 31, 2010

Collage 229

We had 2 guest contributors in the studio on 9/17/10: Lori, who was featured yesterday, and Beth who is featured today. They were both in Boston for a reunion. Lynn has known them both since grade school, and Beth went to college with Lynn, Lucy Zahner Montgomery, Otto and me. The degrees of separation in this group are very few! -- Lola

It was delightful- as Beth loves to say- making art with my two old friends. Thank you Beth and Lori for embracing this project! - Lynn

Beth writes:

Happy Halloween! I wonder if there's any hidden meaning in writing about my collage on this day of tricks and treats.

So. My collage. I remember that day so clearly -- how much fun I had doing my first collage with Team Tolstoy. I sort of felt that I should have been called Liz all day, just to fit in as everyone's name seems to begin with an "L". Looking at all the ephemera in the scrap box was a little overwhelming, but then you just had to choose and jump right in! So much laughter and talking, and fun watching Sasha!! I think this part of the book discussed a baby and soldiers marching into war. I remember thinking it was sort of weird to have two such different things going on in only a page or two!!

I remember thinking at the time that I should write down notes - but then I got too involved in cutting and gluing and laughing. I really had so much fun. -Beth

Beth Jorgenson Sherman
from page 465-466 of original text
made 9/17/10

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Collage 228

This collage was done by my dear friend Lori last month. She and Beth flew in to Boston for a long-overdue reunion. Lori, Beth and I have been friends since grade school, and Lori and I took art classes together in high school. We can each recite the lyrics of old Stevie Winwood songs because we could listen to lps in art class and there seemed to be only two lps available the entire year.

On this day Lori dove into the project, head-first, with no hesitation. I love what she has done here- inspired by her reading the English translation while at the studio. It was so delightful to be in the studio with Lori and Beth. Another unexpected pleasure.

In this scene (Volume II, Part Two, Chapter VIII), Boris attends a "magnificent" salon at Helene's, the Countess Bezukhov. Is she seducing him?

"Having come on Tuesday evening to Helene's magnificent salon, Boris was not give a clear explanation of why it had been necessary for him to come. There were other guests, the countess spoke little to him, and only as he kissed her hand on taking her leave did she, with a strange absence of a smile, unexpectedly, in a whisper say to him... [in French] 'Come to dine tomorrow... in the evening. You must come... Do come.'

-- Lynn

Lori Gordon Miller
from page 463-464 of original text
made 9/17/10
page 367-368 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Friday, October 29, 2010

Collage 227

I love it when Lynn lets the white background show through. I never do that -- I always feel compelled to fill the space completely. She also has a particular book that she likes to use, which is about language and translation. We each have our favorite ephemera to work with. She also loves what we call "tiny music", a series of musical scores I found at a second hand store on Rt. 2 in western Massachusetts. This one looks like an aerial view, flying over a well-explored countryside. -- Lola

Lynn Waskelis
from page 461-462 of original text
made 9/10/10
page 365-367 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Collage 226

I am starting to be much more adventurous while collaging. I have become so comfortable with the materials and the team that the possibilities are endless!

Emma Rhodes
from page 459-460 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 9/10/10
page 364-365 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Collage 225

From time to time we strip it down, going minimalist. It still really works. The original text that we use lends itself to a neutral palette -- the pages are yellowed and rough. -- Lola

Lynn Waskelis
from page 457-458 of original text
made 9/10/10
page 362-363 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Collage 224

In this scene (Volum.e II, Part Two, Chapter IV) Pierre completes his Masonic vows. I love religious language and texts so I used bits of a catholic mass here.

Here is part of the vows as read by the grand master: "in our temples we know no other distinctions... than those between virtue and vice. Beware of making any distinction that may violate equality. Fly to air your brother, whoever he may be, instruct him who errs, raise up the fallen, and never nurse any malice or enmity against your brother. Be gentle and affable. Arouse the fire of virtue in all hearts. Share your happiness with your neighbor, and let envy never cloud this pure delight."

