Cast all your votes for dancing

There is nothing quite so delightful as the poetry of Hafiz. I decided to do a piece incorporating some of the beautiful words of the great Sufi poet from 14th century Persia, with the theme of dancing. Hafiz’s poetry is devotional; wild, ecstatic worship of the one he calls Friend or Beloved. Daniel Ladinsky’s translations are exquisite, and I am always cheered when I read them.

Although I haven’t managed to get to a life drawing class for a while, I came across some old sketches that I felt would suitably express the body in movement, and incorporated them into the design through the fabulous medium of carbon paper.  The text reads “Keep squeezing drops of the Sun from the most insignificant movement of your own holy body”, from the poem “Cast all your votes for dancing” in “I Heard God Laughing“.

Step by step:

I found a piece of paper I’d previously used to save some excess acrylic paint (tip – if you ever mix too much paint, use it to cover a sheet of thick paper and be an inspiring background for your next mixed media piece). I started by using masks, and inking over them in a contrasting colour. I went around the edges with oil pastel, rubbing it to blend in.


Then I went through my stash of magazine cut-outs to find collage elements in various blues. Using gesso to pull it all together, I then had a surface to transfer my sketches onto, tracing the outlines over a sheet of carbon paper. I filled these in with more oil pastel.


Some spray inks and stamped flowers helped to add interest in the gaps. I also cut out a stencil of a figure and used a blue glaze to add an extra layer and another subtle motif of dancing. Finally I wrote the words freehand with a wide nibbed pen.



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