All about Art!

About the Art Section
You may have noticed that once a month the Eel aims to invite writers and editors from around the world to talk about their experiences in the writing world, and offer any tips and advice they may have for new writers out there. The Eel has decided to do the same for artists. If anyone has any artwork they would like to submit, either for the Eel's zine or her website, please don't hesitate to email her at She is also happy to consider articles about anything art related, providing there is no objection to the Eel making small editorial changes.
Photography: By Sheri Wright




Rusting Stories
By Sheri Wright
What is aged or overlooked can often be a source of interest and beauty, if approached from a different perspective - one from a desire to find stories. I seek out visual tales that lay hidden in abandoned places, among rust, what may be considered ordinary objects. I feel that characters develop only through weathering, that the patina of rust evokes stories and that textures are like words on the page we can feel with our eyes. Over a short time, I found that I have a deep appreciation for the classic lines of vintage automobiles, that they are truly works of art and character. Often, the best tellers of stories have sat rusting in a field colluding with the elements. They offer a bouquet of rust and paint blooms. Tales gritted into their skins,  and patina is burnished like aged whiskey waiting for someone to share.

Painting Through the Looking-Glass
By Helen Burke
When I was asked to write this article it got me thinking: why art? Why any art? Should it just be done in a darkened room and not spoken about? Or should it be used to entertain and interest people? Answers on a postcard, please! They will then be used as an installation – probably hanging from an old chapel ceiling with images of Marilyn Monroe dressed as a gendarme, or some such. Isn’t that the way art goes now?!

I started drawing and painting about oh, ten years ago, and it wasn’t really something I did consciously. I just somehow drifted into it, like one of those huge straw balls you see rolling down streets in the mid-west of America in films. And the art has, like the straw-ball, gathered up speed along with a lot of things littering the street. Now I draw every single day. I draw, or at least sketch something out to maybe come back to later. I like to draw very quickly – due to a lack of patience, I guess – and the image comes as fast as a poem sometimes. 

One of my pre-occupations in drawing is faces – time and again I come back to the human face: what’s going on behind the eyes? What does the mouth want so desperately to say? Why is the chin held so high, and what is that person’s story? And that to me is art: a visual telling of a story. It doesn’t have to have a beginning or an end – it is just that present moment.  Like the wonderful ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ by Vermeer. When she turns in that split second, we see the whole life, the whole thought, and suddenly the girl has become her own reflection in the pearl. Fabulous! And maybe it’s also to capture that split second in someone’s life that makes me keep on drawing. The elusiveness of people is like hunting the butterfly. Do we really want to catch it though? I am not always sure! Maybe the butterfly catches us?

Like Alice, I keep stepping through the mirror. The tactile substance of paint is my DRINK ME bottle, my sketchpad is the EAT ME cake, and on I go, sometimes getting bigger, and sometimes getting so small I can squeeze through the gap into what is impossible to define.
Quite often a poem may demand some artwork to go with it. A recent one that did was a poem about ladies on diets, who ‘Refuse to Eat Chocolate’. So I drew a picture of The Refusenik lady determined to be thin at any cost. 

Another drawing obsession of mine is dogs – all manner of dogs – small dogs, tall dogs, spotty dogs, Christmas dogs! Again, dogs seem to lend themselves to art – they are so full of character! The medium I use, (because I like to work fast), is pen: multi-coloured pens, charcoal pencils, sepia pencils, pastels and pastel pencils. Sometimes I use watercolours, and occasionally oils and acrylics for bigger pieces. There is such a HUGE variety of material available to the artist. As a relatively new artist I am still discovering new mediums to play with.
I was pretty much told at school that I couldn’t do art, and I held to this belief for thirty years, always longing to be one of the chosen arty people. Then I realised there are no chosen few. There are just decisions you can make to try things and decisions that people try and make for you. Drawing is fun and is good for the soul. On that basis alone art should be obligatory, if only because it opens that door that Alice went through – through the keyhole and through a looking-glass, until she came out the other side and everything was made clear. Here’s looking at you, Alice!

I guess I’ll just keep rolling down the street, gathering speed. Happy traveling!

