Every artwork has a story, because art contains a thousand tiny choices, which are the children of big choices: subject, size, medium, surface, and placement.
When I just started my graduate studies at the Science Illustration Program at University of California, Santa Cruz; The teachers and my fellow students were and still are truly amazing artists. A little too amazing. Watching them work filled me with awe which sadly transformed into a sense of terrified hypocrisy. This is called imposter syndrome, where one feels that they don’t belong in rigorous school programs or lofty positions. It was paralyzing. I would agonize over perfecting everything… procrastinate buying materials or doing research, but not actually putting pencil to paper.
The assignment was simple, a drawing of colored pencil on colored paper. I picked three cherries, but I couldn’t for the life of me settle on an arrangement. Golden means and fibernachi spirals were not helping out. I couldn’t just toss the cherries on a table. I need something right… something meaningful. In Twyla Tharp’s, the Creative Habit, there is a chapter called “Spine”, meaning the backbone inspiration that might not even be visible when the project is done.
By luck I watched a video of the Indigo’s Bellydance Company Le Serpent Rouge and suddenly it hit me between the eyes three figures dancing together. If you watch Rachel Brice, Zoe Jakes and Mardi Love as they dance they aren’t rigidly spaced out, they separate and flow back together. They possess characters more valuable that perfection: grace, beauty and fun.
I can't look at the cherries drawing without hearing the gypsy beats of Opa Cupa and seeing the graceful sweep of arms in the stems.