Two From One

These were created last month and came from one piece. I tore the original in half. If I have a picture of the original I’ll post next time. Similar theme but now two quite separate pieces.

Incorporating more writing/calligraphy in my work.

The Cross as Tree of Life

The Tree of Life is a vivid symbol in almost every culture. Trees are revered as life-giving, and signify renewal and regeneration. They are beneficent as well as wise. The crosses I’ve been painting and drawing are sprouting leaves, like Daphne the nymph who, in her desire to escape the amorous attentions of Apollo, asked to be turned into a tree. The rose cross was inspired by the Rosy Cross which is a symbol of the esoteric sect of Rosicrucians though I know little about them. I was more inspired by the phrase “rose cross” which made me think of adding flowers to the vegetation springing from these crosses. Some have female forms others do not. This is a rich and layered exploration of christian symbols, archetypes, and feminist art.

Shrine Madonnas

A friend sent me a review of Elina Gertsman’s book, Worlds Within: Opening the Medieval Shrine Madonna, published by University of Pennsylvania Press this year. One look and I was smitten.

“In this truly multidisciplinary study of one of the most perplexing and beguiling of medieval visual traditions, the so-called Vierges ouvrantes, Elina Gertsman…. it brings together attention to the material and phenomenological specificity of objects and the theological, political, and epistemological dimensions within which they were created, viewed, and handled, or mishandled. One of the book’s most important contributions is its focus on the way the Vierges ouvrantes articulate a relationship between outside and inside, not just on an iconographic level but also and more importantly in terms of bodily process and passage. …Gertsman’s prose [is] finely balanced with the seriousness of her concern with the fundamental questions of how visual experience not only informs but actively shapes the way human beings experience physical, social, and psychic bodies.” —Alexa Sand, Utah State University

The idea of the sacred and profane body, inner and outer, and fragmentation are certainly  themes in my work based on sacred images. My intention is to research and understand the history of that impulse, articulate it and create images with paint that evoke that.

 

Cross Madonnas

Using mediums has helped me ease into oil painting. I worked with oils a long time ago with a teacher who wouldn’t let us use thinners, mediums etc. and we learned to clean our brushes with soap and water. I used palette knives and came to like them, but I enjoy the fluidity of paints thinned with medium. The concern: I’ll just repeat what I do in watercolor, gouache and ink. A better understanding of the medium would open up other ways to make images. I also feel I still rely too much on “staying within the lines” when I make an underdrawing. Often the initial drawing  becomes part of the picture.

The two cross madonnas below are works in progress.

In #1 I mounted a handkerchief on stretched canvas then painted into it using gouache and acrylic.I have a pile of  handkerchiefs my mother has sent me over the years. I used to sew clothes by hand and on a machine, and make quilts. I’m always drawn to the tactility of fabric, the history and sentiments/emotions attached to old fabric. Louise Bourgeois’s small fabric pieces have always inspired me and I’ve kept my mother’s gift handkerchiefs with the hope of using them. Not sure this is the way but there’s something about the piece I like.

#2 started with the image from the sketchbook, and I drew a rough sketch of it on top of an acrylic painting on paper. Then I worked into it with oils, adding some imagery but also allowing previous images to inform choices. I like the hint of a woman’s leg and breast though (of course) not sure where this will go.

Below: pages from my sketchbook noodling and doodling about crosses, madonnas, insects, vegetation and maybe Carmen Miranda. The cross in the lower left of sketchbook 1 reminds me of a dancing, singing Miranda. Maybe another direction.. ? 🙂

 

 

Glimmers at the End of the Tunnel

Caught myself thinking in the studio and realized thoughts have been running beneath the surface of my mind as I tried to paint the last few days–even though I’d specifically discussed being aware of this with Deb (Todd Wheeler), my advisor. But today I caught myself and finally stopped the thinking and began working. Have been circling canvases, paper, paints, ink etc. all week, worrying about content, medium etc. but today…

Exploring the theme of the cross. Such a rich subject! A symbol connected to so many religions and belief systems.The first 2 in the gallery below were quick gouache sketches. Ah the freedom of ink and watercolor on paper(!!). Then, I turned my attention to re-working 2 pieces. The agnus dei cross is several years old. I worked into it with acrylic, charcoal and oil pastel and it’s still in progress, but I’m most pleased with the last piece. It was originally a clunky acrylic but I painted the lines of the four quadrants with a deep blue–the demarcated areas have a naples yellow glaze. I thinned the oils enough to give me the fluidity I’ve wanted with this medium. I’ve yearned to use oils–to get access to the luscious colors and textures.

Maybe I can really do this.

Meaning

My particular struggle at the moment is why am I making these images? The gallery shows a series I created yesterday. I still have to get off the paper and on to canvas…

Isolating Parts

I isolate human and animal body parts and place them in contexts that elevate them.  I want to highlight their original and sacred meanings, remind us they are symbols of nurturing and generativity–symbolism that is lost when these images are denigrated, appropriated and exploited for commercial use.