Helen Burke has been writing and performing poetry for almost forty years. She is widely published in magazines and anthologies. She currently has two collection out called THE RUBY SLIPPERS (Valley Press), and LET THERE BE CHOCOLATE (Krazy Phils Press). Her work has been published in the U.S. and Romania. She also writes comedy sketches for radio and holds an M.A. in Literature Studies. 

Helen Burke's Art Work

The two  pictures of Snooty Dog and Gypsy Man were both drawn about a year ago. The medium I tend to work in is quite marker pen or black ink, as well as pastel pencils for details on the image.  Fibre pens and metallic gel pens are also favourite mediums of mine. Occasionally I work, (again very quickly), using acrylic paints – especially heavy body duty acrylics because these can achieve quite sculptured effects. I am in many ways still experimenting with mediums – as a relatively “new” artist in this area – this is very exciting. (Although I have worked on copper etchings and printmaking as a method for a lot longer.)
I think all the experimentation, chopping and changing of mediums and styles are largely due to fact I have absolutely no art training whatsoever. I feel Art is something I have stumbled into.  

The Gypsy Man was drawn about a year ago. I wanted to capture a very Irish face – the face of a Traveller if you will.  My Dad’s family were from County Mayo, and I like to think this wild-eyed rover might be one of them , looking on and wishing me well. I would like to do a water colour of this traveller at some point because he has an ethereal quality.

The Snooty Dog was in fact one of the very first drawings that I tried out. It was taken from a photo of a rescued dog in a dog charity that I support. I draw lots of dogs now, and they in turn have had poems done about them. One reinforces the other! Snooty Dog is also sometimes known as the Thinker.

Art Work by Denny E. Marshall

The Hidden Sunset

Roller Coaster 

Rejection is a Good thing, Stop Whining

By Denny E. Marshall

After taking a break from submissions for a few years, I stared to submit to publishers again three years ago. The biggest change I've noticed is that now most of it is done online via email or submission form boxes. Another difference I see now online is the way artists and writers use blogs, social media sites and publisher's sites to complain about their submissions being rejected by publishers and editors. Sometimes these correspondences are rude and insulting towards the editors. They even say the editors are wrong, and aren't educated or experienced enough to make correct decisions. Some state how good their submission was and do not understand why it is being rejected. I find sending these types of letters to editors or posting such statements wrong and inappropriate. I guess it would be better to say I do not understand it. Complaining about rejection is like complaining to the lottery office that you did not have the winning numbers.  

Lets put it this way: If you had one wish, and that wish was that you could have all your submissions rejected or accepted which one would you take? Be careful what you wish for. For me, the correct answer would be to have them all rejected. Why? The answer is simple. My work would suffer and never improve from that day forward if I was always accepted. I could draw or write anything and it would be accepted, so why bother with putting too much effort into it? On the other hand, if everything I sent is rejected I would steadily get better and better. I would at some point down the road get some sort of opportunity though it might be in a different venue.

There's an old Twilight Zone episode I cannot remember the name of...I watched a rerun of it a few years back. In the story, a man dies and wakes up in a casino. Every bet he makes he wins, so he has all kinds of money and is surrounded by beautiful women. He feels like he is in heaven. He really likes that life and is having a great time. After a few days or weeks of this he grows tired of it. Yes! Unbelievable as it is he is sick of winning, having everything he wants and never being rejected. At the end of the show he walks up to the person in charge and says, “I want to go to the other place.” The man responds by saying “You are already there”

If it was not for rejection and the comments made by editors I would NOT have some of the better artwork I have done in the last three years.

So next time you are rejected, do not bother the editor with an email or post a blog whining about it. Instead, write or draw something new and send that in instead. You will get better if you take the time and effort to do so.

Issue Two's Front Cover by Denny Marshall 

The piece of art used for Issue Two is called 'Twirl' by Denny Marshall. The Eel is proud to announce that Denny has provided artwork for the front covers of Eel's forthcoming Issues Three and Four, so watch this space! If you can't wait until the next issues to see more of Denny's work, you can check out his website: 

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