Saturday, November 1, 2008

way back machine

or the miracle of photo shop - ye olde photo shoppe essential elements, that is. The scanned photo was very dark and out of focus but this is almost as I remember the original having looked.

This painting is close to 40 years old and was done shortly after I switched from painting with acrylics and enamels to watercolor, my painting medium of choice ever since. I'd always wanted to work in oils and had been very attracted to the Flemish school as well as the Orientalist tendency to paint in layers of intensely rendered detail. Unfortunately (or not), it turned out I was allergic to oil paints and the thinners. I couldn't be in the same room with a bottle of turpentine without suffering hives and difficulty breathing - which didn't allow much space for getting creative at a time when inhalers and portable oxygen weren't available.

The colors here are too thick, especially on the dragons, but I hadn't yet learned the lighter touch that watercolor requires. Nevertheless, the image is still pretty neat and once again I can relate it to the times we face. Do the dragons represent bankers now hoarding the tax payers $700+ billion or are they hysterical right wing Republicans afraid of change?

I plan on staying on edge until the election is over and done and pray I won't be opening the emergency bottle Remy Martin on November 5th.

In the meantime, I'm working on another story. It's funny but once I start considering one all sorts of images, memories and moments I'd prefer not to remember come bubbling up to the surface and need to be sorted through in order to produce a series of drawings that add up to the baseline of a coherent story.

Remember getting home from a date hours late and having to present a reasonably episodic account of events to your mother? It's kind of like that.


  1. So great to see some of your older works. It is so interesting to see how your work has evolved over time.I really enjoy your modern interpretation of this timeless work.

  2. I'm with you as far as staying on edge until after the last minute goes. The downside of democracy is that people don't need a good reason to vote a certain way, so you never know.

    Love seeing this dragon picture again. You may be critical of them, but they're beautifully vivid.

  3. I really enjoyed both the imagery and the color of both these paintings! It's amazing as they do not look quite so old at all, quite new actually! I really like the bright dragons, dragons being a love of mine...

  4. lbr - I'm very glad you like them and if I can salvage a couple from old slides I'll post them eventually.

    The point of living itself seems to involve evolving over time, non?

    ben - Yes, we make no assumptions. It's the wisest course.

    I knew you'd remember the original :-)

    linda - There was a time my friends called me the 'dragon lady'.. and hopefully, only because of the paintings and not my temperment.

  5. I never stayed out late like you crazy kids. Yes, it's funny you telling us the age of the painting when I had the same impression as linda. Even if the technique didn't turn out the way you wanted - we're never happy with our stuff, are we? - I still think it looks groovy. :)

  6. it's awesome to see something you painted so long ago. even then, you were good at detail. your youthful indescretion with color is endearing.
    the dragons perhaps represent loss of innocence (i love the dragon tongue curled around the angel's ankle).

  7. randal - A long time ago an astute woman looked around at some paintings of mine and said, 'You're not an artist at all but an illustrator'. The problem for me was that I wasn't illustrating anything but a different way of seeing things which made me continue to see myself as an artist. Let people make their own stories was my attitude.

    be - I'm glad you enjoy them.

    sera - I went overboard with the paint but they were really fun to draw and yes, you're no doubt correct in your observation :-)

  8. I love the rich colors in your painting. And after the teaser - I'm really looking forward to the story and the drawings.

  9. I hope you open the bottle to celebrate! And I remember the paintings in the house on the lake. You come by your wonderful art honestly and for a long time...

  10. Great watercolor, Susan. If this is a first attempt at watercolors, I'd love to see what the second, third, and fourth attempts look like. As for the imagery it invoke, I like the banker metaphor, if only for the eggs they look to be hoarding. "Not these eggs," said the dragons, "we need them for CEO bonuses."

  11. dcup - I'm not sitting here reading books for entertainment while wishing I could learn something usable about sentence structure, honest. I'm drawing :-)

    gary - I hope it's in celebration too but I'm very wary of these people yelling 'ACORN' at the top of their lungs while they fiddle with the machines.

    spartacus - Glad you like it but I'm not sure there were pics of others. I'll post what I find when current production slows. Yes, that's what they reminded me off this time round as well.

  12. there'll be a new marshall in town tomorrow!
    i voted a week ago by absentee ballot. everyone i know says they are going to vote. i don't remember an election as anticipated as this one.

  13. sera - I certainly hope you're right. It's good to know you know so many people who plan to vote or have done. It really is going to take a landslide to get this done.

  14. phantsy that!! It's a new day Susan..are you inspired for another painting or is Crow inspired for another one of his 'gems'??
    woohoo!! (whoop whoop!!)


  15. Good to see your earlier works and understand your’s amazing how many artists encounter some sort of restriction leading them in a different find talent along a different road. I look forward to hearing about that story soon! Best wishes