13.5” x 10.5” / 20.25” x 16.25”
Bottom of the World
Cancer — that little cunt — stole his mojo.
Dug its claws into his abdomen
and left a piece of him right there on a stainless
steel tray at Hackensack University Medical Center.
Washed its hands and left him dry.
Dry of morning wood
of messy tissues crumpled beside the bed
of the possibilities of children
It left him in a paradise with a sunset of fire
that no longer blazed and with a fog that would never
lift. It abandoned him on the other side of the world.
Left him. Touching
— © Robert P Langdon
inspired by Bottom of the World by Loel Barr
I’m an adventurer, but now I enjoy mental exploration more than the physical sort. I’ve given up on ever becoming a grownup. I still believe in fairy tales. I stare - out of plane windows, at bugs and sidewalks. Can’t stop looking at people, on the streets, in restaurants where it annoys my companions who think I’m ignoring them (I’m still listening.) I usually have a sketchbook in my bag ... airports, bus stations, waiting rooms are never boring if I have paper and ballpoint. I have hundreds of old sketchbooks which transport me to places and times far better than any photograph could. I have a colorful and often bizarre dream life and a painfully vivid imagination. I’ve enjoyed and endured cheap travel in exotic places, and now I’m happy remembering Arabia, Africa, Afghanistan, Turkey, Penang...their textures show up in my work. I’m interested in more things than I’m not, those being sports and politics and things involving offices and people in suits. Brown and gray stuff.
I'm addicted to stories, real or made up. As I kid I made up long tales in pictures, page after page, often on my Magic Slate where they existed for only a minute. I gave up wanting to be a veterinarian when I found out art and boys were more fun. That was college. Then grad school, the MFA where I realized I didn’t want to teach so I became, not surprisingly, a freelance illustrator--lots of drawing, other people’s stories. I’ve finally been set free to draw, paint, collage the stories that find me, out in the world or scrabbling around in my unconscious. I play with my dark side; we all have one, so we might as well enjoy it.
Drawing is my primary passion, but I love playing with stuff, was a champion at mud pies. Now I have paints and gels and clay and my iPad Pro as my toys. I can’t think of a good reason to limit my work to a particular medium or style when so many are calling my name.
Kansas native Loel Ann Barr received her MFA from Wichita State University. She traveled extensively and worked as a book designer and illustrator in New Zealand. She spent many years in the Washington DC area where she established a successful career as a freelance illustrator, working for national clients including The Washington Post, The Smithsonian Institution, National Geographic, Time Life Books, and numerous publishers and agencies. She was a staff artist at USA Today and taught illustration at the college level.
Loel moved to the Hudson Valley in 2004, where she discovered she is a descendent of Henry Hudson’s brother. Although she continues to work as an illustrator, she now focuses on explorations in the fine arts.