The Emotional Landscape – A Short Story

The Dead but Alive Woman

She woke up every morning only seeing what was behind her. She sometimes would try to turn her head but could not. It was as if she was made of stone. So, she looked back. She remembered the many signs telling her not to go in that direction and how long the journey down the road had been. She cried remembering when she so terribly wanted shade and found only tree stumps. She was disgusted when she remembered going through the trash looking for something to eat and finding only rotting food, which she ate. She saw the snake and was scared all over again. She remembered the pain of the bite and the dizziness and fever she felt almost immediately afterward. She wondered if her eyes were fooling her because she didn’t remember the coyote being pink, though she did remember it howling as she fell in the hole. She didn’t want to look at the river at all, but couldn’t help it. It was where she drowned after she stumbled out of the hole.

The Woman in the Cabin

The woman in the cabin lived alone. The cabin was small but still had enough room to bring in strays that needed help. She had such a stray now. It was a dead but alive woman she had found in the river. The woman was dead but alive, a phenomenon she had seen many times before. There was no heartbeat, no breathing. She was cold but not hard. The woman in the cabin poured warm water over her and then laid a blanket of orange flowers on her naked body. She sprinkled grass on top of the blanket, then very fine pebbles on top of that. She left her alone and went to carve the rock.

The Indian with the Limp

At the edge of the plateau there lived an Indian with the limp who the woman in the cabin was friends with. She would tell him about her work carving the rock and he would sometimes help her move the broken stones to the waterfall so they could be washed away. He didn’t understand what she was carving but he enjoyed the sound of her hammering in the distance during the day. He sometimes brought her rabbit for dinner. She sometimes brought him corn for breakfast.

The indian with the limp asked her once what she was trying to do with the rock. All the woman in the cabin would say is she was working on creating a new face on the other side of it, facing the hills and mountains, similar but not exactly like the face facing the dry land. He didn’t see anything resembling a face  yet but it didn’t matter, he encouraged her anyway because he liked her. She knew he didn’t see it but she didn’t mind, because she liked him.

The Indian with the limp had collected the orange flowers and the pebbles and brought them to the woman in the cabin the day before, when she had a stray coyote with a twisted tail come in. But the tail had straightened itself out with just a little burnt crepe myrtle paste put on it so the flowers and pebbles weren’t needed. The Indian was happy about this because he knew they would be helpful to the dead but alive woman from the river.

The Indian with the limp loved to gather things for the woman in the cabin. It was a chance for him to explore and have a purpose. He didn’t know what jobs were but if he did he would have called it his job and he liked his job very much. He also liked that he was helping animals and people heal. His favorite thing was to collect the little pebbles from the river. He often thought about how he helped her throw the big rocks into the river after she chiseled them off the carving, then he would bring back little pebbles that were just those big rocks having been broken down. The Indian with the limp thought that was amusing and would smile as carried them back up to the plateau.

The Healing

The dead but alive woman took a long time to recover. She stayed at the woman in the cabin’s cabin for many months. She would sit in a chair and look back over the plateau to the dry land below and feel no better than the day before. The woman in the cabin saw what was happening and one morning moved the chair to the other side of the plateau. The dead but alive woman then was forced to look over the hills and mountains and to watch the woman in the cabin do her carving. She learned about the carving and would watch the woman in the cabin chisel every day as she sat in her chair. She met the Indian with the limp and thanked him for help the woman in the cabin get the supplies to make her better.  When she felt strong enough she asked if she could be of any help and the woman in the cabin told her it would be helpful if she would sing for her while she carved.  She she said she only knew 2 songs. The woman in the cabin told her not to worry, she would teach her many songs, which she did.

The dead but alive woman loved the new songs she learned and would sing them beautifully. The Indian with the limp started coming by each morning and would play along with a drum he had.  The coyote with the no longer twisted tail would even come close once in a while and howl in harmony. The woman in the cabin was able to work faster and longer with the beautiful music being sung and soon the new carving was almost finished.

