As the holiday season approaches, more then ever before, am grateful for the peace and plenty that I have. I feel very lucky to have been born in the United States. These thoughts and the turmoil that has been occurring in the world were on my mind when I painted this. This is a large piece, 36 x 48 inches, acrylic on canvas. I titled it ” Reach for Peace”. The constellation in the corner is Columba, which is Latin for Dove. And the white poppy has been a symbol of peace that was first used after World War I.
I’ve been trying to buy local lately, and buy things made in America. I sometimes find what I need isn’t available, or if available, visible. The go to place used to be Etsy but that has grown from a community of local artists and craft people, to re-sellers, and too many items to effectively sort though to find things. I often even find what they are offering is shipping from China.
So what to do? The solution I believe is to become a maker. Make something, scarves, candles, soap, dishcloths, accessories for painters, knitters, cooks or whatever your heart desires. As much as you can, buy things from local sources. I’m not talking about the big box craft stores either. Then find an outlet to get it to market, local holiday craft shows, farmer’s markets, or another local storefront.
I decided to make beeswax candles and sell them via my local Putnam Arts Council Holiday Craft show. The truth of the matter is that even if I sell them all I won’t make a lot of money. But I will have circulated a few of my dollars through beekeepers (and we all know how important bees are to our food supply). The Arts Council will get a cut and people who I know and like will get something beautiful. Beeswax is a healthier wax to burn in your home as well. So this supports good things in my community.
So this season, let’s put beautiful things out there for the eye and the soul, and interact with those groups we want to support. And let’s not buy things that are made that pollute the environment, and ignore the rights of creatures great and small.
Recently I’ve been working in two styles, one is the egg tempera based one I’ve discussed in previous posts and also a more abstract one, that I’ve been working with in acrylic. I find it very hard to settle down and just do one style. So I’ve decided to try and focus on just two for a while (if I can). I’ve been playing with drawings that I draw to convey some sort of motion and then I add color. I find that these are best expressed in acrylic, that dries fast so I can keep my shapes clean and sharp. I greatly enlarge the small sketches and start playing with the images I see on the canvas. Some sort of magic happens when I make the initial images larger and I start seeing new shapes and images arise in the negative space. Here are two that I have finished in that style. So for the winter, let it flow and let it grow.
The top one is entitled “Reach for Peace” and the next one is “The Power of Nature” and both 36 x 48 inches in size, the third one is “The Mating Game” and is about 24 x 30 and the bottom one “Ride the Wild Seahorse” and is 18 x 24 inches in size.
I recently finished this painting on the Kleshas. In Christian philosophy, we have the seven deadly sins, that might keep you from finding a state of grace. There are both yogic and Buddhist approaches to the Kleshas and the flavor is slightly different and they define them a little differently.
I came across the Kleshas during studies with my yoga teacher. They are: abhinivesha (fear), asmita (false identity), raga (attachment), dvesha (aversion) and avidya (ignorance).
There are many images for the Kleshas but of not in a Western cultural context. I wanted to create something that those studying yoga in the West could use to understand and meditate on the Kleshas. I did this painting as a gift for my yoga teacher.
The figure is standing on one foot to represent that if the Kleshas are not addressed she remains off balance. I tried to make the figure a healthy looking woman, rather than a model or a magic goddess throwing off sparks, but the you encountered in the mirror every day. The figure is not clothed, as you must take away the outside masks of costume and artifice to overcome these obstacles and know your inner self.
Each hand is in a mudra that is associated with the chakras of the kleshas. The icons for each klesha have the color of the chakra they are over. From top to bottom, they are ignorance, avoidance, false-identity, attachment and fear.
Why do you paint? Why do you make art? To what purpose?
I’ve been thinking about that a lot since I read The Mission of Art, by Alex Grey.
I first started painting to amuse myself, but I quickly found myself doing a couple of paintings to be given away to help fund raise. These paintings were better than the exercises and still life paintings I was attempting.
