Atlantic City


On my morning walk earlier this week I came across a dead Magpie. I took a photo and just before work I made a charcoal sketch. The first stage drawing and source photo is shown below.

The image shown below is the drawing as it was in its first stages. I realised that this version probably madeĀ a more telling statement of the starkness of death, and also posed a stronger abstract image. But I could not resist rounding it off a bit more.


I did not work on this drawing for very long, but as the image took shape I felt myself feeling a deep kinship, sadness and melancholy for this bird, apparently insignificant – surely no different from myself – that had been on earth and now is no more.


I have a “Painting Playlist” with about 7 hours of music on it. Often I am intensely aware of the music as I paint, but at times I get completely absorbed while I work. As I was putting the finishing touches on this drawing I came back to myself and realised I was listening to Bruce Springsteen’s song “Atlantic City”. And, this may seem like a dramatic fabrication – but I know it is not – the words that I heard were:

Well now everything dies baby that's a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty
And meet me tonight in Atlantic City.

Tomas Transtromer wrote a few good poems on the theme of death. Here is one:

After a Death

Once there was a shock
that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail.
It keeps us inside. It makes the TV pictures snowy.
It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires.

One can still go slowly on skis in the winter sun
through brush where a few leaves hang on.
They resemble pages torn from old telephone directories.
Names swallowed by the cold.

It is still beautiful to hear the heart beat
but often the shadow seems more real than the body.
The samurai looks insignificant
beside his armor of black dragon scales.

from The Winged Energy of Delight: Selected Translations by Robert Bly; this version copied from

Thanks to all who follow my blog and who have encouraged me with comments and likes. I hope you are all happy and content today.

12 thoughts on “Atlantic City

  1. That certainly is the fruitful dark. It’s interesting that the poem you chose came from something entitled “Winged Energy…” isn’t it? And I love your drawings, especially the first, more abstract one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dark moody drawings. Poor magpie! I used to draw things like this from life back in the day. We used to have a dedicated hunter cat who was always slaying some poor little animal. Sometimes I dropped everything, got out the paints and did a rapid study of whatever was the recent victim — I have a nice small study of a bunny that happened that way — I felt like at least the animal gets remembered a little with art. But those were different times in my life — I hardly ever drop anything for anything now — too many chores! And after a long feline life of adventure our Mighty Hunter long ago joined her prey in the Big Hunting Ground in the Sky.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry for my delayed reply! I like your statement “I hardly ever drop anything for anything now”. Perhaps not a bad approach to life in general? I used to shoot Mynah’s (real pests) back in South Africa and then paint them with a wall in the background. Thomas Aquinas Daly does this superbly. I think Andrew Wyeth also have some paintings around this theme.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Luke. Yes, art and death will always be bedfellows – well said. It does not have to be morbid or depressive, it can actually help one lead a more curious and courageous life, don’t you think? Thanks for visiting!


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