Terribly Understood, A Charcoal

Because with alarming accuracy

she’d been identifying patterns
I was unaware of—this tic, that
tendency, like the way I’ve mastered
the language of intimacy
in order to conceal how I felt—

I knew I was in danger
of being terribly understood.”

– Stephen Dunn

Below is my representation of intimacy. I love charcoals and although I’ve been working more with acrylics and watercolors the last few years, charcoal is my very first love – it was the medium I found at age 12 or so and remains my favorite…like an old friend who understands me..



“Close Your Eyes and Just Feel It” – Tango Love

Tango Love, Jennifer Allison, charcoal and pencil

Argentine tango is danced in an embrace that can vary from very open, in which leader and follower connect at arm’s length, to very closed, in which the connection is chest-to-chest, or anywhere in between.

Tango dance is essentially walking with a partner and the music. Dancing appropriately to the emotion and speed of a tango is extremely important to dancing tango. A good dancer is one who transmits a feeling of the music to the partner, leading them effectively throughout the dance. Also, dancers generally keep their feet close to the floor as they walk, the ankles and knees brushing as one leg passes the other.”

“Close your eyes and just feel it – don’t look down.” he said – his chest to my chest, softly holding my right hand in his left hand, while his other hand rested on the middle of my back.  He stopped mid dance so I could “collect” my heels and as I did, I felt his chest fill with air as he took a deep breath in.  His warm breath then left his mouth and passed quietly by my right ear; comforting me.  He was helping me to relax; to let go of all the tension I had let build up on the dance floor as I scrambled to remember each move; what to do next.  Moving his chest and body ever so slightly from side to side he repeatedly took my balance from one heel to the other so I could “feel” his next move.

With my eyes closed I let my body relax once again and taking a deep breath in I allowed myself to feel every nuance of his body’s movements just as he had said I would.  After our long pause to breath, collect, and feel, his right chest and shoulder subtly pressed into my left.  It was my cue to take a step back so as he could step forward towards me.  For a few more minutes he led me around the dance floor like some master artist.  I felt as though I was a thread in a great tapestry and he was the weaver guiding me through the loom until the song ended.

Forgetting the rules once again I thanked him (I’m polite if nothing else.) He responded with a slight scolding of, “Don’t thank me unless we are done dancing.” I smiled at that and apologized; grateful it was him, who happens to be a good friend of mine (as well as a musician and tango instructor), that reminded me (once again) of dance etiquette.  It’s okay to thank a friend by accident, but entirely different when you thank a new partner who then wonders what they may have done wrong that warranted your ending the “dance.”  The “rule” or “etiquette” is as follows: Typically a “dance” will include more than one song.  Also, when you say thank you to your partner before those songs are done, you are essentially telling them that you no longer want to dance with them.  My politeness be damned, I held my tongue when the next song ended and after three songs we finished.  I was then free to express my sincere thanks, of which I did.

By the end of the night I had danced with a few partners (all completely different), learned a couple of new techniques and ochoed my way across the wood floor multiple times.  More importantly though I felt free, entranced, expressive, womanly, artistic and utterly happy all at once.  Dancing has become for me just one more outlet to express myself and like the other forms of art I practice, I’ll not leave it…