I don’t know whether I tried to reach a higher standard or I just was more disciplined because I had a purpose.
Recently I did the following painting as a gift. It was a variation on Lavender in Provence, for someone who really liked that painting. I had followed her pictures on Facebook where on her small farm she grew 100 pound pumpkins, had ducks that bonded to her dogs and goats that roamed and probably got into trouble. This inspired me. I did it for fun, because I knew it might might someone happy.
I think it is better than some of my other ones lately. Perhaps, because it came into being with a purpose.
Dan took a wonderful picture of Tila making a snow angel. Dogs have an amazing ability to live and enjoy the moment to it’s fullest. It’s the sort of thing some people strive for with so much effort in meditation and more. Snow! Joy! Roll! Sniff! Roll some more! I must make a note to enjoy each moment as it comes. Here is the painting that inspired.
I was sitting and reading a book on modern art. I don’t always “get” modern art. I do try. I was looking at a picture of a lamb in a tank of formaldehyde called “Away from the Flock” by Damien Hirst. He also placed a 14 foot tiger- shark in a tank of formaldehyde called The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. Now if this sort of thing is up your alley but you don’t have room for a lamb or a shark in your living room, Carolina Biological offers some delightful preserved cats for only $42.95. All you need then is a tank of formaldehyde to complete the exhibit. The shark in the tank, on the other hand originally sold for 50,000 pounds and was 14 feet long. But all that aside, let’s turn back to the picture of that lamb in formaldehyde.
Tila was reading over my shoulder. “Humph”, he said, as Pyrs often do, having a complex language of huffs and snorts and whines and more types of barks than you can count.
“We must do something about this, free this sheep, return it to the flock.” he stated matter-of-factly. After all he is a guardian dog. And that is what they do, guard flock animals from dangerous and sometimes unusual predators.
“That might be a problem.” I told him. “Someone did try to mess with it at one point, in fact a man called Mark Bridger poured ink into the tank and was convicted of an art crime. He tried to say he was contributing to the art, and renamed the work ‘black sheep’. ”
“Snort!” said Tila. “I wouldn’t call this art, supper maybe, but not art.”
“You know, this is funny, ” I said, ” Someone stole pencils out of a Damien Hirst installation and they may be charged 10 million pounds in damage to the artwork. You think that someone would just buy a few more pencils. And look at this, some other folks claim that Damien Hirst stole some of his ideas from other artists. But really can you own a bunch of dots or a skull if you paint or use the image once? But it isn’t nice to speak ill of the dead as he died this year. Oops, maybe they were wrong, he didn’t die in January 2012. Maybe that is just the ultimate angry art critic. The author did seem a bit wound up stating Hirst “died last Thursday, January 12, in New York following complications from acute diverticulitis brought on by a swinishly speculative, grossly cynical, intellectually constipated effort to pinch out 11 concurrent exhibitions of rehashed expensive crap.”
This July he offered a statue of a pregnant woman wielding a sword to a town in Devon England. He appears to be alive and well.
“This is why I find the modern art world so confusing.” I said.
“You know, this would make a great subject for a painting.”, nudged Tila the muse.
And here without further ado is “Return to the Flock”, with apologies to Damien Hirst and the modern art world.
Inspiration can come from many sources. Lately we have been watching two rather old British shows about the legal profession, Rumpole of the Bailey and Kavanagh Q.C. The occupation of Barrister dates back to the fifteen century in the Commonwealth Countries of England. I love the wigs they wear and the language they use. For instance the judge is always addressed formally as “My Lord”. As I watched them in their floppy white wigs I could not but think they looked a bit Pyr like. And my muse started nudging. Here are a couple of pictures so you can tell me what you think. I found the one for Rumpole of the Bailey on google pictures and the one of Kavanagh is from the website http://presentinenglish.com/what-we-can-learn-from-barristers and it has an excellent article there as well. If anyone wants me to acknowledge their pictures or take them down just make a comment and I will comply. The shows are very old so I am having a problem tracking down whether they have been freely released into the public domain or not.
