I just finished up (for now anyway) a watercolor painting called Primavera.
watercolor on paper
18 by 29 inches
Once again I draw upon the Popol Vuh and the sacrifice-redemption theme. The eternal fascination with the Life and Death cycle never seems to relent; the understanding that through death there is life. I am currently reading Zimmer’s collection of Indian “myths” ( offense term for a faith with current practitioners). But the Hindu grasp of this most elemental truth fascinates and brings a degree of comfort to what can be a deeply discomforting exploration. This painting tries to address some of this. Through the sacrifice of the Maize God, Humankind is born-man made of maize. I wanted to convey the visceral quality of this act, the maize shaft bursting through the actual flesh of our mother earth. Of course this is a very personal imagining with miscellaneous cultural references thrown in as I saw fit. But with Good Friday approaching it felt timely; the resurrected world is colored in Easter egg pastels. the underworld is rich and ripe with verdant greens and blood crimsons.
The Hero Twins below ground.
One element I enjoyed introducing into the composition was the very feline looking dog. My recently deceased (actually I put him down) daschund Buddy keeps appearing in my dreams. His appearance causes me much conflict. We, I decided to put him down the day before we move back to Los Angeles. This decision has tormented me, for although he was 19 and his health was quickly, seemingly overnight, failing, I still wonder if I put him down for my own convenience. He might very well have lived a bit more, I don’t know. He obviously haunts me but in the spirit of this painting he always appears in my dreamscape, first as deeply broken as the following photo indicates; but as the dream progresses he is fresh, new and reborn, happy and bouncy and beautiful.
I try to take that as a good omen.
All that rambling aside, dogs were believed to be guides in the Maya understanding of Xibalba, the underworld. The little fellow I painted was inspired not by my sleek Buddy but by a chubby ceramic “neighbor” from Colima at LACMA.
Dog Wearing Human Face Mask
Burnished red and orange slip
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
He is a delightful fellow, as was Buddy.
That is it for now, I’m working on a few other paintings, seems to be the season for watercolors right now at least until my new easel arrives which will be strong enough to hold a hefty canvas. I will close with a photo of Buddy, be well Buddy.
4 thoughts on “Primavera”
I didn’t know about Buddy–I’m so sorry for your loss of him. This entry has moved me very deeply. I love the coming together of your dreams of him, the ceramic dog with the human mask, the Mayan dog-guides of the underworld, and this graceful–and muscular–painting of rebirth. This partnering of memories, images, & beings (you, Buddy, the gods) makes the best kind of sense to me, and I think Buddy has stayed with you as a guide through the underworld of making meaning (as I believe that’s what the underworld is after all–the place where meaning gets made). Beautiful & strong & heartfelt work.
That is incredibly beautiful, your concept of the underworld , the making of meaning. I’m guessing that is why most advanced cultures develop an underworld.
Much love right back at you my dear friend,
What an extraordinary painting, I’m blown away, it ‘s complex, ambitious but you’ve nailed it! Unmistaken yours in it’s awesomeness Leonard
Awesomeness is a fine compliment , thank you Phil!