Rattlesnake Breaks Open the Basket of Light

Rattlesnake Breaks Open the Basket of Light
pastel on board
20 x 20″

A rattlesnake weaves around and through an otherwise one dimensional sun-like form, creating depth and color.

Playing with loops and ribbons in my sketchbook, I had a vision of this image, a cosmic snake weaving herself through rays of light. She is the force that breaks the light open, differntiates it, and because of her, light becomes color, a tangible and dynamic aspect of our world.

Clearly I have a particular reverence for snakes! But I have a crazy fascination with rattlesnakes. I think they are stunningly beautiful.

Once I came across one on the road next to my driveway. Knowing that my neighbors would have no qualms squashing her under their tires, I pulled to a stop and rolled my window down half-way, determined to get her to move along (while also keeping myself, and my curious pug, safe). I threw all manner of things at her, trying to get her to move: coins (no response), chunks of cucumber (same). Then I wondered, wait, what if she’s actually dead? She seriously was not moving at all! So then I grabbed a rubber ducky raft and swung it out the window towards her. That got her attention, as in a full on pink mouth and strike. Fortunatley the rubber ducky was already deflated.

The snake then moved along into the roadside weeds, but I think of her from time to time, and hope we don’t surprise each other in the tall grasses on the corners of my property.

While doing this piece I came across an old video of Appalachian Snakehandlers, and I was actually a little jealous, because they got to hold them, and feel the ripple of their bodies in their hands. I had been wondering if rattlesnakes might be less smooth than say, a black snake, which I have held before, because their scales seem to have these ridges on them, as best as I can tell. But only snake handlers would know the answer to that question, and I think it’s best to keep it that way, because being a snake handler of any sort vastly increases your chances of death from a snakebite.

And I think that’s part of my fascination, part of their strange beauty. Rattlesnakes carry death in their mouths, and it is death itself that gives our lives color and urgency and meaning.

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