A wonderful post from Susan Cornelis. I was lucky enough to share a week with her, Wavy Gravy, Laura Foster Corben, and many others. Metaphoracards were as wild and unruly as ever; strange how random images glued to little paintings catch the little idio-synchronicities of our lives! Bravo, Susan!
watercolor and Uni-ball Vision elite pen in 5 X 8″ Strathmore Watercolor sketchbook
Q: What did the earth say after the earthquake?
A: Sorry, my fault!
Q: How do you keep a bagel from getting away?
A: Put lox on it.
Yes, this third grade humor helped to set the tone for the last week of adult camp with Wavy Gravy, where it’s never too late to be a kid again. But there was the Hip Hop dancing and the singing and walking the labyrinth and trapeze and stilts (I watched) and painting and Zen clowning and well, I guess you had to be there. Each morning Wavy on the rainbow stage got us chuckling and I had moments to do a bit of sketching. So here they are – of Wavy – and the backs of other campers as they sat and listened.
Scott and I kept a 5″ x 8″ travel notebook in Italy. We worked it almost daily as we traveled, finding time in cafes or on benches. But we had the most fun with Travel Flow Charts, illustrating certain common travel situations. The first one concerns travel with a partner.
It’s amazing how the other person becomes reasonable, and sulking silence vanishes. The next two charts are pieces we tried to fit in to a larger diagram, but couldn’t. They’re self explanatory.
I know some of you out there have subsisted on strange food during gaps in travel. Scott sucked on hard barley balls while walking around Annapurna. Crackers, the new hard tack. And now on to address exhaustion:
We didn’t spend all our time making charts.
Here’s an Etruscan boar I drew in the Villa Giulia in Rome. I named him Oinkos.
We did get analytical with this Venn diagram. We wanted to do as many things as possible that we couldn’t do at home, and to appreciate the strange world in front of us, like live eels.
But is it art? Probably not, but is certainly is travel.
Premonitions, by definition, come first. But, like ancient oracles, you never know what they really mean until you get there.
In hindsight, this little painting foretold our desert trip. I did this in October as a collage painting demo. Now it strikes me how much it is like the petroglyphs we saw at Painted Rock State Park, just outside of Gila Bend, Arizona, in late November. In fact, there’s a lizard spirit slithering gila-like through it.
Petroglyphs are the abstractions of the ancients. Were they a semi-precise writing or language, like heiroglyphs? Religious spirit encounters: “Hey, the Deer Dancer possessed me here!” Maps?
It’s interesting how there seems no real distinction between realism and abstraction in petroglyphs. The deer with bulging belly seems so obviously pregnant, but the squared-off labyrinth delights in the design-play of geometric abstraction.
Petroglyphs are vigorous and melancholy at once. Here people met, prayed, danced, hunted, ate, and spent days and weeks creating with what they had– stone and imagination.
You don’t need to produce profound masterpieces, but it helps to ask the spirit that drives your art to go on the road with you: playfulness, or abstraction, or folk art, or even food. It needs to be a break, so serious work should be avoided.
I took the Sprocket Rocket, but those old-style film photos will take a while to develop. I enjoyed the play of my sketchbook… seed ideas seem to be what it’s about when you travel. It’s not good to be too ambitious, as anyone who has a pile of blank notebooks and sketchbooks lying around can tell you.
The “Angel of the Special” in the IHOP picture was a statue across the highway that I could see from our booth. The Floating Condiment was an extension of the notion of an angelic diner. Or maybe we had just been traveling too long, or had something funny in the syrup for the Pumpkin Pancakes. These little sketches, done in around 7 minutes each, make me feel relaxed and at ease. It seems to be important to paint them at the moment of making. I never complete the ones where I say “later” to the color.
Beyond the End by Suzanne Edminster
The desert clears my head. I like the monotony, and the inverted feeling of the landscape… with so little as a classical focal point, it practically begs for a kind of X-ray vision, an aboriginal approach. I’ll write more on this in the next petroglyph post. The apparent “Dead Ends” of the desert lead to new perception. Little or large things, sometimes quite alive, wiggle on up to communicate.
I try to use the camera to record what I feel more than what I see. These little arti-facts, the images, stir the pot. We didn’t eat at Tonopah Joe’s after all. We were invited to an impromptu, delicious potluck . We ate in a reclaimed building near El Dorado Hot Springs with a fire outside and the stars really close. This beautiful meal, in the company of wanderers, was a real tribute to American hospitality. We found great Thanksgiving bounty, on the road and off; in the middle of desolation, a sudden bloom of fellowship. For me, that’s the essence of the desert– a radical clarity of heart.
Mythic News: The Desert is the place where prophecies and prophets thrive. Revelations abound, whether they come from an old desert hermit or a UFO visit. Cowboy heroes themselves have a sort of monk-like quality. First the White Hats fix the bad guys, then vanish, eaten by the endless horizon. The West is the place of death and sunset, and I did have the sense sometimes of crossing a great monotonous Purgatory. But it is also the land where one can see forever. Vision is both challenged and purified. After all that, a cool beer tastes really good.