As I'm reading this passage, I remember for the first time in decades that my Russian grandfather was a member of one of these groups -- but I can't remember if it was the Shriners, the Masons... that whole generation has died so there is no one to ask. I recall being fascinated as a little girl by the strange and curious things he had around this house. The tall hat, the pins. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 455-456 of original text
made 9/10/10

Monday, October 25, 2010

Collage 223

The silence was broken by one of the brothers, who, leading Pierre to the rug, began reading to him from a notebook the explanation of all the images depicted on it: the sun, the moon, a hammer, a plumb line, a trowel, a rough stone and a squared stone, a pillar, three windows, and so on. p. 361 in P/V

Lynn Waskelis
from page 453-454 of original text
made 9/10/10
age 359-361 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Collage 222

In this scene, Volume II, Part Two, chapter III, Pierre is taking his Masonic vows. The rhetor says, "As a sign of generosity, I ask that you give me all your valuables."

Pierre replies, "But I have nothing with me," mistakenly thinking that he was being asked to give up all of his wealth. The rhetor clarified that he was only asking for what Pierre had on his person, i.e. a watch, money, rings.

The rhetor then asked Pierre to undress! Then to confess his weakness which is women. The rhetor says, "I tell you for the last time: turn all your attention to yourself, lay chains upon your feelings, and seek blessedness not in passions, but in your own heart... The source of blessedness is not outside, but inside us..." -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 451-452 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 9/10/10
page 358-359 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Collage 221

This is a creepy scene in which Pierre is driven to a big house and has gone up a dark stairway. The Masons put a cloth over his eyes and he is led into a room where he takes his Masonic vows. They are called the seven virtues which correspond to the seven steps of Solomon's temple. They are:

1) discretion, keeping the secrets of the order
2) obedience to the higher ranks of the order
3) good morals
4) love of mankind
5) courage
6) generosity
7) love of death

This last one really stood out. What, exactly, is love of death? -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 221 of original text
made 9/10/10

Friday, October 22, 2010

Collage 220

Lynn Waskelis
from page 447-448 of original text
made 9/10/10
page 355-356 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Here is Pierre struggling for words both in Russian and in French:

"I...hope...for my renewal," Pierre said in a trembling voice and speaking with difficulty, owing to his excitement and to being unused to speaking about abstract subjects in Russian.
"What is your notion of Freemasonry?"
"I presume that Freemasonry is the fraternité and equality of men with virtuous goals," said Pierre, embarrassed, even as he was speaking, by the unsuitability of his words to the solemnity of the moment. "I presume..."

I am sympathetic to his struggle.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Collage 219

Our friend Pamela Mandell who wrote the article about us in Artscope Magazine particularly loved this one. Lynn was experimenting with new materials that day in the studio -- she drew on the collage with old bits of candles which resisted the walnut ink she put on top. Pamela's husband is also an artist and makes his own ink from the walnut trees in back of their farmhouse in Vermont. We want to get our hands on some of that! -- Lola

Lynn Waskelis
collage, walnut ink, graphite and jelly pen
made from page 445-446 of original text
found on pages 353-355 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Collage 218

Emma astutely asked me yesterday why this collage and the one posted yesterday were made out of order? The answer is that we lost 4 pages of the original text and didn't find them until several weeks later. We had a lot of in the studio one Friday, and in the midst of all the excitement and high energy, somehow those pages got shuffled into our scrap box. I was idly looking through it on 10/1 and was overjoyed to find them. I wasn't even looking for them. We'd kind of given up. And were faced with the question: do we fake it? Admit it? So here is Lynn doing a beautiful job with our lost pages. -- Lola

Lynn Waskelis
made from pages 443-444 of original text
collage, walnut ink, candle wax
found on pages 352-353 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Collage 217

Chris Chou introduced us to walnut ink the day I made this one, and clearly I am not very skilled at using it! This piece turned out very dark and brooding. That was not the mood of the day! Lynn and I had a wonderful time with Chris that day. It is more about my lack of skill at using this new material. I also used a lot of religious material, a catholic pamphlet of some sort.

In this scene (Volume II, Part Two, Chapter II), Pierre is talking with another Mason about his lack of faith in God.

