What I love– (painting oranges from the imagined perspective of Seraphine Louis, an outsider artist)

By Seraphine Louis

By Seraphine Louis


What I love–  (painting oranges from the imagined perspective of Seraphine Louis, an outsider artist)

–That when I hold a brush
I go away,
that only the eyes

And the orange.

As a child, I’d pull the sheet full-up
so that no one else could see
the pale blue me
breathing shallowly cloth’s suffocated folds,
but this moment’s neither muffled blue
nor me, but the airy light of orange,
where canvas is freely taut and breath
comes in the easy vein
of leaves, vining.

Sometimes, they are one eye
that inhales the altogether,
but mostly the eyes are many–
they peer from my grip
on the brush and from the tip
of the brush itself,
as it redampens in the blink
of pigment,
and as it looks up too,
in the quickened stare
of the I that is not there.

The tip circles up, around,
a twirl that could dance the sun, the moon,
that could pirouette any
planet, but arcs right now
an orange,
this truly and forever only orange,
until the next one.

The peekhole of the orange looks out at me,
that place that once connected it
to green,
the peekholes of all the oranges.
I don’t need to press them to my eye
knowing as I do what they do hold–the souls
of oranges-
able, with brush in hand,
to see into them
from arm’s length, and maybe even
from a greater distance.


I’m calling this one a draft.  It is written belatedly  for the prompt of  Fireblossom, (Shay of Shay’s Word Garden)  on With Real Toads to write about an image of Seraphine Louiw, a naive/outsider artist, who ended life in a mental institution, not painting.  Look at Shay’s wonderful prompt to read more, but the poem really has to do with painting, I think, and its absorptions, especially for someone who approaches it without all the concerns of a more established/professional painter.  

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13 Comments on “What I love– (painting oranges from the imagined perspective of Seraphine Louis, an outsider artist)”

  1. brian miller Says:

    i like that feeling of just kinda letting the brush go where it will…it could do all these things but right now it chooses to dance around an orange…also the connection you draw between the artist and the orange is very cool k…

  2. I really got the sense with the first person, that this poem was written from the perspective of one who knows what it is to paint. Knowing how artistic you are, I imagine that you have great empathy for the artist in question. I was especially struck by the description of process as well as the play on eye and I.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks, Kerry. This is very much a draft as I had a lot of trouble with the voice and perspective. I would like to write about drawing and painting which I don’t do nearly enough of and I’d feel a bit pretentious writing of in first person. I will maybe work on it in the future and move further from the prompt as it was a great springboard but a bit hard for me as I feel uncomfortable writing about mental illness in a first person voice on a blog. It just doesn’t sit well with me but I admire others’ poetry in this vein. Hope all well with you. K.


    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ps I think the poem would be significantly improved if I decide a stance and cut about half of it. Ha. Maybe will do that and repost.


  3. lynndiane Says:

    Strong draft here…especially like your description of “peekholes” into the oranges…and the twirling of planets; poem fit painting very well!

  4. I so love the beginning of this poem, where the artist goes away and “only the eyes stay”. That really hits home. A wonderful response to the prompt, and your painter’s voice is heard here with authenticity.

  5. animated words, bless you.

  6. grapeling Says:

    – the souls of oranges – I really like this conceit, the way you’ve held the line throughout the piece, and the strong finish ~

  7. hedgewitch Says:

    I don’t think there’s much to cut here, k. It has a rather laid back, winding delivery, but that rather suits the theme–I think you would lose something if you altered anything, especially about the peekholes and things, which make this seem so real, which really make the process of painting and what it meant seem so real as well. I don’t think the voice comes off as starkers mad, just as having that leper’s squint which so many creative people have, indeed, need to have..At the time she was painting she was out in the world, and surely sane enough to function, and whatever disturbing, unintegrated elements of her psyche existed, they were woven into something consistent and whole by the simplicity of her painting, and in the catharsis of the process itself, or so it feels here. Anyway, I liked all of this, and think it is very good as is, though of course, it never hurts to tweak or fine tune—always glad to read your work, draft or whatever, regardless.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. I will have to revisit some time. I had a hard time thinking about Seraphine’s particular life–very sad–but writing about the process of making visual art is so interesting. I don’t mean my drawings, but people who really do it. k.


  8. janehewey Says:

    the beginning really breath-taking. “comes in the easy vein/ of leaves, vining.” This piece is breathing, blinking, moving. I enjoy your last stanza’s tie-in with your first, “i go away” and “to see into them/ from arm’s length, and maybe even/ from a greater distance.” The airy light of orange compliments the pale blue and has a lasting effect here. wonderful work, k.

  9. I think I write this way…letting my pen go where it wishes until hopefully it speaks something worth reading. I love how you gave freedom to the artist/art. Fantastic write!

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