Inspiration from a Dream

The evening before last I had a dream in which a painting I had made features prominently . It was an image of an abstracted female nude with child, painted in gorgeous muddy mushroomy,mossy colors with hints of warm terra cotta and dull ochres. In the dream it was quite a hit. The next morning , with the memory fresh, I was determined to put it onto canvas . The following image is the result . I worked feverishly on it , utilizing unfamiliar acrylics. The muted pallete was lost in translation – I will try again in oil now that my fear of losing the image has passed.

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 Dark Madonna
acrylic on canvas
16 by 20 inches

Until next time, take care,
LG

Last Day of Semester…Plus a Sale!

IMG_3904Today was the last day of the semester, last day at the printmaking studio until Autumn.  Bittersweet as I will be better able to focus on painting, but saddened that the immediate thrill of fresh ink on virgin paper will need to be postponed  until next semester. Painting, particularly in oil has many joys, but not immediacy, oil requires patience.  Relief printing seems so direct, so immediate, I love that quality.  

In all this was a great semester, some noisome mockingbirds disrupted class with there incessant chatter, but Jim our instructor guided the class with a firm hand.  I was pretty prolific, 11 prints in all, some in multiple editions with different color ways.  Some were complete duds, but a few I actually like, particularly as I stood back and ACTUALLY looked at them during the critique.  

Sometimes the forest  really is just too thick to make out the trees.

Jim had many encouraging  words for which I am grateful, he is a discerning man, his praise is not given lightly.

 To top off the day I sold Strange Fruit, a two color relief print that I had submitted in the student show.  Very delighted by that.  The young woman who purchased the print really “got” the print, particularly concerning aesthetic sensibilities; again, I’m  very appreciative of that fact.

So today was a good day, will get back to painting soon but right now just savoring having finished  a semester in such fine condition.

The following is the ‘sold’ print, image from the purchaser’s Facebook page.

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Thank you Natalie!

Until next time, take care, LG

In Nomine Patris: Reclaiming the Old Gods

This triptych is part of my ongoing exploration of the clash between two  cultures, that of the Mesoamerican indigenous people and the conquering Spaniard Roman Catholics.  Time and again I am struck by the similarities between the two seemingly incompatible peoples. Their religious traditions revolving around sin, the fall of Man, redemption through blood sacrifice and resurrection bringing forth new life.

I wanted to explore these similarities, and differences through archetypal devices namely triptych construction, ecclesiastic, architectonic form, prayer cards and votive candles.  Working with traditions brought to (forced upon) native cultures I wanted to examine the notion of the old gods claiming the forms for themselves.  As if the priests of Tenochtitlan had not been slaughtered by the Spaniards but had in fact survived and adapted  Western  cultural norms for their own use. The following print In Nomine Patris might have been such a result of that cultural synthesis.

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On  the left,  one of the Hero Twins, Hunahpu; on the right his brother Xbalanque;  in the center their father, the sacrificed Maize God, Hun Hunahpu.

Through his sacrifice, his redemption by the Hero Twins and his resurrection, maize is brought to Man.

 In Nomine Patris

18 by 27 inches

relief print on paper

My printmaking class is winding down, I’ve made a  drawerful of plates, many prints; even a few I  like.   I had hoped to close the semester with a more elaborate version of this triptych. Ultimately this print will be colored using the pochoir technique and enhanced by applied additions. But for now, as the semester ends, it will be chastely  black and white. 

Th following print, The Gates of Xibalba can stand on its own, but it is also designed to interact with the triptych as actual sacristy gates.

IMG_3878The Gates of Xibalba

relief print on paper

According to tradition the lords of the Underworld are devious, randy and stupid; I tried to capture that spirit.

The following is an artist’s proof of the assemblage of the triptych and the gates. I will need to figure logistics, shall it be flat, shall it be cut out like a toy theatre, it should certainly be colored. All must wait until I have access to a press next semester.

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The alignment of the sacristy doors to the sacrificed  Maize God was serendipitous; or the plan of the old gods.

In addition to the triptych I planned prayer cards, familiar to Roman Catholics world wide. My first is of the Maize God, Hun Hunahpu, sadly I misspelled his tongue-twisting name. As he is the god of maize, life and fecundity, once again an erect ear of corn seemed naughtily appropriate.

