Thursday, December 30, 2010

dancing in my mind

Here at the almost end of another year I find myself in a strange place. Not Halifax. Yes, still here but the city is anything but strange. In fact it's about as normal as any small city in Canada could be - cold, quiet, and somewhat sleepy now that winter's here. So far there's only a little snow but there are still a few months of potential weather excitement ahead.

What I mean by strange place is the one I find myself in on the inside and the fact I haven't posted much lately because I've been drawing a fair amount but don't seem to be quite in the mood for painting. I'm feeling a bit color shy if the truth be told, tired of painting fantasies yet too tied into the images. Any mythology I envision is strictly personal but always returns to a sense of sacredness I feel about our human experience of the world. Reverence for a spectacular view rises up in us unbidden but there's also a sacred aspect to whatever is in front of us right now and that's what I'm trying to capture in my own limited fashion.

Do you have plans for New Year's? If I could go anywhere for a party I think I'd like to visit Yokohama the night La Machine's 'La Princesse' and a sister arachnid showed up for a stroll around town. I, for one, welcome our new spider overlords.

Imagine how things could be if more people could see all the possibilities and wonders in this life. Oh well, c'est la guerre. Meanwhile, Happy New Year :-)


  1. Now those machines are great Susan. I kick myself for not seing the spider in Liverpool or the huge elephant paradein the cetnre of London a few years back.

  2. I love that drawing. Sort of reminds me of myself when I was younger. You don't have to paint if you don't want to--drawing is great too!

    Don't like that spider. That scares the crap out of me. :)

  3. Not a big spider person, but love your drawing. Maybe it can be painted at another time. I hear you about seeing the sacred. I feel the same way, only you are able to create the feeling in art. A lovely gift you have.

  4. Lovely drawing, Susan. I think drawings are a great art form on their own, so no need to apologize. I'm not crazy about spiders either though this makes me think of Maman by Louise Bourgeois!

    We are going to have our usual quiet New Year's at home though some years we spend it with good friends with board games, delicious nibblies and champagne at midnight. Happy New Year, dear Susan!

  5. I love your thinking about the sacred, Susan. Perhaps we need to liberate it from its captivity in established, formal religions. There is sacredness in everything, even in giant spiders(!), when we learn to see and feel the wonder.

    I love the dancer. Happy New Year!

  6. Those mechanical spiders are crazy, baby! :-D I like giant spiders, a lot. My favorite giant spiders are sculptures and therefore don't move like the machines which, as Liberality said, are a bit frightening! They are the sculptures of Louise Bourgeous, who passed away recently at the ripe old age of 90-something. In Louise's world, spiders represented her mother but not entirely, I don't think, in a menacing way. She was an odd duck, of course and that's why I love her work!

    The dancer reminds me of a portrait that is at the Smith College Art Museum but I can't think of the painter right now. She is Salome, though.

  7. I'm looking forward to seeing how your art evolves.

    In the meantime, I understand the need to focus. I've stopped pushing myself to blog unless I really feel like it. And it's winter and I want to slow down and just be. To read or do nothing at all.

    I hope that you, Numb and Crow have a wonderful 2011. I look forward to cyber-sharing it with you.

  8. i understand what you mean about seeing the sacred in the everyday yet not knowing where to go with it in a public arena such as this or anywhere-i am the same way and rarely discuss the deeply spiritual feelings i have. i guess i don't feel much like defending them, if need be, and don't trust enough that i won't need to?
    sometimes it's about an awareness of all that could be that is the most profound, and perhaps the saddest of all and how to express that? i can't!! i do love your dancing woman and see no reason why you would need to paint her -perhaps she's without color? for a reason. :)

    those spiders totally freak me out.

    hoping you have a good start to the new year, whatever it is you are doing as long it's filled with light and love and perhaps a bit of champagne and chocolate... i will probably be tucked in asleep well before but maybe not...sometimes i am the last to sleep around here and that puts me awake to see the new year in all alone, an especially spiritual way to have it actually.

  9. Your drawings offer a vision of reality which allows me to enter the creative process as a participant, imagining the colors which you've left for me to fill in. And being invited into such beauty is accepted with gratitude.

    Totally LOVED the spider, all the while wishing that something that cool would come to a city near ME!

    We'll be toasting the New Year with champagne and oysters, an ongoing tradition here at the farm, and one I look forward to. :)

    Happy New Year to you and yours, Susan, and thanks for another year of your thoughtful and appreciative comments over at my place!

  10. spider very cool, but a little menacing. they are, after all, predators, and one that big could eat almost anything - even slightly overweight grannies. like marja-leena, giant spider machine makes me think of Maman, who i met at national gallery in Ottawa, and, as an inert sculpture, feels less menacing. the spider machine does have an odd awkward kind of grace, though...... your dancer, however, has grace of a different kind - no awkwardness about her.

    i remember going back to a small library of books in my parents' home, years after i thought i'd outgrown them. there was a collection of children's classics - everything from Anderson's fairy tales to Aesop's fables, to Arabian nights, etc.... more than a dozen thick volumes, which i'd read every one of many times as a child... and i remembered the pictures in full, glowing color. but on returning to the books those many years later, i discovered that they were, in fact, elegant black and white line drawings. the colors had come from my imagination. i still love that about those books. i think your dancer ?Salome? is complete without color. You, however, unlike me, will not ruin her by adding color, so she'll be gorgeous no matter what you choose to do with her.

