Dragonfly Key, Work-In-Progress

November 10th, 2009

dragonfly key wip

Today was a difficult one, and once again, making art was like therapy for me, helping me feel more grounded. Difficult days are no fun, but having Art Every Day Month to prompt me into doing art even when I'm having a tough day, has been a great lesson in how healing art-making can be.

I started out just playing with paint, laying down layers, drawing, covering things up, turning the paper this way and that. Most of the time I was working on it, it was horizontal, but at the very end, when I thought it was going nowhere and I'd just stop for the day, I turned it on its side and saw a figure. The dragonfly was already there, but it looked like the figure was using the dragonfly like a key. The dragonfly had appeared earlier and I'd almost covered it up because I thought it looked odd, this big dragonfly in the middle of a gold circle, but when the figure appeared, she knew just what do with the dragonfly. I love when things flow together like that.

I say this is a work in progress because it felt like it was time to stop for today, to let it breathe. I like that the figure is ghostly. I'm not sure if this piece will go any further or where it will go or if I'll just put a few finishing touches on it. But I know it was time to stop. (It can be tricky to know when to stop sometimes, but today I knew.) I need some time to reflect on it and sit with it. Do I want to keep the ruffled edge? Do I want a keyhole somewhere? Do I want to bring out the other dragonfly that's already there? Do I leave it alone? But there's no rush. I can let this sit and carry on with other art until I know what the next step is.

24 Responses

I really like this. I think you stopped at the right moment. If it needs more it’s very tiny, subtle stuff: what’s HERE is spectacular.

It’s like being let in on a story. I want to know what happens when she turns the dragonfly key. I love that there’s a dragonfly key behind her, too.

Glad that art made a tough day better.

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I liked this post, Leah. It sort of echoed my own word-wise. Like you, I knew when to stop today. LOL I think a keyhole would be perfect for this one, but then I love keys and keyholes. I like that she is ghostly.Love the colors. Rich & warm. The title “Dragonfly in Amber” by Diana Gabaldon came to mind but I like your title. I love her books.

I love keys and the female figure… the two together really speak to me. I can feel where you are standing. I like that. Thank you for sharing this! ((hug)) Cora

Dear Leah,

Looks amazing and again I can feel there is a powerful message behind it, one which lays with you right now.



Hi Leah,
These days are also here to teach us something :)
Can’t wait to see how this piece you started to day will turn out.

Oooooh I luv this. A dragonfly led me into one of the most miraculous times of my life…causing and surviving a head on collision. But what I found from the whole experience is that there is so much more at work in our lives than what seems possible. The human spirit can make miraculous leaps of healing and faith! So thank you for sparking this memory!

I love how you turned it on its side and made it work. Just like life, sometimes we have to turn it on its side to have it make sense. It is a very evocative piece. Fun to see what you might do with it.

Leah, I think it is perfect as is. It lets a person create their own story and where the key will fit. I believe the dragonfly is one of my totem animals (if there is such a thing)so this really speaks to me. If it goes into your etsy shop, I will be getting it!

Leah! This is truly luminous. I admire your stick to it ness. Ah, YES! The arts can be so healing. I’ll be curious to see how this unfolds. BEAUTIFUL!!!

I appreciate your willingness to be so authentic, sharing the reality of tough days and the time to turn from your art and say, “Ok, that’s enough for today.” When I look at this piece I see such beauty, exactly as it is.

I am grateful you are sharing it with us.

I’m impressed that on a difficult day, you decided on art. Most times, I don’t think about art on a hard day. Good to have that in my mind…

I love that you saw her using the dragonfly as a key!! That blew me away, especially when you consider a little dragonfly symbolism — and that it just evolved spontaneously out of your brush. Wonderful, Leah. :)

This is beautiful! I just love the colors. I like the idea of adding a keyhole; it further reinforces the idea of the key.

@rowena – I like what you said about turning life on its side!

There’s so much fire in your paintings, especially these ones that come from difficult places. Gorgeous!

I like the intense colors. And I like the “ball of fire” behind the dragonfly.

I love this piece!! The colors are so intense and vibrant with the calming white silhouette. It really gives a sense of warmth and mystery. Beautiful job!

I see two dragonflies; I like the rich tones and ghostly feminine shape. It’s suggestive and mysterious. I think you picked a good time to contemplate! Has an Odilon Redon feel to it.

I love that you work through the difficult times and share your thoughts. It is very inspiring and helpful to know it happens to everyone…even when you have such fantastic art, it seems like it just magically creatively happens for artists like you!

My first thoughts were WOW. This is beautiful. It seems like the days we are least motivated magic happens if we stick with it.

very incredible color …looks good so far!

This is gorgeous and sort of like the colors in your bear. To me these ghostly figures seem to be you painting your spirit. Dragonfly, among several things, represents magic and mysticism AND awakens ones true vision. I think it is really incredible how you allow these images to emerge from your unconscious. If anyone is interested http://www.sayahda.com is a great resource for animal totem wisdom.


Every time I open your e-mails I am blown away by what you are doing. This piece particularly took my breath away. It is so haunting, mysterious and lovely. This piece feels like it has a sense of longing (represented by the figure) and promise (represented by the dragonfly). Thank you for sharing that you had a bad day and the fact that even on those days we can make art. When to stop? That is such a challenging thing to know, isn’t. I’m at a point in my painting when I think I may be close to that. But I’ll keep going a bit.

How very cool! I see another dragonfly at her back too, which, if dragonflies are keys today, then she is something like a wind-up toy. I can imagine an endless line of wind-up toys turning keys to wind up the next one. In a way, that’s sort of a metaphor for community…..

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