Sunday, October 16, 2011


There are a few pieces of my artwork that I am told are dark or even disturbing.  I don't see them that way at all.  They are simply responses to something unpleasant that found its way into my life - a dream, a news event, an experience, something I read, a story I was told, etc.  These are sources (life experiences) that need to be expressed in art just as much as the light beautiful things.  I see it as an expression of cynicism.

There needs to be some cynicism in society.  It protects the naively idealistic among us from the nefarious forces at work in the world.  Optimism should carry a "caution" sign.  It's good to say that "the glass is half FULL" if it is believed to contain something good - with the hope that it will eventually be filled.  However, it is also important to "see the glass as half EMPTY" when it is suspected that it contains something that will kill you.  I usually catch a lot of criticism for what I've said here.  But, I don't really care.  There needs to be a balance of naivete and cynicism (i.e., optimism and pessimism).  We do, after all, live in a world of good and evil, love and hate, beauty and ugliness, et-al.  It is the persistently naive with their heads in the sand who will find themselves unexpectedly sodomized.  David T. Wolf said that "Idealism is what precedes experience. Cynicism is what follows.".

I'm digressing.  I have a couple of pieces of artwork that I want to post as examples of my "dark side" art making.  The first is a little doodle that portrays an innocent looking little figure who has met with a shockingly horrific experience.  I've found that women have the greatest response to this piece.  I think it must be their nurturing instinct.  They may want to sooth the violently anxious lines of the drawing, or place a tourniquet on his bloody arm.

paint markers and pen & ink on paper, 8"X10"

The second piece is my response to the beheadings carried out by Islamic militants during the past decade.  My brother had sent me a Web link to the video made of the beheading of Nicholas Berg.  The mere thought of the act conjured mental images so horrifically appalling in my imagination that I could never bring myself to watch the video. The drawing is a somewhat satirical approach to the subject.  I think this is because I realized I could never hope to put the emotion into the piece that it deserved.  I think the disturbing quality is simply established because of the implied emotional detachment.  The attitude of the piece is derived somewhat from the Jonathan Swift short story, "A Modest Proposal" which is a satire on England's response(or lack of) to the Irish potato famine.

Heads Stacked Neatly
pen & ink on paper, 9"X12"

Thanks for reading,


  1. I appreciate all that you say about art and your art. I do not find the two drawings disturbing visually because you have cloaked them, maybe unconsciously. I am rather compassionate but I do not desire to bandage that arm. Rather, I see your skill at what you are doing. I was and am very disturbed, extremely disturbed, at head cuttings used as rather primitive propaganda but let's not forget that we fry with electricity people forcibly tied down to a special chair - of course they committed heinous crimes - but so do the executioners in my opinion.
    Vera M.

  2. Vera, Thank you for your comments. I'm glad you didn't find the drawings visually disturbing because that was never my intent. The resulting narrative is more important to me as an artist. In this case - the emotions experienced with a traumatic loss of innocence or the acknowledgement of the existence of hatred. These are things as worthy of artistic expression as beauty.

    I agree with you about capital punishment, but maybe not for exactly the same reason. We see so many cases of flawed verdicts later reversed by the introduction of new evidence. With even the remotest chance of a wrongly condemned person being put to death, I believe life without parole would leave the justice system with an eventual remedy to its potential mistakes. Even more so, I would like to see a justice system willing to acknowledge its mistakes and NOT allow the wrongfully convicted to languish in prison - no matter the severity of the crime.

  3. Thank you Steve! Yr. reply is civil and logical. Who is it then that sent me a flaming reply on LinkedIn ?? this is amusing. Forgive if my reply to that insulting message went to you or seemed about you.
    Your opinion about capital punishment in the U.S. is perhaps more balanced than mine. But strong points of view sometimes need to be stated strongly.
    Regardless, I like your art.
    Best! Vera M.