from doing artful things and instead filling my head with textbooky things. I have been outdoor things from time to time, but mostly studying.
Here we are in Tofino for my birthday. Lots of lovely bull kelp washed ashore. I've never seen so much of it at once. It looks a bit H.R. Giger.
We even had some blue skies!
Then there was snowfall in December. Very pretty.
And a snowman was made.
And then to his surprise, a deer ate his nose in the night. It's not easy being a snowman.
And then some Christmas merriment with good friends. But other than that, it's been all studying and more to do I'm afraid though I shall try to get in some little sketches in my sketchbooks.
A new painting is heading into the gallery for the show opening next week on the 12th. I thought of many names for it but the one that stood out the most was "Jubilation" because that's how gardens in bloom make us feel don't they?
(Although right now I am listening to "Waltz of the Flowers" and that is pretty fitting as well.)
This painting is part of the Alchemy Series that explores the eternal question of who are we as human beings in the universe, and more importantly, how we are. What is our relationship to the celestial aspects of ourselves that are reflected in the physical manifestation in the world around us?
Called "Incubation of the Self", this painting emerged in two phases. The first was the nest and egg but something felt incomplete and I let the painting sit for a month or so. What was apparently wanting was the bird, but not just any bird, but a sturdy life-giving heavy-billed bird that was incubating a human.
Sometimes you just don't know what wants to come out into a painting.
Interestingly it was not until I was reading "Creation Myths by Marie-Louise Von Franz" that I realized that many birds are involved with the creation of the human. The Raven plays a large part in one of the Inuit myths wherein a Raven-like being plants seeds and out from a pod emerges a human. With him is a little sparrow who existed before Raven came into existence. (This sparrow does not figure in this painting but perhaps he will show up in a future painting? It might be fun to do the Raven and Sparrow myth in a painting.)
Father Raven went about and planted herbs and flowers. He discovered some pods and he looked at them and opened one, and a human being popped out of it- beautiful and completely grown, and the Raven was so bewildered that he threw his bird mask back, and through his bewilderment he became a human being again himself. Marie-Louise Von Franz. Creation Myths, pg. 32.
I love how Raven is part human himself and unconsciously giving creation to the human race. My bird, although clearly not a raven, also somehow has the ability to generate the human being. I always find it a mystery as to what comes about in a painting process although perhaps not surprising as Von Franz says:
It is sometimes revealed very clearly to us that creation myths represent unconscious and preconscious processes which describe not the origin or our cosmos, but the origin of man's conscious awareness of the world. This means that before I become consciously aware of the world as a whole, or part of my surroundings, a lot happens in my unconscious. Ibid. pg.5.
So it is all happening in my unconscious before I am aware of it and thus always surprised as an artist as to what emerges on the canvas. It is always fun to expect the unexpected.
This favourite little painting of mine also sold at the gallery. It is one of my night paintings. I do like playing with ideas of what happens in the night...the things we don't see, what goes on right under our noses...
Days before I left on my trip, this painting found a home. I boxed it up and had it shipped to its new home in Calgary. Thank you family! You know who you are!
Time flies...and definitely time for an update and to post a few pics from my trip to Peru. We headed up north from Lima, along the very dry coast and turned into the interior, rising from sea-level to about 12 500 feet. Staying at various places along the way, we explored old temples, spent some nights under the stars, met up with old friends and made new ones.
The extremely beautiful desert temple complex structure of Caral - the Temple of Fire.
On one of our many 8hr road trips, we stopped to stretch our legs with Cordillera Blanca watching over us. Maryanne. Jhaimy.
Lake Chinancocha ( also called Lagunas de Llanganuco), nestling between two mighty mountains; Huarascan (22,205 ft) and Huandoy, the second tallest peak in the Cordillera Blanca.
Strolling in a quiet town, we came across these two old friends. You could tell they had been together their whole lives. We stood about chatting. Funny how that happens... we hardly knew any Spanish and they but two or three words of English and yet we managed to cover all the important things of where to get the best empanadas, who was married and who was dating and how come we weren't cold in such a high altitude.