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Blesses Hun Hunuhpu (sic)

relief print on paper

Going from prayer card to votive candle seemed a natural evolution. Here in southern California votive candles emblazoned with Roman Catholic saints are ubiquitous , found not only in bodegas but in mainstream grocery stores, even Target. I thought it was time for the Maize God to have his  own moment to shine. More gods/goddesses to come.

IMG_3889I haven’t much business sense but I imagine this would sell.

Speaking of which I sold (fingers crossed)my first piece of work, a print, since “retiring”  from decorative painting.  I would still make work whether it sold or not, but having a buyer is confirmation indeed, I’m pleased and grateful.

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The votive candle in place amidst his Catholic friends.

With that good news I close, take care and be well,

LG

From Today’s Notebook: the Pilgrim and the Owl

I have a dear friend, more sister than friend, her name is Rosa.

Rosa is on a journey, dare I say,  of  enlightenment . She would never say such a thing, she is far too modest, but it is a fact I am witness to.  Rosa who is an Episcopalian priest,  lives in our old Fort Lauderdale neighborhood with her husband Sherod, also a priest, our priest. I miss them terribly, if anyone  can help me have faith in man and god it is this duo.  I see far too little of them and their daughter Maria but I do keep abreast of Rosa through her musings on her blog, Cenizas, Estelas y Senderes: Ashes,Trails and the Wake We Leave Behind.

Recently Rosa wrote about her rather frequent encounter with owls, most likely a saw-whet owl, her post entitled I Don’t Believe in Angels, describes the  seemingly chance appearances of these nocturnal sentinels just when she needs them most.  Rosa is an avid walker, for health both physical and spiritual.

 Rosa describes that when the weight of life seems most impossible this little bugger shows up, she doesn’t believe in angels but what the hell is this?  She describes meeting what she believes-wants to believe- is the same wise little fellow.  I found this detail inspirational, as well as her description of owls as being  something she is “…so grateful for, the beautiful presence of these creatures who are as mystery-filled as the darkness we meet it.”

There is a painting in this.

The following is an idea I  have for just such a painting. 

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watercolor sketch for The Pilgrim

I’ve taken liberties with the pilgrim, initially I was going to fashion the figure after Rosa, but I happen to be reading an incredible book by Tom Sparbauer The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon. It is a wonderful tale of a young berdache youth , his treks profane and sacred. One of his encounters is with a shaman named Owlfeather. The exchange between the two characters resonated with me, reminding me instantly of my friend and her own pilgrimage. I hope Rosa doesn’t mind being fashioned after a rather randy, bisexual, heavy drinkin’, “star dust” smoking , cussing berdache boy- but knowing my friend I am pretty certain she would be delighted. I did give the fellow a Rose.

I’ve played around with the characters quite a bit, the pilgrim below is from an early quick sketch.

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I’m going to start this painting soon after class, which ends next week. I have St.Anthony almost completed, having another in the wings, so to speak makes me happy.

I’m going to end with this adorable image of a northern Saw-whet, they were always a delight to encounter, happy Rosa has such fine company on her evening romps. To follow Rosa on her journey her blog Cenizas, Estelas y Senderes is on my blog roll. 

Until next time,

take care,

LG

Northern_saw-whet_owl

Evolution of an Eruption (& two randy blue fauns)

IMG_3873 Eruption

2013

relief print on paper with pochoir color addition

One of my goals in printmaking has been to create companions to my paintings, I have tried this before and it was an unfortunate failure. My brushwork didn’t seem to translate to relief prints; intaglio might be a better technique for this purpose.

But this semester I am focusing upon relief printing.  A current obsession happens to be  two fauns from a nearly completed painting The Temptation of St. Anthony in the Desert. The fauns play a supporting role but they charm me for personal reasons, I can certainly relate to the older faun, confused but still obviously vital, he just needs a bit of guidance.

I was determined to translate these two fauns into a relief print, but the process has been complicated. I first tried conventional black ink, handsome enough but did not capture the tension I was after.

