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Archive for November, 2013

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is shadow. Psychologists write that when two lovers are in bed, there are actually six people between the sheets: him, her, his parents and her parents. “Ewww,” I can hear you saying with that all-too-clear image in your head. But what those clever head shrinkers are implying with that creepy phrase is the fact that all of us are influenced by our environment and relationships, particularly those from our family of origin, and most especially by our relationships with our parents. Think about it: don’t you find that your partner or ex-partner has been heavily influenced by his or her familial past? Can’t you still hear that particular teacher’s judicial voice in your head? Don’t you find that you react to certain people in a predictable way because they remind you way too much of that overbearing parent of your childhood…? A friend said to me recently, referring to her current relationship, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could just have a relationship with just that one person, all by themselves, without their relatives and often without their friends too? Amen to that! Alas, it doesn’t seem to work that way. Even when the aforementioned influences are not physically in the picture, their influences (as psychologists note) will always be ‘in the mix’ somewhere with each of our personalities. As much as we would each like to view ourselves as a unique, autonomous free-thinkers and do-ers, the shadow of our families and our past experiences infiltrates and influences much of our personality, actions and view of life…for better or for worse. We are complex beings, are we not? “No Rest no. 2”    (watercolor, pen & ink)  Collect the original here.

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c. Susan Sorrell Hill

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is tail. I love a happy ending. Perhaps that is common to my fair sex, or perhaps it is simply an antidote to the Trials and Tribulations of life. I have my stash of Chick Flicks in the closet and a series of favorite novels that I read repeatedly for their comfortable reassurance that, despite the aforementioned T & T, people can triumph or at least find some version of happiness in the end. I need that reassurance regularly, and since conventional Religion doesn’t do it for me, I’ve found my solace in stories. I’ve been wanting to write a post on the subject of Why I Love Fairy Tales for a while now. As I’ve been updating websites, writing artist statements and over and over mentioning ‘fairy tales,’ I’ve watched myself, at the same time, cringing. I think it’s because I fear that Fairy Tales are getting a bad, or at least diminished, rap these days, and I am a little wiggly about associating myself with them…as if it were somehow shameful or childish, or a death-knell for my career as a Serious Artist. But then I stop and remember, thankfully, that fairy tales have been around a lot longer than Disney, Saturday morning cartoons and the brightly-colored art on lunch pails and school notebooks. Fairy tales, according to scholars, have been around since the beginning of humankind. They are the repository, in story form, of the wisdom of our species about Life. They are the archetypes of human behavior (to use the Jungian term), morals and consequences, hopes and dreams, and simple humor at our follies. Originally, they were meant to entertain (as the cleaned-up versions still do today), but they were also meant to instruct, and sometimes to warn about consequences. They were told to audiences of all ages, and children were raised with the grimmer versions of the predecessors of the Grimms’ fairy tales, and took it in stride. No coddling or dumbing down needed there. Terry Windling and Ellen Datlow, in the introduction to A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales write,

“Most people think that fairy tales are stories meant for very young children, but hundred of years ago tales of magic were loved by folks of all ages. The fairy tales we know today–like “Cinderella,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Snow White,” and all the rest–used to be darker, stranger, and more complex, until this century. Then they were turned into children’s tales, banished to the nursery (as J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings once pointed out) like furniture adults have grown tired of and no longer want. The stories were changed and simplified when they were rewritten for very young readers. And it’s these sweet and simple versions that most of us know today.”

The Jungian scholar, Marie-Louise Von Franz (An Introduction to the Psychology of Fairy Tales) states,

“Fairy tales are the purest and simplest expression of collective unconscious psychic process. Therefore their value for the scientific investigation of the unconscious exceeds that of all other material. They represent the archetypes in their simplest, barest and most concise form.”

This is all good, and material worth giving much attention to. And, as I said at the beginning, happy endings are always a welcome quality. But why I really appreciate fairy tales is the unspoken implication that there is much more going on down here on Planet Earth, in our everyday mundane lives, than we usually are aware of. There is a Magic much greater than the Little Me (Eckhart Tolle’s term for the personal identity) can understand or manipulate. There is Mystery, we are not alone and there is Guidance, if only we will look for and be receptive to it. These age-old stories say that there will always be cause for hope, and that the Journey is worth every ounce of courage it extracts from us. For a person, such as myself, who has always felt that I am ‘down here without a map,’ this reassurance is a balm, and a career’s worth of inspiration for imagery. Fairy tales as subject matter may seem trite in this day and age, but stories about the patterns of our human journey seems like a subject worthy of my continued attention. Who cares if it might be poo-pooed in the hoity-toity Art World? Ok, I’d like to have it all, but when it comes right down to it…I need fairy tales. Fairy tales tell me, same as this Cowboy Wisdom quote,

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not ok, it’s not the end.”

“Away”    (watercolor, pen & ink)

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c. Susan Sorrell Hill

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is energy.

Where do you get your energy from? If you’re like most people in our Starbucks-loving culture, some form of caffeine is your go-to source.

Thanks to industrious entrepreneurs, there’s a plethora of legal stimulants to choose from: coffees for every taste, black and green teas, colas, super-enhanced waters, and perhaps the most beloved of all, the myriad and delightful forms of chocolate. All packing that readily-available, powerful energy punch.

Can you tell that I’m a recovering chocoholic, or that I still struggle to convene my day without the aid of green or twig tea? It’s true. My coffee days are far behind me now (except for the extremely infrequent road trip First Aid), but the fragrance of a coffee shop (like my local Herb Shop, for which this illustration was commissioned ages ago), is something that gets into one’s DNA and never leaves, no matter how many years it’s been. Can we spell addicting?

