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.

madonna misericordia

began working in oil this week. I took a class many years ago and never liked it- particularly the clean up. this week Pink Soap and conditioner left my brushes clean and supple. free of that worry I felt like experimenting- so I returned to 2 pieces and to a theme I love. madonna misericordia is the “lady of mercy.” in medieval art she’s often pictured with her arms wide, cloak open and harboring all who come to her for help.

i’m drawn to the symbolism, themes and images in medieval and early renaissance art-

Can You Make Too Much Art?

For me, the desire to make is always there, and it’s especially pressing after coming into contact with the creativity of other artists, whether in the theater, a museum or book. But to actually make something I always have to scale a few obstacles.

#1 It feels wasteful to make more than I can storeI because I live in an apartment, use one room as a studio but storage is minimal and I’m a frugal, recycling kind of person.

#2 The feeling that art-making(includes all art forms) can’t possibly matter in a world so full of suffering.

I recently heard the Turkish writer, Elif Safak, tell a story on The Moth, where she mentions her struggle with #2, that push pull of whether or not to make art.  It’s always heartening to hear another artist mention it.

So is there ever a need to refrain from making? I don’t know. I can’t answer for others I just know it’s a question I ruminate over.

This world of dew is but a world of dew and yet…

This haiku was written by the Japanese master, Kobayashi Issa, after the death of his infant daughter. Everything in 12 words. A poignant expression of the constant tension between knowing the truth of things- the insubstantiality of all experience and the need to live deeply engaged.

Below, four new works.

Madonna del Parto

There are several paintings I return to over and over, the glorious Madonna del Parto by Piero della Francesca is one of them and probably my favorite. It is at once simple and complex, modest and bold, reverent and earthy. The teenaged Mary steps forward as two angels hold back heavy brocade curtains, the tips of the fingers of her right hand inserted in a slit in her dress. That gesture, at the center of the picture, references the act of incarnation that Catholics believe is “immaculate” or sexless.

Madonna del Parto, Piero Della Francesca

Madonna del Parto, Piero Della Francesca

Piero painted this for the church of Santa Maria di Momentana (formerly Santa Maria in Silvis), in the hilltown of Monterchi. It was difficult to explain this sexless incarnation to peasants who toiled next to life and death all day and knew exactly how all manner of beasts and babies were conceived. Many painters from Fra Lippo Lippi tried, but perhaps this earthy, gravid young madonna, with her suggestive gesture, was comforting. Perhaps it gave the nuns something to smile about.

Some images influenced by the Madonna del Parto.

Cross paintings w additions

Last night I just painted and stopped anguishing about content, technique, frustration with oils- blah blah blah- and so a breakthrough of sorts- still the image of the cross but in oil with some charcoal and acrylic- both are still in process but relaxing into the medium (oil) allows space for subtle changes in representation. When I do that, I can feel how the medium wants to interpret content. When I use more familiar mediums like collage, gouache or watercolor, I rarely think about how to work or what to draw/paint, but with oils there’s still a lot of second guessing beforehand and judgement after.

These paintings are coming from sketches that are evolving the more I draw. Representations of celestial blessings–the half circles with lines at the top of the page–are morphing into  other images, in this case, udders.

My reading about cross symbolism is showing up in these sketches–melding with images I’ve been creating for a long time. Sketches are incorporating other, very ancient meanings of the cross unrelated to Christianity that venerated it as an emblem of Christ’s suffering and redemptive death. I’ll discuss those meanings in more detail later, but a quick list of some other meanings includes: the cross as tree of life, as the axis or center of powerful earthly forces, the union of the four elements, the center of the universe, a representation of the human body. I believe my desire–-at least for now–is to reclaim the cross as a symbol of fecundity, as a point of intersection between heaven and earth, as a tree of life. I was never interested in it as a symbol of suffering and redemption and even as a child, avoided it. I was intensely interested in stories and narratives about forgiveness and compassion, in symbols related to Mary, like the rose, or in statuary, sculpture and stained glass.

 

Cross Theme

Gouache seems to be the intermediary medium for me at the moment. The one I’m using to experiment with these shapes and forms. I’m still layering on top of older collage pieces. It’s interesting to me that even though I’ve been a collagist for years, the concept of layering in paint has been difficult to apprehend. But I’m getting there.

At the moment drawing inspiration from Chagall’s complicated forms, layered colors and subject matter.