Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Making a Card for Susan Sibbet



I made a huge group card today for a poet friend undergoing radiation treatments. It began as a card and morphed into a piece of art. Something I have no control over. It's quite big: 12x18", drawn in stabillo (water soluable wax pencil) and colored pencil. The CPITS poets will all sign it this weekend in Santa Barbara. I think I will make an insert and have them sign it, and not the drawing. It's too good to be defaced with writing. Then I can stitch it inside. Still to do: make a really big envelope.

I had very little time or warning to make the card. A phone call on the afternoon of my departure for the conference. So I drew and drew until the light faded, not stopping once. (about 2 and a half hours). I didn't dare think, or interrupt myself because that unbidden self that draws like this is not me, the control freak. I have to step aside in order for my other self to draw. It's a place of no words. In that place I'm a near illiterate.

And there's a near synaesthesic quality to that zone. It's almost as if I feel the shape come alive and off the page as I draw. I can't quite describe the sensation—but it's pleasurable in a tactile foodish sort of way. I'm hearing the sound take shape. Something between music and dance. But not melody. There's something else shamanistic in it too—as if the physical act of drawing could somehow heal her, and my aunts too.

It's all about that transformation of a flat line into something sculptural—nearly 3-D. I've never drawn a star lily that big before. Certainly not under time pressure like that. I was afraid it would look anemic on the page, but it holds. It holds. It's also the first time I've drawn one without a live model. OK, I did look at some old drawings. But I prefer to draw fresh each time from real life.

I will set up the image on silk and have poets paint a matching scarf for her as well. As I drew the card, it occurred to me that my aunts, both in the throes of chemo, are going bald as well. I should make them some scarves too.

Susan Sibbet has been a pillar of strength for CPITS, serving as a poet, mentor, director, and board member. She has also played a crucial role in Poetry Out Loud. An amazing arts leader and organizer, she always brings to the table, no matter how barren, or overloaded, a "can-do" attitude. A true leader.

(My aunt Canice died 5/12/12—3 years with Stage 4 cancer. It was mercifully quick. Susan is still fighting it but cancer is a formidable opponent. )

UPDATE: 7/9/2013 Susan is losing her battle with cancer and is in hospice but she looks forward to phone calls and cards. Please contact her ASAP. 

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