Despair not! For those of you who are getting a little edgy with the caffeine habit, or whose adrenals (or boss or mate) are beginning to complain regularly, I offer several tips, recently discovered:

Tip #1  A tall glass of water–cold, warm or hot–can wake a person up as efficiently as a cup of java, with no jittery side-effects. And it won’t cost you an arm and a leg either.

Tip #2  A half-hour of stretching, yoga or a walk in fresh air will do the same thing.

Tip #3  And, my personal favorite. (For those of you who live alone or with a dairy farmer who’s up and gone before sunrise or you live (lucky you) with a like-minded music enthusiast.) One side of a Rolling Stones’ CD—I’d suggest Some Girlswhich will have you wide-awake and tapping your toe before you can say, “jump start.”

Suzie’s hopefully-helpful Tips of the Day!

“The Herb Shop”–newspaper ad from my pre-computer Graphic Artist days.        (pen & ink)

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"Alchemy"

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

Eating crow, according to those smart folks at Wikipedia, is

“an American colloquial idiom, meaning humiliation by admitting wrongness or having been proved wrong after taking a strong position. Crow is presumably foul-tasting in the same way that being proved wrong might be emotionally hard to swallow.”

Yep, eating crow might be what’s called for today, at least in part.

You may have read the post, Adios, Facebook! back in April? Balancing the Social Media side of keeping an artist’s career ticking along with actually making art was getting me down. I needed a break and/or a new approach.

If you blog or use services like Google Analytics, you’ll be familiar with Stats, those facts and figures pages that report from whence comes one’s Site Traffic. A quick glance is usually the limit of my involvement with this information-rich stream, but I noticed a sharp and disturbing drop-off in visitors after my exit from the Facebook realm. Was the whole world only reading Facebook for their News now? Since I currently don’t rely upon such in-person venues as shows, galleries or open studios to help collectors find me, it seemed that I still needed an effective and low-maintenance way to drop those breadcrumb trails to my work. Preferably before I did a Vincent Van Gogh. (“…successful only after he died.”)

Enter to the scene, my recent launch of an Artspan.com website (here) with the capability of offering museum-quality prints-on-demand and framing, and also the very nifty ability to have a mini-gallery within one’s Facebook Page—-Page being the operative word here. I’d been overwhelmed with my Facebook Profile news feed, and never realized that now (as of 2011, I believe) an artist can have a Facebook Page for her fans, and (if I’m understanding correctly) bypass all of that other stuff that shows up on a regular Facebook personal Profile page. And so the title of this post: Facebook, revisited. Turns out, everything can now be efficiently connected directly to a Facebook Page: blogs, Etsy, Artspan sites, websites, you name it. (Don’t think about the implications of that, Mr. Orwell.) If one can resist the addictive nature of that world, Facebook is still–caw,caw–the best solution.

Fall 2014 Update: Double crow-eating here, folks…My Artspan shop is now closed…but my Facebook Page is still active.

Ahem. Ahh, crow is…delicious!

So, without further ado, I invite you to Like my Facebook Page, Susan Sorrell Hill’s Art. I promise to only post note-worthy news, and not in an overwhelming amount. If you’re feeling particularly inspired or kind-hearted, please spread the word.

Oh, and if you’ve read that Adios, Facebook! post today or previously, you’ll have noticed that I did promise to make this blog more interesting. I’m still working on that and I haven’t forgotten…thank you for your patience!

“Alchemy” (detail)   (oil on board)

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c. Susan Sorrell Hill

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is secret.

I’ve been thinking about secrets a lot lately, actually. Family secrets, political and conspiratorial secrets, and those garden variety skeleton-in-the-closet personal secrets. Things that were done and shouldn’t have been, secrets as simple and seemingly benign as socially unacceptable emotions–everyday feelings like anger or fear or desires that would upset the status quo and the comfort level of people around us.

It’s not that I have any answers to those nasty, moldy things we all carry around or have buried somewhere in the dark and dusty, but I do see how they eat away and harm like slow-growing cancers. And how, as much as we try to cover them up, gloss them over with polite smiles or new paint, secrets ooze out and inexorably impede and poison everything around them. They also drain the Life Force of the carrier with the energy required to repress the secrets, and the loss of energy can be such a subtle thing that it’s impossible to put a finger on the source. But common expressions like clearing the air and such a relief! point to the very real burden of things and feelings withheld.

If traditional and contemporary energy healers alike are correct in their perception, we humans are ‘reading’ each others’ auras (that energy field around the body where things like emotions, blocks, trauma and secrets show up in living color) all of the time, whether we are consciously aware of it or not. To read each other like this, they say, is part of our innate survival mechanism, similar to the instincts that creatures of other varieties rely upon. And we are all making choices and decisions and taking actions based on the information we are getting through this perception. It’s not the kind of information-gathering source one can point to like the rational approach of 2+3=5, but it surely predates the development of our brain parts responsible for our hightly-touted (and often fallible) human reasoning ability.

This subject of secrets reminds me of a quote by the American anthropologist and author, Hank Wesselman. (And I may be paraphrasing here because I can’t find the exact wording at the moment…)

“The Gods are everywhere. They see everything…and they never forget.”

If I believe this idea of an inherent human ability to read auric fields, and, going even further, if I substitute the word Consciousness for those words, “The Gods,” it’s pretty clear that none of us is really getting away with anything down here. Perhaps it’s time for a little housecleaning…?

 

“Untitled”    (pencil)

 

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