Saturday, 6 April 2013

Day 383-385-If Bookshelves Be Your Gardens

Make books your companions; 
let your bookshelves be your gardens; 
bask in their beauty, 
gather their fruit, 
pluck their roses,
take their spices and myrrh.

------------------Samuel Ibn Tibbons
(Quote handwritten in the Old Man's journal)

8 days had passed before I finally took a break from the colour pigments. By then, I had managed to extract and even begun mixing the powders to create new colours and then shades of each colour.  If not for the fact that I eventually ran out of bowls to put my colours in, I would have continued for the sheer pleasure of discovering colours the likes of which I had never thought existed. I mean, they are still primarily the colours we know, but I swear the opalescence of the blues or the florescence of my yellows and the iridescence of each hue, they are almost surreal! 

I must stop, I told myself or I will start wanting to live only in this psychedelic consciousness. 

So I stopped and I went home but of course, I couldn't leave the colours. My mind was constantly flashing riotous paint pigments, in splashes, blotches and swatches. 

I turned to my books for distractions but I found myself picking only art books, old books that I have collected over the years. There was a series on Iznik ceramics, one on Persian paintings and a few with illustrated stories like the 1001 Nights, all filled with colours. I tried to read but everything I read only made me longed harder for that world that I was desperately seeking a respite from. 

I gave up, threw my hands in the air in surrender but I sternly told myself: No more mixing colours! At least for a week! 

That was how I went back;

and that was how I came to build those bookshelves. 

With a now familiar resolve, I had intentionally brought the big and heavy art books to the house, firmly believing that I could use them to keep my hands off the mixing bench. Let me tell you, these books are so big and heavy that you will need two strong hands to read each book with no hands left to do anything else.

I had of course forgotten how the house was really not very conducive for reading. There was no comfortable seat, dim lighting and no place to store my precious old books.

The light bulb moment came when I saw this old drawer. I thought I found my 3 in 1 solution. By converting it into a small window seat cum shelf for my books, I had found a comfortable seat with good lighting at the window and a proper place to store my precious books. 

Fortuitously, I also got to play with my colours. The piece of old cloth I had used to make the seat was dyed with every colour I had made in that 8 days. Once the colours were applied, it was as if the cloth was brought to life. I could feel the pulse of its vibrancy. The newness of the seat was then contrasted with a pair of aged but sturdy floral wood carvings used to adorn the sides of the shelf. The shelf cum seat now echoes the bookstand at the mixing bench. 

I couldn't help sighing with pleasure when I looked at my completed bookshelf. If that seat was a painting, it would have been an abstract depicting a bed of spring flowers. I know it is ridiculous to see a mere seat like that but there's something about those colours that just made me think Art.

I was so high on the art of bookshelves that I decided I should also do something to house the collection of horticultural periodicals and gardening books which the old man had left behind. 

His was a collection of even older works. Due to the neglect and exposure to the elements, many  had to be thrown out. Yet, I managed to still salvage quite a few and kept all the interesting ones, the most important being his journal. 

I spent twice as long building his bookshelf because I was reading so much. 

There was this batch of periodicals that I was particularly  taken with. They were on old botanica illustrations. I actually spent hours reading and studying quite a few of them because there was something odd about those illustrations. It eventually came to me. 

The illustrations were originally printed in black and white. Colours of the drawings were subsequently added by hand. Once or twice, some pigments actually came off onto my fingers and I  noticed that they were very similar to the ones that I had extracted.

Could it be that the old man added those colours?

I can appreciate how frustrating it must have been to him to look at the flowers he was so familiar with in greyscale when he could identify the colours down to its precise shade. Part of his attempts at mixing the colours himself might have been his striving for that shade he wanted to anoint the flowers in his books with.

For the first time, I felt like I finally understood this man. His books revealed for me more of him than any other things in this house did. 

A day later, I reluctantly put the books away and started working on his shelf. 

It was a different experience, building the old man's bookshelf. Apart from the obvious, like how it only took me one day to build mine and two days to build his, I felt too that my motivations were different. My bookshelf was intended as a nook of respite, a place I could snuggle up to read and dream with quick access to my books. I built it casual and comfortable. 

The old man's bookshelf however was like a temple, built to enshrine books which I obviously felt were even more precious than mine. Flowers and plants were added, both as a homage to the old man who loved them and as a tribute for his relentless pursuit of their exact hue.

If my bookshelf was a bed of spring flowers, then I built his to be the hanging gardens of Babylon. 

5 weeks after I finished building these bookshelves, I found the quote by Samuel ibn Tibbons in the Old Man's journal. 

The Old Man also scribbled : If bookshelves be your gardens....

