It’s funny what a drawing reveals; The Adventures of Helen Keller and Joe Balasko was an early sketch I did of my sister and I as kids. I drew it to try and kick start an idea I had for my dissertation. I was going to write a fictional memoir of my childhood. The idea was to explore the relationship between memoir and epic poetry with a process piece-the memoir. Well, needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, the dissertation was never done, the idea got laid aside and the drawing was almost filed away in my then and now overflowing file for old drawings–the garbage can. I found the drawing a few months ago in a sketch book, took a couple of pictures of it and downloaded or uploaded (I’m never sure which one is right) to my computer. Today I looked at the photos and was astonished to see something I never saw before–how pissed off I was as a kid! When I drew the sketch it was just a quick rendering and I had no intention of depicting my mood either as an adult or child. But there it was, right in front of me, in the drawing, and I couldn’t help but remember. I’m the one in the school uniform and my sister’s the one dressed in a man’s suit. The suit was my father’s only good suit, and the hats (she always wore more than one hat) were his gray fedoras. I’m dressed in my school uniform because I wore my school uniform all the time as a kid. No, I didn’t have an early fetish for uniforms, although I do spend a lot time as an adult wearing a uniform (I’m not telling why). I wore the uniform because that was all I had! Now where is the logic in my parents sending me to private school (although it wasn’t very expensive ) when they couldn’t afford to buy us clothes? Maybe that’s why I was pissed off? If you look at the drawing you’ll see a disheveled little girl with her knee socks down around her ankles, rat’s nest hair, a downturned mouth and a clenched fist that looks ready to pop the nearest person in the mouth. That was me! I use to pretend to be Helen Keller because I saw The Miracle Worker on television and decided that was how I was going to live my life–throwing dishes around the room and generally causing trouble. My sister dressed in my father’s suit and hats because she was Joe Balasko–private detective extraordinare! Well, as Helen Keller and Joe Balasko we teamed up as kids and investigated crime in our family, and believe me there was a lot of crime. Cases that we were famous for (in our own minds or maybe just in my mind) were The Mystery of Arthur Blumberry and Miss Edie, The Mystery of the Old Man’s Wife, The Mystery of the Men on the Loading Dock, The Mystery of Why Our Parent’s Ever Got Married in the First Place. Joe Balasko was a kind of hero to my then and still is today. You can see that that little girl dressed in a man’s suit wasn’t pissed off. Indeed she grew up still being a kind of detective–a social worker who helps abused children. Me, well I look pretty much the same as I did in that picture, except much, much, much older. I still have the rat’s nest hair, my socks still slide down all the time and my face and mouth now have enough wrinkles that I look pissed off even when I’m smiling. The only thing that’s missing is the clenched fist. I learned to cope with the world with more powerful tools
–my sense of humor and my art.
Well, this picture really did start out as salt, however I don’t know if it ended up as flowers. It was the last piece of large drawing paper that I had and I thought I would do something with it. First I went crazy with a rubber stamp that I had–didn’t like that effect. Then I decided to stain it with acrylic ink. I thought I would try multiple layers and ended up wetting the paper too much. Oh,yes, and I salted it too–the salt soaks up the excess color and leaves a nice stippled (is that the right word) effect. After letting it dry for two days, I obliterated the whole thing with charcoal. Now I had a large, somewhat buckled, totally charcoal’d piece of drawing paper. Then I began erasing and drawing the figure into the charcoal. The color underneath the charcoal began to emerge but everything looked too dark. When I had the figure in place; I began to paste the paper into the figure. I wasn’t really sure about this,however if it didn’t work out I could file it in the lost and found aka the garbage. Now everything really was too dark except the head which looked like a large lemon floating in muddy water. I finally added in some pastel to lighten it up a little and the ugly, mucky looking areas are glass bead gel; which I’ve been working with lately. I wanted to give the appearance of salt. All of this was topped off with fixative and matte media. I call it Lot’s Wife: Turning Salt Into Flowers because that’s what women do! We’re famous for making the best of bad situations. Nothing epitomizes this more than this particular picture. I spent a month on it; thinking all the time it would emerge into something acceptable. As I said above, I have mixed feelings about it, but I won’t file it since, for me, it has it’s own beauty. Who says art has to be beautiful–Lot? We all know what happened to him–he never looked back, never saw his wife turning around, never saw the conflagration that mesmerized her–he never saw the art in the fire, or the salt in the wound, or the flowers in the picture.
Wow, as of today, I’ve posted seventeen pictures and other than me, some family, some friends, a lot of spammers–I think I’ve been the only one looking at them. Not complaining here, well maybe a little; I’ve had a hard time figuring out how to treat this “art blog”–serious, semi-serious, not seriously at all. I’m really not much of a talker (arm extended in the air, waving hand back and forth in protest to those scoffers out there who think they know me better than myself). Yes, my mouth moves a lot, and words come out of it with a frequency that defies civility, however that’s not the REAL ME. The REAL ME is a thoughtful, quiet person who makes art and writes poetry (on what planet?). Who said that? Anyhow, as I’m sitting here in my kitchen/studio; I’m trying to decide should I go on with this blog, should I change the template, should I change my Facebook profile into a page, should I go on Twitter, should I tumble with the Tumblrs, should I download WordPress.Org and start all over again. However, the OTHER ME, the loud, talkative, outspoken but still sensitive person has decided that since no one is looking at the blog–well, I should just be myself. So here you go viewer, follower, fan, whatever, this is what I’m going to do with this “art blog”–I’m just going to be myself–which is a lot of things. The picture I’ve uploaded with this post is of Kim Jae Wook, a Korean actor, singer, model, and, yes, one of my obsessions. A girl’s got to dream! Go Art!