An Obscure Sign: Totem by Katherine McDaniel

What do you see in this spontaneous drawing? I draw first and find meaning later, so you can’t be wrong.

Totem  © Katherine McDaniel, 2014
© Katherine McDaniel, 2014


This drawing is entitled Totem because of its vague resemblance to Native American totems, signs that embody spiritual attributes of a clan, tribe or family. It is what I call a spontaneous drawing, in which I let myself construct something with no prior plan. My goal is to keep my consciousness from shaping the piece as I am drawing it, allowing things below the surface of my thoughts to seep out. Even if I fail, I may still come out with something interesting that I can dissect later.

My understanding of this quirky little piece changes with time. Today I’m interpreting it as an homage to spirits of motion on land, in water and in air, because I see horses, fish, dirigibles and birds all mixed up together. Tomorrow it may hint at something completely different. I’d love to know what you see.



3 thoughts on “An Obscure Sign: Totem by Katherine McDaniel

  1. First Night Design Reply

    I see a duck-billed platypus, a broom, a dirigible too, and a hand grenade! What startles me is that it’s so very like the drawings of my other half. I’m trying to persuade him to go public, so to speak!

    • katmcdaniel Reply

      Yes, I can see those! I’d like to think that the language of the subconscious is similar for many of us, but who knows?
      It’s tricky to get people to share. I went for years making poems and little drawings, never thinking anyone else would enjoy them. I could care less about the art establishment, but the smile in someone’s eyes or the excitement in their voice is worth it.
      I’d love to see some of his drawings someday.

      Thank you,

      • First Night Design

        I wonder if it is similar. Maybe if it is, it’s because of the times we live in. Why else would I see a hand grenade! I will certainly show you his works when he’s ready. Have a lovely week!

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