The Better to Hear You

Oil painting on cradled panel, 20" x 16" x 2"
© Copyright 2006 Nancy Calcutt

The story/idea behind “The Better to Hear You” an original oil painting by Nancy Calcutt

This painting's title and inspiration, "The Better to Hear You", derives from the classic children's story of Little Red Riding Hood. In the story, a young girl is sent on an errand. Her mother asks Little Red Riding Hood to bring some food to her grandmother who lives in the forest. The grandmother has been ill and the food is sent to help her regain her strength.

One the way, Little Red Riding Hood encounters a talking wolf. When the wolf asks where the grandmother lives, Little Red Riding Hood innocently gives him the information. After the wolf is done talking with Little Red Riding Hood he makes haste and arrives at the grandmother's home ahead of Little Red Riding Hood. When the wolf arrives at the grandmother’s, he wastes no time and, being hungry, he eats the grandmother.

After his meal, the wolf dons the grandmother's clothes and jumps in her bed to await Little Red Riding Hood. When she arrives at her grandmother's, she encounters the wolf in bed in her grandmother's clothing. At that point, she becomes a little uneasy because the grandmother looks odd. Little Red Riding Hood asks the wolf/grandma a series of questions.

"Oh, grandmother," she said, "What big ears you have."

"The better to hear you with, my child," replied the wolf.

Most of us know the rest of the story, where Little Red Riding Hood ends up being eaten alive by the wolf. But there is a happy ending to the story. A little while later, a huntsman arrives and saves Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother by cutting open the stomach of the wolf. Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother are still alive and set free.

Great classic children's story but the wolf in my painting is not the Big Bad Wolf from Little Red Riding Hood. My wolf is the protector of the woman, a spirit embedded in hers, a wolf spirit who helps her to hear well. This enhanced wolf hearing makes the woman stronger and more aware because she can hear things that are whispered or said behind her back. One could say that the enhanced hearing of the woman in the painting is her super power!

Narrative written by Nancy Calcutt, artist