Thursday, July 16, 2009

BUG LIFE: The Bully

oil on linen

Meet Slugger. He's a bully. If you'll note, his right feeler thingy is missing. I imagine it was lost in a fight. He looks particularly ferocious to me for some reason. Mean and ferocious.

I remember grade school, the playground, warm milk in shrunken cartons, nap time, and the terror of facing that anything but sturdy, bright yellow metal fire escape during our monthly drills. And, I clearly remember Iris. She was different. Different in a way that a child senses different. It was that difference that drew kids to her like a magnet. They would encircle her, on the play ground, taunt her, poke at her, call her names. She would draw in on herself, put her head down, wring her hands and peer up through tangled bangs like a wounded puppy. I also remember standing in that circle once, listening to the other kids, watching Iris recoil nervously, wondering what it was all about.

And then, abruptly, I wasn't in the circle, but off to the side watching what was happening. I saw myself standing there, and as my eyes fell upon tiny, shrinking Iris, I actually saw her for what seemed like the first time. And, she looked completely different to me! She seemed somehow suddenly stronger than the children taunting her, somehow more calm, peaceful and knowing. Those are pretty weird sensations for an eight year old. But I remember it like it was yesterday.

The kids soon tired of taunting and dissipated. Iris went back to what she was doing. I have no idea what had happened or what it meant, but after that, whenever I saw Iris in the halls, I made a point of smiling at her and saying hello.

I've been working on a few graphic design jobs and haven't been able to paint much these past two weeks. I hated painting the bully. It wasn't fun and I found myself loading the brush with color I knew was wrong but somehow hoped it would work. I think it shows. A break is in order. Working on some fun concepts though, so all will be well.


  1. I think it's difficult for almost everyone to 'like' flies. How can you get close to something that oozes on its food to liquefy it and then suck it up again. You're a very good story teller Suzanne. This one reminded me of some incidents in my school days too.

  2. The Bully is a good painting and a great story. Thank you for sharing both. Often being the new kid in school, (we moved a LOT) I ended up being the "Iris" you spoke of. I learned to hide behind my smile and laugh it off. Thanks for being friendly to her. It was those few "Suz's" in my life that made it easier for me to take the abuse.

    I feel your pain with mixing the wrong color and trying to make it work anyway. I thought I was the only one that ever did that. -Don

  3. I love the challenge you presented to yourself even though you didn't enjoy it. Thanks for sharing.

  4. No, no, it totally works. It reminds me of when the sun glimmers of the back on one of those flys...and it is actually quite beautiful even for such a pain in the ass bug.

    Sensitive children see things rather clearly, almost in a mystical way.

  5. Great story. I 'like' the fly painting, too, though might be hard pressed to say where I'd hang it.

  6. This guy looks like a bruiser, all right. But you know what they say about bullies....usually they have low self esteem.
    Thanks for telling the story about Iris. I've seen this too often as a teacher. Kids seem to zero in on the weakest or most different. We have to teach them compassion.
    I think your colors turned out just right.

  7. Wow Suzanne!

    This fly turned out good, good, good!

    Just stunning!



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