I have been writing some poems recently which loosely make reference to the movie Dark Water.

I wanted to take this term and broaden its definition a bit to allow for some poetic license. The American version was adapted from the original Japanese,

which was itself loosely based on an actual spooky real life story.

The writers of the American version have taken some artistic license themselves, and I can’t help but see the whole movie as a metaphor for the kind of psychological healing journey that people recovering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, undertake. I can also see in it a kind of spiritual alchemy in which dark water is a code name for some kind of mercurial catalyst. In the movie, it is a kind of medium through which a dead child makes its presence known, and seems to bring about hallucinations both aural and visual.

The psychiatrist Charles Whitfield promotes the theory that PTSD is the cause of most disease, and that finding the true self is the key to healing, and when asked what the true self is, he states that it’s the inner-child, which has been lost, or you might say “drowned” by some kind of physical/emotional trauma.

The initial part of the artistic/creative process often invokes the carefree playful spirit which can just go at it without judging. The judge enters the process later on.
As we know, many an artist has relied on one expedient or more to help them see things differently, and kick-start this process.

Dark Water could be the artistic medium: the ink, or paint, the printed word, or music score.
It could be the intoxicant/expedient/catalyst: tea, coffee, liquor, or opiate.
It could be the Jungian shadow, the Freudian sub-conscious, or the Yin to the Yang.
It could be that beautiful reflection that Narcissus drowned in.

It could be that medium through which the deadened soul can speak.

The following poem is meant as a tribute to the French symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud.
I read an article recently about the photos he took of himself while in Africa, which he apparently developed in “filthy water,” the evidence of which is in the little specks you can see on the prints.
The fact that they were developed this way means that they will inevitably fade completely.
At this point I would like to call attention to his Lettre du Voyant, in which he outlines his poetic manifesto and makes mention of “the Comprachicos” which is a term Victor Hugo used to reference various groups in folklore who would intentionally restrain and muzzle growing children in order to make them look freakish so that they could then be sold to lords and ladies to used as court fools. Rimbaud states that the Voyant, or seer, must make the soul (inner-child) monstrous (a kind of intentional trauma,) which is the common trait of the Enfant Terrible, or Rebel. His idea of a “reasoned deranging of the senses” to attain the unknown, along with his alchemy of the word, help to broaden the concept of Dark Water a little further.

The process is really just a different take on the myth of Prometheus (or Frankenstein,) and there is definitely that sense of the creator as a criminal/rascal/trickster who steals the fire/light. We could also think of the Dark Water as the substance which, at the same time, fuels and controls the fire.
In the movie there’s also an interesting paradox of the below being up above.


Dark Water
in which
to develop
the vision

Dark Water
with which
to become as

Dark Water
with which
to derange all
the senses

Dark Water
with which
to detail
the descent

Dark Water
through which
the drowned soul

Dark Water
with which
to conduct
lifted light

Then delib’rately fade








Self-Portrait, Study in Brush and Ink.

This time around I decided to use Indian ink, as opposed to the acrylic ink I used on the previous study. What I found is that Indian ink is definitely more consistent, but doesn’t seem to hold in the brush for as long as acrylic ink. So with Indian ink it’s not long before the dry-brush effect starts to happen, which, of course is useful if you want to exploit that kind of look, but my aim is more to find the best substitute for the pencil. This is because with arthritis you don’t want to be having to apply pressure to get those bold lines you sometimes need.


Self portrait study in brush and ink 001

Since there is no tonal variety in this medium, I chose to use directional line to indicate light and shade. The focused look in my eyes always makes me look like a psycho in self portraits, but this, like the previous study is intended to be just more collage material for larger works anyway.

Collaged Self-Portrait with Junk Mail

Last week I invested in a twenty dollar A4 paper trimmer, in order to be able to cut up and collage without having to strain my hands each time I hold down the paper, or card, and slice along a straight edge with my scalpel.

I have always wanted to find a way of using junk mail in collage, rather than just throw it out. I have a “No Junk Mail” sign on my mailbox these days, but still get the odd circular from time to time.

Collaged self portrait

So, as you can see, I have used the paper trimmer on the recent self-portrait I did, and one of those department store style leaflets with the “model family” posing. Both are poses, or facades of a kind which contribute to the fragmented sense of self consumerism nurtures and depends upon.

This isn’t a finished work, but just one of the many collages I intend to do, which will provide source material that I can cut up, tear, and paint, so that it can contribute to a larger assembled piece in the future.


Self Portrait: A Study in Acrylic Ink

I got the idea to try doing some good old sketching with a brush. I chose to use black acrylic ink instead of indian ink, because the acrylic ink isn’t dye-based, and therefore won’t fade like indian ink does. I have the distant idea of doing assemblage pieces in the future which may include handwriting and drawing, so acrylic ink, I thought, might be a good medium for this sort of thing.

Also, I am investigating methods which may be easier on the arthritis, and the brush has an advantage here, in the way it can be held gently, and doesn’t require any downward pressure for darker or bolder lines.

self portrait study 1