Hands Of Old

This lady of the Basque, Andramari, came out of left field for me this week. I wrote the poem decades ago and she decided she wanted to be painted five days ago.  

'Andramari' (4'x3'2) 

'Andramari' (4'x3'2) 

She encompasses Justice, Water, Sorcery, and Divination, and punishes liars and thieves. 


•Hands of Old•

Remember all the ones you carry

that one for kindness, another for learning

one for caring, for giving, for feeding

for thanking

for burning.

All those hands you have worn in other times and places.

All those hands you will wear in other times and places.

Dare on,

for you never walk alone.


9 year old Bon

Once upon a time, a 9 year old Bon was bullied into a two week coma. Afterwards, while my facial bones healed, I painted to kill the hours. My mom stopped me from finishing the black layers* on these because I was going to mess up the hospital bed and they ended up in the trash can unfinished. 


Little I knew my cousin sneaked the little paintings out of there (then forgot all about them). Skip forward 30 years to a month ago. They were clearing up space in the attic, came across them and my uncle thought it would be a great idea to mail these to me to commemorate 30 years since my face crash. 


They do smell weird and they are making me cringe a little, but thank you crazy diamonds family of mine, you saved me then and you save me now. Also, thank you 9 year old Bon for waking up, what a ride has been so far, you little hard nut. 


(*I have now filled in the block black layers as originally intended)


I think I may have mentioned my grandma before, she was a force of nature. Since I moved into this new home, she's more present than ever, something tells me she would have loved it here. Maybe it is the atrium in the heart of the house that she would have filled up with giant geraniums or the fact that there are a lot of yellow hues. She used to say "Yellow is the colour of crazy people" and golden gems like that aside, she taught me so many things, so many important things, that I am still working most of them out 20 years later. 


This painting is her, how I remember her. The Picasso it is based on was her favourite calendar page that hung in her kitchen no matter the month, year after year. 


The duality in her face is a nod to that old chestnut about "eyes in the back of every woman's head" and in her case, also her uncanny ability to see a person throughout. 

The Gernika bull head in her skirt, because that's where she lived for many years. The blood tear to a horse in her heart is the horror of the Spanish civil war that scarred her bones, not that she would have ever admitted to it. The many hats she had to wear, the red lips and nails to her last breath, her magic silver hair, so full of fire and her eyes, golden, for she had seen beyond.

"Indarra adeitasuna bidez" is the last thing she ever said to me knowing I was about to run away to never meet again.

"Strength through Kindness"



These are my favourite form of entertainment, it has always been.

Since I can remember, I sketched my family based on colours and textures, unknown to me that I was impersonating their voices on paper. They all thought my notebooks were a hot mess until my nan started recognising patterns (same people in different pages). I believe my synesthesia comes from that side of my family, her sister apparently had similar (chaotic) notebooks but at the beginning of the century nobody had paid much attention. Nowadays they probe you through childhood to diagnose not-crazy, just funky-wired.

While everybody in preschool was having a go at stick figures, I would argue that the yellow triangular lines and scratched paper folds were clearly my mom, but a bubble head and 5 sticks had nothing to do with her. Consequently my teacher used to display my 'abstract' works as how-not-to-draw your family. Fun times.

I still wonder what part of a stick figure is not an abstraction.

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Details from 'Into the Gramophone' Series © BB Nielsen 2008