Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Kissing Day Celebration

"Kissing Day Celebration"

July 2016

oil on panel, 11 3/4" H x 33" L x 1/4" D

Its separate halves are shown below.

Left 1/2 of "Kissing Day Celebration"

I'm beginning to allow myself much wider latitude in my rendering of things.  What a relief!  
And here's the fallout:
1)  I'm enjoying painting more because my attitude is far less exacting, &
2)  I'm finding that I also enjoy other people's work that's more abstract than I usually lean toward.  I can feel the artistic process in this method, which lends itself more to intuition & Divine Ambush (you know what I mean ;)).

Here's the other half:

Right 1/2 of "Kissing Day Celebration"

oil, 11 3/4" H x 33" L

I am showing you the halves separately so that you can enjoy brushwork & other details more.  
Isn't that red flower delicious?  

I don't like to eat cake (unless it sounds good), but I fell in love with the image of an off-white cake.  It was so darling I had to paint it.  I am trying to stay away from symbolism & meaningful images for awhile, so "darling" is my current attraction.  Yeah yeah, I know.  Frosting & slathered-on cuteness could be too cloying for some.  But for many, there are never too many love songs, nor too many hugs, too much kindness, and so forth.  It's a form of yoga. 

The cakes, right to left:  Orion Cake, Filigree Cake, & Art Cake 

I launched this painting on the Fourth of July, after my husband & I went to the parade in Roundup, Montana (where they were filming the first part of a media series with a compelling-sounding plot).  So in my mind this is also a Fourth of July painting.  
But I feel that Kissing Day, annually worldwide on July Sixth, is a most important holiday to observe.  Easy for me to say, since I'm ecstatically married.  But love is love.  It's that simple.  Blow kisses to your divine all day!

I waited until now to explain the cakes, so that you could form your own impressions.  But truly, I imagined being at a wedding reception with white cakes.  What would I like to see on them, as a group of three?  That's what I painted.  You get to choose the inside.  It could be anything.  The more you use your imagination, the more easily you will hang on to radiant brain health. ...  

Besides, it's fun!


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Teacup & Apple

6" x 6" oil
June 2016
"Two Swan Necks"

This is a tribute to Sarah Orne Jewett (my fave author when I lived in New Hampshire; she lived in Maine 1849 - 1909) because she would LOVE the teacup, & she painted on porcelain (which both of these objects are).

I'm working w/ a simpler composition in order to use this as a study in diffuse reflective light.  Since I've been enjoying lightly colored herbal teas, & my work area is directly beneath an oversized skylight, I painted the sky reflected in the tea.  This is the only intentional symbolism in this piece.  I don't need to be literary ALL the time; I just need to improve my painting skills!

There is one trompe de l'oeil: On the teacup, to the left of the lowermost peony, is the capital of an Ionic column.  I thought a bit of Classical architecture would go nicely on a flowery teacup.  Then I painted the column's shadow outside of the teacup, as if the painted image is casting a shadow.  Why did I do that?  Ask me.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Exploring Indra's Net

Small section of watercolor.  Does this make you curious?  

I would enjoy hearing other people's stories about this piece  - what they think is happening, how they feel.  Viewers could think of it as "sandbox therapy", faerie garden, or as similar to watching a fish tank.

My abridged journal notes are below, for those who want a little brain gym (perceiving the details I point out in my notes).  

Perspective, With Gecko
8 3/10" x 11 6/10" watercolor, white gesso, & graphite on paper
June 2016

For at least 20 years, I have wanted to show Indra's Net in some form of 2D art.  Imagine 20 years of trying to envision it as something other than a net (because that's too obvious).  Indian traffic  - from a tuk-tuk or a bicycle -  is the closest I'm come to such a vision.  Riding in traffic is one of my favorite things to do in India.  I did this painting to express how I feel in it.  But instead of tuk-tuks & goats, I chose objects with symbolic content.

Before we look at the symbols, let's imagine  - for your scientific brain -   that we are both in downward motion & suspended from above by something else in downward motion, presumably with a mass/materials differential.  Just like in the painting.  Think about gravity, wind speed, & any external factors that affect angles & depth perception.  Think about lighting.
 >  Can you tell if the red Macaw-feather bowl (top right corner) is underneath whatever is suspending that basket? If it's not shaded, then which side of the basket is it on? How narrow does that indicate the "balloon" is? 
>  Why are some objects tilted more than others? 
>  Which forces is his mustache responding to? Is he wearing mustache wax, or did he just this moment thrust his head downward to look into the telescope, much like birders do into their 'scopes?  Which direction is he traveling?
>  Is gravity operating here as we expect?  Which elements in the painting suggest that it's not?  Do all the elements agree?  
>  Why do the leaning of the man & the clinging & wiggling of the gecko cause their vessels to tilt?
>  How heavy is each suspended object?  How would it move (ex., straight down? wafting? listing?)? 
 >  What factors would influence how it moves?  [Hint: the amphora & the elephant might be approximately the same weight & have the same wind resistance vectors.]  All of the factors (ex., whether or not external weight is applied & whether it's leaning or wriggling, shape & height-to-width ratio of vessels) are influenced by a host of other factors (ex., the unit of flowers from which each is suspended, the manner of suspension  - cord angles, attachments & materials -  tensile strength & elasticity of the cords, wind speed & direction, microdisturbances).
>  The birds are, of course, exempt from the abovementioned factors, but must abide by those factors that affect aviation.

