Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Hello Blog, it's been awhile. I was reminded of you this morning when I got an anonymous message sent to an old Rat's Nest post, from 2009. The post, RATZ, told of my love for my two pet rats, but also about the happiness I felt in writing the blog, you blog, and as I lay in bed I remembered that joyous feeling of having an outlet for my thoughts.

Fast forward. No blog writing but art making. Less writing and it's been missed. Where do my thoughts go now if I don't write them down? They basically fly out the window....unchecked.

For instance, this morning I was wondering, what's with the creative process that you can be so involved, so totally absorbed at the expense of everyone and everything else, ignoring your husband and your daughter— who is probably very happy to be ignored— but ignoring everything except what you're engaged in, in this case, painting. And then after all the hard work, all the sweat and self-doubts, after the damage has been wrought in the family, and the damage of creating something has been wrought, you return to your own sorry self and there's nothing there. What about that? Why is it always a letdown after a work is done? That empty feeling, that existential void? 

   Ukrainian artist Dase Roman Sherbakov

I'm not asking you, blog, to answer this question, I'm just happy you're still here so I can write this down. That already makes it a little clearer, already puts something in front of me to mull over.

It's a little unsettling to feel so empty now, with the painting hanging, and my studio cleaned and waiting for me again, and me up here, in the kitchen, writing, afraid of what's next. Afraid is not exactly the right word; stymied is more like it, paralyzed is even better, but as one knows, the process of going forward into the unknown is part of it. That part that makes the throat constrict, a hesitation in your step. Yet, in truth, nothing is holding you back. Of course, nothing but yourself. 

(Note to blog: that last part is not part of the process unless one's process is to completely destroy everything that has come before, in order to move forward...but I'd like to think total annihilation does not an artist make.)

As far as making a painting, Pussy Riot was on my mind. This funky first sketch was done while Marla Frazee was lecturing, a teacher at Art Center, who had just said the best time to sketch is when you're not thinking about it. I thank her for that nifty trick.

What engaged me about Pussy Riot was seeing the documentary "Punk Prayer" and hearing the Church elders speak of Nadia as the devil, with her full lips and the way she looked at you with those eyes. Pussy Riot was doing "the devil's work," the Church elders believed. That these men who had once spewed their hatred towards Jews and anyone who wasn't a true believer, who had reduced women to sirens, devils and witches was infuriating.  Who were these religious men who talked so dangerously and commanded so much power? They were nothing but buffoons in big hats!

My grandfather was also on my mind. I thought about the story he told of his brother, who in order not to be inducted in the Russian army, shot himself in the foot. For Jews, the Russian army was a fate worse than death. My scholarly grandfather emigrated at the turn of the century, probably for this reason. My grandfather was a peddler when he first arrived, but I imagined him, in a sketch, in the old country, with a horse and cart. And as a homage to Chagall, I painted the horse blue, however, not flying.                         

Peddler (internet).

Top, photos of Great Grandparents and Grandparents. 
 Silkscreen (in peacock blue) of same.

Images started appearing. The naked woman on the chest of the Church Elder was from a page out of a Russian revolutionary art book that Molly brought over. The lecherous Cossack came from my imagination. The Russian clown below, reminded me of the Russian clowns who performed in an early Cirque du Soleil. The masks are ghostly pussy rioters.

Putin's head is smashed by Pussy Riot's foot, Stalin is next to the Tasmanian devil, with "the devil's work," written in Cyrillic script, and the reason for the collaged eyes of the main pussy riot character is because I spent 3 days trying to draw eyes and failed. Eyes are said to be the window to the soul, and trying to capture the soul of Pussy Riot, well, now, that's beyond my scope.

First try, wrong pose
right pose, wrong eyes

 I used one eye from Nadia and one from Masha


(a not quite finished version)

That's it. Thank you blog...and thank you readers.


  1. the beautiful horse....this is a lovely posting..and painting.

    1. Thank you Susan! (when i got the email notification that i got a comment i was giddy!) Felt so good to be blogging again.

  2. i've lost that blogging feeling, myself. probably because i now have a regular writers group with people i respect, and for this merciless winter especially, the face to face contact has felt so important.
    your painting stirred something in me, the powerful pull of family stories...hmm. maybe i will blog about that :)

    1. Yes you must, I know you are bursting at the seams with stories.

  3. Welcome back, Charlotte. We've missed you. Having admired the finished painting, I love the way this post lets me in on your process - how you arrived at the eyes, the sketch with "the wrong pose" ... And I agree with Susan: what a horse.

    1. Thank you Melissa! (love seeing you here, it's like old times!). I didn't initially think I had a process, just stumbling from image to image. But I guess that's enough of a process to write about and now feel I have one! xox

  4. yes agree with Melissa, love the way you bring us into the painting in the full flower of your passionate indignation and exuberant response to life, politics, history, memory, imagination... long live the blue horse!

    1. Hi dear, thank you so much for your words, especially the full flower part. I like that, imagining my flowering (although I don't feel like that, often the opposite, but i will take it!) xox