Monday, January 31, 2011

Collage 300

We are now in Volume II, Part Three, Chapter XXV.

One of the most difficult relationships in this whole book is the one between "old" Prince Nikolai Andreevich Bolkonsky and his daughter Princess Marya. It pains me every time.

"The health and character of Prince Nikolai Andreevich Bolkonsky, during that last year after his son's departure, declined considerably. He became still more irritable than before, and all the outbursts of his groundless wrath fell mainly upon Princess Marya. He seemed to carefully seek out all her sorest spots so as to torment her morally as cruelly as possible... He insulted Princess Marya constantly and painfully, but his daughter did not even have to force herself to forgive him."

This page also contains a letter to her friend Julie Karagin, an ugly wealthy heiress who appears to be Marya's only friend.

I wish that psychopharmacology had been available back then -- the "old" prince sure could have used a little something. He is a sadistic father and a tyrant with Prince Andrei as well. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 607-608 of original text
made 12/10/10
page 482-483 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Collage 299

Lucy Arrington
from page 605-606 of original text
collage, pencil, ribbon
made 12/10/10
page 480-482 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Prince Andre and Natasha become betrothed, but the Rostov family must keep it secret.

Does the collage reflect anything about the text? Foreboding? Perhaps the ribbon represents Natasha? The Dark strips represent Prince Andre.

But wait! I used the ribbon simply because Lola's puppy was chewing on it & I pulled it out of his mouth. Then thought it might work with my collage. Surely this must be art!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Collage 298

"In the house that poetic boredom and silence reigned which always accompanies the presence of an engaged couple. Often, while sitting together, they all fell silent. Sometimes they all got up and left, and the couple, alone together, were still just as silent." -p. 480-81 in P/V

Lynn Waskelis
from page 603-604 of original text
collage, acrylic paint, ink
made 11/19/11
page 479-480 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Friday, January 28, 2011

Collage 297

This was done on the same day as the Natasha-in-her-pink-gown collage. It's another attempt to be light handed, though it may be a bit too giddy or breezy to go with the text. Natasha's lightheartedness (lightheadedness?) has its influence! -- Adrienne

Adrienne Wetmore
from page 601-602 of original text
collage, ink
made 11/19/10
page 478-479 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Collge 296

Here is a lovely passage: Natasha trying to find calm in the midst of her disappointment when Prince Andrei hasn't been to visit her for some time.

"After having tea, she went to the reception room, which she especially liked for its strong resonance, and began to sing her solfeggio (singing exercises). Having finished the first exercise, she stopped in the middle of the room and repeated a musical phrase which she especially liked. She listened joyfully (as if it was unexpected for her) to the loveliness with which these sounds, rippling, filled the whole emptiness of the room and slowly died away, and she suddenly felt cheerful. 'Why think much about it, things are good as it is,' she said to herself and began walking up and down the room, not simply stepping on the resounding parquet but beginning each step on the heel (she was wearing new shoes that she liked), then going onto the toe, and listening joyfully, as she had to the sound of her voice, to the rhythmic stamping of the heel and the creaking of the toe. Going past a mirror, she looked into it. 'Here I am!' the expression of her face seemed to say at the sight of her. 'And that's good. I don't need anybody.'

I find this passage so sensitive -- written by a man in the early 1800's! How could he capture the feelings and behavior of a young girl so beautifully? We know that Natasha is fragile, and that she is trying to be strong in the face of disappointment. Yet is there a seed of maturity? -- LOla

Lola Baltzell
from page 599-600 of original text
collage, ink
made 11/19/10
page 476-477 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Collage 295

On this page, Prince Andrei confesses his love of Natasha to Pierre, who strongly encourages him to marry -- in spite of his own miserable marriage with beautiful Helene. Prince Andrei faces a few barriers -- is he too old for her, does she love him, but the most difficult will be convincing his father of the match. His father gives him many reasons why this is a poor idea, and asks that Andrei go to Germany to "take a cure" for a year. I don't recall that he had health problems. "The Magic Mountain" by Thomas Mann, published in 1924, is all about the aristocracy going to mountain-side clinics for TB treatment. I read that a few years ago.