We all agreed leg-warmers were the way to go.
Getting the job done... a tailor in a high mountain town.
This couple ran a charming hostel and were old as time. We felt out-of-sync; high energy city people that were always coming and going. They sat in the sun and watched the cats and chickens, gave advice and generally held it all down like mountains in a landscape, while we whirled around like flies. I have no idea what they thought of us, but no doubt memories of us will keep them amused for months to come.
Kitties only. No chickens allowed.
I would be remiss if I did not comment on the absolute charm of Peruvian dogs. They have the best personalities as they are not coddled like North American dogs. They will sit with you if they choose to. They will ask for a pet and and companionship if they are in the mood. Mostly they are doing dog stuff and give you a little hi on their way to doing whatever needs to be done.
Case in point... this dog was busy sunning herself in a busy Lima sidewalk intersection. She was so fast asleep she groggily came to only to give me some sleepy eyes. Crazy gringo, can't you see I'm asleep? Her owner, who ran a shop on the corner, was equally amused at me chatting away to her dog.
Sunset next to a temple/tomb. Sunrise clouds. Sunrise on Maryanne (on the way home.)
good things happened! I discovered that the painting, "What was Given; the Monk and the Whale" had found a home. I always wondered when it was going to leave the gallery. Many people were looking and commenting... and then... there it went!
I enjoy the story-telling aspect of this painting. There is a definite conversation happening between these two very gentle souls. The beautiful feeling comes from not knowing who is giving and who receiving. And what is it that they are receiving? Words? Songs? Wisdom? Presence?
I do not know... I'm just the painter.
Here is another painting for the gallery. Just waiting for it to dry and then apply a light coat of protective varnish. The Rufus hummingbirds are always scrapping over territory and feeder rights in my yard. The one on the right, he's so fast, he's just a blur!
Below is a teaser of what I am currently working on. It's a crop of the bigger painting. It will soon be finished. It is another "Alchemy" painting.
I was asked recently about my thoughts in creating "Coming Home", and then asked again by another person shortly afterwards which got me to thinking... that I should post my thought process behind these pieces more often, not only for interested parties, but for myself to gain clarity as I move forward.
"Coming Home" has the initial surface presentation of a snowy landscape with the migration of deer. But the symbology contains so much more.
One must remember that symbols point or hint toward something but can't explain directly, instead they can hint to that within... but I shall do my best to explain what I feel that some of what the symbols are hinting at.
All the elements chosen to be painted: migration, journey, rocks, snowscape, landscape, deer, moon are symbols that point to deeper material that flows from the collective unconsciousness.
It is about the Big Journey to Self. We are ALL going home, however we define it, we are ALL returning home, to ourselves, to that which is the sacred, the essential core of how we really are. And so the snowy sky represents the separating of the veils that present themselves between this reality and other realities. The deer have seen between and know who they are and they journey through the realities... and are finding their way home, to the purest, most holy part of themselves.
The moon represents the yin qualities of the feminine, the places in-between places, the holding places and the places of unknowing, because we do not know this journey home. We only go when we are called, like instinct, like a migration. The moon is full, representing the circle, the circle of completion.
Why deer? To represent what is the pure part of ourselves, that which we are returning to, that purest part that never changes. In the painting they have exaggerated antlers, elongated antennae, receiving guidance from the ether, from the other worlds. Again, we do not know the journey itself, (and it is not always easy, hence the rocks) so we must remember to incorporate ways to be receptive to guidance.
The deer at the bottom right, is looking back at those behind him. This one is the guide, for we all have a guide on this journey of ours, whether we have discovered this for ourselves yet or not. (In my other paintings of this theme, he is in the centre of the herd, for often the wise elders among us, guide from the centre, with the ability to look forward and back.)
Yep. There are many layers in this one painting, and I suspect that it is for this reason it spoke to many people.
For myself, I am always amazed, grateful and curious to see what emerges from the canvas.