I started these drawings by applying irregular patterns of color to rough-textured paper, erasing lighter areas that caught my eye, and adding additional tones and colors. I didn’t have anything in mind but soon saw figures, plants, animals, rocks, bricks emerging out of the confusion.
I saw Louise Brooks (silent film star) first, and she seemed to be fighting a collection of blobs. The blobs coalesced into a knobby-headed alien with six fingers on his hand. Geometric shapes turned into bricks turned into a broken wall. I morphed an upright arm and hand into a cactus, and the fake crisis at the border came together.
Now that I’ve looked at this again, I wonder if the space alien and Louise are really doing a tango in the ruins of a Spanish mission. Perhaps the title should be, “Mission Impossible”.
Not sure about the progression of this one. The reclining foreground figure showed up early, as did the pile of rocks (mountains?). The lady didn’t want to develop a proper head, and the odd fingers showed up. A snake leapt forward to bite the hand, and a shadowy figure behind the foreground figure.
Thoughts of Cleopatra and oases danced in my head, but the ghost elephants in the background didn’t fit. Then I thought of Hannibal shipping his elephants from Northern Africa into Europe to do battle with the Romans. I imagined them crossing the North African Atlas Mountains (near the Mediterranean shore ) as a prelude to their Alp-crossing expedition. The hand-headed lady and snake became omens of ill fortune.
The technique of finding imagery from random marks comes from Max Ernst, the German-American Surrealist. He used to paint watery oils on a canvas, press it to another canvas, and twist them. He pulled them apart and used the odd blobs on each to suggest animals, buildings, geological formations.