Saturday, April 30, 2011

Collage 389

What makes a "classic" a classic? I should remember this from my college days when I studied Russian literature. There was something about timelessness, right? I was reading an article about honeybees and colony collapse disorder, and it was prefaced by the following quote from Leo Tolstoy himself, "The closer we examine the honeybee, the more we realize the workings of a beehive encompass territories beyond our comprehension."

What an amazing human being.-- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 33-34, Volume II of original text
collage, acrylic paint, ink
made 2/18/11
page 625-627 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Friday, April 29, 2011

Collage 388

At dinner, seating Balashov beside him, he treated him not only benignly but as if he counted Balashov among his courtiers, among the people who sympathized with his plans and were supposed to be glad of his successes. Among other subjects, he talked about Moscow and began to ask Balashov about the Russian capital, not merely as a curious traveler asks about a new place he intends to visit, but as if convinced that Balashov, as a Russian, must be flattered by his curiosity. -- p. 625 in P/V

Lynn Waskelis
from page 31-32, Volume II of original text
collage, wax, ink
made 2/18/11
page 624-625 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Collage 387

We are in Volume II, Part One, Chapter VI. The Russian emperor's envoy, Balashov, has been sent to deliver a message to Napoleon. For whatever reason, he finds it impossible to relay to Napoleon the message, i.e. get off Russian soil! Napoleon is on a verbal rampage and Balashov is brow-beaten into submission, barely able to follow the argument and completely frozen, a deer in headlights. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 29-30, Volume 2 of original text
collage, ink
made 2/18/11
page 622-624 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Collage 386

He paced silently from one corner of the room to the other, and again stopped in front of Balashov. His face was as if petrified in its stern expression, and his left leg trembled still more rapidly than before. Napoleon knew that he had this trembling of the left calf. "La vibration de mon mollet gauche est un grand signe chez moi," he would say later. --p. 621 in P/V

Lynn Waskelis
from page 27-28, Volume 2 of original text
collage, ink
made 2/18/11
page 621-622 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Collage 385

War and Peace is chock full of repetitions; who can forget Princess Marya's "luminous" eyes? In this passage, Tolstoy draws out attention to a tic of Napoleon's -- a rhythmic trembling of his left calf. Balashov is with Napoloeon and has been tasked to tell Napoleon the following -- "that not a single armed enemy remains on Russian soil". This is his directive from the tsar. Yet he is unable to say this directly to Napoleon. All that Balashov asks for is that Napoleon withdraw his troops beyond the Niemen river.

On the next page Napoleon comments that the trembling of his left calf is a great sign to him. A sign of what is unclear. He does not heed Balashov's polite request and continues his march on Moscow. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 25-26 of original text, Volume 2
made 2/11/11
page 619-620 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Monday, April 25, 2011

Collage 384


Lynn Waskelis
from page 23-24 of original text, Volume II
collage, ink
made 2/11/11
page 617-619 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Collage 383

We are in Volume III, Part One, Chapter V.

Again, more Paynes Gray. This has the feeling of a smoky battlefield.

Tolstoy is describing one of Napoleon's marshalls. "In the mechanism of the state organism these people are necessary, as wolves are necessary in nature's organism, and they always exist, always appear and hold out, however incongruous their presence and closeness to the head of the government may be."

He goes on, "...Davout was one of those people who deliberately set themselves up in the most gloomy conditions of life, so as to have the right to be gloomy. For the same reason they are always in a hurry and stubbornly busy."

Tolstoy was part historian and part psychologist. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 21-22 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 2/11/11
page 616-617 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Collage 382

Emma Rhodes
from page 19-20, Volume II of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 2/11/11
page 6140616 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Friday, April 22, 2011

Collage 381

It is Good Friday and I can't help but think about Easter eggs. Princess Marya would love this one! -- Lola

Lynn Waskelis
from page 17-18, Volume II of original text
collage, pigment
made 2/11/11
page 613-614 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Collage 380

This passage is about the letter that the tsar of Russia, Alexander, writes to Napoleon. Lynn certainly captures the feeling of war in this piece. Not that I've ever seen such a thing, but it looks like a bullet wound to flesh. The tone of the letter is so courtly, so "gentlemanly". You wonder, what was he thinking? Just wishful thinking that somehow this plea would stop Napoleon's invasion?

