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..



Exceptionally Quiet, A Charcoal Sketch

“I have often wondered whether especially those days when we are forced to remain idle are not precisely the days spend in the most profound activity. Whether our actions themselves, even if they do not take place until later, are nothing more than the last reverberations of a vast movement that occurs within us during idle days.

In any case, it is very important to be idle with confidence, with devotion, possibly even with joy. The days when even our hands do not stir are so exceptionally quiet that it is hardly possible to raise them without hearing a whole lot.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke


Charcoal #14

Art is not alone in imparting charm and mystery to the most insignificant things; pain is endowed with the same power to bring them into intimate relation with ourselves.”
– Marcel Proust

I’ve spent so much time painting this last year that I’ve neglected to practice what I love best – the quick charcoal sketches.   I give myself only five minutes.  Out of all of the pieces I create, I always look most fondly at the quick charcoals.  I believe it’s due to my disdain for and general lack of detail.  Throughout the years, I’ve had to learn how to add detail to most anything I do.  The beauty of these quick charcoal sketches is that no detail is needed – there’s no time for it.  Essentially the quick sketch is “the big picture.”
sketch #14

Grace, A Charcoal

“The light of love, the purity of grace,
The mind, the Music breathing from her face, 
The heart whose softness harmonised the whole —
And, oh! That eye was in itself a Soul!” 
– George Gordon Byron

I have very few regrets in life, although I have had many blunders.  The one I do have is related to a purchase of all things.  A purchase I put off, thinking I would return and find it still….

For a few years I would visit Rome every three or four months or so.  I didn’t stay in the touristy places, but outside of them, in a neighborhood in which I often found myself lost – the only English speaker.  Near this neighborhood (I wish I could remember the exact area name) there was a flea market.  The gypsy’s and bric-a-brac vendors would sell their wears.  Three times I visited the same antique booth and three times I coveted a large alabaster statue of The Three Graces.  It was beautiful.  The woman selling the piece wanted 120 Euros for it and I never had the funds to spare.  All of my money was spent either on travel or on entertainment while I was there and even then, entertainment often consisted of low-budget stuff.

Each time I saw it I’d tell myself that it was overpriced and the next time I’d return to Rome, have the money, and maybe, just maybe, the woman would lower the price.  The very last time I visited Rome over a year and a half ago my intuition told me to just buy the damn thing…although it would have taken all of my money for the week…so again I told myself, “Next time.”

There was never a next time as it turns out.  I’ve come across many statues since then of the three graces, but none as lovely as the one in Rome.  I’d like to think I’ll find it again someday, if not in Rome, then another flea market somewhere far away…

Three Graces - Jennifer Allison
Three Graces – Jennifer Allison

Man, A Charcoal

“Was it necessary to tell me that you wanted nothing in the world but me?’
The corners of his mouth drooped peevishly.
‘Oh, my dear, it’s rather hard to take quite literally the things a man says when he’s in love with you.’
‘Didn’t you mean them?’
At the moment.”
-W.Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil

Man – Jennifer Allison, charcoal

Ode to Daphne

“I stand here on the summit of the mountain. I lift my head and I spread my arms. This, my body and spirit, this is the end of the quest. I wished to know the meaning of all things. I am the meaning. I wished to find a warrant for being. I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction. Neither am I the means to any end others may wish to accomplish. I am not a tool for their use. I am not a servant of their needs. I am not a sacrifice on their alters.”
Ayn Rand

Daphne, Hermes and The Storm of Lake Garda,  “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”― Rumi  – Jennifer Allison, graphite


You’re So Naive

Jennifer Allison

“He destroyed in her the knowing, doubting, sophisticated Ella, and again and again he put her intelligence to sleep, and with her willing connivance, so that she floated darkly on her love for him, on her naivety, which is another word for a spontaneous creative faith. And when his own distrust of himself destroyed this woman-in-love, so that she began thinking, she would fight to return to naivety.”
― Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook: Perennial Classics edition