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Archive for February, 2013

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is storm.

That tempest in the heart, that storm in the head…have you ever felt it? It’s an agony of indecision, a quandary of impossible choices: should I paint this way or that way, choose this one or that one, spend it here or there, move now or later, do this or that? It’s a pain that starts slow, like a migraine twinge, and builds to a frenzy. Any decision in question seems so very consequential, almost life-threatening.

These words look so calm, so benign here on my screen, like amusing ‘postcards from the edge.’ But the experience is a miserable one, and it always shakes my confidence to the core. It’s an experience that illustrates in living (black and blue?) color that expression, “Down here without a map.” Lost, lost, dreadfully lost. And time is going by! If you’ve been to this particular dreary destination yourself, you know what I’m talking about.

Fortunately, like any storm in Nature, this furious energy eventually reaches its apex and begins to dissipate. Like Dorothy and her tornado in The Wizard of Oz, I am deposited on solid ground once more. The still, small voice is again accessible, and a path, however faint, reappears before my weary feet. I have noticed that Surrender can look a lot like exhaustion.

Next time, I promise myself to remember sooner: Sometimes I just don’t know…can’t know in advance. Realizing that calms the storm.

Above: Storm   (watercolor, pen & ink, gouache, colored pencil)

Right: Of Two Minds   (watercolor, pen & ink)

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

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c. Susan Sorrell Hill

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is wheel.

Have I mentioned here that in my twenty- and thirty-somethings, I worked as a Graphic Artist? I designed logos, posters, beautiful wedding announcements and stationary with fancy, illustrated borders. I made art for greeting cards, cartoons, product labels, signs, T-shirts, and generally anything that had art and lettering on it. In those days, the work of fine artist, illustrator and commercial artist were all mushed together, and computers had not yet arrived to complicate the scene. Graphic Artists wore all the hats.

With the advent of the computer, a whole new set of skills was suddenly required, and finding myself unwilling to learn them, I traded my Graphic Artist hat for making “art for the wall.” I never (well, almost never) looked back.

I like being a painter (as opposed to a Commercial Artist): I am more temperamentally suited to Inner Direction than Art Direction, and I work more creatively at my own pace. But having discovered Arthur Rackham, Trina Schart Hyman and Lisbeth Zwerger in my graphic days, I also adore illustrated books. Alas, the world of publishing has changed just as dramatically with the advent of the computer and digitally rendered art. It is indeed a brave new world. I’m still trying to find a way into that world without sacrificing my own sense of what I should be creating, and without retiring my paints and papers. Perhaps I should be “beating my own drum” in this rather public blog, but the truth is, I don’t have a clue where my work fits these days…

This year will mark my sixtieth birthday, and I am noticing in more and more places the ancient message: Life is a circle, Life is a wheel which turns and returns. This is the philosophy, in fact a spiritual belief, that all things arise and pass away–and inevitably will return again. I am encouraged that what has been “out of fashion” will inevitably return as the highly-touted Vintage and Retro, that Made By Hand, Beauty, Meaning, and Figurative Realism will all make resounding comebacks, that although old people will pass away in their time, new babies will be born, that wars will begin and peace will be found once more…that night will come and that the sun will rise in the morning. I am encouraged to believe that Art made with an old-fashioned brush and paper will once again be highly valued and find a wider audience (even if it takes longer, costs more, and I don’t know how to scan it or tweak it in Photoshop). I’m waiting, somewhat impatiently I admit. In the meantime, I’m painting.

 

Herb Shop logo, circa 1982      (pen & ink and Press-Type)      Remember those rub-on sheets? For a stroll back through memory lane, or an “Oh my God, I can’t believe people actually used that stuff” experience, visit this excellent post by Steven Heller.

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