  11. Here's wishing you a very happy New Year Susan

  12. jams - I saw the Elephant too but couldn't find any good videos for that one. The spiders in the rain at night in Yokohama were too cool to resist.

    liberality - Oh, I would have to have seen you then. I could move too (and still can, all things considered) but that kind of fluidity is right at the edge of human potential. There were multiple takes on this drawing :-)

    The spider's a marionette. What I really liked was seeing all the puppeteers and the orchestra on a flatbed truck behind.

    nancy - I'm glad you like her. I may paint a version of her later but I'll keep the drawing as it is. Like all gifts mine for drawing and painting sometimes causes me more trouble than I like :-)

    marja-leena - Thanks. This one took a number of tries before it came out right as a line drawing. It's fun to practice but frustrating too. Yes, as soon as I saw this I thought of Louise Bergeois. I think she would have liked La Princesse.

    We'll be in for a quiet evening too but I may just see the New Year if my late into bed habit continues :-)

    francis - I do believe you're right about that but as you well know there's a long history in Christianity for having intercessors between people and ultimate truth. There have been tremendous changes since the 60's and hopefully this will continue.

    I loved the giant puppet spider too.

    pagan sphinx - La Princesse is lovely as an enormous marionette and I loved seeing all the puppeteers. La Maman is quite a different interpretation which I loved too even though I'm a total arachnaphobe :-)

    That's a nice compliment about my drawing and very much appreciated.

    lisa - It's a long dragging out process but I'm trying to learn a new way of painting. I look forward to showing you the results as they happen. Sometimes we just know when it's time to lie low and that's a good thing.

    linda - Like you, I tend to be much more visual than verbal in my approach to alternate views. It's true as well that there are things we feel that really there are no words to describe. Although some have managed wonderfully well, language itself (maybe English in particular) isn't supposed to be for talk about the numinous. That's where art and music come to the fore and you're very good at showing that.

    I'm happy you like my dancer. I had to show something of what I'm up to before the year ended :-) Chocolate and champagne sound wonderful.

    cr - I'm very grateful for your words of appreciation of my work. Sometimes I can drive myself crazy by seeing tons of color possibilities and not being able to decide which way to go. Your photographs are always a wonderful respite because of their clarity and true colors.

    I wonder if they'll ever stage a show in the US?

    gfid - I saw La Princesse as a dancer too. She and their other marionettes are made from carved wood as well as metal and I thought there was a magnificent grace to the way she placed her feet and swung around. Naturally, I thought of la Maman when I saw her and hope I'll see the sculpture in Ottawa someday.

    There are books much as you describe I remember from my childhood too. I have a feeling that many modern children may have lost the ability to imagine color since they're constantly inundated by bright lights and flashing video images. One of my favorite media is plain pen drawing using india ink on white paper. I may finish her like that but I'm glad you like her as she is :-)

    jams - Best wishes of the New Year to you too.

  13. To be honest, this work appeals to me the most of all I have seen here so far. Granted, I am a new reader, but still, the mood you find yourself in now syncs beautifully with my own and I think this perfectly represents your beautiful words: Reverence for a spectacular view rises up in us unbidden but there's also a sacred aspect to whatever is in front of us right now...

  14. My friend, You may not have the desire or drive to paint, but to me, one of your audience, I just want to dance the night away with that fabulous lady. She puts my mind in another place and time. As usual, I've fallen in love with her. I am so fickle when it comes to your "women".
    I just returned from a short trip to Lake Superior. I spent New Years Eve in the Sweat Lodge, renewing my own spirit, and New Years Day we drove the 200 miles home after a nice breakfast with our friends from up that way.
    I awoke again today, and time and motion wait for no one. The calendar moves, but I don't think I am one step closer to the end of the diving board of life anymore. The New Year is just that, a new designation. By all this I mean, I hope our friendship stays the same and that you draw, paint or write whatever and whenever you feel the desire. It can't, and will not ever be, anything but marvelous.
    Happy New Year!

    Peace, Always

  15. Nothing says Happy New Year like a giant spider looming toward you. Yikes! That would give me nightmares for months.

    Happy New Year, kiddo! And if you don't mind, please tell Canada they can keep their cold air masses, we don't want them. ;-)


  16. I like your comment - ‘Reverence for a spectacular view rises up in us unbidden but there's also a sacred aspect to whatever is in front of us right now and that's what I'm trying to capture in my own limited fashion.’
    All the best for the New Year and I'm sure you will continue to capture the scared nature to life in your paintings.
    I do think there is a propensity to see only humans as sacred over everything else; as we are top of the food chain we can show indifference to animals suffering and a disregard to their rights to a good life.

    In a world growth of cities that disconnect to the land and nature fortunately in my view is now more frequently being challenged by many questioning what we eat and whether or not our practices are sustainable.
    Best wishes

  17. Pretty ballsy to all but hint at your desire to control society through the judicial deployment of gigantic robot spiders.

  18. lydia - One of these fine days I may actually get around to putting up a web page since scrolling through the posts with drawings and paintings is impossible. I'm very glad you like this one and happy we have a similar view.

    spadoman - She is a beauty and I'm so glad you think so too. I'm sure none of them would complain of your fickleness under the circumstances, nor Mrs. Spadoman either since they're all thoroughly two dimensional.

    I'm happy to know you had such a wonderful and spiritually cleansing New Year. With luck and good grace it would be wonderful to meet you both in the year just begun. Peace and blessings to you too.

    nunly - I think she's a lovely spider and that's going a ways because I'm not the least bit fond of the real ones. One late summer morning in Portland I awoke with six major bites that took weeks to heal. They grow some big and nasty ones out there - sneaky too. I took the room apart and never found it.

    What do you expect us to do with the cold air, keep it here?

    lindsay - Good to see you and Happy New Year. I was very sorry to read about the terrible floods in Australia this past week and hope you are well.

    Yes, people do have a propensity to see themselves as the only worthwhile life form on the planet but we are diminished by the suffering of the others. I hope that's something we learn to change about our behaviour. Best wishes.

    randal - You were the only one who noticed that :-)