That day, I wrote my 1st words in the journal, right below those lines: 

If you should chance upon our gardens; you may wish to sit a while. And when you hear our roses speak, don't be alarm. For miracles and magic is commonplace; and all that they want to do is to tell  you who we are. That we are merely, the old man and I,  an artist and a gardener; and lovers of colours and plants.


Susan said...

Books and plants, two of my RL loves. Your ancient versions reach back into time like a dream. Love the bookshelves!

Daydreamer said...

Oh, Oh OOOHH!!! Yes, YES!!! Divine! Inspired! Beautiful! Enchanting! My Dear Sans, I will LOVE to sit on your bookcase Bench with the Impressionist Flower Garden Cloth Seat and read your Two hands only heavy Tomes on Art! I remember reading when you made your books on Iznik pottery and thinking how incredibly talented you were!!! And Your Garden shelf... with the hand painted illustrated botany .... do you have any idea how much I have always loved to paint the flowers in the borders of my paintings... just as exactly as they are in the real world.... the way they did in the Medieval Miniatures... You have made your bookshelf a Garden indeed... I want to drink from the nectar of its flowers and taste the fruits of its vines....!!!! You are Such a poet and an Inspiration!!!
I LOVE LOVE LOVE your book shelves!!!

Lucille said...

Hi Sans! I always feel like I am entering an enchanted world when I come to your blog. I love the way you write and the colours you use are so uplifting. Your bench and the old man's shelf are little works of art. I immensely love the fabric you have selected for the seat. This bewitching little room could very easily be used as a place to go to in one's mind when visualizing.

Margriet said...

Oh, how I feel at home here! Beautiful books, a windowseat, wonderful must be my dreamhouse :-)
read this story with a smile, love the magic you put in your stories!!!
The bookcase of the old man is a wonderful shrine, I think he will approve! And his journal is beautiful!

rosanna said...

Ok,once more you got me into your net!
books and a window seat,pure bliss.
I truly love how you arranged them,as if old man had only gone out for a little walk and was ready to go back and reading more and more.
Dearie, I owe you a snail ;o),tonight I'll seat down and lookk at your books and write to you.
Have a lovely afternoon <3

carmen said...

tus colores siempre me atrapan...!

Ilona said...

*deep sigh* .......I told you before: the world you create for us in this abandoned house is magical, Susan. Every time I visit your blog, I admire the way you can write and make it all clear to us on a very special're an true word artist!
This story about the colors is for many of us a real treat. Thank you!
Warm hug, Ilona

Fabiola said...

I like real and mini books. The bookshelves are original and magic.
Greetings, Faby

Sans! said...

Birgit, we share common worlds, you and I :):).

And if you are curious whether I would mix books and plants on a shelf like that in real life, I am afraid my answer is a firm yes! Especially in an abandoned house :).

Norma said...

Absolute magic as always dear Sans!

You will of course have answered your question by now as to the scale of Margaret's leather chair, it is indeed 1:12. However, she may be able to do one in a smaller scale if you ask...

Eliana said...

In reading your words and looking at these so beautiful images, I am elevated to the world of dreams and charms. I thank you for take me out of reality for these small moments while I see your art.
A big hug.

The Old Maid said...

I was here in the morning of the day on this side of the world but didn't have much time to write a comment. Which is good as I had to come back and could enjoy your world of colours and words again, dear Sam.:) Actually I would sign with my both hands(as we say here) what Betsy already had written.:) She said it all and you know I still think you should write a book and publish it.:) A journal is a good idea.:)
Again it amazes me how you put these colours together and they look fantastic, the more you add the better they look together.
There is a song over here which says something like that: "So come, paint my world in yellow and blue, may there will be a rainbow on the sky painted by your hand. So come, paint my life, may the world blushes, may it glow in full sun with all colours of the world to me." This is what you do to me.:)
Hugs and kisses

SaMiRa73 said...

Sans, I have no words to say how much I enjoy your posts. Your words and your wonderful photos never fail to amaze me, it ´s like entering a hidden and enchanted place. Thanks!

Lady Jane said...

Your last verse says it all. Thanks for the magical ride.

Drora's minimundo said...

What can I add? They said it all before me. An enchanting post with beautiful photos and wonderful verse.
Maybe I can add a few words about Samuel Ibn Tibbons. He lived during the Golden Era, was a scholar and a doctor of medicine. Probably knew much about herbs and plants. He is
best known for his translations from Arabic of some of the great works of our famous Rambam (Moshe Ben Maimon.) The Rambam was one of our greatest philosophers and a brilliant doctor of medicine. 800 years later his work is still
studied. They are both buried in
Tiberius, near the Sea of Galilee.
Hugs, Drora

Elizabeth S said...

Hi Sans! What a lovely story and picture that you paint with words! You really draw me into a far away place and soothe me with the beauty of your choice of the perfect words. I am mesmerized by it all. Even the music that is part of the background is well chosen. Your posts are built on dreamscapes.