I used a bit of text from a children's reader here: "Jane went back to her room and opened her window." Natasha is opening the window of her heart. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 597-598 of original text
collage, acrylic paint, ink
made 11/19/10
page 4740476 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Collage 294

Prince Andrei, with a radiant, rapturous face, renewed towards life, stopped before Pierre and, not noticing his sad face, smiled at him with the egoism of happiness.
'Well, dear heart,' he said, "I wanted to tell you yesterday, and I've come to tell you today. I've never experienced anything like it. I'm in love, my friend.' -p. 474 in P/V

Lynn Waskelis
from page 595-596 of original text
collage, acrylic paint, wax, ink
made 11/19/10
page 473-474 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Monday, January 24, 2011

Collage 293

Natasha, on the heels of her first grand ball, has captured Prince Andrei's attention. I tried to use a lighter hand here, because love is brewing! -- Adrienne

Adrienne Wetmore
from page 593-594 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 11/19/10
page 471-473 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Collage 292

I love how Lynn marks this piece using organic lines in both red and black ink. It creates a real sense of depth. She has been working in this way for a while now. Last week she brought in her sketch book which was filled with beautiful line drawings, similar to what you see here. It is wonderful how doing this project has affected our artwork outside of this. One of the things that I have learned from working with this team is different approaches to mark-making. I admire the looseness here, and have been working more in this direction myself. -- Lola

Lynn Waskelis
from page 591-592
collage, acrylic paint, ink, crayon
made 11/19/10
page 470-471 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Collage 291

Lola Baltzell
from page 589-590 of original text
collage, acrylic paint, ink
made 11/19/10
page 468-469

We are in Volume II, Part Three, Chapter XX. I enjoy hearing Tolstoy's voice when he comments on social norms and such. Some of it rings true today -- probably most of it. But in some areas, such as between men and women -- how things have changed -- or have they?

"Boris smiled with a consciousness of his superiority over a weak woman and fell silent, thinking that all the same this sweet wife of his was a weak woman, who could not comprehend all that made up the dignity of a man -- ein Mann zu sein*. At the same time, Vera also smiled with a consciousness of her superiority over her virtuous, good husband, who all the same understood life wrongly, as, in Vera's view, all men did. Berg, considered all women weak and stupid. Vera, judging by her husband alone and extending all observation to everyone, supposed that all men ascribed reason only to themselves, and at the same time understood nothing, were proud and egoistic"

* of being a man

-- Lola

Friday, January 21, 2011

Collage 290

After dinner Natasha, at Prince Andrei's request went to the clavichord and began to sing. Prince Andrei stood by the window, talking with the ladies, and listened to her. In the middle of a phrase, Prince Andrei fell silent and suddenly felt choked with tears, which he did not know was possible for him. He looked at the singing Natasha and something new and happy occurred in his soul. He was happy, but at the same time he felt sad. He had decidedly nothing to weep about, but was ready to weep. About what? His former love? The little princess? His disappointments?...His hopes for the future? ... Yes and no. The main thing he wanted to weep about was a sudden, vivid awareness of the terrible opposition between something infinitely great and indefinable that was in him, and something narrow and fleshly that he hiself, and even she, was. This opposition tormented him and gladdened him while she sang. - p.467 in P/V

Lynn Waskelis
from page 587-588 of original text
collage, wax, acrylic paint
made 10/29/10
page 466-468 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Collage 289

"The men remained at the table over the port, English style. In the middle of the conversation that started up about Napoleon's Spanish campaign, of which they all held the same approving opinion, Prince Andrei began to contradict them. Speransky smiled and, obviously trying to divert the conversation from the direction it had taken, told an anecdote that had no relation to it. They all fell silent for several moments. Having sat at the table for a while, Speransky corked the wine bottle and saying: 'Good wine costs a pretty penny these days,' handed it to the servant and got up. They all got up and with the same noisy talk went to the drawing room."
- pp. 465 in P/V

This collage is my interpretation of the atmosphere I imagine surrounds these men. After dinner, it is black as night outside and the candles are burning as they sit on upholstered chairs and discuss political matters.


