Words and Pictures : leading with the heart

Which comes first when you develop an idea? Words or images?

Earth Head - sketch, watercolour


For me words and images cross over and inform each other. I am unsure where inspiration arises, which leads the other, but it happens. For a long time I worried about which one should lead. Now I do not care. I am beginning to let my mind relax and forget all it knows and let my heart take over.


For instance in my dreams I find other-worldly imagery. So I have resumed keeping a notebook by my bed. Here's a snippet from it, expressed as words, but actually encountered as badly edited images and sensation in my stomach. I can still see the colour of the dark overgrown path, feel anxious when I think about the stream - though I love water - and smell (yes smell) the sharp sunlight that broke through the whole scene.


I find a stream. It is overgrown.

When I return it is neatly clipped; the nettles and the brambles cut back.

I can hear the butterflies crying.


I walk barefoot.

The stream is bright and clear so I step into it.

It cleaves in two.


I am deep in the second river now. Wading, feeling the pebbles under my feet.


A billowing eel like a scarf wriggles off to my right. In pulses.

Above and below its solid core, a fin like chiffon.

I have never seen an eel. Not swimming. Not so near my feet.


Now the nettles are completely gone and a woman swathed in ivy green light, leads us on : me walking in the river, her workers polishing the water.


It doesn’t end or stop.


There is no source or mouth,

Just flow and toil,

and stepping between both.


I have no idea how to paint these things; or how they might inform what I do paint. Perhaps they should not, but I found a quote from Rumi that I love and which will frame my reaction to these insignificant worries :


"Put your thoughts to sleep, do not let them cast a shadow over the moon of your heart"


In fact when I found this quote I loved it so much I used it in my artist's statement. It has become my artistic motto.

Among the Malay Kings - acrylic and ink on paper





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