"Monsieur my brother,

I learned yesterday that despite the loyalty with which I have kept my promises to Your Majesty, your troops have crossed the borders of Russia, and I have just received a note from Petersburg in which Count Lauriston announces, as the cause of this aggression, that Your Majesty has considered himself in a state of war with me from the moment when Prince Kurakin asked for his passports. The motives upon which the duke of Bassano based his refusal to deliver them to him would never have made me suppose that this step could ever serve as a pretext for aggression. Indeed, this ambassador was never authorized to take it, as he has declared himself, and as soon as I was informed of it, I made known to him how much I disapproved of him ordering him to remain at his post. If Your Majesty is not intent on shedding the blood of our peoples for a misunderstanding of this sort and consents to withdraw his troops from Russian territory, I will regard what has occurred as canceled and and an agreement between us will be possible. In the contrary case, Your Majesty, I will find myself forced to repel an attack which nothing on my part has provoked. It still depends on Your Majesty to spare humanity the calamities of a new war. I remain, etc. (signed) Alexandre.

Napoleon must have laughed when he read this. I note the capital letters of "Your Majesty" and the passive sentence construction. And his sign-off with just his name, not "tsar of Russia" or some grand title. -- Lola

Lynn Waskelis
from page 15-16, Volume II of original text
collage, pigment, ink
made 2/11/11
page 611-613 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Collage 379

How I love the color of Payne's Gray. I love how it comes out of the tube looking black, but totally transforms with the addition of white into a lovely blue gray. I used it extensively this day in the studio and a few others got on the Payne's Gray love train as well.

I also used an Emily Dickinson poem as we were preparing for the workshop with the high school kids and had decided to work with her poetry for their collages.

Here is the poem:

Our share of night to bear --
Our share of morning --
Our blank in bliss to fill
Our blank in scorning --

Here a star, and there a star,
Some lose their way!
Here a mist, and there a mist,
Afterwards -- Day!

And when I think of Emily Dickinson, I think about our Japanese friend and Emily Dickinson scholar Masako Takeda. She was with us just a few days before her return to Japan and the subsequent tsunami, earthquake and nuclear power plant disaster. Team Tolstoy sends prayers and blessing to her and all those affected the affected -- which is the whole world. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 13-14, Volume II, original text
collage, ink, acrylic paint
made 2/11/11
page 609-611 Pevear/Voloknonsky translation

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Collage 378

We are in Volume III, Part One, Chapter II. This is a tragic scene. Napoleon is marching his troops towards Moscow, crossing the Niemen. I learned through reading this book that Napoleon's troops were not only Frenchmen as I would have assumed, but many other nationalities as well. Napoleon stops beside a regiment of Polish uhlans who are on the side of the river. He ordered one of them to ford the river. The colonel of the Polish uhlans begged to swim across so that Napoleon could witness his zeal. For whatever reason, the colonel was followed by hundreds of his men, all on horseback. Forty men drowned!

"... they were proud to swim and even drown in this river before the eyes of the man who sat on a log and was not even looking at what they were doing." Napoleon was not impressed with this extreme sacrifice; in fact, it annoyed and distracted him because he was in the midst of giving orders.

It's hard to imagine, right? It makes me wonder about his charisma. Throughout history there are endless examples of people willing to die who are under the sway of a charismatic leader. Is that what this is about? -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 11-12, Volume II
collage, acrylic paint
made 2/11/11
page 608-609 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Monday, April 18, 2011

Collage 377

"The troops know of the emperor's presence, sought him with their eyes, and when they found a figure in a frock and coat and hat, standing apart from his suite on a hill in front of a tent, they threw their hats in the air, shouted 'Vive l'Empereur!'" -p.607 in Pevear/Volokhonsky

Emma Rhodes
from page 9-10, Volume II of original text
collage, oil crayon, acrylic paint
made 2/11/11
page 606-607 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Collage 376

There are two sides to each man's life: his personal life, which is the more free the more abstract its interests, and his elemental, swarmlike life, where man inevitably fulfills the laws prescribed for him...
Kings are the slaves of history...
History, that is, the unconscious, swarmlike life of mankind, uses every moment of a king's life as an instrument for its purposes. --p. 605 in P/V

