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“Untitled” © Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is icon.

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines icon (noun) as:

1. a painting of Jesus Christ or another holy figure, typically in a traditional style on wood, venerated and used as an aid to devotion in the Byzantine and other Eastern Churches. 

2. a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something: this iron-jawed icon of American manhood.

I think a humorous depiction of a modern Buddha sort of squeaks by in this category, don’t you…?

“Untitled” (watercolor, pencil)

 

 

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“Untitled” (watercolor, pen & ink) © Susan Sorrell Hill

You might know, if you’ve followed my work for a while, that before I worked in watercolor, I was an oil painter. A mid-life crisis brought me face to face with the realization that there were things I wanted to do (books) and mediums I wanted to go deeper into (drawing and watercolor) and that there was only so much time left.

I leapt.

But then (and this, I think, is one of the hazards of not working steadily) amongst all of the other chaos happening in my life over the last few years, I found myself back on the fence: watercolor or oils…watercolor or oils? A reasonable person might simply say, “Do both.” or, “It’s a no-brainer…oil is the medium of The Old Masters, and besides, oils sell for far more.” Or, “Choose and get on with it, damnit!”

But the best reasons and arguments haven’t been able to tear me away from my love affair with watercolor and drawing. My own brain and sense of responsibility has been my worst enemy. And a pros and cons list only tells me that the right decision (logically) is the wrong decision for me. Alas.

I’ve wasted a lot of time wrestling with this, and for a person who normally likes to know who I am and where I’m going, it’s been a particular kind of Hell. Truly. The only answer that keeps feeling right is, “Follow your heart. You’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy.”

“Untitled” (watercolor, pen & ink) About this painting: it’s a sketch on a scrap of watercolor paper, from a possible imagined story. No, it’s nothing to do with anti-this or pro-that. It’s not political, it’s not taking a stand for anything except the joy of “taking a line for a walk.” Please don’t post political comments. They will be deleted.

 

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“Drink Me” (watercolor, pen & ink) © Susan Sorrell Hill

❦ I’ve always felt that an Artist was a person willing to be a channel for something much larger and far more mysterious than her or his little self. The modern kind of artists’ statement that includes phrases like “informs my aesthetic” and “my purpose” always seemed to be somehow…arrogant. Sometimes even a little bit aggressive, as if by authoritatively stating what they, the artists, were doing in grand terms, they could somehow push their importance and value onto the rest of us.

Maybe I’m just naive in this modern age, but it seems like being an artist should be — regardless of the tribulations of keeping body and soul together — first and foremost, a Calling. A calling that whispers in the night, when one is making the bed or washing the lettuce, showering, or pruning the hedge. A calling that itches in the fingertips and trembles in the heart. “Something wants to be born,” that whisper says. A calling that may, in fact, drag us through a certain kind of Hell, but it will be far worse for us if we refuse or linger overlong on the fence.

There is no explanation given, no reason given for the urgency, but the Calling is still insistent. “A fool’s leap! “Who would possibly want it and how could it even be marketed?” the Reasonable Mind argues back. “How much can I sell it for?” the Fearful Self joins in. There is a lot of Resistance. There always is. Artists are only human, after all. We get nervous when things are out of our control, when we haven’t a clue where they’re going and how it will all turn out. We fear for the loss of all things dear to mortals: our minds, our comfort, our safety and perhaps we fear for our status too.

A Calling is not, I think, ‘religious‘ in the normal sense of that word, unless your view of religion is devotion to something you can never hope to fully understand…devotion that has nothing to gain, no persona to maintain…a kind of death, really. The Calling I am referring to is much more like that quote, “I traded my life for a wild ride on a dark horse.” I wish I knew who wrote that. Following a Calling is so much like that. Exhilarating…terrifying…eerily calm all at the same time. Maybe life should always be like that, artist or no…?

Oh, and just in case it wasn’t clear, I don’t mean “Calling” in the sense that one is “special.” More a message that “This is yours to do here, if you are willing and brave enough to accept the challenge…” ♡

“Drink Me” (watercolor, pen & ink) © Susan Sorrell Hill ❦ SOLD. Sorry, no prints available of this beauty, as the original got away before I could have it professionally photographed. However!! There are lots of other images available in The Print Collection at www.susansorrellhill.com

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Happy Halloween!

‘Tis the season!! In my book, holidays don’t get any better, even if only from the sidelines or in fond remembrances… Happy Halloween, my friends!!  🎃

You’ve probably noticed I haven’t been posting on this blog much lately, but you can see what I’ve been up to more frequently if you follow on Instagram or Facebook, or sign up for (admittedly infrequent) Newsletters over at www.susansorrellhill.com.

 

“Fright Night” poster (pen & ink, 1983) for Nevada City’s local radio station, KVMR, and their annual costume dance bash. That was the year I went as a space vampire.

“Night Visitor” (pen & ink, 1983) just for fun if I remember correctly…but it could have been a KVMR poster. The memory does fades a bit…

And lastly,“Frankenstein” This happy fellow was drawn (pen & ink, 1993) for a local hospital’s advertisement for their plastic surgery department. He’d turn over in his grave if he knew that…

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The studio corner where I gather my wits.

The studio corner where I gather my wits.

I had an epiphany this morning, standing at the sink. It was foggy and wet outside, and my small life suddenly made sense again. (more…)

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"Flying House" c. Susan Sorrell Hill

“Flying House” c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is light.

Monks and mystics have always known that to remain connected to one’s own deep spirit, it is frequently necessary to fly away, disconnect, step-back and go inward. (more…)

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IMG_2639The Illustration Friday word of the week is metamorphosis.

They say a person’s face becomes the roadmap of where Life’s journey has taken them. Do you sometimes feel as I do, when looking in that not-so-friendly mirror, “What a long, strange trip it’s been…?”

 

IMG_2638“Untitled”      (pen & ink)

A 1993 commission for the Sutter Center of Progressive Endosurgery of Sacramento, CA. You’ve seen this image posted here before (ages ago) but ’tis the season for Frankenstein…   🙂

 

 

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