How the zebra got into my stripes

Another week where I have to begin by grovelling to my superego as almost no painting has happened since my last post, but on the other hand there’s been plenty of thinking and mulling going on.  I came across this photo, which I took in Paris last year:


Quite apart from the delightful randomness of coming across a zebra in the middle of Paris, it sent me to thinking how important stripes seem to be in my work. I thought this week I might post a few stripe-ish images which have either flitted through my work or which will eventually appear therein. Here we go – apologies in advance by the way if you inadvertently click on an image in this post and find yourself adrift in the outer fringes of my blog ( though you can scroll down and get back here ) ; my fledgling WordPress skills don’t yet run to attaching enlargement pages, but my patient IT angel Lia  is coming back to teach me any day now. Read on!

shadow 1


I thought I’d start with the monochrome carpet photos above as they have so much in common with the poor zebra. These are shadows from the light filtering through through a Venetian blind on to my carpet, one day in 2005.  I have been planning a series of paintings about shadows for a long time, but so far I haven’t started on it. As I said in an earlier post, I’ll be annoyed if I get to the great studio in the sky and haven’t yet put some of my fave images and ideas out there in paint, so I’m posting them here as exclusive advance previews ! Health Warning – if you use them for a painting of your own before I do,  expect to be badly haunted at some future date.

Shadows are partly about about history, I think. I was taking a shower in Bruges once at 2am, in an old, old hotel, when I realised that the shadow on the bathroom floor at that time of night on that same date every year had probably not changed for around 400 years. Were I a more dynamic individual I would have followed my first instinct, which was to apply for an Unesco grant to get women all over the world to photograph shadows at exactly the same time of day, a sort of outreach-y, one-world-y vibe with definite exhibition potential, but hey, too much red tape, so I dropped the plan.  Just one of many lost opportunities, but never mind, the road less travelled eh.

This is Chicago. If you go there, take the riverboat tour – this is what you’ll see :


Here’s another photo I took in Chicago.  I know the stripes are curved, but hey, what do you want, it’s a car park. I love this photo and I really am going to make a painting about it very soon. I can see it in my head already – dabs of colour dancing between the stripes, yum, can’t wait to paint it….see how useful a blog is in motivating me?


Here’s one of my best beads, repeated  x4 with the help of a photocopier. I bought this one at a bead shop in Red Hook, upstate New York. I have no idea why I love it so much. I have put it into lots of my paintings about goddesses as you can see in the collage beneath.

old bead

This collage was a study for my painting ‘Goddess with Beads’, now adorning someone’s bedroom in Islington. it’s on the ‘Symbols and Goddesses’ page of my website.

Goddess with beads collage

A post about beads is definitely on the cards any time now. I love ’em. Here’s another stripey bead photo, taken at a Sunday market in New York City. There were rows and rows of beads there, gloriously laid out in stripes after my own heart.


Here’s a more ‘mechanical’ stripey shot taken at the train museum in Mulhouse. David, my husband, is a train devotee, and I accompanied him there  (code: was dragged) heroically as I thought, until a million ideas came rushing at me. I took this stripey photo by running along, camera aloft, next to a very parked train. I nearly broke my neck in the process as I tripped over on my 3rd attempt. All for art!


This is a pile of junk shakily held together in a train yard on the Santa Fe railroad.

The image above was taken on the Verde Valley railroad in Arizona. A huge block of earth was being held in check by a crumbling metal structure which looked like it was about to collapse. Interrupted stripes! Such drama!

Here follow some forest-y stripes, and no prizes for seeing the strong connection with my ‘Forest’ collage series, one of which is the banner heading the home page of this blog.



There’s so much I could say about the photo above, apart from the fact that it”s upside down. It’s given me so many ideas, but I won’t say any more – a bit of mystery is a good thing.

houses series - 34

Here are some red rock formations in Sedona, Arizona. More landscape-y stripes to follow in good time.


That’s quite enough for today, so I’m going to get the dinner ready…my cousins are coming for shepherd’s pie, with a good slug of wine in it and a sweet potato topping – it’s gonna be yummy….please visit again soon, as I am going to post some more forest and landscape images with the paintings they have inspired.

Polly Rockberger
  • gold
    Posted at 11:38h, 08 December Reply

    Lovely photos, and yes, stripes are definitely a feature. Fascinating to find a Zebra in Paris, only wonderful sight I had in Paris the last time I visited with Maddy was Gabriel Byrne the actor walking towards us. Maddy and I did a double take.

  • Michelle
    Posted at 17:51h, 06 July Reply

    Love your surreal zebra in Paris photo and the feast of fantastic collages and photos with interesting back stories. Would love to see your painting to be, inspired by the car park in Chicago. I love the x4 Redhook bead piece. I would buy a print of this if ever you decided to sell copies!

    • pollyrockbergerartist
      Posted at 00:07h, 07 July Reply

      Thank you Michelle, I can’t wait to be painting again. Since fate has imposed this interruption on my work, it’s really teaching me not to waste a moment once I’m able to paint again, and the ‘carpark piece’ is going to be near the top of my list. Thankyou for your kind and positive comments which make me feel like a working artist again, not a patient. You’ve motivated me to start planning a work schedule!

      Sent from my iPhone…. and blogging at

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