the search for symbols

i’m not complaining when i say that i’m swamped with courses, both art and writing. the juggling is an art form in itself, one that i relish. i’m a better person when i’m busy. there’s a whole lot less hopelessness in the downtime if the uptime has been productive and full of all the things. 

just one, story101 with Elora, is writing related. it’s the one that is slowly helping me put words down, both here and in my art journal.

sometimes i’m paralysed by all that i take on. until i remember to work at my own pace. i think i’m going to drop the ball. and then i don’t. i need to remember this before the paralysis.

right now, many of my art courses have reached a serendipitous place, where the teacher-artists are asking the same question.

what are your symbols and marks that will truly make your work your own?

and Elora asked,

what keeps you awake at night?

usually, not much at all, thanks to the crazy-person meds, but sometimes having a bipolar brain means i am so very awake. this week, in my awake when everyone else is asleep state, i thought about my symbols and marks.

there are some that appear in my work without any forethought – the spirals, circles, chevrons, leaves, letters and random scribbles. these just happen when i hold my pencil in my non-dominant hand. i remember so clearly as a child, wishing i was ambidextrous, or at the very least, a lefty, and practicing wonky circles or my name repeatedly.

circles grow

houses. there have been many, and not all of them homes. i try to represent them by styling them differently. tall, squat, shingled, pointy… a tent shape for the wigwam i used as a cubby. i can’t quite recall who, or where, just the wigwam.

home houses

the rest of my symbols are representative of weekends at my grandparents’ house. the unchanging place that anchored me.

three parallel lines. i’m reminded of the times when my brother and i would draw cricket stumps on my grandparents’ garage door. the slam of the tennis ball on steel. my grandparents never interrupted our play, no matter how noisy we were.

circle line circle. a rudimentary skateboard doodle around my borders. We’d careen heart in throat down the steep driveway and pull a hair-raising 180 right before the inevitable crash into the garage door.  i had a gut instinct faith that God had my back even then.

stick flowers. lupins from a garden that also grew gooseberries, fuchsias (i would pop the flower pods open before they were ready) and potatoes, and had the best worm collection a pair of grubby children could wish for.


a cross inside a circle. a tennis ball inside a pair of tights. i’d stand with my back against the wall and whack that tennis ball around the compass, never fearing i might swing the ball into my head instead of the bricks.

never eat shredded wheat never eat shredded wheat never eat shredded wheat. north east south west.

faster and faster, changing the order. some combinations were more difficult and dangerous than others. north south west east.

forehead chest shoulder shoulder.

i was fearless once.

and faith full.


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