Seeking the Simple Strokes
There was a first time
I heard about the Aleph
I heard of it as
God’s First Stroke,
the first stroke of the universe;
the first letter of a sacred alphabet.
playing with curves
might allow me to explore the strokes I like best.
and choose from among them.
I want to find the strokes that have the most meaning,
that communicate the most.
A powerful “M”.
A happy “K”.
But, though I do love alphabets now that I am older,
they do not make as much sense to me as grasses do.
The messages in letters are hidden and human.
Certain strokes do
hold more than others.
And this is a magical idea.
It is what I learned
painting these grasses, recently.
But back when I first heard about the Aleph,
before I stumbled upon a ?first stroke? of my own,
I was coming from science.
I could only understand the Aleph as
In the evolutionary tree, for example,
forms branch from their parents
So I looked around me,
waiting to observe something
that appeared to me as a ?first stroke?.
The very first time I found it,
I had seen a
It sprouted as a circle, like the enso.
seeds in my garden
sprouting in circles, too.
It might be that making a circle is
the best way for a seed to discover light.
It might circle around to pinpoint the strongest source
in the dark soil
of its beginning.
Grasses offer all the possible curves,
They blow in the winter wind here, in our prairie climate.
I trust these curves implicitly, informing about beauty
in a way that
I do not naturally trust human-made letters and alphabets.
Not every curve
in the grasses
is unfolded in a way
I would like to paint.
But every curve
makes sense to me.
I can test it, respond to it, in my own strokes.
When I paint grasses I always begin with one curve.
If that curve holds everything, it’s an aleph and I stop.
If that curve looks like it will fall, like the letter ?P?,
I add a second blade.
And I continue in this way,
until I find balance.
I don’t know if anyone else thinks of grasses as forming alphabets,
But I am able to ask a question in this exploration.
And I am surprised that whether or not
the strokes I make here
result in an image of complexity or simplicity,
the message is the same.
The beauty should be equal.
July 11, 2014
Written and Painted by Laura Maaske, MSc.BMC, Medical Illustrator & Medical Animator
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