IMG_3869 Eruption

 artist’s proof, relief print

My instructor suggested what he calls a rainbow roll- a two/three color roll of ink. I was not at all happy with this, might very well have to do with my aversion of rainbow rolls in general.  Too Haight Ashbury in my snotty opinion.

IMG_3852 Eruption

artist’s proof, “rainbow roll” relief print

I was after spots of color, that attracted the eye to the characters and to the situation. I did not want a hand colored, water color feeling; I wanted opaque blocks of color.  Clive Hicks-Jenkins suggested the stenciling method pochoir.  Initially I hesitated, I explained to Clive how orthodox my instructor can be, stenciling would not suffice.

Clive assured me that pochoir was an established and well respected practice some of the  most revered artist have used the technique to great effect.  Risking my instructors disapproval I gave it a shot.

I am very happy I did, thank you Clive!

As I was working with two colors, I made two stencils, first orangish-yellow, applying opaque acrylic paint rather lavishly. I  like how I was able to manipulate the colors, something that isn’t very easy to do with a roller.  Not a “pure’ printmaking technique, but ultimately visually satisfying.

IMG_3870I tackled the second color with a second stencil cut from conventional stencil paper. I t handles so nicely and reminded me of my decorative painting days.  One never knows how old tricks can be applied in a new fashion.

IMG_3872The final step was to apply a black print over the treated paper; using a carefully aligned template made the process a breeze.

I am happy to say my instructor was delighted, he noted registration  had gone awry- something I sincerely enjoy in this print- but otherwise he was quite pleased. He can take comfort in the fact that our  class “Bible”, Fritz Eichenberg’s monumental The Art of the Print, Masterpieces, History, Techniques (Abrams), seems to fully embrace the technique, echoing Clive’s endorsement. So I now have another technique  quasi mastered, aside from multiple color blocks ( and the odious technique of reduction relief).

Happy Clive spoke up. The final print though visibly its own statement is indeed in dialogue with its source, the randy little blue fauns from my St. Anthony.

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 detail of blue fauns, The Temptation of St.Anthony in the Desert,unfinished

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Semester ends soon and I will at last be able to return to painting. but for now I have several unfinished printing projects which seem promising.  I will post my progress in class as I finish up the projects.

Until that time, take care and much gratitude to Clive, our modern master,

LG

Ray Harryhausen, an undeniable influence

This morning I was sadly made aware of Ray Harryhausen’s death by Clive Hicks-Jenkin’s marvelous tribute to the great artist. Later over breakfast I read the details in this morning’s New York Times. A great man has died but his work will continue to inspire.

hary hausen and medusa:clash of the titans copyRay Harryhausen

b. June 29th 1920

d. May 7th 2013

Requiescat in Pace

It is blatantly obvious that Harryhausen has been a tremendous  personal influence ; a boyhood crush on his Jason and the Argonauts (1963) introduced me to a world previously unexplored.  Edith Hamilton with all of her literary skill was unable to tickle this little boy with sheer visual delight the way Harryhausen did. I was a snotty child and I distinctly remember chastising the film for its inaccuracies; it was not in accordance to Bullfinchian orthodoxy. Yet I sat entranced, I suppose it was the loincloths.

His work continues to influence me, so much so that the wonderful portrait of Harryhausen with his gorgeous Medusa was found in my resource file for the making of my  painting Andromedus.

img_3261Andromedus

2010

oil on canvas

30 by 40 inches

His greatest influence upon my work was his  keen sense of unworldliness that I so admire; recognizable  in time and place yet clearly rooted in the terrain of dreams. I try to capture that otherness and now with his passing I am more determined than ever to explore it. My work , like Harryhausen’s has a  certain “cheesiness”, I’m not unaware of that.  My avoidance of banal realism has in part  been due to a lack of interest  (and skill level) in examining the everyday.  Harryhausen’s delight in the mythical, the wondrous, encouraged me to continue on the  fanciful, Symbolist path.  

In closing the NYT obituary, Harryhausen was quoted  :

“If you make things too real, sometimes you bring it down to the mundane.”

Harryhausen avoided the mundane and left behind a glorious legacy, I thank him for that.

Until next time, take care,

LG