It is one thing to understand the term ‘confusion’ and another to confront it in real time. I’m not talking about being confused but rather observing someone who is confused. Many of you who read my blog know exactly what I am talking about. There was a time when I thought that the questions, “Do you know what day it is?” or “Who is the President of the United States?” were trivial, almost ridiculous. I know that these are among the questions that psychiatrists use to assess the mental state of a patient. While this by itself is an interesting subject, it is, by definition, clinical. To be confronted with a situation wherein a loved one honestly does not know the current date or year, when only a short time before he did, is a visceral, horrifying feeling.

I haven’t yet done the research, but I’m sure there are many different causes for this kind of disconnect from the world. I imagine dementia and stroke are among the culprits. The ravages of time, without pathological conditions also might be responsible.  Is old age itself an illness?

While awareness of confusion is a problem for the one confused, helplessness is a big problem for the one who cares.

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I wanted to portray confusion today.


I began my study by doing everything with my left hand (I am naturally right handed). I wetted the paper, drew my first arc of gray, a parallel arc of reddish ochre and the eye on the bottom right of the paper all with my left hand.

In looking at my progress at this stage, I decided continuing with my left hand would not offer any more insight into the world of confusion.  I proceeded from this point with my right hand.

Along the gray arc, I placed straight lines oriented toward its center. I distorted them as they continued along. Accompanying them on an inner parallel arc, I drew clock icons that also became distorted.

I used a series of washes around the periphery of the arc to create a harmonious background for my life spiral, finishing with radial swaths of red.

Watercolor: Gray Spiral, Red Radiating Lines with Clock Icons

9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


An observer is looking at something: the timeline of another person. As the spiral unwinds, the sense of time becomes distorted: the sense of time of the other.

I like this composition, but it seems a bit… jagged? … incomplete? However it does portray an observer  watching something disconcerting.

I don’t know how else I could have portrayed the passage of time without using the clock symbol. Perhaps I could have used the image of a sand clock, or a more universal symbol… if I could think of one.  Perhaps ‘parallel’ lines that intersect at infinity could represent temporal rather than spatial distance. That might work, but would have to be the subject of another experiment.

6 thoughts on “Confusion

  1. Want you to know I just love the uniqueness of your blog. I once worked in neurology and had so much respect for the art therapists who would visit my patients. Your watercolors remind me of that time in my life. All the best to you 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: