“Out on the highway the last faint water colors of the sun were gone beyond the hills and whatever they were chasing was so far ahead as to be only a swift fleck now shown in lamplight now set free, running into the dark.” -Ray Bradbury Something Wicked This Way Comes
There are so many phrases and words that beg to be illustrated in Ray Bradbury’s books. He writes in pictures. This quote struck me as I was reading Something Wicked. It’s just the way he captures the past turning into the present when he describes the sunlight and the dark.
I did not portray the exact moment in the Bradbury’s writing but it inspired different pictures having to do with boys running outside and the setting sun. I may return to the book to find some other scenes to paint.
I have been painting a lot of childhood toys and stuffed animals since moving back to my parents’ house for the quarantine. It’s funny because I don’t think I would normally, but in these circumstances I just want something comforting that presents a small challenge. For instance, I painted my old teddy bear. The challenge was that it’s a white teddy bear and white can be very difficult to get right. The piece was comforting to me because I feel like I’m in solidarity with places in Silver Spring, and other parts of the world, where people are putting teddy bears in their windows for a children’s scavenger hunt. It’s a very small thing that I can do to stay connected to other people.
There are other toys I have focused on. I mostly have made small watercolors because they feel more intimate and the process of painting them is fast. There’s a toad, a lizard, other teddy bears and Eugene, my elephant.
Most days I am painting or drawing. I worry that I’ll run out of ideas but they seem to keep coming. I think I will move away from the toys but they have been fun to paint.
Two or three years ago I went to Santa Fe with a friend who is a dancer. We went to the Currents New Media Festival which is about new technology in art. Interestingly there was a person exhibiting whose work had nothing to do with new technology. They wore a jump suit covered in silver glitter and had a mirror strapped to their face. The exhibitor interacted with passers by through movement. He did this while staying on a small platform. My friend walked to the glitter man and they started to move together, taking turns leaning on each other and making different shapes and poses. This was my introduction to contact improv.
Strangely enough, I haven’t really thought about that moment until recently. I drew some pictures of couples together and it reminded my of my friend’s dancing. I started watching a lot of modern dance online and looking at pictures of it. The poses are so strong and the dancers are so impressive.
I miss hugging my friends and being close to them. So to watch people dancing has been very uplifting. And I have thought about different ways of people being together. Sometimes people who are touching can be miles apart. And sometimes people together can make such beautiful forms and show a deep amount of care towards one another. Dance reminds me of this. It’s a testament to the power of physical connection.
I have done some paintings of contact improv. Some poses were borrowed from photos online and some are made up from my head. I don’t know if I’m going to do a longer series with them. It may be that what I have done is like a short story that I will elaborate on in the future.
Sometime in January, my eight year old niece came over to paint. I was thinking I’d give her a lesson by having her paint a vegetable still life. However it turned out that she already knew what she wanted to paint and it was from her head.
My niece’s visit made me think more about where creativity goes. After so much time looking at photos I felt that I lost my ability to imagine. Since that time I have been trying to be more creative.
Reading seems to be helping me. Typically I read non-fiction. However I started reading comic books to see what other artists do and it got me into reading books by Neil Gaiman and now I am onto other fiction writers. It seems like the more I read the more I think creatively.
My niece stayed over for three hours. The time flew by. I think this is what I’m looking for in my own work. The joy. It’s good I had my niece over to remind me what creating is about.
In the past week or two I’ve been writing a lot. It’s sort of funny since I’ve always thought of myself as more visual than verbal. However, as a result of all the ideas coming out of my head I’ve needed to burn off some energy. Exercise is good for this but also painting or drawing. Since I’ve had no ideas for drawing recently I went to my fall back, drawing squares. Below you will see the hundreds of squares that I drew and colored in. If you like to look at pretty colors this should be right up your alley.