BiWuBär said...

The others already put in words what I would have liked to say... this was once again an enchanting post, pulling me deeply into a world of magical words and magical pictures. *sigh* You've done a wonderful (or should I better say magical) job with these shelves and with colouring these sheets. But most of all you're turning an abandoned house that used to be scary and mysterious into a comfy, cozy place to dream, to work, to celebrate art and nature and life. And what a great saying... I think if bookshelves be your gardens they shall grow blossoms of wisdom and knowledge... and not to forget happiness and beauty...


Rosamargarita said...

Un mensaje magnífico sobre los libros que son muy hermosos, adoro los libros viejos!

Sans! said...

Thank you!Thank you!Thank you! One Thank you! for each LOVE, Bets :). And for remembering I made those Iznik books like a million years ago, a million kisses to you :).

I was just reading the post back in Feb 2009 when I made what I called "the sun-kissed" versions of the books. I was so off books (making them) since then that I haven't made proper ones yet. The Old Man's collections are not the proper ones :):).

Tomes, yes, in my mini world, definitely. It is the half baked engineer in me, Bets (thank you for the influence) I was thinking how anyone can sit on a hollowed out bench without breaking it. Stuff it with heavy books! *lightbulb No.2!

Took me so long to write this post that I think I wrote it half asleep. When I woke the next morning, I changed it and I think only you and Birgit read the incoherent version. :):)

Come back, and sit in my garden again. This time, maybe the rose will speak properly! :)

And Bets, I am going to make this sanctuary yours too. Wait and see.

Sans! said...

Lucille,(by the way do you like the Willie Nelson song with your name in it? I am sure you are nothing like her of course :) but don't ever stop coming here or I will break into my most nasal : you pick a fine time to leave me, Lucille, with 4 hungry old men...heh hehe)

You write so beautifully, Lucille. You should start your blog. You already have a fan base. You know that, right?

You are like the perfect muse and you get so involved with each project in this community:). And yes, I did build this house as a mind sanctuary for myself :). I am glad you think it is a bewitching one :).

Sans! said...

Margriet, your dream house? Really??!! Ok, send me a ticket and I will go bash up and dirty your real house ..teehee :):)

Actually, I think this can be a very real sanctuary for me too. Who needs a spotless place to create art right? You want a place you can dirty without guilt, splash without restraint. :)

Funny how you should say The old man will approve. Thank you! It is reassuring because I just realise that I wasn't thinking whether he would approve or not. I mean I was thinking about him as a person when I was building it but not whether he was going to like the shelf or not. I did think few people would like their books mix with soil and plants. :):) So yes, knowing that the old man will approve is comforting :).

Sans! said...

Thank you, dear Ro, for your "yes" vote :):). I know I can trust you to say it like it is so this means a lot. I like how the books were arranged too in the old man's shelf. For my shelf, that's how my own bookshelf look like. Never enough space.

Wrote this post till 5am in the morning and then had to wake up at 8 plus am. I was so tired the whole of yesterday. Feeling much better today after the run. :). Sleep tight, Ro (3 am there?) and may you wake up to another fabulous love-filled Sunday! :):)

Sans! said...

Carmen, estoy en una fase de "color" de mi vida :) :). Espero que los colores que agrada :) Gracias por estar aquí,

Sans! said...

Ilona, I love the term "word artist". I regard it as an honorific.Thank you! :)

Much of my writing is helped by the pictures. It is much harder to write a book I am sure. The music helps too, maybe. Don't we just love multi-media? :)

It is also very gratifying to write for people with the same loves. I wonder if in real life, anyone else will read this :). But who cares, right? I have this life :):)

Sans! said...

Kisses to you Faby :):). Thank you for always being here :)

Sans! said...

Thank you, Norma!

Yes, that chair is truly lovely! You have got yourself something special! This house is very small. I have just realised that I won't have room for an armchair. If I am not careful, I may end up putting too many things in there. :)

Sans! said...

*smiles widely @ Eliana :).

You have just brought me to Cloud 9, Eliana. So how's the weather down there? Up here, it is just that kind of a perfect day when you feel like everything and everyone is on your side :).

If I can see you now, I will give you a hug and you will cry out because it is too tight :):):). THANK YOU for those lovely words!

Sans! said...

OMG! I think I have just mistaken Susan for Birgit! You both have green bears for your profile! hahahaha.

Ok, Susan , you read my incoherent version :) and my comment about how we share same worlds, (books and plants), that's for you :):).

Thank you for leaving that lovely comment!

Sans! said...

