Peter’s Crazy Knucklehead Flibbertigibbet Aunt Dances to the Music of Bach and CJ Chenier’s Zydeco on the Strand


Edward G. Nilges, “Cartoon for Peter’s Crazy Knucklehead Flibbertigibbet Aunt Dances to Bach, and the Zydeco Sounds of CJ Chenier, on the Strand”, 6 Dec 2011, pencil, about 1m*3/4 m.

The “cartoon” for a painting is a pure line drawing. You poke holes in the lines and rub charcoal over the cartoon, placed over the canvas, and then connect the dots. You need to be careful for the transferred drawing will change, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

Or, you buy an expensive projector which I could also use in teaching and project the image on the canvas. This can be done with a small image but you need to “scale up” to see what issues arise, here, the proper balance of her arms…not in a photorealistic sense, for photo-realism assumes we are all the same shape, but in the sense of communicating a movement, what it would feel like, male or female, to be able to dance freely to the Zydeco boogie of CJ Chenier, to Parksy’s music on the strand (beach) or to Bach.

Usually this is communicated by painters alla prima but it amuses me to be perverse and paint her like a saint in a mediaeval painting, with line and light pouring down on a painting constructed in layers. Zizek says that a Saint does precisely what she wants at all times. ‘Course, we don’t necessarily want to smoke and carry on. Just carry on is all. Getting that sucker right is as hard as drawing her thigh. Harder.

My ex wife once said to me, “Edward, every other thing you say is ‘I want'”. This does not make me a saint, for what I wanted thirty years ago was crap. But we do have to cultivate the wantin’ bone. Safwat you listening’? Yeah I bet you are…

Taking into account a Lamma Island friend’s complaint that in earlier drawings, the ankle didn’t seem to support the en pointe. I said, like Baron Munchausen, that she’s dancing on the Moon (low gravity, get it? Nyuk nyuk) but decided to thicken the legs. I don’t think she’s en pointe, but instead, she merely leaps, and pauses.

There is a razor’s edge in her face between a saint and a simper. One model is Watteau’s La Camargo, dancing in the fading light on the Isle of Cythera.

A Razor’s Edge

“The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard.”

There is a razor’s edge between rattling out Gibbons like Wanda Landowska, over-emphasizing speed, and Glenn Gould’s sacramental disclosure. Wanda makes you think of an old painting, beautifully. But Glenn makes you think of how brave your granny was when she broke her hip.

In line drawing there is a razor’s edge.


I went on Sunday’s Slutwalk Hong Kong to show solidarity with women that are hassled for dressing comfortably in our tropical heat, because I almost got beat up at the Oak Street Beach in 1995 for wearing Speedos, and even my presumably intelligent friends had nightmares when I wore cutoffs.

I did a dance performance to Bach and Gluck and discovered that I’ve the wind to tell stories as I dance, so, to Gluck’s overture to Orfeo I told the story of Orfeo, moral, don’t ignore the little lady on your wedding day, she might get bitten by a snake.


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