Emma Rhodes
from page 585-586 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 10/29/10
page 465-466 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Collage 288

At our opening, guests repeatedly asked me about this piece. Everyone saw something different in it: movement, marching, a walking bird. They asked me what I was thinking as I was doing this collage. To me, it is much more about feeling and responding to impulsive ideas than an organized thought process. --Emma

Emma Rhodes
from page 583-584 of original text
collage, acrylic paint, ink
made 10/29/10
page 463-465 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Collage 287

Labored. That's what I feel here. I believe there may be some
religious imagery underneath the red, and I remember thinking of Byzantine art relics that used gilding, but it felt forced. It takes a certain amount of bravery to use or make religious images, and I didn't have the courage to see it through. -- Adrienne

Adrienne Wetmore
from pagge 581-582 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 10/29/10
page 461-462 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Monday, January 17, 2011

Collage 286

In the studio on Friday, we all started off by dutifully reading the English translation of the pages we were working on. After our initial attention to the content of the story line, we all veered off from the book. As I'm looking at the book, here's what I had underlined:

"on Helene there was already a sort of varnish from all the thousands of gazes that had passed over her body, while Natasha looked like a young girl who was bared for the first time and would have been very ashamed of it, if she had not been assured that it had necessarily to be so."

Does this collage have anything to do with those lines? Should it? I used a page from a Greek/English dictionary, some of Adrienne's scraps and origami paper. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 579-580 of original text
collage, oil crayon
made 10/29/10
page 460-461 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Collage 285

Lucy Arrington
from page 577-578 of original text
collage, acrylic paint, ink
made 10/29/10
page 459-460 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Prince Andre and Natasha meet at the ball.
"I've been waiting a long time for you, " this frightened and happy girl seemed to say with her smile.

After they dance, the Prince says to himself:

"If she goes to her cousin first and then to another lady she'll be my wife."

And that's just what Natasha did.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Collage 284

This collage also came out of spending time with Chris Chou--subdivided circles and wax-- and revisiting shapes and forms and materials--spirals and rubber adhesive- I'd been checking out on a much larger scale nearly twenty years ago.

Lynn Waskelis
from page 575-576 of original text
collage, acrylic paint, walnut ink, wax
made 10/29/10
page 457-459 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Friday, January 14, 2011

Collage 283

After spending sometime in Chris Chou's studio, this is what I came up with. Walnut ink, gel pen, wax, and circles. Chris is one of the most inspiring artists I have met to this day. --Emma

Emma Rhodes
from page 573-574 of original text
collage, walnut ink, jelly pen, wax
made 10/29/10
page 455-557 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Collage 282

This is a lovely scene. We are in Volume II, Part Three, Chapter XIV. It is New Year's Eve of 1810. The Rostov girls are getting dressed to attend their first ball, le reveillon given by a grand dignitary of Catherine the Great's time.

"All the essentials had already been done: feet, hands, neck, ears had been washed, perfumed and powdered with special thoroughness for the ball; they already had on their silk lace stockings and white satin booties with bows; their hairdressing was nearly done. Sonya was finishing dressing as was the countess; but Natasha, who had fussed over everybody, lagged behind."