"With a swelling heart, with glittering eyes, Pierre gazed into the Mason's face, listened to him, did not interrupt him, did not ask anything, and believed with his whole soul what this stranger was telling him. Whether he believed those reasonable arguments in the Mason's speech, or believed, as children do, the intonations, convictions, and heartfelt emotion in the Mason's speech, the trembling of his voice, which sometimes almost interrupted him, or those glittering old man's eyes, grown old in that conviction, or the calmness, firmness and knowledge of purpose which shone in the Mason's whole being and which struck him especially string, compared with his own slackness and hopelessness, in any case he wanted to believe with his whole soul, and did believe, and experienced joyful feeling of peace, renewal, and return to life."

You've got to hand it to Pierre -- he really, really tries to figure it out -- but isn't quite there, yet. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 441-442 of original text
collage, acrylic paint, walnut ink
made 10/1/10

Monday, October 18, 2010

Collage 216

This is two travelers -- these two circles they meet and have a drink. The sugar represents the spice of their lives. Or something happened around them. As a person you always have some story. Two persons having a drink. A drink on the trip. A drink while you travel. --Chris

Chris Chou
from page 439-440 of original text
collage, walnut ink, gelly pen, candle wax
made 10/1/10

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Collage 215

A lot has happened recently. Prince Andrei has become a widow. Pierre has separated from Helene after the duel with Dolokhov. Most recently Nicolai Rostov has lost 47,000 rubles and has left the family home in disgrace to catch up his regiment in Poland.

We are now in Volume II, Part Two, Chapter I. Back to Pierre and his endless questioning. He is on a journey in a horse-drawn carriage at Torzhok posting station. The following struck me so much that I copied out this passage onto the back of the collage:

"Whatever he started thinking about, he came back to the same questions, which he could not resolve and could not stop asking himself. It was as if the main screw in his head, which held his whole life together, had become stripped. The screw would not go in, would not come out, but turned in the same groove without catching hold, and it was impossible to stop turning it."

I'm sure that this has been done -- I did a similar project on a very small scale in graduate school -- but wouldn't it be fun to give each character a mental health diagnosis? And assess their strengths, weaknesses, coping styles, etc? Of all the characters Tolstoy gives us most access to Pierre's inner world. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 437-438 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 8/27/10
page 437-439 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Collage 214

We had a special studio day yesterday. Our friend Roxanne Van der Water came in and filmed us as we worked. The whole team was there other than Lucy Arrington who is traveling and Otto Mayr who lives in Berlin. She brought in all of her professional equipment, lights and all. She filmed us working but also talking and laughing. I was in and out, taking the puppy out for a break. Other artists in the building dropped by to see what we were up to. It was a really fun afternoon. Roxy says that we will have about 1 hour of footage which she will format into a loop. We want a record of this project, not just the collages themselves but photos and film as well. We hope that she will come back again next month. So much of this project -- all of it?? -- is about us working together as a team. Enjoying ourselves immensely, learning and growing in confidence as artists and deepening friendships. It was a banner day. -- Lola

Lynn Waskelis
from page 435-436 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 8/27/10
page 345-347 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Friday, October 15, 2010

Collage 213

I vaguely remember doing this, but am surprised by the end product- it looks like a flower with a giant black and white pistil. Maybe it's the sweetness of the red color, but it's not really what I had in mind. Still working out the mysteries of collaging and how it relates to the book.... -- Adrienne

Adrienne Wetmore
from page 433-434 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 8/27/10

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Collage 212

Lucy Zahner Montgomery
from page 431-432 of original text
made 8/27/10
page 342-343 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

That winter Natasha had begun to sing seriously for the first time, especially because Denisov admired her singing. She no longer sang like a child, there was none of that comic, childish assiduousness in her singing which had been in it before; but her singing was not good yet, as all the critical connoisseurs said who had heard her sing....Her voice had that virgin, intact quality, that unawareness of its strength, that unpolished velvetiness, which were so combined witha deficiency in the art of singing that it seemed impossible to change anything in thie voice without spoiling it..."What on earth is this?" thought Nikolai, hearing her voice and opening his eyes wide...Ah, our foolish life!" thought Nikolai. "All this misfortune, and money, and Dolokhov, and spite, and honor - it's all nonsense!...and here it -- the real thing...Ah, Natasha, ah, darling! ah, dearest!...How is she going to take this B...she did it? Thank God!"

