Lana Sutton #8: the murmur of a Bee a Witchcraft yieldeth me

Edward G. Nilges, “State of a Portrait of Lana Sutton, Holy Terror and the Dancer of Dawn, as of 21 Oct 2010”, acrylic on canvas 12×16 in.

Edward G. Nilges, “Four States of a Portrait of Lana Sutton, Holy Terror and the Dancer of Dawn, as of 21 Oct 2010”, assemblage of photographs of an incomplete painting, acrylic on canvas 12×16 in.


The murmur of a bee
A witchcraft yieldeth me.
If any ask me why,
‘T were easier to die
Than tell.

The red upon the hill
Taketh away my will;
If anybody sneer,
Take care, for God is here,
That’s all.

The breaking of the day
Addeth to my degree;
If any ask me how,
Artist, who drew me so,
Must tell!

Emily Dickinson

The goal: to preserve the freshness of translucent color

To avoid crude white highlights save at the apex of light

and, get the Feet right. My favorite critic doesn’t like this foot, from an earlier painting.

Edward G. Nilges, “Detail of Dancer Victory”, acrylic on canvas Jan 2009.

I didn’t use a model for this foot, and I like it although my friend does not. Since she is smarter than me (the wise man, according to Spinoza, seeking the company of the wiser even if dey is dames), I must consider everything she says carefully.

She wants the Real, to me another art skewl fetish and a Jargon of Authenticity in some cases. I am looking for something else. The instantiated and infinitely suffering Ideal, the Word made Flesh, or merely a childish hope that at least Wonder Woman is real, which she was when we were little kids, being Mom.

The children want the bunnies to escape in Adorno’s favorite nursery rhyme about the hunter who missed. My little students enjoyed Charles Causley’s I Saw a Jolly Hunter:

Bang went the jolly gun
Hunter jolly dead
Jolly hare got clean away
Jolly good, I said.

Therefore something, above, is afoot. Not some model’s foot in art school. The Foot that, in the late running guru’s George Sheehan’s words, “crossed continents and danced for days on end”. I have put my foot down.

My foot more or less anatomically accurate both from some formal study and the fact that every time I go out for a run I must say, Hello, Foot. Hello, Brother Ass the Body. Once more carry me to a better place, once more, after thirty years of running, to the Pure Land.

Lana Sutton’s feet in her portrait shall take some work.

Lana Sutton is a musician, dancer, activist, gardener, environmentalist, Holy Terror and Mayor Ron Littlefield’s worst nightmare in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This portrait is based on photography of Native Son.


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