Question: so what kind of person starts a post about the Illustration Friday prompt “Spooky”, with a title that says “The Joy of Tongues.” ?
Answer: the same kind of person that, in the beginning of his second paragraph, hits you with a bunch of seemingly random questions such as:
- Did you know that fresh basil propped up in a glass of water in the fridge lasts longer than basil in a plastic bag in the crisper?
- Did you know that the seeds of an apple contain more vitamin goodness than the rest of an apple itself?
- Did you know that on the 2oth of this month my blog will be a year old?
- And finally, did you know that Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) have such long necks that they, need not only amazing powerful hearts, but a complicated system of neck blood vessel valves to stop blood rushing to their brains when they put their heads down to chew grass -otherwise their corpus christi cerebellum superbum would explode like a small overripe pink carbuncle ?
Well, the most obvious thing that sets apart basil, blogs, and apple seeds from Giraffes is that Giraffes have a very long neck.
But did you ever stop to wonder what, apart from those intricate blood vessel valves, is actually in that neck? Interestingly they have the same number of vertebrae (seven) in their necks as we do (assuming ‘we’ are human). But one really big difference between Giraffe’s and ourselves is that they have an extra-ord-ordinarily long (blue) tongue. Where a human tongue averages out at 4 inches, the average Giraffe tongue is approximately 20 inches long!
How handy is that eh?
Think of the joy, the fun you could have with such a long tongue. Imagine the hirsuteness of being able to lick behind your own ear! The wonder of being able to re-arrange your eyebrows with your hands tied behind your back. The expedentialism (find that in the dictionary!) of being able to clean your face up when some stranger taps you on the shoulder and says “excuse me, I hate to be a nuisance, but you have half a small meat pie stuck to the left side of your naso labial cleft.”
And oh what party tricks you could play. (see footnote ). Not to mention the fun you could have in elevators when standing behind some obnoxiously aftershaved Generation X upstart with a bare neck.
Admittedly that might not be your idea of the Joy of Tongues.
But you’ll have to forgive me. As soon as I saw the Illustration Friday prompt “Spooky'” I knew straight away that I wanted to write about tongues - and specifically, what joy they produce.
But why? Well recently I’ve noticed that my art looks weird and creepy, dark and spooky - as if it is the product of a dark and disturbed mind (moi?) and so I have been taking notes from some of the blogs that make me laugh. I go to these blogs with a tightly closed mouth and leave with strange hee-hawing sounds coming out of my oesophagous.
When I visit these blogs I laugh, not just because the images are funny, but because the images are cute, approachable, and say something about ourselves as adults (dare I say the ‘human condition’?)
Quite frequently the characters in these illustrations are innocent kids with big eyes or anthropomorphised animals doing kid like things. For me big eyes are the go, as well as freckles – and more recently, tongues.
Tongues? So what’s funny about tongues? Well it's not the tongues really, but they way they sit. Tongues stuck out of mouths in all directions are funny because their owners are, at that moment, completely oblivious to everything except the joy of the world. The owners of wayward tongues are almost always children. Only children can be lost in that space where they are so absorbed by the world around them, or at the task at hand.
Well before I go any further I’d like to list the people who give me the joy of ‘funness’ when I visit their blogs. The people that consistently give me a silly grin, that are the cause of the extra smile lines encroaching on my ex-babyface. Well there’s Jack, and Shirley, and Bella, and Cally Jane, and Krista, and Roberta, and Vanessa. I’d recommend a visit to all their blogs – and of course if you do happen to go, you’ll discover what a bunch of sweeping and untrue statements I have made about their work. All of these blogs have a sense of ‘funness’ because these artists are all individuals, attacking their subjects in their own unique manner.
Okay, well that’s probably enough blah blah blah for this week. I was going to tell you about the amazing emotive correlative Jungian archetype-like cultural iconography to be found at Don Roberto’s and Amalia’s sites. Worlds apart yet tapping into the same recesses of the human historical subconsciousness. I was going to tell you, but I won’t.