Lynn Waskelis
from page 7-8, Volume II of original text
collage, ink
made 2/11/11
page 605-606 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Collage 375

On these pages, Tolstoy waxes philosophical about war, history and free will. I sometimes think these are the heart of the book. It would be fascinating to have a book that leaves out all the narrative and includes only Tolstoy's philosophical musings. It could be called something like Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of War and Peace (apologies to Kant).
I think perhaps that's what he wanted to write, but thought he could get more widely read if he included lots of juicy detailed illustrations of his ideas.
Anyway, here's an example:
Fatalism in history is inevitable for the explanation of senseless phenomena (that is, those whose sense we do not understand)...
Each man lives for himself, uses his freedom to achieve his personal goals, and feels with his whole being that right now he can or cannot do such-and-such an action; but as soon as he does it, this action, committed at a certain moment in time, becomes irreversible and makes itself the property of history, in which it has not a free but a predestined significance.
Lucy Arrington
from page 5-6 of original text, Volume II
collage, ink
made 2/4/11
page 603-605 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Friday, April 15, 2011

Collage 374

Today's collage was made by guest artist, Abigail Norman, who is a friend of Lynn's and director of the Eliot School in Jamaica Plain. They offer training, classes and workshops in crafts and fine arts – woodworking, sewing, painting, drawing, photography, green crafts and other crafts of all kinds. Abigail has invited Team Tolstoy to do a workshop in the fall which we are very excited about.

She commented that we have have created something beautiful, meaningful, unusual and resonant.

"I loved sitting for an hour, talking with the artists from the Tolstoy project, and playing with a page from War and Peace. The page was at the opening of the cataclysmic section on war. It introduces a heavy thundercloud pregnant with lightning and portent. But my feeling, in the East Boston studio, overlooking the still and beautiful frozen harbor, was one of peace." -- Abigail

Abigail Normal
from page 4-5, Volume II
collage, pigment, colored pencil, acrylic paint
made 2/4/11
page 603 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Collage 373

Lucy Arrington
from page 753-754 of original text
collage, ink
made 2/4/11
page 599-600 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

I wish I had been paying more attention to the text when I did this collage. I would have had a dark background with a brilliant comet streaking across the page, lighter on one side black on the other to mark the end of Volume 1. But then, if I had, someone would say I was being slavishly literal.
I always feel the tension between just wanting to create a collage and wanting to illustrate the text. Mostly, when I'm in the studio I just want to make collages, but then when I'm reading W&P or looking back, I would have liked to have them all more like illustrations. Oh well...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Collage 372

We are in Volume II, Part Five, Chapter XXII. This is a very important scene as we see Natasha (after "the fall") alone in a drawing room with Pierre. You can see that Pierre has so much empathy for her, unlike everyone else. He even asks if she loved Anatole, although he refers to him as "that bad man".

"Up until then he had reproached her in his soul and had tried to despise her; but now he felt such pit for her that there was no room in his soul for reproach."

I used a bit of English text here, from a thesaurus. One of the words are "boredom"; "weariness"; "tedium", "heavy hours". This captures Natasha's emotional state. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 751-752 of original text
collage, pigment, ink
made 2/4/11
page 598-599 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Collage 371

This piece was very physical- an instance of finding my way by making without much thinking- enjoying putting down waxy crayons and candles, watery ink and sticky papers. Drawing marks are peaking out from under the text and the tissue. It was a day when 5x7 felt very small. I will try more drawing soon.

Lynn Waskelis
from page 749-750 of original text
collage, colored pencil, ink, wax
made 2/4/11
page 596-598 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Monday, April 11, 2011

Collage 370

Lucy Arrington
from page 747-748 of original text
collage, ink, acrylic paint
made 2/4/11
page 594-596 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

I think Lola wrote a few days ago about how the beauty of the Cyrillic letters was one of the things that attracted her to study Russian. I can really understand that attraction. I've been going to Google Translate and translating different things into Russian just to see how it looks. I'm struggling to learn Italian now, or I would think about trying to study Russian!

