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Painting Out Of Sorrow
hardcover
11x 8 1/2
88 pages
23 full color images
isbn 1-883280-12-5
Font & Center Press
$19.95 shipping $3.05
available from the author by e-mailing claudinebing@aol.com

A Conversation with Claudine Bing
By Karen Klein

 Visual artist and art educator Claudine Bing has published her first book. Combining her watercolor monoprints and poignant, evocative words, PAINTING OUT OF SORROW documents her mother’s death and Bing’s subsequent journey through grief to healing, An accomplished colorist, Bing skillfully and thoughtfully manipulates her color choices to express a range of feelings from the dark confusion of loss through the gradual process of regaining the world and its restorative hues and finding her mother’s spirit within herself. Throughout the book, pictures and text fit seamlessly together, beautifully complementing each other as they develop the narrative from "Goodbye was no color at all to One day I saw the landscape painted/in watercolor washes to you, as a multicolored bird spirit, will fly through my life/again."

 Primarily a painter, ... The excellent reproductions throughout do justice to Bing’s deliberate palette.
 When her mother died in 1992, it “rocked” her. As an only child. “I had no idea before she died how difficult it would be for me". ...  In the year after her mother’s death, however, Bing lost two other members of her family in France, and they were a small group to begin with. In the book she writes: "Hands held across the ocean let go. . . . The Mediterranean villages still hang on the hillside/but the people fall off."

Later She describes the reservoir where she walks and notes, “People walk around it but they don’t talk or greet one another. Each one walks or runs or skips but always alone. It is a city path, hushed and solitary. I walk around the reservoir watching the birds speak.” Bing’s sense of isolation is reinforced by the images. On the text page, the image is of a white bird, flying against a dark, landscape background of deep blues, purples, blacks, with a small bit of magenta. Turning the page, the viewer sees the large image of which this one is a part; it has a female figure which is abstract . This sky could be read literally as a sunset or symbolically as an expression of the figure’s inner life of intense pain. White birds dot the landscape, separated from the figure and from each other.
 The text of the following page is a single line: "My days all end in silence. "

 I asked her how this experience of terrible loss became a book. She replied that she began to write things down in a journal. “..." I realized that some of these pictures were kind of interesting. Emotionally they talked to me, more like the way you feel when you begin to paint or draw. I needed to do them more indirectly, so I made watercolor monoprints. You paint a zinc or copper plate with watercolor, let it dry and put it through the press on wet paper. The printing lifts the image and reverses it. This reversal began to be important to me. This indirect way of working shifted me from my personal feelings to how things looked or what the next piece should be. ... I just kept making prints and writing words along with them. I had done about six prints when I began to feel a narrative emerging that needed to be looked at sequentially. It began to feel like this was one piece, rather than several for an exhibition, ... I felt this was a story for me and really important to share with other people.the turning point towards feeling good came when my youngest daughter got me a necklace of brightly colored beads. Her doing that for me started me back on the journey towards remembering things without pain.” Smiling, she said, “that necklace went into the book.”

 The process took her over five years . ...During that time, she was also making and exhibiting other works, but of the book she says, “as an artist, I feel this is one of the most honest things I’ve done because it’s so much about me and my journey through grief, yet it’s so very universal. I felt this powerful need to share because so often when we grieve we can’t talk about it. Maybe that’s why it needed to be a book.” This sharing has already started to take place.

 Karen Kline is an artist and writer living in Cambridge.
 Reprinted from the newsletter of the Boston chapter of Women’s Caucus for Art, 1999.