So without further ado, here is Rumpole.
And here is Kavanagh QC
You can see the accused sitting in the dock with the metal spikes sticking up behind him.
The English courtroom is also set up very differently than the American one. The judge sits at the front and faces across the room toward the back a raised “dock” where the accused sits. This is in contrast to how the accused sits next to his counsel in an American courtroom. There are separate benches or boxes with tables to one side where the counsel will sit. And of course a jury box and a witness box. Different courtrooms have slightly different set ups. Some English cases are only argued in front of a judge or judges.
The other unique thing is that your lawyer or counsel does not directly argue your case in front of the judge. A specialist called a Barrister does that. And the best of the best Barristers are known as taking the “silk”, as they wear special silk robes and the title of Queen’s Counsel or Q.C. Hence the Q.C. in Kavanagh, Q.C.
The judges also look wonderful in a variety of robes and wigs. Here is Lord Alverstone from a 1913 Vanity Fair in full regala.
And a here is Sir James Eyre 1734-1799, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. The painting is by Lemuel Francis Abbot.
Old Bailey, London’s central criminal court, dates back to 1673 and has been renovated a number of times. Here is an artistic rendering of one of it’s court rooms in 1809 rendered by Augustus Pugin and Thomas Rowlandson. The nickname old Bailey was derived from the street it is located on, which was conveniently next to Newgate Street which housed Newgate Central Prison.
I don’t believe the English Courts allow photographs during it’s sessions. That is why I turned to art.
So you can see how I was inspired. So coming soon, a picture of Pyrs in an English Courtroom. Pyrs and Peers, how may plays on those words can you make? One of them is the title of my painting.
Factoid: English Court: Where the Queen is, English Courts: Where the Lawyers are.
If you are sad this post ended and want to go on reading here are a few fun links.
Charon QC ” He awarded himself the title QC when the Lord Chancellor suspended the award for real lawyers. Now, as no-one can instruct him in any matter, or would wish to, he is free to comment as he wishes on matters which catch his attention. He is, of course, a figment of a febrile imagination ” He gets into a number of current and interesting topics in English law.
The Magistrate’s Blog Musings and Snippets from an English Magistrate
The Anonymous Assistant A real lawyer writes a fictionalized account of the happenings in a City Law Firm.
Law Actually “He’s been described, on occasions, as a typically deranged law graduate, with a poor taste in blogging and too much spare time on his hands.” It’s actually pretty good.
OK people….still here?…..http://www.google.com/. G’nite.
Yesterday I posted another of my paintings on Facebook for my friends to see. I was actually called “an artist”! I can embrace that. I have been reading about art and artists. Most artists have an adjective associated with their name. There are “great” painters such as Titian and Rembrandt, there are “pop” painters such as Warhol, there are impressionist, modern, folk, deconstructionist, reconstructionist, and some just bad or crazy painters. The list obviously goes on and on.
I haven’t earned any adjective yet. And I think that can be a good thing.
Now I haven’t been breathing in too much turpentine, but I recently discovered that paintings need a reason to live.
Having finished two great works of art, I pulled out some of my 6 x 8 inch canvas and just decided to paint. Let the muse move me. And ack..utter failure. Why?
Well paintings need some sort of focal point. Some place for your eye to land. Another thing I found out in my recent reading is that your eye travels from left to right in a painting. At least according to one author. So it’s nice to plan your lightness and dark and negative space to help your eye to travel. Or at least frame your picture.
I had this in hand when I just started to paint. But when I was finished there was no reason for the painting to be there. It had no reason to “live”. It did not have a life or a spirt of its own.
So now I have a couple of 6 x 8 canvas paper weights. But I think I learned a valuable lesson. You must paint was inspires you and as part of the process you must breath some light and spirit into the work.