OK, now for your literary brain....

The Symbols

Most of the objects are different from one another, to show diversity & uniqueness.  Even the elephant, though clearly a familiar type of ceramic vessel, is non-standard in several ways.  The tilt of its head, the soup├žon that it is decorated, as well as the natural positions of the feet & trunk all contribute to the slight questioning whether or not this object is familiar.  Of trying to understand what you are looking at.  This moves you into the appropriate mindframe for viewing the painting.  

Then there's the hilarity of an elephant (presumably full of water) floating, suspended from a bunch of super-floofy flowers.  None of this makes sense.  This piece asks the viewer to suspend certainty about gravity & everything else.  This is one thing that quantum physics asks us to do.  Its word to express the idea shown in this painting is "entanglement".  I would love to name it that, but I don't want you to worry about the "air balloon" lines tangling ;P

>  Peregrine Falcon - 
     a). One of Indra's two animal companions.  Indra is the Hindu deva of rain & thunderstorms.  His other mount is a white elephant.  He has a long, crazy mustache.  Who in the painting has a long, crazy mustache?  Do you see a white elephant? 
     b). I love the word "peregrination".

>  Scarlet Macaw - Noise.  Because it can be kind of noisy out here in the field of possibility ;P  Besides, the amrit bowl is made of Scarlet Macaw feathers.

>  Field of Possibility - Essentially the same as Indra's Net, or the Matrix.  This term is from quantum physics.  Example in this painting: What are the chances of a huge, up-close pansy being in the precise spot to frame the telescope, hands, & face just when we were looking at them?  
> Gecko - To me as an individual, Gecko symbolizes the multiplicity of life forms & the astonishing resourcefulness of Nature.  Check out the anatomically-correct hairs on the bottoms of its feet.  Gecko can climb any surface & is terribly cute.  Most importantly, it is the perfect weird & random creature to be found clinging to the sky.  As a lifelong natural history buff, I thought of many names for this new gecko species.   Do you ever do that?  I put an "eye" on its belly, a tribute to Nature's amazing adaptations.  Think about it.  It would be an effective adaptation to avoid predation.  It comes complete w/ a faux "glint of light" on the eyeball!  It's rare that Nature displays such asymmetry in design.  That's why I made it up.  Evolution  - the Great Tinkerer in Nature's Garage -  is an amazingly custom process.  Plus I needed something to cling to the outside of a tilting, ceramic vessel.  Only Gecko.

>  Amrit (in red feather-bowl) -  The quasi-mythical "divine nectar" from Hindu & Sikh traditions.  It first appeared in print between 1700 & 1100 BC.  The "drink of the deities," similar to the Greek ambrosia, but also available to humans in certain tantric practices.  I put amrit with the man's balloon as viaticum (food for a pilgrimmage), so he will never be thirsty or hungry.  Moreover, excellent nutrition prepares the body to receive the energies of higher consciousness.  Embedded in this image is the idea that the voyager has everything he needs, & "the gods will provide" everything else.  This makes our voyager an image of someone fulfilled in their life & ready to ask for higher spiritual gifts (such as love in one's heart).

>  Gem (they're iridescent) @ center of each flower - Clear reference to Indra's Net, which is big enough to cover the entire universe.  At each juncture of threads, there's a gem w/ so many facets that it reflects & refracts every single other gem in the Net.  From the Indian Buddhist tradition, this represents interdependent origination, interconnection,  & karma / cause & effect.

    >  Moon Pearl - This is at the center of the pansies.  The man is looking at it.  From Chinese tradition, the Moon Pearl represents the penultimate spiritual enlightenment.  The Chinese dragon is often shown chasing it, a common allegory in Chinese culture.  The dragon represents the scholar/seeker who perpetually strives for improvement, insight, & so forth.  In the allegory, the dragon never catches the Moon Pearl, but will never give up trying.  Persistence & humble sincerity are the qualities that this story seeks to develop.

