Some of what Bantock strives to communicate in The Trickster’s Hat is the need to tell your inner critic to shut up. He’s quite right; it was that voice constantly insisting that my work wasn’t good enough that robbed me of the pleasure of intensive visual creation for big chunks of my life. Art is subjective, and I have to believe that it’s better to create something flawed than not to create anything at all.
Exercise 44 is intended as a visual reminder. Paint two parrots, one green and one red. Simple enough. My parrots were born in the space of under a dozen brushstrokes each. But then, the directions continue: paint a big, black X over their beaks. How sad! I was rather pleased with my parrots and did not want to obliterate their little faces. Rules are rules, but, engaging again with the spirit rather than the letter of the law, I poked some holes in the paper and tied their beaks shut instead, a much more elegant solution, and the parrots are silenced just the same.
The text just came to me then; it’s a bit of a joke. I have a few thousand books in my office, and while I had envisioned the room as my personal space, my husband and stepkids would rather hang out in here than in the other public spaces of the house. When the kids (and sometimes my husband) get rowdy, I’ll tell them, “Quiet in the library!” My stepdaughter protested at first, “It’s not a library.” “Oh, really?” I said. “Look around.” When my stepson saw the parrot poster, he said, “OK, that’s hilarious.”