Monday, March 23, 2009

Will O' the Wisp

Spring will never be my favorite season. It's way too far the opposite of my favorite, which is autumn. Nevertheless, spring holds some powerful associations for me-- the buzzing of insects, the smell of fresh cut grass, showers of orange blossoms in the wind, sleeping outside under the stars and
the wonder and mystery of Will O' the Wisp.
The Wisp captured my imagination as a child, and still does, because it's a creature both in and out of this world, so elusive that no one ever gets a good look. Forget fairies in dresses or naked little people with wings. Feh.

Give me instead the Wisp. Ever only seen in glimpses, peripheral to the ordinary light of day, on the edge of what is real and what is not.

Ever so welcomed to open a tiny tear in the plain sphere of shoelaces and homework and brushing of teeth.
Ever so quick and nebulous in detail that no one can agree on its appearance. Wisps are like ships made of clouds, but darker, trailing legends behind them-- stories that scare and thrill children by the campfire. Tales of humans lured away into strange places, never to be seen again.

I'd love to paint a wall of Wisps, but that would be insane even for me. So for now I'll content myself with painting them on Poppets, which might be equally insane, given the scale. Madness is relative, after all. Working tiny is interesting. It lends perception. It exercises its own creative muscle. It's bigger inside than out, and it's been a great introduction of Will O' the Wisp to the kids who move about in this weird house in the desert.

I think this weekend we might sleep outside. And have marshmallows and stories of Will O' the Wisp.
Because that's how legends stay alive---not from movies or books or games, but but by the telling, in a circle of fire lit faces--telling with earnest respect for the lore, to eyes young and wide enough to feel the magic.

Note to self: marshmallows


Ed, o Mamute. said...

The stories here are a little different, we doesn't have Will or Jack, but the essence is the same I think.

We call them "Fogo Fátuo". I saw it once, many years ago, in a pasture (the fields were cows graze, that's the right word?). It was truly magical.

ravyn said...

i got one of those instant ideas as soon as i read your post. How about painting the Wisps on pieces of glass, then projecting light through them onto a wall? If you suspended them from strings (or something), they would move around and distort even more.....

MV said...

A few weeks ago a very special person ordered a Poppet on ebay. He was hoping his arrive for the 23th march, but he begun to doubt: "Dr. Brown won´t get there in time" He thought.
But yesterday the postman knocked the door. He brought a parcel although he didn´t know how special it was.
Dr. Brown was just in time!

Yesterday was my birthday and my special boy introduced me to Dr. Brown, my new special friend.

I really like your work. Poppets are wonderful!

mordicai said...

When I wrote my NaNoWriMo novel it was called "Wil O' Wisps"

lisa said...

Ed: how old were you?

ravyn: I remember these weird wind chimes my mom had when I was a kid--it was long glass rectangles with designs painted on.

MV: I'm so happy you like Dr. Brown. We like him too.

mordicai: what's a nanowrimo? I envy you--New York seems ever so much more than Palm Springs. Then again, we must all find the magic in our own spaces.

WV (one of my favoirte so far) :