When I last posted on this painting, link HERE I received many warm responses for which I am grateful. Last evening I finished the painting and I can now, at last look at it clearly.
Gnosis…and the Old Gods Were Pleased
oil on canvas
48 by 24 inches
When I last posted my progress the painting was about 70 percent complete, I’ve since made a few changes.
Most of the changes have been made to the female character, who is not Eve ; she is in fact Zoe, daughter of Sophia, bearer of light and wisdom (Gnosis), as Adam lacked the spiritual spark (the source of information and inspiration for this painting was a BBC podcast In Our Time, the topic of discussion being the Gnostics , link HERE ).
I’m happy were her now, my inspiration was in many respects the Grey Eyed Athena and I captured what I wanted…pretty much.
Another, initial inspiration was the sculpture of “Eve in Temptation” by my favorite Giselbertus (1150); I strayed a bit but I know the spark.
My impetus to finish this painting was entry in a juried show at a local museum-an artist alliance exhibition. The following paintings have also been entered:
Resurrection of the Father
oil on canvas
50 by 40 inches
Temptation of St.Anthony of the Desert
oil on canvas
48 by 36 inches.
Wish me luck! I will post the results, good or bad news,
I am about to send out my niece’s holiday package, obviously it will be ridiculously late, a pattern she better accustom herself to.
As my last post made clear I am trying to refrain from purchasing many gifts. In addition to the previously mentioned hand-puppets I have been busy making book-plates. Clive was the inspiration , I wonder if he was aware of my cursing as I hand pressed each and every damned bookplate. I ought to have Popeye’s arms when I am finished.
A sampling of the bookplates so far:
Grace is stuck with a theme this holiday, the theme being the grey eyed Athena, her bookplate is an illustration of the divine one. My intention wasn’t for such a severe plate, my initial drawing was slightly softer, but the cutting went where it went. Personally I like the plate, not sure what my disney- princess- loving niece will think. She will have to grow into it.
Grace will also receive my athena print, I’ve posted this before but not in its shiny pink frame. I know Grace will like the frame at least.
The back of the print has a prayer to the grey eyed one. The printmaking technique is rainbow roll, something I do not particularly care for but it might please my dazzle-eyed niece.
I did purchase a few books for Grace, I was particularly happy with the book on Athena I found at the wonderful Getty villa in Malibu. I’m hoping I can successfully convert the girl to classicism ; the Getty would be the perfect place (in the States anyway) to introduce her to the wonders of Greece and Rome.
I stumbled upon some blank puzzles, which are a lot of fun to paint. I picked a goat as it seemed suitably Greco-Roman, plus they are terribly cute.
Into the package I have thrown in a little something for my sister and my brother-in-law. Gregory is a pious man, so I thought my recent relief print of St. Benedict of Palermo might be suitable. I hope so.
Putting this package together, I realized I have not actually seen or held my niece since 2008. My sister Kat and Grace flew out for our wedding and we were able to see what a delightful child she was. She has certainly grown and I have missed many chances to see her develop. I’m hoping this package can be a way of fostering an intimacy from such a great distance as it is difficult for a great many reasons for me to fly out and see her personally.
I am now eager to get back to painting, I have a few more bookplates to make. One for my niece-to- be Lulu, her mother went into labor this morning! Such excitement . Plus one plate for dear friends, but after that I need paint under my nails.
In the final weeks of my printmaking class we have been focusing on relief printing, so far using sheets of linoleum. Of all of the techniques this is the one I have most taken to. I have just finished working on a plate of St. Benedict of Palermo (the Moor); I am eager to run a test print.
Relief printing, contrary to my expectations is well suited to the way I doodle, not the way I draw or paint, but doodling.
I have countless class notebooks filled with my doodling marginalia, I have admired the spontaneity but when I have tried to translate the doodle into another medium the results have been disappointing. The spontainity had been lost and the result was too ironic, too self aware, verging on cartoonish, not at all my intention or desire.
But I have found that when I translate my doodling onto the linoleum block the loose line is retained. The quirkiness is an asset.
The following image of the Grey Eyed goddess was first a loose doodle from my mythology class. I created her as a prayer card for our recent election day, carving the image quickly before class with very little alteration to the original 30 second doodle. There are flaws but I like her. She has an archaic quality that I do not usually explore. She is reminiscent (at least to me) of an early political poster from the first democracy; at least that was my intention.
I’m heading to the frame shop to have two prints prepared as gifts for my two nieces, Grace Sophia and the still to be born Lulu.
Lulu is expected to burst onto the scene December 15th , she is eagerly awaited ; having Athena in her nursery seems a good omen.
When I landed in San Diego I quite literally closed the final page of Homer’s Odyssey ( Robert Fitzgerald edition); unlike our hero Odysseus I did not return to libertine suitors or “a wife dishonored” but rather my own dull life.
What I was left with was many vivid images.
Homer directs a set with meticulous detail, he minutely describes the marble halls of kings, golden vessels pouring forth liquid hospitality, horrifying monsters ready to pounce upon the weakness of man, fetching virgins willing to do the same and the gallantry and failures of man himself.
Once such Everyman was Amphínomos, son of Nísos Aretíadês, comely , “gently bred” (340) and of all the ruffians wooing fair Penélopê he pleased her “…for he meant no ill.” (302-303). I was drawn to this character for in the telling of this tale Homer points out the excesses of the suitors, the bold heroics of Odysseus and his son Telémakhos, the cunning of Kirke and the mad predictions of Cassandra; all characters extraordinary in their way.
Amphínomos isn’t particularly heroic he merely seems to possess basic deceny, a desire to try his hand at the hot widow Penélopê and indulge in the overflowing sweet wine and unending platters of roast meats served by boys with “…pretty faces” and “…pomade ever on their sleek heads…” (278). Can’t really blame the fellow.
In fact his only real act of heroics lies in his aversion to regicide, when the unruly mob of suitors plot to eliminate the young Telémakhos only Amphínomos objects, being unwilling to kill a “…prince of royal blood…” (303). Again and again it is just garden variety decency that makes Amphínomos so endearing, even to our lofty hero, Odysseus. Disguised as a beggar at his own court, Odysseus is greeted with cruelty by the band of loutish suitors; Amphínomos offers bread and cordiality to the unfortunate wretch. Odysseus repays this kindness with words of advice “Get outta Dodge”. He warns the young man that the king will indeed return and all are doomed for there will be “…no way out, unless by blood.” (341).
Something deep within the young knows this to be correct, he witnesses the debauchery around him and knows what the beggars says to be true. As he turns to leave he is frozen for “…his heart foreknew the wrath to come, but he could not take flight, being by Athena bound there. Death would have him broken by a spear thrown by Telémakhos. So he sat down there where he has sat before.” (340-341).
This is my interpretation of the doomed Amphínomos, the grey-eyed Athena and Unrelenting Death.
Well that is all it for now,after facing a fearsome goddess and Death himself, I must walk my dogs.
I had hoped to discuss my thoughts as to why this example of Greek fatalism contrasted so sharply with the Good News of another figure to come. A theology where redemption was indeed possible; where a fellow like Amphínomos inclined to change could have done just that. How in the Classical world god and man were bound by Fate ; the hapless must returned to the chair “…where he had sat before” and silently accept what must be. How a new theology could have understandably appealed to an ancient world weary of the irrational tyranny of fickle gods and brutal destiny.
But thankfully I haven’t time to discuss such matters, I have rambunctious pups to attend to.