Onward in the Underworld

Today I was trying to ready some images of my maquettes for Clive Hicks-Jenkins. The making of the maquettes is great fun but I feel a certain hesitancy in posting the compositions, fearing they might  not be just right.As we all know a composition is meant to be fussed with and developed. The compositions I submitted will most likely look very different when paint goes to canvas.

This is true with the painting I am working on now, the progression from maquettes, to sketches, to proposal rendering has seen my figures twist and turn until I feel relatively satisfied. I have a bit of work to do still but I am closer to vague concept I had in my head.

But for now, for tonight, I will just show unfinished snippets.

Princess Xquic encountering the slain Hun Hunahpu

As I said, still working out details but closer to what I had imagined. The following is of the sacrificed Maize God. I’ve been enjoying painting the wild clouds of Xibalba, my years of decorative mural painting comes in handy at times.

Slain Maize God, Hun Hunahpu

As I mentioned I sent some images to Clive, one of the maquette compositions might  soon be realized as a painting. It is an idea I have been toying with and sketching out for some time. It is the Resurrection of the Maize God, his sons the Hero Twins having redeemed his honor, the Maize God like a vibrant shoot of corn erupts forth with vitality ( and a certain degree of virility). With this grand gesture, Man has a chance to survive. 

Resurrection of Hun Hunahpu

As can be seen it it a simple trinity composition, the Hero Twin Hunahpu to the left, his brother Xbalanque to the right, their father Hun Hunahpu front and center, savior like. The composition is loosely based upon a Late Classic Mayan bowl, the image is unfortunate, but one can get the idea.

Scene from the interior of a Late Classic Maya bowl.

Well that is it for now,  a wonderful day, happy to have painted and composed my little cast of maquettes.

Tomorrow, back to painting.

Take care.

Author: babylonbaroque

I am a painter and printmaker working towards creating a body of work that reflects my own developing aesthetic. New work ,first link. The second link is an on-line portfolio.

7 thoughts on “Onward in the Underworld”

    1. You are kind my friend. I have been working on this painting ( going well but slowly) and a watercolor, same theme. I’m really just trying to find my voice, accept that voice for its assets and limitations. It isn’t always easy, late at night, in the studio, I often despair.
      God, that sounds operatic…

      1. Stop despairing. Despair comes from measuring yourself against other things, both the work of admired artists and whatever picture you have in your head of what you’re trying to achieve. With your knowledge of art history and the work of many who have gone before, your head must be buzzing with aspirations, and it’s little wonder that sometimes you give yourself over to despair. Anyone would. But you simply have to start accepting your work for what it is, stemming from your own unique sensibilities.

        It’s interesting that you have been so juiced up and excited about the maquettes. They have POURED out of you, because you were completely drawn in by the process and your creativity was unleashed. Now you’re at the easel and painting, you talk of despair, falling back into that trench that I’ve noticed before catches you out.

        Hard to tell at this distance, but I suspect that you suffer a bit from something that was once my own enemy, namely the impossible expectation balanced on whatever image I was trying to conjure at that particular time. This is how it went: expectation, industry, excitement, elation, dawning disappointment, struggle, despair! You are not the only one my friend, but it is time to recognise what’s happening and to invent strategies to circumnavigate the problem.

        You’re on the right track working on more than one image at a time of whatever subject you’re pursuing. From Picasso I learned that a single idea can spawn a thousand works. Not all of them will be works of genius, but the sheer profligacy of Picasso’s notebooks showed the way forward for me, because they were such fruitful blossomings of whatever preoccupied him at the time. The sketchbooks were laboratories where he played, and the play led him in unexpected directions he was unafraid to pursue. I suspect when you step up to the easel you do so with all your eggs, so to speak, in one basket. Instead, try this. Think of any one painting as part of a creative outpouring on your chosen theme. Try different things. Don’t allow habit and expectation to shove you down one route. Try various techniques: drawing, collage, mono-printing, relief printing, gouache, crayon, pen and ink, mixed media. Try the Picasso trick of filling a notebook with improvisations on a theme. (This should be easy as you already have a fantastic cast of maquettes as a starting point.) Allow yourself complete spontaneity, almost a pictorial version of automatic writing. Don’t make corrections to drawings, worrying over them and fretting. Take what’s best and do another, and another, and another. I buy cheap packs of office paper and the drawings fly out of me, and it’s the freedom of those drawings that lead the way to the paintings. When I notice that the maquettes are not serving to free me up, I throw them on the floor, mixing them up and looking for serendipitous couplings and shapes. Sometimes I’m working from the backs of them, because that was the way they fell when I threw them down. I use process of work to free me, and it’s the constant challenges thrown up by these processes… the reinventions and unlikely notions… that lead my work in directions allowing me to throw off the despair that I too once felt, and that I recognise in you.

        Process is EVERYTHING Leonard. More important than the times you stand at the easel trying to pull off the finished work. Try not to think of any painting as being something finished. Trick yourself into believing it’s just another bit of the process, and there’s another better painting that’s going to come out of it later. Never allow yourself to become stuck on one painting, and then despair when it doesn’t do what you’d hoped. Think to yourself… ‘Oh I’m going to do this again using just three colours’, or ‘I’m going to try this as a rough collage made of plain coloured papers like Matisse’, or ‘I’m going to try all this with just silhouettes, to see what I can learn.’

        Your were pleased with your maquettes, partially because they subverted your usual expectation of what might be achieved. This is why they’re so damned good. Not like what anybody else does. Not what you’d quite expected, but you didn’t care because they were just paper dolls. And that, my friend, is why they’re so good. Because you allowed them to be.

    1. I sense you are a devoted mythologist, as am I. This is stuff of great myth, on par with Prometheus, Wotan and Adam, just wonderful. Happy you enjoy it as much as I do!
      I have subscribed to your blog, I have a lot of back reading to do, but will do so bit by bit. rich material; your latest maquette, the hooved woman is beautiful and disturbing.
      Will read about your intentions later in the day.
      LG

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