The Kleshas

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.

 

 

Canvas Clones

I was talking with my husband over dinner last night.  I was lamenting that I had sold my second painting but I was finding it hard to let it go.   He said, “Well you can always do another like it.”

But really can you?  For instance, when I painted “A Jury of your Pyrs.”

A Jury of Your Pyrs: View from the Dock

I was watching an old British TV show called Silk, learning about the British Court system and inspired by the pun, “A Jury of Your Pyrs.”    Would I have the enthusiasm to do it all over with as much interest and attention to detail?  I don’t think so.

Another thing that moves on is abilities and techniques.

I love the image of a Great Pyrenees Mountain Dog happily rolling in the freshly fallen snow.  Such joy!   So I did paint one canvas to portray this about a year ago.

Spirit of the Snow Angel

Snow kept falling and I kept learning and painting.  I painted may other subjects and then returned to the same concept again.

I find that how you view a concept and how you attack it changes.  Below is this year’s take on the same concept.  I’ve refined my brush strokes.  I still have problems with perspective.   But it is a “finer” image.  Could I return and to the first over again, and if I could, would I want to?

Snow Angel of Joy

Perhaps I should paint a Pyr making a snow angel every year, just as a record of how my abilities and outlook change.

Part of what I love about painting is the exploration of different styles and topics.  I don’t think I made a post about my chaos paintings where you just paint as the spirit moves you and go back the next day and try to refine shapes you see into images?

Dance to the Music

These two images are done on canvas paper and are very free and spontaneous.  Interestingly enough, the Mermaids below were actually purchased from my Etsy shop, also called “My Muse Calls“.   So the first painting I sold was of mermaids and not a Pyr.  As usual, an unexpected turn!

I’ve recently discovered the visionary artwork of Alex Grey and much to my delight he has a center where he holds what he calls “Art Church” and workshops only 30 minutes from my home.   I’m going to take a workshop he and his staff offer on visionary painting this summer.

The road twists and turns and keeps taking me new and interesting places.  I don’t really want to do another painting exactly the same.  And I shouldn’t lament if I am able to sell a painting.  I can use the money to buy more art supplies.  And the person who buys it hopefully will be cheered on daily basis by having it around.   The more I travel down this road, the more doors seem to open and the more interesting the sights become.

A Jury of Your Pyrs: The View from the Dock

I could not resist the word play.   I have the greatest respect for the courts of Great Britain and no slur is meant.  I don’t think they are going to the dogs.   If you’d like to read about my background research you can read the post Inspiration from the English Courts

 

News update:   My Muse Calls and A Jury of Your Pyrs has been blogged about on Law Actually!

Garden Play

I have always been an avid gardener.   In the spring I love to start by filling colorful pots on my deck with fresh plants from our local garden centers.  When Tila was a puppy, I was happily potting away, turned my back for a moment and found my puppy in a whirl of lavender plants.   In reality, there was only one plant de-potting puppy, but in this painting I thought it was more fun to have two.

Moonlight Play-Glazing techniques.

 
Glazing with Walnut Alkyd Medium

I had an idea, a dream of a painting I could see clearly in my mind.  A little Pyr puppy who was woken up at night by the light of the full moon and decided to play.  I picked up my brush and realized I had no idea on how to paint light.  Light is hard.  So I read up on glazing.  That is what the great painter Vermeer used and many other great Masters to show light and make their paintings glow.  Me, I’m starting with the basics.

First take a large serving of patience.  Glazing involves using transparent paints and a special alkyd medium (I used walnut alkyd oil) to dilute the paint.  Then after putting a thin light layer, you must let that layer dry before you can do anything else!  That’s right….a few brushstrokes and ..come back tomorrow.  Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock sigh.

So in the painting below I only used red, yellow, blue and white.   I wanted the hand to look like ghostly moonlight.  First I painted the hand white and the red bar at one side and the top stripe of yellow.  Then I painted the square over the hand a dilute blue and then a dilute red and I got purple.   Then I painted the stripes at the side.   Then I pained the hand a light yellow (my original yellow mixed with a little white).  Of course I had to let everything dry in between and then the red heart and the blue paw.  Where the paw overlaps the red it is a dark purple, where it over laps the yellow hand it is blue.  The same with the other colors.  The paint that is used is classified as transparent or semi-transparent and it is diluted with walnut alkyd oil medium rather than linseed oil or turpentine.

 

I like to paint wet over wet where you paint with layers of wet paint over other layers of wet paint.  Sometimes I wait to let a layer dry so I can have a pure color and it won’t mix with the under-layers of paint.

