(pic by safari craig taken at olduvai gorge.)
Contributors: Veronica and Janelle
once not too many years ago, i decided i would like to paint. actually. it was just after we had moved from zambia to tanzania. and i was sitting in this little cottage we had rented (which had a ghost in it), perched on the edge of a dark motionless volcanic lake, called lake duluti, which definitely had monsters living in it and a woman spirit which ate small boys. and many other strange things...not exactly a live happy kind of lake. it was dark grey green and still. and VERY deep. i was told the germans threw a heap of guns and bombs in it so that the english wouldn't get their hands on them....safari craig had gone on, um, a safari and there i sat. with How To Speak Swahili hanging limply in my hands, thinking vaguely of somali shiftas and of friends far away.
and i was as sad as a sad person could be.
i became tired of being sad after while; slightly bored of staring southwards over the maasai steppes, imagining zambia just over the horizon. slightly bored of this empty sad feeling. so i rummaged around on the book shelf and found a book called The Artists Way by Julia Cameron...all about unblocking the creative self. i had done the course about three times already and always stopped at chapter 7, feeling marginally creatively unblocked.
ANYWAY. julia cameron coaches you through all the ego psycho blocks....you write your morning pages religiously every morning. three A four pages...of whatever....you can write shitshitshitshitshitshitshit all the way if that's all you have to say. actually. it's quite extraordinary, because after about a week you will find you are like an onion being peeled because you end up writing shitshitshitshitshit i saw the moon last night..or something to that effect. so there i was unblocking myself...and i arrived at a section where you have to choose something you would like to do...make a list. so i chose:
artist (as in painting)
tractor driver (kidding)
barbel fisherman (jesus)
and can;t remember the rest.
once you have made your list you turn over the page to see what's next. and she says, gasp gasp, "right. now choose one of those and BE it...." fuck. are you serious? so i chose artist. she warns you about your ego voice saying, "god you are ridiculous. you can;t paint to save your life! hilarious! anyway. you don;t have paints or brushes or anything. you're way too old. just stop all this nonsense and get on with what needs to be done, like, um, lose some weight, stop smoking, be a better mother, wife, person, blah blah blah."
so knowing this voice i turned around and said shut up, found a piece of ceiling board, went out and bought some cheap chinese oils (the only ones available) a range of cheap chinese paint brushes, put the kids to bed, put on beethoven and sat down to paint. and paint and paint and paint and paint. i started at 8 in the evening and finished at 3:30 in the morning. i had painted this:
i have no idea where this image came from. i had literally sat there and painted it from my head...when i had finished it, i called it "Little Black Sambo's Last Stand". do you know the story of little black sambo? it was written in the 19th century..about a little indian boy whose dad buys him smart clothes and the tigers take them from him. then argue with each other about who is the finest tiger in all the jungle. the chase each other round and round a palm tree (not noticing little black sambo taking all his clothes back) until they melt into butter... little black sambo's mum makes pancakes out of them, and little black sambo ate 67 pancakes in total. the end. this painting is what happens afterwards...it is the tiger waiting for him....the one that got away.... the one that managed NOT to melt into butter... little black sambo is about to walk around the corner.... what a surprise he will get.... but i hadn't thought about this while i painted. only afterwards....anyway. i was amazed i had painted a picture... so i thought, hey i like this...and decided to paint a self portrait. so i sat one evening, staring at myself side ways in a mirror and trying to paint myself...i was completely pleased by the result and called safari craig.
he sleepily looked at it (because it was late by the time i had finished and my neck was a bit sore from looking at my reflection sideways for a long time) and he said," oh. is that michael jackson?"
the next morning, one of the kids walked over it by mistake....
here is the painting.
adrian told me afterwards that it's only the great masters who dare to paint their self portraits, actually.
and that, oh best beloveds, as far as i can recall, was the end of my painting career.
and, the end of chapter 7.
Kitchen Board: Saturday Morning: 24 Jan 2009
Comments: on it. on it, you see?
jane eyre is such a goodie goodie two shoes, don't you think? how she resisted mr rochester the first time, is quite beyond me.
toooooooodely old pip, you. bisous, hot hot hot ones. xxx j
ps: still no rain. it's not funny anymore....