Do you know Jungian Archetypes? Think Star wars , Lord of the Rings, Mills and Boon (romance novels). Typical Jungian archetypes are found scattered amongst their plots. Apart from the Unwilling Hero, there’s Old-Man-Wise- Wizard (Gandalf, Ob1 Kenobi etc), Mother, Oldlady Wise Wizardess, Evil Witch, Good Witch, Father, Best Faithful Friend (Sam in LOR), Travelling companions who give wonderful gifts (physical and mental Gimli, Legolas), Mentor (Aragon), Trickster (Sarumon, Loki), Big Evil One (Devil, Sauron), Big evil one’s friends etc -well you get the idea .
But in Amalia’s and Roberto’s work we find the archetypal icons of tigers and oceans and suns and moons and icons of travel and mountains and homes. All Icons that serve dual purposes – not only do they serve the outside of the image compositionally, but they also give the image depth and meaning below the surface. The image becomes like a good poem – to be read on several different levels. And the more the audience puts into observing the work, the more they take away.
In a similar vein (in that it come’s from the cultural heart) we have the Ces’s work (but I spoke about her last post and I don’t want to give her a big head), not to mention the amazingly talented witch from Tír na nÓg – who flies in and out like thysania agrippina. Yet there’s others – the puppet mistress of Bulgaria, the dark haired Norwegian Janne ocean orientated but ceaslessly experimenting and inspirational, Chopoli who makes fairies real, Martine the French woman held captive by a talking Toucan name Leo, Denise Scaramai’s digital illusions from Brazil, Laura Deschia’s expressionist tour de force paintings from Austria. And I mustn’t forget AOC who’s poetry acts on illustrations in the same way as a medium in a séance acts as a lubricator to the spiritual world.
Well of course I could go on and on. In fact I would like to and I think I'll add Vanilla (who likes to tell stories), Linda (who always touches me with her tales), Ana (who has a classic Nosferatu at the moment) , and of course my good friend Karen who battles her lack of spare time with a wacom in one hand and her latest masterpiece in the other.
I’ve seen so much transpotating work since I started blogging – most of it from talented females (why is that?). Enough to start tongues wagging.
So that takes me full circle, to the real reason I made this post. Below this paragraph I’ve included a few versions of the finished work. If you look closely you will see three little witches in addition to the Storyteller. You will probably find Hansel and Gretel in different variations. Then there is Tim, Jack and Jill, there is the little girl who shot her teddy bear, and the old dwarf (made young again) who lived in the forest and ate other people’s gold fish.
Oh I almost forgot. That’s me behind the witch.
Recently I’ve been reading a book called “Enchanted Hunters” by Maria Tatar a Havard Professor Of German Languages. It’s basically a book about why children read (she has also written The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales and Annotated Grim Brothers).
In the book Ms Tatar points out the magic of the written word. How words are really just black scrawls of ink on a a page, yet a sentence as simple as “The man entered in the room” can transport us to another place and another time. Words surely are magic, and yet how much more magic are they when spoken aloud (in ‘tongue’ – hence the “Joy of Tongues” title of the post). And even better in a darkened medieval room with an audience of children collected around a fireplace, an audience that readily suspends its disbelief, an audience that clings together not just for warmth, but because of the primeval instinct that tells them that there is safety in numbers.
We are all children at heart. We liked to be scared, we like to be transported to distant places, to have indescribably exciting adventures – as long as we awake unharmed and safe in our own snug beds.
And so enter the story teller, the old crone, the bard, the poet, the witch with the Book of Tomes, the weaver of tall tales, the keeper of the lore.
This illustration is a nod to some of those by George Cruikshank – especially the Droll Story (which you will find in this Survey Of Children’s Illustrators). And owes its genesis to the frontispiece of Charles Perrault’s “Contes de ma mere l’Oye” – the original collection of Mother Goose Tales.
The rest of the illustrations are odds and ends from the rest of the week.
Thankyou so much for reading. I’m going to have a small break from blogging. I need to go surfing for a while and there are some paintings yelling out to be done. I also need to stop having so much fun.
I’ll come and visit your blogs though – of course (oh oh a smiley appeared).
See you all soon!
Oh and don’t forget to visit Ces and Bella’s BBB club.