"Penelope and Arianna" - mixed media on aquabord, 16" x 20". SOLD
And I know things now,
Many valuable things,
That I hadn't known before:
Do not put your faith
In a cape and a hood,
They will not protect you
The way that they should.
From "I Know Things Now", Into the Woods
I'm continuing in the Twyla Tharp book, this time the chapter called Spine. Spine is the next step after scratching. You scratch to find ideas of any kind - good or bad. Scratching is wild and passionate and uncensored. The spine is a good idea - one good, strong idea. Identifying the spine requires focus, careful thought, emotional connection...and secrecy. Tharp advises we keep the spine behind any project to ourselves. It might be apparent to the viewer or reader, and it might not. But the spine best serves the art when unannounced.
I spent a lot of time mulling over this idea, and re-reading the chapter. But I couldn't get away from the word spine, so that's where my trail through the forest is leading today. Let's follow those breadcrumbs...
You may know that my own spine was compromised when I was hit by a car last year. Something about a ton of metal hitting a body and a body hitting the pavement head-first causes irreparable damage to fragile bone structures. And sure, sure, there are lots of things I do to support myself now that I never had to do before, but I get mentally hung up on the whole thing when I'm told nothing will make it better. Sigh.
If I think of my spine as the base of my own creativity, my own big idea, then I have to find a better way to conceptualize disability and injury, or I will paint nothing but crying girls from now on. Who wants that? Not me! So one day at a time, I am thinking about the things I know now, many valuable things, that I hadn't known before. Like Little Red Riding Hood, I won't put my faith in a cape and a hood (or a helmet or stop signs or traffic laws), but I can delight in the new things I know, the joy pockets in the journey and the other types of strength that develop when physical strength is compromised.
I will keep scratching at this subject until I find the one great big idea that makes my spine, as it is now, strong and central. And as Tharp advises, I will keep that big idea to myself and protect its magic. But perhaps the idea will come through in my art - you might catch a glimpse now and then.
In the meantime, meet Penelope and her feathered friend, Arianna. Both were conceived and named in this week's art demonstration and finished yesterday. These two found their kindred spirit sister during the demonstration, and were adopted before they were even completed! I am so happy to know they are flying away to the home of a sweet artist whose sense of humor never fails to delight...and don't you think Penny must have a really strong spine to support that tower of hair? Just sayin'.
Jen Walls and her imaJENation