The original text includes some black and white illustrations, one of which I used here. One of the things I'd like to learn how to do is photo transfer. It is hard to find an old-style copy machine that uses toner rather than laser jet. That is my goal for this project! -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 571-572 of original text
made 10/29/10
page 454-455 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Collage 281

Lucy Arrington
from page 569-570 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 10/29/10
page 452-453 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Poor perfect little Natasha. She falls asleep singing, feeling that she has the world in her control. But once you know her fate her innocent self-involved joy is simple stark contrast to what will be happening later...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Collage 280

I love Natasha in these pages, so buoyant and eager, jumping onto her mother's bed and talking of her relationship with Boris, one which her mother does not approve. The countess believes Natasha is leading him on, and she should not keep company with him as it will spoil her chances with others. Their talk is so loving, yet it makes me sad as Natasha's childhood is ending. -- Adrienne

Adrienne Wetmore
from page 567-568 of original text
collage, acrylic paint, oil crayon
made 10/29/10
page 450-451 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Monday, January 10, 2011

Collage 279

Several of us involved with this project attended Grinnell College and studied Russian language and/or literature. Professor John Mohan was head of the department, and a beloved teacher. Although this was about 30 years ago, I remember oh-so clearly. Of all things to remember, my take-away was the French phrase comme il faut. It was used on this page in the following way: "Boris's uniform, spurs, tie, haircut -- all this was of the most fashionable and comme il faut."

Mr. Mohan was obsessed with this phrase which is used repeatedly throughout the text. I took it up as a battle cry throughout my own life. It translates as "life how it should be". He thought that Tolstoy railed against this idea throughout the book -- that to live an authentic life was not to live according to social expectations, but to make your own way, to be your own person. Not like Boris, playing the part and trying to impress others with the outward symbols of success. Trying to impress others with being so correct.

When I ran across this phrase again, it brought it all back. What a profound teaching. Amazing how 3 tiny words can have a lifelong impact! Now I'm wondering which character(s) are most authentic -- certainly not Boris -- but maybe Dolokhov? Pierre?-- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 565-566 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 10/22/10
page 448-450 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Collage 277

These last 2 give a sense of how we work together. You can see that I used the same origami paper that Emma used in her last collage. And a regular staple of our artistic diet is definitely black. This would have been an entirely different project had it not been for Adrienne. She is our Johnny Cash, the man in black.

Yesterday Team Tolstoy worked together in the studio for the first time since before Thanksgiving. I was a little worried that we'd have a hard time getting re-energized, but after some settling into the studio again -- and a lot of cleaning and straightening -- we were off and running. Between Lynn, Emma, Lucy A and I, we made a whopping 17 collages, our record to date.

I also put aside 6 to send off to Otto in Berlin, and 1 for a new contributor, a fellow Grinnell College Russian Studies major, Christiane Johnson Carney. She sent us a package over the holidays with some real treasures -- letters written to her in French, Bible pages in Russian, old maps, Soviet-era stamps that we have yet to use -- they seem too precious! We are back in full force. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 561-562 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 10/22/10
page 445-447 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Friday, January 7, 2011

Collage 276

Lola mentioned today in the studio that she was convinced this one was Adrienne's until she turned it over and found my name! This has been happening a lot lately. I find myself imitating my studio mates, as well as other artists that I discover. At this point, I am not always so sure what my style is, and I seem to be trying on many different ones. Today in the studio, I was very influenced by Lucy A, who had been very influenced by the show, "Fresh Ink" (currently at the MFA). It's sort of a domino effect. . . we each bring different influences into the studio, influence one another, and that creates something entirely new and exciting.

Emma Rhodes
from page 559-560 of original text
collage, acrylic paint, oil crayon
made 10/22/10
page 444-445 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Collage 275

Team Tolstoy is ready to start again. Our first show was a huge success. We had a short, sweet 3 week run at Atlantic Works Gallery in East Boston where we showed the first 300 collages.

We will return to the studio tomorrow in full force, energized to work again. Lynn has proposed that we finish this project this year, by late October, which is her birthday. Mark, our photographer and go-to guy for all technical questions, estimates that if we do 11 collages each and every week, that we can do this by October!

This is a "process" driven project, not an "end result". So we don't want to pressure ourselves to crank it out. We want to enjoy it which is really the whole point. Nonetheless, all good things come to pass, including this. So wish us luck -- here we go! -- Lola

Lynn Waskelis
from page 557-558 of original text
collage, ink, wax, acrylic paint
made 10/15/10
page 442-444 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation