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Short Stories: Married to the Sea

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Here at Etsy, we believe that the story behind an object is often just as fascinating as the object itself. Short Stories is our series dedicated to telling the tales behind extraordinary pieces found or created by Etsy sellers. 

We love the work of artist Clare Elsaesser, and when we noticed a poem paired with one of her prints, we had to know more. Here’s Clare:

I spend my summers in a tree,
I roam the world while sipping tea,
and lots of things are built by me
from house to ship and this decree
I’ll spell it out so you can see,
I cannot marry because I’m free
and one more reason this may be
is I am married to the sea.

Somewhere in the middle of the painting process words start tumbling around in my head, and I usually manage to string a few together to form a title. Sometimes titles feel perfect and natural; other times, they are a little forced. Occasionally, I use parts of songs or randomness floating around in my head. I thought I’d come up with “Married to the Sea” on my own, but it turns out there is a really neat comic titled Married to the Sea, which has been in existence much longer than my painting, and as I dig through my atrophied artist’s brain, I definitely remember poring over its pages and laughing hysterically more than a few times. So, I guess I “borrowed” the title. Luckily, the painting is all my own, born from my love of the ocean and its blues and greens, using myself (I changed the hair color) as the model, and inspired a bit by old-timey mermaid portraits.

I used to write little poems, although you can barely call them that, to accompany my paintings. The poems came after the titles, and incorporated left over words and feelings I associated with the painting. These poorly rhymed lines often stick in my head for months like a bad pop song. I am a sucker for cheesy word play. My husband Kai and I live in Jenner, California, and have an old beater canoe which we named the deJennerate, after my initial vote for the Chaka Khan-oe was shot down.  I imagine I will evolve into the most annoying elder road trip companion, spitting terrible chains of free-associated rhymes and puns and wannabe tongue twisters at the bees and trees passing by, with my (future) cat Stevens digging his discontented paws into my lap, and my husband begging me to stop!

I haven’t written a painting poem in a while, though. I got a feeling the words might put ideas into peoples’ heads when they look at my art, and I’d like to leave the idea making up to the viewer, at least for now.

More Short Stories

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2 Featured Comments

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  • StringBeardCraftery

    Stephanie from StringBeardCraftery says: Featured

    I , like pretty much every other little girl at one point in her life, spent some time obsessed with mermaids. The sea is so intriguing, and mermaids have such a mysterious, forlorn, beautiful life. To this day, I wish I could just dive in and remain there with the soothing sway of seaweed and watch the sunlight dance on the surface. This painting makes me feel like I have done just that. Gorgeous work, and congratulations on the recognition!

    1 year ago

  • SeventhCloudStudio

    Courtney D. Williams from SeventhCloudStudio says: Featured

    Beautiful painting, wonderful poem...As a jewelry designer AND writer, I am always particularly drawn to handmade pieces with written stories attached to them. And I just love to hear more about the processes and approaches of other artists who share these two loves of mine. Terrific post!

    1 year ago