Seeing a Metro Outlaw (Spark13)

M. Mair, Spark13, Metro Outlaw/Leave Me, Original art

Margaret Mair, Leave Me/Lef' Me, Original Art (Spark13)

Spark13 was a little different from the last GetSparked rounds I entered.  We were given an opportunity to honor Charisse Cecil, a longtime participant no longer with us, by choosing to respond to a piece she had created for GetSparked in the past.

Charisse’s words are strong and vivid.  I wanted to respond to one of her poems; it seems to me they invite a visual response.  So my first task was choosing which one to respond to.

In the end I chose Metro Outlaw.  I could see, sympathize with, visualize the person she described – someone angry, proud, vulnerable, creative.  Someone who chose to look and act the way she did to protect herself from the world around her.  Someone filled with strength and loneliness, fear and anger.

I saw her with her locs, her cowrie shells, her back to the wall, to the window.  I thought about how she would hold herself, what face she would show the world.

Then I went looking for references for odd bits and pieces – different cowrie shells, different ways of wearing locs, Metro trains, handicapped seating, handicapped signs.  I saw what they looked like, thought about what I wanted them to look like.  The first day I sketched, I discarded, I composed.  Then I turned to the canvas and started work on the painting itself.  Perhaps a little too quickly!  I usually give myself lots of time to think about my paintings before I actually go to work on them, but I was very aware that I only had ten days.

As I worked, some things came together well.  I stopped at the point that would normally be where I pause and put a painting where I can just look at it and let it speak to me.  Right now I’m thinking that there are things that still need work, and will get it after I’ve had time to think and work and think again. My lady of the locs is there, protecting herself with that city, keep-away look women often adopt.  But I’m not satisfied with those around her, at least not yet.  The background does not feel layered and textured enough.  So the Sparks13 version is not quite the final one of this painting…

The title, however, is set – though it has two versions.  “Leave Me”, with all its various connotations; and (for my Jamaican friends) “Lef’ Me!”, which has yet others.

I’ll share the final version in time; but for now here’s the Spark13 version, and the vibrant words that inspired it, on the GetSparked website.

And I hope you’ll be inspired to GetSparked too!

(While you’re there, do look around.  If you don’t have much time, at least take a quick look at one of my favorites from this round so far – Amanda Brainerd and Charisse Cecil )


2 responses to “Seeing a Metro Outlaw (Spark13)

  1. I understand so well what you say here. The woman with the locs and look says it all.

    • Afterwards I thought that I could just have painted her, and it would have been enough. It’s the urge to narrative that the rest of the painting speaks to.

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