The Leaving

One morning, well before the sun rose, the woman in the cabin awoke the dead but alive woman and told her to get ready, she was going on a journey.  The dead but alive woman asked what sort of journey. The woman in the cabin said she wasn’t able to tell her what sort of journey or how long it would last. All she said about the journey was that the Indian with the limp would help her as she got on her way.

The woman in the cabin had packed a nice backpack full of food, clothing, and supplies for the dead but alive woman. The dead but alive woman wanted to take one last look around, to remember where she had been healed. The woman in the cabin let her do that, but would not let her go to the edge of the plateau and look back at the dry land below.

The Indian with the limp was waiting at the other edge of the plateau with a lantern to help them down to the hills below in the dark. The dead but alive woman hugged the woman in the cabin and said she would see her later.  The woman in the cabin said nothing, just smiled and gave her a kiss goodbye. The indian with the limp and the dead but alive woman hiked down the side of the plateau until they reached a trail going up the hills towards the mountains. They traveled over three sets of hills until mid-day. Then they took a break, sitting down for lunch. The Indian with the limp told her this was where he was going to leave her.

The Alive Woman

The dead but alive woman was about to ask why when she saw the carving in the distance. Up on the plateau, high and strong in the mid-day sun, was a beautiful face facing her. It was her face but it wasn’t. It was the face of an alive woman, not of a dead but alive woman. She forgot what she was going to ask the Indian with the limp and just stared.  Then she looked in the direction the face in the rock was looking. It was looking towards the mountains.

The alive woman said goodbye to the Indian with a limp and asked him to make sure the woman in the cabin knew how grateful she was for her love. The indian with the limp said he would. Then he said his goodbye and went back towards the plateau. The alive woman hiked the backpack up onto her back and set off.  As she walked she could hear the howl of the coyote with the no longer twisted tail. She started to sing along.

The End

Drawing and story © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

The Ten Violinists

I draw in church. In recent years the violinists in the orchestra have been the ones facing me. As a result I have drawn them a number of times. Here is a selection.

The Violinist #10

 

The Violinist #9

 

The Violinist #8

 

The Violinist #7

 

The Violinist #6

 

The Violinist #5

 

The Violinist #4

 

The Violinist #3

 

The Violinist #2

 

The Violinist #1

 

 

The Friend on the Patio in Spring

The original drawing is available for purchase here

My wife and daughter needed to go to Utica Square, an outdoor shopping center in Tulsa, after Church. I took the opportunity on a gorgeous spring day to hang out at Starbucks Coffee place patio and draw.

As I walked out to the patio after getting my coffee I noticed someone I thought looked a lot like a friend of mine, Victoriya.  As I looked I just wasn’t sure. She looked like her in style, same beautiful long hair and stunning eyes, but her face was shaped a bit differently.  I hadn’t seen her in person in many years, since she modeled for our Photography Club so I wasn’t sure.

I sat 2 tables away and started to draw the scene. It took about an hour or so to complete the drawing. When I was done I posted a photo of both the drawing and the scene on my instagram site (@thenapkindad).  As I did that I noticed a posting by Victoriya showing a photo of another part of Utica Square with a comment about what a beautiful day it was. But the hashtag she had with it said #saturdayvibe and today was Sunday. That made me think it was just an odd coincidence and it really wasn’t her.  Often I will connect with those I draw to show them the drawing but in this case they left while I was still drawing and I didn’t have the opportunity to do so.

Later another friend, Bianca, commented on the drawing saying she had been there and loved the shoes the woman was wearing. She must have walked by right before I had sat down or maybe I was oblivious, who knows. I had also noticed her heels and had just enough room to draw a portion of one at the bottom of the drawing.

Later that night I messaged Victoriya to ask her if she had been at Utica Square that day and lo and behold, she had. It was her I had been drawing that whole time (she is the one facing to the left in the black dress).  She commented back on the post saying it was her, and thanked Bianca for the compliment about the heels.