Your comment overwhelmed me and made me a little (ok, quite a little bit more) emotional, my dear Ewalina. You are such a special friend and you and your family has just as special a spot in my heart, so special that if my mum shall hear about this, she will want to evict you from that spot from jealousy :):)! hehe

Ewalina, I love the mini worlds because they can be so outrageous and still be regarded as believable or logical. Colours are so out of fashion now and I think it is a pity because they do for us such wonders, they can be medicine.

You must tell me the title of the song and the singer. Maybe I can find it and play it on my blog!

Sans! said...

Sandra, I am touched by your words. You may think them scarce but you said the ones that matter :).

You know how it is with writing, it's just you and the laptop and if you write like me till the wee hours of the morning, everyone is asleep and it really is just you, the pictures and those words. Like a bubble world.

I am just so thankful that when I wake up, I have a group of like minded friends telling me what they think of what I have done and if I have done it right .

So thank you, Sandra. Thank you very much :).

Sans! said...

I am glad you are on that ride with me, Lady Jane ! :)

Margriet said...

Actually, I think this can be a very real sanctuary for me too. Who needs a spotless place to create art right? You want a place you can dirty without guilt, splash without restraint. :)

Yes!!!!! You do understand me :-)

Sans! said...

Thank you Drora! I know you may have some knowledge of Samuel Ibn Tibbons. As I told you,I was thinking of you and whether you have heard about him or even studied his work when you were in school.

Fortuitously (that word again), I found his quote only when I was writing the post. And him translating Arabic made him the perfect guy to quote for my post. That quote really described the old man's bookshelf. I think they might have spoke ;p ;p ;p. Spoke, not spooked ! teehehe

Thank you for the write up on Samuel Ibn Tibbons.

Sans! said...

Hio E! :):) So good to see you here! I am of course gratified that you have enjoyed your stay :).

This post was a little too long for one post but I didn't really want to break up the 2 shelves :). I did build them over 3 days.

I am just so happy that enough of you still don't mind reading so many words :). But then again, we both love writing long comments too right? :)

Sans! said...

Birgit, there will a little bit of everyone in this sanctuary because it is mine and I want my friends with me here, in real/virtual and mini ways :).

And that sentence you made : "if bookshelves be your gardens they shall grow blossoms of wisdom and knowledge... and not to forget happiness and beauty..." I want to print that on a sticker and stick it everywhere :):)

You are undoubtedly a wiz with words.

Sans! said...

Rosam, somos una comunidad de viejos mundos :) :). Por eso me gusta tanto :) Y tú eres una gran parte de ella!

Sans! said...

Haha, Margriet, ok, let's print "DIRTY WITHOUT GUILT, SPLASH WITHOUT RESTRAINT " on a sticker and stick it on the door of a room where no one but us is allowed in. :):)

Kikka said...

Dear Sans
So beautiful Art: Books,books so many books and a peaceful place to enjoy them!
Have you ever thought about making a BOOK? :)

"At night when sunshine goes away,
And it's too dark for me to play,
I like to come inside, and look
For new friends in a story book."


Kim said...

ahhhh-now I know this is a magical little house. Every house with a soul needs some books- this post makes my heart sing! Lovely Sans- really, really lovely ♥

Mona said...

Love the colors! Your photo are colorful and exciting to look at. The room is looking good! I read (in real life) every day, love books.
Thanks for your nice comment on my blog.

Lucille said...

Hi Sans! Thank you for your kind words. I don't know that song by Willie Nelson. I'm really not familiar with his music. I do know the song "Lucille" by Little Richard, which came out in the fifties when I was a teenager and we used to dance the jive to it. It had a really good beat to dance to.

Liduina said...

I just discovered your blog and I am really impressed; it's unique in it's exotic style. I'll come back later to admire some more posts; they are very inspiring! Thanks for sharing.

Angels said...

Me encantan tus entradas, esos colores tan preciosos...!

Sans! said...

Kikka, I am becoming quite addicted to your little poems/ ditties. I may insist on you coming here now and then to satisfy my craving for them :).

And yes, one day I may make some of these posts into a book. :)

Sans! said...

Mona, I wish I can read everyday too. I mean, just books, not for work. I read a lot for work :). Sometimes I think that kill me off reading for leisure when I am home :). But I am a bibliophile although after I gave away another lot of books early this year, I have tried not to buy anymore. At least till the next time ..heh heh

Sans! said...

Kim, I completely agree with you on a home with soul and books :). And thank you , Kim. These are not conventional shelves and I am sure not everyone's cup of tea so I am thrilled that you enjoyed the post.

Sans! said...

Lucille, I will definitely go check out that song by Little Richard :)

Sans! said...

Liduina, I too will go read each and every one of your posts soon :). I see that you started blogging only last year and there are not very many posts so I can easily finish it in 1 sitting :):).

Plus I really admire your work so it will be easy :):)

Thank you so much for your compliments!

Sans! said...

Muchas gracias Angel

un abrazo :0

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