Tag Archive | masks

Year of the Dog

dog 1s

Every dog
has its day—top dog,
shaggy dog,
dirty dog–
everybody and their dog–
going to the dogs.

In dog years,
it’s a dog’s life.  Put
on the dog,
hot dog, hot
diggety dog.  Tail wagging
the dog.  Lucky dog.

Walk the dog
and call off the dogs.
Teach the old
dog new tricks.
(on the internet no one
knows you’re dogging it).

bliss s

I’m going with the prediction that this Brown Earth Dog year of 2018 will see a rise of social consciousness and environmental awareness, and the return of generosity and feelings of fellowship and community.

Our language is filled with phrases that include the word “dog”.  I had fun stringing some of them together with a multi-patterned dog mask as accompaniment.  And you can see my original post about Bliss, the dog pictured above, here.


tv mask s

streaming magnetic

clouded brain
which system opens your head
upload stars and create streams
of spacelight

I’m a bit late consulting the Oracle this week.  I found this collage I did awhile ago, which for some reason reminds me of the televisions we had when I was a child, and the Oracle was insightful as to my brain at that point in life (or maybe even now…)

Can you tell my printer has been ill?  It works for this poem, though, I think.

I know you’ve been missing Nina, she’s on a much needed vacation and will be back soon!




Lines that quote
the face, the hair, the
reign of years
first captured by sculpted earth.
Copy as copy copied.
Serial disguise.

I went to the Met to see Max Beckmann (excellent) and ended up drawing masks, as usual.  The one above is French, from the 1800’s, sculpted on a vessel of some sort.


I drew this Mexican “twisted face mask” (dated 600-900) twice, because it looked very different from each side.  It reminded me of Jack Davis’ artistic attempts to define his relationship to his autistic brother Mike.  It must have been based on a member of the community, providing a link to the long-standing effort of humans to consider and include those who fall outside the spectrum of “normal”.


This grinning monkey from the Ivory Coast also caught my eye.

The poem uses the Secret Keeper’s prompt words this week.

I’ll be here a bit irregularly for awhile as I have some projects I need to finish…

Draw a Bird Day: Red Rooster


“Watch out strange kind people
Little Red Rooster is on the prowl”
–Howlin Wolf, interpreting Willie Dixon

This embroidered painting was inspired by a Mexican Carnival mask and the blues, and also in honor of the Year of the Rooster.


Red as a rooster. Red
as a heart that bleeds with
fire.  Red as the rose
that blooms inside the heart’s desire.
Red as the anger that
is trapped inside the flame.  Red
as the burning blood that
saturates the vein.  Red red.  Red.

The poem uses the red rooster as a starting point.  I finally managed to do a quadrille properly:  44 words.  The rhymes just happened.

Happy Draw-A-Bird Day!

At the Hawk’s Well


In 1916, W. B. Yeats wrote a dance play, “At the Hawk’s Well”, inspired by Japanese Noh theatre (to which he had been introduced by Ezra Pound) and Irish folklore.


The Japan Society recently had an exhibit of UK artist Simon Starling’s commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Yeats’ work, along with some of the art that inspired both him and Yeats.


I watched the beautiful video of the hawk dancing several times


and then I drew masks until my hand cramped up and my legs hurt from standing.


When I looked at the drawings, it struck me how humans have always struggled to understand and live their lives well.  We are united in both sorrow and dignity, all cultures, throughout history, all over the earth.



Jaguar Masks

jaguar mask drawing s

I’ve been featured on Marianne Szlyk’s blog “The Song Is…” with a poem and 4 junk mail art pieces of Mexican jaguar masks.  She also always has great musical links included with her posts.

Click  here and take a look!

More Shaman’s Masks

shaman mask comp 2

More masks from the Rubin Museum “Power of Masks” exhibit.

The shaman’s masks I sketched indeed appeared to be very powerful to me.  Shamanism is humans’ oldest and most widespread method of healing, appearing for at least 20,000 years in cultures all over the world.  Shamans serve as intermediaries between man and the spirit world, mending the soul to mend the body.  Masks are an important part of the ritual, identifying the shaman and helping to facilitate communication.

Shaman Masks

shaman mask comp 1

I told Nina that her doodles from yesterday reminded me of some of the shaman masks I drew the last time I went to the Rubin Museum.  Here are two of them…they look like close relatives, no?

Year of the Monkey

chinese monkey king s

OK, it officially starts on Monday, February 8, but that’s “Draw-a-Bird-Day” (and I know everyone is busy preparing their bird art!)  So I thought I’d celebrate Chinese New Year a bit early.  The above collage is a combination of a bunch of King of the Monkey masks I found online.

wooden monkey mask s

My original  collage was done from a photo of a wooden monkey mask I had in my files.  I didn’t make any notes as to it’s origin, but I liked its goofy face.  When I finished though, I thought the New Year needed something a bit more celebratory, which is why I did the more colorful one above as well.

The Year of the Monkey is the 9th of the 12-year cycle.  It’s a year when “anything can happen”, and a year when you are supposed to be as daring and inventive as Monkey people are.  They are the tricksters of Chinese astrology.

Bhutan monkey mask s

I also managed to make it back for one more look at the Rubin Museum’s mask exhibit, and they had quite a few monkey masks from various cultures.   The pencil drawing above is a festival mask from Bhutan.

monkey mask comp 1

I switched to ink both because it was dark in the exhibit, and because I didn’t want to stand too long in front of each mask as the passage was narrow and there were other people wanting to see each mask.  Above, on the left, a wooden mask from Nepal, and on the right, from India, Valin the Black Monkey, a helper of Rama.

monkey mask comp 2

From Japan, on the left, a solemn monkey, and from the Northwest Coast, on the right, one that looked fierce but friendly.  Evidently Native American sailors occasionally brought monkeys back from their travels.

Happy Year of the Monkey!
(and don’t forget your birds for Monday)

More Hannya Masks

hannya mask comp

You may recall that these masks are used in Noh theater to represent a woman betrayed by love, whose jealously has turned her into an angry demon.  But the best masks also include sorrow and torment, reflecting the complexity of human emotions.

You can see my other drawings of Hannya here.