Drawing © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com


 

The Poem About My Senses

poeminherhead-2016_sm

The Poem About My Senses

I have a poem in my head,
Not fancy or complete.
Actually pretty basic,
mundane but pretty sweet.

Don’t know what it’s all about,
That’s the point of it I think.
But I know It’s sort of funny,
And includes the color pink.

It includes the smell of coffee,
And maybe the passage of time.
I don’t really remember,
But it’s simple in it’s rhyme.

It has an image of windows,
With sun filtering the air.
That flows all around me,
And lands on my hair.

There is a taste of a croissant,
Somewhere in the verse.
And the texture of an almond,
as it falls into my purse.

That’s all I remember,
Of the poem within my head.
It makes me glad to to be alive,
Instead of being dead.


Drawing and poem © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com


This drawing was done at the Glenpool, Oklahoma Starbucks.

It is available for purchase, either the original for $100.00, or a print for $25.00


 

Four That Took a Decade – Sketchbook History Tour

I’ve been drawing in sketchbooks for many decades now. I sometimes go back and revisit older books just to see what I did or to show others. Recently I did this with a series of sketchbooks from 2000 on.  I discovered a number of drawings I wanted to work on more, mostly in coloring and shading. Here are 4 drawings from this endeavor.

If you know my recent work you know I often write short stories to accompany my drawings. In these drawings though the stories or observations were written directly on the page.  I specifically went for stream of consciousness oriented narratives with long run-on sentences that imitated the way I actually experienced and thought about the moment.


HOOPS

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‘Hoops’ 2003-2016

The classy student studying with the grey eyeshadow and glimmery lips while her boyfriend who looks young and too young for her reads a magazine with three bug bits on his ankle in a row looking like a constellation and she uses a blue and red pen & huge hoop earrings, the biggest i’ve ever seen with her left hand and very small delicate fingers with no polish in Norman, Oklahoma on a summer’s night that threatens to rain while the two girls behind her wear red Sooner shirts and read & talk about the young star who is too thin and I draw instead of read the manual on the class I am here for while I catch a bright pink purse pass by a tall guy sitting with yellow.


 VEINS

veins_2003-2016_sm

‘Veins’ 2003-2016

The tall thin woman at Panera with great veins reading her bible and taking notes and eating a bagel and ignoring that I am drawing her while she drinks coffee and contemplates divorce on a hot summer morning in Tulsa.


SPLOTCHY

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‘Splotchy’ 2003-2016

The woman looked like she had been crying; splotchy skin, red eyes & nose but she had not.


RUBY LIPGLOSS

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‘Ruby Lipgloss’ 2004-2016

The woman with the ruby lip gloss and zig zag parted hair looking at the person in the door and wondering if he noticed her perfume when he passed as she made a call to her boyfriend to ask if he picked up mascara for her.


Drawings and stories © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com


 

I Draw in Church – Four Violinists

I draw in church.  I used to draw the pianist quite a bit but then the orchestra got so big I am no longer able to see her.  Now I draw other members of the orchestra, most often the French Horn player and the Violinists.  They sit where I have a good view of them and many of them stay during the sermon so I can draw them longer.

Here are 4 drawings from my violinist collection.


theviolinist3_2016_sm

I have been drawing in church since I would say about 1981 or so, hard to say exactly. I go between drawing something or someone I see as accurately as I can, as in this drawing and making something completely up in my head having nothing to do with what is in front of me.


theviolinist2_2016_sm  ‘

I don’t worry to much about getting the background exact. Sometimes I get most of it, sometimes just part of it and make up the rest.  In this case only the steps leading to the alter are accurate, with the donation bags full of school supplies sitting in front.


theviolinist1_2016_sm

The style I have in each drawing usually depends on the pen I am using. If I use a brush pen the style is simpler, calmer.


theviolinist-2016_sm

Sometimes I will get only a portion of a person on the paper before he or she leaves or moves. In that case I will completely makeup the rest of the drawing.


Drawings and commentary © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com


 

The Filmmaker – Portrait of Britni

I had to go to the art supply store and decided that as long as I was all the way there I might as well get some coffee and create some art.