>  Johnny Jump-ups - This is a specific type of pansy.  Due to their common name, they make terrific hot air balloons.

>  White elephant:  Indra's mount.

>  Glass vessels - Beauty & fragility.  Plus I wanted to experiment with reflective light opportunities.

     >  Amphora -  I'm fascinated by amphoras, their use throughout history, their use to maritime archaeologists, and other endearing traits.  Their shape is so simple & beautiful.  They are the archetypal vessel.  The ultimate servant (in the sense of service/seva/sat karma).  We can discern that this scene took place prior to the 7th Century BCE, when the one-piece amphora quickly replaced the neck amphora ;P

Here's a stanza from Victor Hugo's poem "The Marble Faun":
"Hid in the wood, methought a ghostly voice
Came forth and woke an echo in my soul
As in the hollow of an amphora."

>  Sight path of our voyager's eye - Eye, eyepiece, lens, subject being viewed: what do they have in common?  Is there anything else in the painting that shares that quality?

>  Telescope - Discovery, seeking, adventure, preparation, trust, curiosity, inquiry, learning, seeing.  Look at what's immediately in front of the the telescope lens, made visible by the dark petal behind it.  A disturbance.  This is to show that the act of observing  - & certainly of intently focusing -  changes the observed.  {Quantum physics' wave-particle behavior discovery.}

>  The Tamil writing on the pottery vessel says "Success" or "Winner".  How do you see that in the context of this painting?   I wonder what the man's basket is suspended from...

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Running Shoes

"Running Shoes"
8.75" x 12" oil
May 2016
Adapted from a photo by me

I took this photo because I'm attracted to human-powered bicycles, rickshaws, and carts.  I liked the abstract, blurry way the photo documented our pace past this street scene.  Perhaps I will add some glazing to give this painting a similar effect.  But I'm liking the way it is now.  

Biggest challenges:  
 -  making the dirt & pavement street look sundappled and hot around 12:30pm
-  depicting the "ghost bike" which was barely discernible in the photo (a skinny blur w/ shine)

Q:  Why is there a curly-tailed dog in this?
A:  Because most feral Indian dogs have a curly tail.  They are ubiquitous in South India.  This provides Indian culture with a sweet metaphor about the futility of straightening a dog's tail.

Can you see the black granite deity statue, partly obfuscated by incense smoke?  The potted shrub next to this is Tulsi (aka Holy Basil).  The blue roof that's lower than the gabled building's roof is the blue-painted, carved plaster typical of small temples.  The roof of the gabled building shows additional living quarters (the red drape closes).  It's interesting & surprising sometimes to see how resourceful some Indian living arrangements can be.  I fancy that the produce seller  - & his happy family -  in this painting live up on that roof.   Near the corner of that roof is a round shape.  It is the apotropaic device, a cartoonishly "scary" head, that's installed on the roofs of numerous South Indian homes to ward off evil.  

What's the story here?  I have my story in mind {hint: it has to do w/ the title}, but I'd be so interested to hear other people's stories about this.  In fact, I want to paint backwards (as if you could read it from the road, but not where you, the viewer, are), in Tamil, on the forward banner.  I would let the collector tell me which words to put on the banner; something that sums up what speaks to them about this piece.


Discussing the Visible Light Spectrum

"Discussing the Visible Light Spectrum"
8.5" x 10" ArtGraf water-soluble graphite
& watercolor
May 2016
Adapted from a photo by Joel Bowers

What is happening in the distant mountains behind the wall?  Are you pulled back into the garden?  Which way is the breeze blowing?  Besides wind, is there any other form of energy movement?

Relaxing with my dear friend in the yard, we marvel together at how some creatures  - such as birds, bees, and some humans -  are tetrachromatographic (they can see a broader spectrum of colors, such as ultraviolet colors, and they can distinguish among colors better than, the general populace).  To see as a bee!  That intrigued me, so that's why the bee and I are seeing eye-to-eye.  That's why the bee is emerging from a visible ambiance of UV energy.  Can YOU see it?  Does that mean you might be tetrachromatographic?

Flowers respond to UV light, and yellow flowers tend to look especially amazing bathed in UV color (as mimicked using technology so that we can see as bees and hummingbirds do).  Hence its relationship to the bee... and to us, as healing, balancing, auspicious energy flows down into our limbs.  

I had to express the Ajna Chakra.  I would have made them smaller, less conspicious, but I was not painting.  There was painting, but no painter.  So the Divine made them big.  Like a gaudy necklace that you would wear under your shirt because you love it but wouldn't want to actually show it off.  It is much the same as with the Third Eye ;)  Healing energy is pouring into my friend, circulating through her chest and giving her face a slight flush, filling her with radiant good health.