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Collage 211

Here we are in Volume II, Part one, Chapter XV. Nicolai Rostov has just lost a fortune, gambling with Dolokhov and he returns home to confess what he has just done. He walks into a lively scene. His friend Denisov is at the clavichord singing his own composition called "The Sorceress".

Sorceress, tell me by what art
Thou drawest me to abandoned strings;
What fire has thou instilled in my heart,
What rapture through my fingers sings!

This collage of Lynn's -- rapturous! -- Lola

Lynn Waskelis
from page 429-430 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 8/27/10
from page 340-342 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Collage 210

Lucy Zahner Montgomery
from page 427-428 of original text
made 8/27/10
from page 339-340 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Nikolai Rostov is busy foolishly losing 43,000 rubles gambling and feeling desperate.

"Oh! it's terrible to feel myself so much in this man's power, thought Rostov. Rostov knew what a blow he would deal to his father, to his mother, in announcing this loss; he knew what happiness it would be to be delivered of it all, and he realized that Dolokhov knew he could deliver him from this shame and grief, but still wanted to play with him as a cat plays with mouse."

These pinks and oranges came out much lighter than I thought they would, and with the added geometric shapes in blues greens and purple this feels a little 1960s-groovy to me. Doesn't really convey the mood of the scene. Sorry, LT.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Collage 209

I made this one out of sequence which is highly unusual. We typically don't choose a page -- we work on them in order. However. I had been reading the book (Volume II, Part One, Chapter XIII) and was mesmerized by this gambling scene where Nicolai Rostov loses the family fortune to his former friend (and bad boy) Dolokhov. So I grabbed it and did it early. At one point Rosrov was behind 800 roubles. At the end of the scene he lost a whopping 43,000 rubles. Otto can probably figure out how much that would be worth in today's US $$. Rostov was terrified and humiliated to tell his father of his loss.

"He laid down the seven of hearts and wrote eight hundred above it with a piece of chalk in round, straight figures; drank the glass of now warm champagne that had been served him, smiled at Dolokhov's words, and, waiting with a sinking heart for a seven, began watching Dolokhov's hands which held the deck."

It's a scene worth reading. The tension builds and you want to shout out, "stop, you fool! Can't you see that Dolokhov is a cheat? -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 425-426 of original text
made 7/16/10
collage, playing cards
page 337-339 of Pevear/Volokhonksy translation

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Collage 208

Dolokhov is setting his "light, cold gaze" on Nicolai Rostov. Dolokhov has invited Rostov to the English Hotel on the eve of his return to the army. Dolokhov taunts Rostov, asking whether he is afraid to play cards with him.

"Behind his smile, Rostov saw in him that mood he had been in during the dinner at the club and generally at those times when, bored with everyday life, Dolokhov felt the necessity of getting out of it by some strange, most often cruel, act." Serious foreshadowing here! -- Lola

Lynn Waskelis
from page 423-424 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 8/27/10
from page 335-337 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Collage 207

Sometimes Lynn and I are unsure of who made which collage as we work together all the time, side by side, sharing materials, color and inspiration. The dead giveaway, however, is my use of religious materials. This one features Krishha which I sourced at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in Bangalore, India, and from Blossom Bookstore, also in Bangalore. And some Christian text, too. You can see "Jesus, The Way". One of the lines is, "Jesus saw God everywhere". I love that. That's true spirituality.

On this page of the text, there is a dance at the Iogel's in Moscow. Sonya has just turned down Dolokhov's marriage proposal. "Natasha fell in love from the moment she entered the ballroom. She was not in love with anyone in particular, but with everyone. She fell in love with whomever she looked at, the moment she looked at him." I remember feeling like that as a young girl. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 421-422 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 8/27/10

Friday, October 8, 2010

Collage 206

Here was more exploring of the color palette from the previous piece I had done.... thinking of once beautiful peeling wallpaper, fading aristocracy. -- Adrienne

Adrienne Wetmore
from page 419-420 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 8/27/10

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Collage 205

Lynn Waskelis
made from page 417-418 of original text
found on pages 331-332 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

The atmosphere of the Rostov house speaks:

'Never had the amorous air in the Rostov's house, the atmosphere of being in love, manifested itself so strongly as during these festive days. "Seize the moments of happiness, make them love you, fall in love yourself! That is the only real thing in this world- the rest is all nonsense. And that is the one thing we're taken up with here," said this atmosphere.'

