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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Making Dark Art

"I really like your artwork - it's beautiful and powerful.  But it's too dark for me to hang in my home." These words came from a middle-aged woman (my guess), standing in front of my table at a recent art show.  While most of the other attendees were in some form of fandom or cosplay attire, she was in regular clothes - well put-together, conservative yet confident, reminiscent of my mother in style.  

Though none of that really matters, it was just a quick observation on my part while trying to come up with a response.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I wouldn't really call your artwork "dark" (although I'm happy you are willing to own that.) More like fantastic, astonishing, and

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What's Talking to You?

Just got done watching a powerful video featuring Jim Carrey and his painting process (yes, that Jim Carrey).

One of the things he said struck a chord with me:

...
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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Goddesses Come Knocking

I don't have what many would call a devotional relationship with many of the deities I paint, but that doesn't mean there isn't a divine connection or other kind of relationship.  Often I tap into other people's devotions for those deities, or have an interesting conversation with those gods for a short time. 

Over the weekend, I just finished a series of 5 small goddess paintings, and wanted to share with you all a little behind the process of making them.

First a little background:
Friday (June 16th) is the opening for the Goddess show at Gargoyles Statuary in Seattle. I think it may be the 4th year I've participated in this show, and this one's a little extra special as I'll also be doing an author talk and signing for my new book, The Witch's Cauldron. However, I'm leaving the very next day for a 6 week long book/workshop/performance tour, so I was concerned about getting art done in time.  I had planned to get one new painting done for it - which I managed to finish last week.  But it's a large and highly detailed painting with a very high price point (if I make it available at all for sale at this time.)

Waste Not, Want Not
I was contemplated how to create a few more pieces at a friendly price-point when I spied the small stack of pine pieces I had cut off a recent batch of panels for shrine prints. Under 5"x8" and lightweight, they were a great size.  Even though I was going to be at an event all weekend, I knew from past experiences that this event tends to have slow periods.  So I painted gesso on 5 pieces, sanded them, then did some color washes on each from the leftover paint sitting in my palette from the big painting I just finished. (It's acrylic, so it would have gone to waste.) 

Once dry, I tucked the panels, a couple bottles of paint, some brushes, and pens - to take with me to the event. 

Calling All Goddesses
The next step was figuring out who to paint.  So I put a call out on my Facebook page, asking folks for suggestions on deities that I haven't painted yet, or haven't done in a long while.  From that list, I wrote down about a dozen of the suggestions that stood out for me.  I did some light research on the backgrounds of the goddesses and historical art made for them. 

Once I was situated in my booth, I pulled out the panels.  Because I had done random color washes on them before I left, each one had a different "mood" to it.  I looked at the list, and the panel in my hand, and one name jumped off: Anahita.  And so she was the first painting, emerging out of a wash of deep Prussian blue and navy pen work. 

The next panel I picked up was a mixture of greens and browns, and Pachamama's name leaped off the page.  In the wash, I could see her peeking out at the viewer with a full pregnant body of earth and greens. 

As I was working on that piece, a third panel nudged its way out - the wash looking like a powerful swirl of deep waters.  Yemaya leaped off the list and on to the panel. 

Two panels left.  A warm purple/earthy panel was chosen by Pele. I started work on her before I had to finish for the day - 3.5 paintings is pretty good for one day's work while tending to a booth!

Next Day
In the morning, I finished up Pele, adding a little bronze paint into her skin, and trails of flowers.  I thought 4 was good enough - in fact, I would have been happy with finishing 3.  But then the 5th panel fell to the floor from where it was sitting under the table.  Well, I still had a few hours....

The panel was mainly a light blue wash and didn't speak yet to any of the names on the list, but I still had purples, yellows, and rust left over from Pele. So I did another layer of color washes.  Suddenly, Ereshkigal leaped off the list - I could see her body in a lamia-esque form swirling out of the colors.  

So in the end, I got 5 of these little paintings done, and made contact with 5 very different deities from all over the world. 





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b2ap3_thumbnail_april04cover.jpgNot long ago I had the whole-body urge to locate an artist whose profile I'd read years ago in a magazine that's regional to Asheville and Western North Carolina — WNC Woman. The magazine, founded by Julie Parker, had featured my Honoring Your Belly article in its first issue. It's been a strong force for women's writing, art and entrepreneurship ever since.

But I no longer remembered the woman's name. I did remember that Julie had described her as painting from her hara — the Japanese word for both belly and the source energy concentrated within the body's center.

Searching on [wncwoman + hara], I found Julie's interview with Joyce Metayer. The April 2004 profile begins:

Joyce Metayer stands in front of and facing her work, feet planted firmly and powerfully on the earth, hands on her hara, as she explains how she births her work — how her inner vision emerges into three dimensions. Literally three dimensions, for these pieces are intricately-constructed canvases of mind-boggling complexity. She explains how she projects her sketch for a piece onto the wall to determine its appropriate size, then moves forward and back until the size is just so — until she literally feels it in her hara. This visceral connection to her work is so strong it seems almost visible ... a cord from womb to work, as it were. 

I surprised Joyce with a phone call and had the pleasure of speaking with her. Our conversation included this exchange:

LS: How did you develop this process?

JM: I didn't. It found me.

LS: How do the images arrive? How do they enter your awareness?

JM: I see the image as a holograph, a shape in three dimensions. Then the color plan comes to me as a bodily sensation.

With Joyce's permission, here are three images of her work. For titles and larger versions of these images, plus additional images and more information on each piece, click here.

b2ap3_thumbnail_astrolabe.jpg

a1sx2_Thumbnail1_tttttttriple.jpg

 b2ap3_thumbnail_smallerbirthoftheblues.jpg

 

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