She likes the title of this piece.  She said, "That sounds very intellectual."  I like having a friend who thinks that's cool.

This was my first time using water-soluble graphite (a gift from a friend).  I love this new medium, especially w/ watercolors!  The graphite behaves a bit differently; there's something very mineral about it.  It places the entire painting into a shifted phase.

I put the most craftsmanship into the pineapple finial on the metal gate.  I had it perfectly shaded so it looked liked cast metal & was correct per the light source.  Then I put on a graphite wash (the only place I regretted using graphite because it dissolved too much detail), then spilled frisket on it....  Below is a photo of it in process, before the spill.  I had to share this cute detail because I put so much TLC into it!  It's significant to the painting because the pineapple was the symbol of welcome & hospitality in the "Classical" (ancient Greek & Roman) World.  That's why pineapple finials are a common shape for gates, fences, entryways, & so forth.  This is underscored by our Classical gestures!  I was inspired by a finial we had seen at the Charles M. Bair Family Museum in Martinsdale, MT.

I hope viewers notice the extreme cuteness of the bee & hummingbird.  Below is a less-detailed study of the hummingbird, this one w/ watercolor, my first time using Bristol paper.  In both this tiny piece & the painting above, there are teensy, tiny gold flecks in several of the neutral colors (looks lovely w/ light on it), and the graphite has a captivating mineral sheen.  The tiny card is a trading card to be traded at a Billings Arts Association meeting.  It shows a Calliope Hummingbird (I'm still fond of those from the "My Calliope" painting).  


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Bluebird Day

6.5" x 11.75" watercolor
April 2016

I almost never take selfies (and, in fact, don't usually care to have my picture taken).  But I just had to document my permagrin on a bluebird ski day.  An attempt to capture the joy.

I grew up in a very, very flat region of the Midwest.  Downhill skiing was, in my mind, an exotic sport for crazy, reckless people.  People too lazy to put forth the effort required for cross-country skiing, which has been one of my favorite activities for many years now.   

Moreover, one of my Achilles tendons was severed almost two years ago, and recovery has been a long process (though not painful 6.8 months post-surgery, there's residual assymetry and weakness, and another tendon is torn but I'm not having that one surgically repaired).  My wonderful husband persuaded me to take up downhill skiing this past Christmas.  So when I go downhill skiing, I'm not merely having a good time.  I'm feeling the full effect of having worked past (though not entirely) tremendous fear, judgement, and physical limitations.  Such joy!  It's exciting, involves brain-healthy new learning and finesse, it's terrific physical therapy for my healing leg (and more of a workout than I expected), and I meet super people each time I go.  The camaraderie at a ski mountain feeds my soul as much as the activity itself.  

I took one liberty with this piece: what is reflected in the goggles.  Science-minded viewers will smile smugly, knowing the phenomenon that would cause a reflection of a shining image facing the opposite direction of the actual sun.  My Oneness family will smile at seeing the Jyothi Rupa :)


Throwing Petals

9.25" x 12" watercolor
April 2016

This is from two photos I took during an extravagant, elaborate, Indian-style puja (ceremony) at my house in 2013. A participant had brought her young daughter, who was the sweetest, cutest, most delightful child; many of us later agreed that she was the best expression of enlightenment there!  So it was only fitting that we asked her to officiate the ceremony, which is normally performed by a clergyperson or similarly ceremonious officiant.

We were all powerfully moved by the sight of this child offering flower petals to the Divine as we chanted in Sanskrit.  She had a great time.  At one point, she scooped up a whole armful of petals and heaved them up... not necessarily onto the altar, just up.  Flower petals were everywhere!  You can see one petal still falling (look at the hair of the bottom image).  Everyone in the room was laughing, filled with such joy, for a long time....  The ceremony stopped completely for awhile, as we all simply observed this little girl.  After heaving one armful, she sat down on a heap of petals, looking down, taking it all in....  In the next moment, she was crawling to gather another armful to do it again, and the laughter rose up again!  We all were touched by how the most glorious offering to the Divine  - petals, joy, awe -  as well as the most powerful sense of Divine Presence -  happened when the ceremony stopped.  

This painting shows the child's real mother squatting and reaching out in uncontained joy to her little girl (both in one photo), who represents Divine Child, looking down at petals as well as herself-as-human (in the other photo), who is reaching out to Divine Mother, symbolized by silver padukas (not in either photo).  We did have silver padukas on the altar at this ceremony.  In this painting, I showed them as mimicking the foot of the girl's human mother (as some padukas do have toes and toenails designed into them).  Padukas are an ancient Indian tradition that represent the feet of the Divine.  They are primarily associated with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, but I know of many people of several other faiths who use them.  I think they're a beautiful symbol.