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Collage 204

Adrienne made the previous collage (so beautiful!!) and I was trying to use a similar palette, although not very successfully here. I admired how she used that raspberry which is a color I rarely use. One of the wonderful things about this project is working side by side. I have learned so much about composition, materials and inspiration over the course of these last six months.

This page of the original text is the end of Volume II, Part One, Chapter X. Dolokhov is talking with Rostov about his feelings towards women. He definitely has that saint/slut point of view. "...I have never yet met any women who weren't bought -- whether countesses or kitchen maide. I have never yet met such heavenly purity and faithfulness that I seek in a woman. If I had ever found such a woman, I would have given my life for her... if I still value my life, it's only because I still hope to meet the heavenly being who will resurrect, purify and elevate me."

I really liked Dolokhov -- I thought he was sexy in that bad boy kind of way -- until he had an affair with Helene. Or at least Pierre suspected that he did, which led to the duel where Dolokhov gets shot and I thought fatally wounded (wrong again!).

In the next chapter Rostov returns to Moscow from war and introduces Dolokhov to the family. Natasha tells her brother Nicolai that Sonia, their penniless cousin, is in love with Dolokhov. This is a little awkward for Nicolai as he and Sonia have always been in love with each other. "Natasha's prediction was proving true. Dolokhov, who did not like the society of women, began to frequent their house. and the question of who he was doing it for was soon resolved (though no one spoke of it), in the sense that he was doing it for Sonia. And Sonia knew it, though she would never have dared to say it, and she flushed crimson every time Dolokhov appeared." Sonia, run away! He is a wolf! -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 415-416 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 8/27/10

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Collage 203

Here was the part where Prince Andrei goes into Princess Elizaveta's bedroom as she lays dying. A baby cries, the princess dies. There are 2 separate regions in this piece- there is such a gulf between them, and I was thinking of the dichotomies in that room: death & birth, joy & sorrow,
love & loss. -- Adrienne

Adrienne Wetmore
from page 413-414 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 8/27/10

Monday, October 4, 2010

Collage 202

Lucy Zahner Montgomery
from page 411-412 of original text
P-V translation, pp. 326-327
collage, acrylic paint
made 8/27/10

"My darling!" he spoke words he had never said to her before. "God is merciful..." She looked at him questionly with childlike repose.

p. 327

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Collage 201

Lynn Waskelis
made from page 409-410 of original text
collage, acrylic paint, embroidery thread
found on pages 324-326 in Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

from P/V translation:
"The same feeling that Princess Marya was experiencing as she sat in her room came over everyone and spread to all ends of the house. Following the belief that the less people know about the suffering of a woman in labor, the less she suffers, everyone tried to pretend they knew nothing; no one spoke of it but, apart from the usual staidness and respectfulness of good manners that prevailed in the prince's house, one could see a sort of general concern, a softness of heart, and the awareness of something great, inconceivable, that was being accomplished at that moment."

I tried my hand here at stitching paper, similar to what Emma had done. I felt I did it with two thumbs, or maybe my feet.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Collage 200

Princess Marya and her father decide to not tell Liza that her husband, Prince Andrei, was killed in battle. She is expecting their first child and in this scene, her labor begins.

Lynn and I were in the studio yesterday. We finished #251 which means that we are 1/3 done. Our friend Chris Chou made another collage. Someone wrote in and voted hers (#131) as their favorite collage. She introduced us to some new materials including using candle wax and walnut ink. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 407-408 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 8/13/10

Friday, October 1, 2010

Collage 199

In this scene, Princess Marya was told by her father that her brother, Prince Andrei, was killed in battle.

Her father was in is study, working at his lathe. "The wheel went on turning by inertia. Princess Marya long remembered the dying creak of the wheel, which merged for her with what followed after."

Tolstoy uses the image of the turning wheel throughout the book. As it turns out, Prince Andrei did not die. The wheel continues to spin. Buddhism has the same teaching -- the individual continues to reincarnate -- the wheel of karma keeps spinning -- until we each fulfill complete individual freedom -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 405-406 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 8/13/10