Pelican Encounter

llusk_pelican-encounterAround the Gulf Coast, there are plenty of pelicans to be seen gliding through the air or perched around marinas waiting for boats to haul in their catch. Sometimes they appear out of nowhere!

Picture me driving slowly along the coast, approaching a bridge over a bayou, and then a pelican swoops from the left out of the bayou right toward the bay, so close to my windshield that I could see its eye. Magical! Just the evening before, I had spent about an hour in my studio looking at images and thinking about pelicans and how they could become a part of my Southern Wild Art series. My sketch depicted a pelican flying left to right across a stormy sky. When I arrived home after the encounter, I erased this sketch and replaced it with a close-up of a pelican waiting for the storm to pass.

Symbolically, pelicans have long been associated with religion, myth, and culture. Pelicans represent death and the journey to the afterlife in Ancient Egypt, based on their reputation as skilled travelers. As a totem, pelicans represent confidence, calmness, and abundance when witnessed with a full bill. In Christianity, they represent caring and self-sacrifice often depicted by a mother pelican wounding her own breast to provide nourishing blood to her young.

As I wrote this blog post, I was contacted by telephone by a blood donation organization regarding a drive for my particular blood type. Lucky timing??

Ingredients of Great Art

llusk-sketchbook-note-great-artIs my art great? Collectively, no, I don’t consider it great among others. Neither is it terrible, and there are some works that are more satisfying when completed than others. On the whole, my art is personal, and a work in progress.

In my quest for understanding art, I look at other art and art history. What I noted from Art: A New History, by Paul Johnson, found on page 727, I wrote in my sketchbook.

  • Unforgettable image
  • Meticulous execution
  • Moral purpose
  • A shock to the senses

Do I want to be great? As I ponder this, I have not decided to work towards greatness at this time. I wonder if it’s even achievable for myself. My objective is to work towards being personally satisfied. However, I look forward to greatness when and where I can find it!

Johnson, Paul. (2003) Art: A New History. Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA: HarperCollins.

Hygge in the Winter Studio

llusk-studioHave you heard of hygge? Pronounced hoo-guh, “it derives from a sixteenth-century Norwegian term, hugga, meaning ‘to comfort’ or ‘to console,’ which is related to the English word hug.” You may know it as a way to experience more appreciation, coziness, or comfort in life, and more so during the winter season.

More on this concept can be found in a New Yorker magazine article at

How do I produce hygge in the winter studio? I appreciate the details. In my small studio space, which is currently the corner of a spare bedroom, I have an old metal desk and a shelf made from an old board I found washed up on the beach. A ceramic pot and an old blue & white plate (I found this beside the road in a pile of discarded things) contain brushes, color pencils, markers, and such. The drawers are full of acrylic paint tubes, bottles of watercolor, drawing media, and paper. A tabletop easel holds my current work, and I often tack up my sketches and reference photos on the wall. A collection of interesting artifacts inspire a creative mood. A blue light lamp illuminates my efforts from the comfort of a squeaky old office chair. A rug and a pair of socks keep my feet warm.

I light a candle. I indulge in a rich cup of hot chocolate or hot tea. Then, I put on my reading glasses, choose my tools, and get lost in my thoughts as I sketch or paint. I switch back and forth between being concerned with technical accuracy and allowing creative license to flow. I ignore the rest of the world. Well, I try to ignore… until my dog needs to go out!

It Lives!

llusk_sketch-rise-up-1The process of creating is magic. Creating invokes a new thing where once there was nothing. An idea appears from the realm of the imagination, and the desire to make it ‘real’ pushes and pulls it into being. This is where artistic license offers insight into the idea.

The new creation, whether visual art, analog or digital, 2D or 3D, music, dance, or theatre, becomes a memory, a thought, and an experience… where it lives!

I keep a sketchbook for my ideas. Often these sketched ideas are really rough. Very often they are drawn badly! I include a date or notes to help summarize the idea until I can develop it.


This small study of a water lily floating in a Japanese garden koi pond invokes tranquility. I chose to focus on this as a restful departure from my darker subjects.

Everyone has heard the clichéd advice to “stop and smell the roses,” and this isn’t unlike that. There should be times in life to stop and relax. Making this ritual a daily practice is a healthy choice. It allows you to recharge, regroup, and then move ahead.

My work, my life, the world, spins from Yin to Yang in a balancing act. How lovely it is to rest. How lively it is to not!

“Tranquility” 8×8 acrylic painting