But glazing you have to let each layer dry.  But it is worth it.  The next layer you put on, like putting one pane of stained glass over another, is blended by your eye to give you a new color, and more depth and luminosity.  You really need to see the result with your eye on the canvas because it doesn’t photograph well. 

So I did two somewhat abstract designs, Hearts and Paws, and Hands, Hearts, and Paws.   I used only three colors, red, blue, yellow and white.   Any other colors you observe is what you eye sees after one layer of one color is laid over the dry layer of another color. 

So finally, I had the technique to do moonlight.

And here is my little Pyr at Moonlight Play.

 I am now working on the largest canvas I have ever used.  It is 18 inches by 24 inches.  It has a theme again of Pyrs in moonlight.  I hope to make the moonlight in the next one a little less intense yellow and make it look a little more like real light rather than a “beam me up Scotty” Star Trek beam.   Getting better takes practice and trying new things.  But it’s fun to branch out.

My Muse Goes to Work

 

 

Tila Meditates

I have this wonderful photo I took of Tila.  On a warm summer day, after helping me garden and grill on the BBQ, he came in and parked himself in front of the candles and sat down and to my astonishment, looked as if he was sitting and meditating.  I’ve always thought Pyrs had a spiritual and mystical side.  And this proved it to me.  This is the photo I used as the basis for my first painting.  I have to say that this inspired the painting rather than me trying to copy it exactly.  There were things in life (like the drool and dirt on Tila’s chin from the garden) that I didn’t want to make into the painting.  I also wanted it to have a warm tone rather than the harsh dark background the photo has.  So I had a vision of the end result as well as a mystical pyr to help me find my way.

Of course Tila helped by nudging me for treats from time to time to make sure I took enough breaks to step back and take a good look at my painting.  He was absolutely right, you have to step back, assess and sometimes just stop until you figure something out.

The one thing I found out after “Nothing is White” is there are more shades of tan and brown and grey on a white Great Pyrenees than you can imagine.  Let alone mix the colors.  I had palettes with nothing but brown and badger and tan and various shades of cream trying to match those few hairs under the nose or over the eyes.

I did my planning and made a few preliminary sketches.  And finally after days and days of working on it and letting layers dry (believe me this Pyr painting has an undercoat) I was done.  Well not quite done…

Before I could start showing off my painting to my friends I had to get muse approval.

So after a proper examination, I was approved.

 

 

 

 

 

And at last I can say Ta Dah!  Done the final work Tila Mediates. 

 While I know I’m just taking my first steps as an artist, I’m happy to say that the original painting is going to the rescue table at the Great Pyrenee’s National Show 2012.  So hopefully some kind person will buy it there and the money will go to the rescue of Great Pyrenees Dogs that have not yet been located in their “Forever Home” yet.  

Nothing is White

One day, while sitting around just looking I finally felt like I really “saw” for the first time. After you have a car accident and break your leg you have lots of time to look,  But enough of that.  I looked and saw nothing is white.  Now that may not sound like much, but if you look at a shadow it may be shades of grey.  A tree, shades of brown.  If you put all those little shades next to one another, you have a picture.

I got it!  But could I do it?  I started just drawing with pencil.  After a few false starts I decided that what I was doing, while not great, wasn’t all that bad.  When my husband asked me for what I wanted for my birthday, I asked for oil paints.  I haven’t picked up a brush in over 20 years, but am I having a ball.   I decided to work through a book of oil painting exercises. 

 

Color theory, mixing tints, tones and shades.

Just mixing the colors was lots of fun.  In the past I just jumped in and tried to capture what I could but learning a bit was advancing what I could do as well.  In the first column you have the color out of the tube, the second column is the color mixed with white, the next is the color mixed with black, the next is the color mixed with grey.  The last two colums are the color mixed with it’s opposite on the color wheel (I may have played with this a bit rather than being exact) then the opposite and white.  So this entire large block was made from 7 colors.  The last one I threw in there as the exercise only had 6 as I was in search of shades of Pyr fur.

Of course I posted on Facebook that I recieved my oils.  Not only did I recieve my oil paint set and easel, but my husband, showing great faith in my unproven ability bought me enough canvas to fill an art gallery.  Next my dog’s breeder asked if I would paint a picture of my dog as a charity donation for the Great Pyrenees rescue booth.  I wasn’t sure I was up to it.  But I decided to try my best.  So I jumped from exercises to dog portraits.  

It turned out having a furry muse around really helped.   I had been taking pictures of him for years and looking at Pyrs for a long time.  So it was subject matter I knew well and loved and really wanted to show him off well.

Surprisingly, people actually liked what I did and even wrote to me asking for copies and cards and the like.  And an idea was born. So I’ve skipped from exercise 2 in the painting techniques book, to being a painter of Pyrs and other things my furry muse Tila brings to my attention.