Saturday, July 9, 2011

White Paper and Black Ink = Magic

When I see a perfectly smooth, blank piece of pure white paper, my hands begin to tingle and my mind goes to its happy place, opening to the magic of the trance state that doing artwork brings about. I'm never quite certain how an image is going to come out, but I can tell from the first line if it's going to be any good.
Rose in Full Bloom
Several years ago, one of the houses I lived in in California had 25 rose bushes planted around the perimeter of the yard. The neighborhood was low-income, near an airport, so the planes would fly low overhead and regularly drown out the sounds of the TV or music, and there were strong iron bars on all the windows and doors. I spent time nurturing those roses, and they bloomed for me in the most beautiful rainbow of colors. I loved them so much that I couldn't resist drawing them.
Rose Untwirling
I used a pointillist technique, with a set of very fine Rapidograph pens, capturing the shadows and light across the petals and leaves of the roses. Each beautiful flower had its own expression, almost like a personality. I felt I was capturing a moment in time.
I fell in love with each of them, and when I look at these drawings that I did so many years ago, I can still see the vibrant colors of each rose in my mind's eye. Each drawing took about 12 hours, and it was so peaceful to work on them while listening to my favorite music. Sometimes early in the morning, sometimes late at night, sometimes with my children watching at my elbow in the evenings.
Seated Girl
  Here's a drawing of a seated girl - which turns out years later to look just like my beautiful daughter does now. Maybe I was dreaming her future alive.

Wolf People (Group Think)
I also love to work in color, and this is an image I did for a series of Native American myths. I loved spending time at the Museum of Man in beautiful Balboa Park, doing research to find out about the clothing, architecture, and traditions of these people. They were very wise. This painting depicts what happens to people when they don't think for themselves, instead, subscribing to the shallowness of "group think."

Part of the story behind this image is that the two little boys, Coyote's grandsons, that this village had kidnapped and tied to the centerpole, have escaped. The village men had kidnapped them in order to capture their light (enlightenment), because the village had no light (stuck in group think). The woman is Tildee, a holy woman, who is clucking at their stupidity. The men were seduced into sleep by Coyote's bees (guardians of life) and while they were sleeping Coyote glued their hair with pine pitch and escaped with his grandsons with the help of the Mice Men (mouse represents scrutiny; Coyote is always the teacher who makes things obvious when we don't pay attention - often using humor, he tricks us into realization).
The Light is Protected
 What happens next in the story is that the Wolf People chase after Coyote and his grandsons, but they can't find them because Coyote and his grandsons have jumped into the middle of a buckeye tree, which is protecting them. The tree, with its roots that go deep into the Earth, and branches that stretch to the sky and soak up the sunlight, represents the joining of the physical with the spiritual to make wholeness. The story teaches that without the grace of Spirit, we are in the dark, like the Wolf People.

Native American stories are not just for children. They have layers of teaching that offer deeper meaning depending on one's stage in life. Some of them are very funny too. I love them. I love to illustrate them. Will be doing more of this - keep in touch to see!

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