I got my giant cappuccino and settled in to draw the woman at the window. She was deep into writing and I had a feeling she would be there a while. Who knows, I might get lucky and be able to draw the entire scene before she left. Of course all I really needed was for her to stay long enough to draw her. The rest of the scene I was pretty sure would remain where it was.

 

thefilmmaker4-2016_sm

 

I was able to finish the entire line drawing, including the background. When I went over to show her the drawing I told her I wasn’t sure what I would put in the thought bubbles but that I would probably write a short story and the words in the bubbles would be part of that story. She told me she was actually writing a film script if that helped at all. I told her it did.

 

Britni Harris

Britni Harris at Fair Fellow Coffee House, Tulsa, Oklahoma


 


Drawing and story © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com


 

The Six Thoughts – An illustrated Short Story

The Six Thoughts

Chapter One – Claire

When Claire the Clarinetist was finished playing she could have chosen to leave the altar as do many of the other orchestra members. But the orchestra was arranged today so that she was facing directly towards the congregation (usually she is facing sideways) and she thought it would be fun to just sit there and see what the pastor sees every week.

Chapter Two – NO

The first thing she noticed was the raven-haired woman in the front row trying to control her kids. Her husband was also there but he was having no interaction with any of them. She had seen this happen again and again with this family. The mother had to do the hard work of interacting with the kids constantly and the father did nothing.  She wondered if they would ever be friends. She thought, “No.”

Chapter Three – YES

As Claire looked at them longer she realized something else. The mother was getting the hugs and the smiles from the kids. The father was not. He may have been missing the hassle, but he was also missing the love.  Now when she wondered if they would ever be friends, she thought, “Yes.”

Chapter Four – I DON’T KNOW

She then cast her eyes on an elderly man.  He looked alert, with sparkling eyes. He had on a very nice sweater. She wondered about him, who he was, who he had been. She imagined him as a young man. She wondered if they would have been friends back when he was her age now.  She thought, “I don’t know.”

Chapter Five – I KNOW

Her attention was pulled back to the sermon. The Pastor was telling a joke.  It went on way too long and when the punch line finally came it was terrible.  The whole congregation laughed though. All except the elderly man. He rolled his eyes. That is when she realized she would have to go meet him because they would be good friends. She thought, “I know.”

Chapter Six – MAYBE

She looked up into the balcony and noticed a striking blonde woman. One of the spotlights aimed at the altar was directly behind the woman and it lit up her big blonde hairdo like a halo. She could tell, even from a distance, that she had on impeccable clothing.  She looked like she had a lot of money. She wondered if they would ever be friends. She thought, “Maybe.”

Chapter Seven – MAYBE NOT

As she continued to watch the woman in the balcony she noticed her looking back at her. Then she leaned over to the woman next to her and whispered in her ear.  When she did that, she gestured toward the altar and pointed her finger. They both smiled and suppressed a giggle.  The Clarinetist knew she had been pointing at her.  She thought, “Maybe not.”

 

Epilogue

Claire eventually met the woman in the front row. They became good friends. She would babysit their kids once in a while when the couple would go out on date nights. It turned out they were very old fashioned but very much in love.  He was kind and thoughtful to his kids, though not particularly warm. She adored her husband and greatly appreciated his ability to discipline the kids with love.

Clair did go and meet the elderly man.  They became good friends. He started attending the noon concerts she did once a month with her little quintet she had. He was a widower, having been married 57 years before his wife passed away. Claire played his favorite song at his funeral 5 years later.

Claire ran into the blonde woman in the church bathroom a few weeks later. The blonde woman said, “I just want you to know how much I admire your playing every Sunday. My friend and I sit in the balcony and just adore the entire orchestra. We both like to sit up there because the acoustics are best. We can hear your clarinet very distinctly.  We always make sure to point you out to each other when we think you have an exceptionally cool outfit on.” 

They became good friends.

The End


drawing and story © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com


 

 

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