Я думаю, Лола пишет о том, как красота кириллицы была одна из тех вещей, которые привлекли ее изучать русский язык. Я могупонять, что притяжение.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Collage 369

Pierre chases down Anatoly, the enemy, and drives him out of Moscow. Anxiety, frustration, anger, rage.....utter disbelief. It is black. It is bleak. Is there any way out of this abyss? For Natasha? For Russia?

How will Natasha survive this onslaught? How will Russia survive? The book is full of dual meanings, layers upon layers of meanings. Just like a collage. -- Chris

Christiane Carney Johnson
from page 745-746 of original text
collage, acrylic, chalk, watercolor
made 2/22/11
page 593-594 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Collage 368

Natasha is too trusting, emotionally naive. She is fooled, duped by Anatoly Kuragin. We feel so sorry for her and we are oh so helpless in our postion as a reader/observer. We just want to shake the book at scream at Natasha, "How could you be so stupid to get involved with THAT?" Are we yelling at Natasha....or at Russia? Is there hope for Natasha? Is there hope for Russia? Everything has fallen to pieces. How will she fly out of her predicament?

I used "leather" on the first one. I wanted something really black and leathery - like Anatoly Kuragin - a real snake. The material actually is vinyl or plastic--which is more appropriate to represent Anatoly! -- Chris

Christiane Carney Johnson
from page 743-744 of original text
collage, watercolor, leather
made 2/22/11
page 591-593 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Friday, April 8, 2011

Collage 367

Natasha, pale, stern, was sitting next to Marya Dmitrievna, and her feverishly glittering, questioning gaze met Pierre just at the door. She did not smile, did not nod to him, she only looked fixedly, and her gaze asked him only this: was he a friend, or like everybody else, an enemy in relation to Anatole? Pierre himself evidently did not exist for her. --p. 591 in P/V

Lynn Waskelis
from page 741-742 of original text
collage, acrylic paint, wax, ink
made 2/4/11
page 590-591 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Collage 366

Lucy Arrington
from page 739-740 of original text
made 2/4/11
page 588-590 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Я думаю, мы должны начать размещение всех наших записей на русском языке. Это выглядит так много более достоверными.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Collage 365

Working side by side surely had an influence here in the Land of the Lost Balloons! -- Adrienne

Adrienne Wetmore
from page 737-738 of original text
collage, ink
made 2/4/11
page 587-588 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Collage 364

Lynn sent Team Tolstoy a bunch of youtube links about Yasnaya Polyana that we've all been watching. Although I made this piece several months ago, it has the feel of the former Tolstoy estate, considering the trees and blue of the sky. In one of the videos, the young woman commentator said that to know the Russian landscape is to understand the Russian people. That seems to be true of all places and all peoples. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 735-736 of original text
collage, ink
made 2/4/11
page 585-587 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Monday, April 4, 2011

Collage 363

Balaga was a blond, squat, snub-nosed man, with a red face and an especially red, thick neck, about twenty-seven years old, with small, glittering eyes and a little beard. He was wearing a thin, blue, silk-lined kaftan over a winter jacket. --p. 583 in P/V

Lynn Waskelis
from page 733-734 of original text
collage, ink
made 2/4/11
page 583-585 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Collage 362

Lucy Arrington
from page 731-7312 of original text
collage, ink
made 2/4/11
page 582-583 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Anatole and Dolokhov finalize plans for abducting Natasha. Dolokhov: "If this marriage is invalid, it means I'm not answerable; and if it's valid, it makes no diference:nobody abroad will know it." Kind of sums up his character.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Collage 361

The colors and base art for this collage makes me think of pysanka - Ukrainian Easter eggs decorated with folk art. I tried recreating pysanka as a child, using their traditional beeswax method. Alas, I was not very successful. -- Adrienne

Adrienne Wetmore
from page 729-730 of original text
collage, acrylic paint, ink
made 2/4/11
page 580-582 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Friday, April 1, 2011

Collage 360

And it suddenly became clear to Sonya that Natasha had some terrible plan for that night. Sonya knocked on her door. Natasha did not let her in. --p. 580 in P/V

Lynn Waskelis
from page 727-728 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 1/28/11
page 578-580 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation