I love Maundy Thursday, the washing of the feet, the adoration and entombment of the Eucharist-the Slavic church I used to attend had the most incredible 19th c. “hill” crafted of spit, glue and devotion. The all night vigil that follows is always deeply moving to me.
I had intended to participate this year after nearly a 25 year absence . After all there is this new welcoming pope and I had found this adorable church very close to our house ( Cathedral Chapel of Saint Vibiana).
But then I began to paint and it went well, so I stayed put, feeling this was my place.
I hope He understands.
This is the progress thus far on Descent from the Cross II, acrylic on canvas,started this week.
Wishing all a moment of peace and reflection on this Good Friday.
Given that it is Holy Week and Good Friday is fast approaching, I have been at work on a Deposition of Christ. My friend and fellow LA artist J have been in a bit of a duel, each tackling this well known subject. I’m eager to see what he comes up with, this is my offering, a watercolor on paper,clicking upon the image enlarges it for detailed viewing.
Descent from the Cross, I
watercolor on paper
11 by 14 “
My intention was to capture the unimaginable grief of those who had born witness. J and I had stumbled upon an early Renaissance gold-ground image in which the attending angels were painted black. That really stuck with me, how unimaginable the loss, that even angels who have seen it all could not control their grief.
I started another Descent yesterday morning, this is the scribbling in…
I am back in class ( English Comp 1-c) and as usual overwhelmed, hence my cobwebbed studio.
If I do not post before, Happy Passover and/or Joyous Easter!
In my work I turn repeatedly to issues of mortality, sacrifice, redemption and self knowledge (gnosis).
It probably isn’t much of a surprise that Good Friday is my favorite day of the Church calendar ; I have strayed (or She has) from the traditions of my youth, but the Passion reading never fails to move me deeply. My belief in a god, or not, is wavering but the narrative of this day, of this man during his final hours has influenced my work profoundly. Whether he was divine or not, an issue that caused great discord between the Church Fathers and the “heretical ” gnostics is of little concern to me. In fact, appealing to my humanist inclinations, it is the mortal man, willingly offering up such a terrible gift that astounds me. I have countless images of the Ecce Homo, the Crucifixion, the Deposition, religious postcards, 19th c. chromolithographs, icons, statuary, every museum visit I head straight to the medieval wing, I never tire of the depictions of this suffering wretch. My heart bleeds for him each time ,the pathos so intense. His mother, she too breaks my heart, to have such a selfless ally is incomprehensible . These archetypes will continue to fuel my work, as they are now befriended by their “pagan” siblings, the Maize God most notably.
The following is just a sampling of my online “scrapbook” devoted to Christ and the BVM.
the Black Christ above is from our trip to Mexico City @ the Cathedral
Apparently I am not the only on to see the eroticism in the crucifixion; sadly I do not know whose work this is. I stumbled upon it unidentified-any info very welcome.
Every day is Good Friday in my studio, aside from the numerous depictions mentioned above, my studio is dominated by a large oil on tin painting depicting Christ accepting the Cross (one of the stations, I cannot remember which one). I purchased this back east, in snooty and very protestant Bucks County. When I spotted it in a dusty barn owned by a particularly arrogant designer/antiques peddler I asked after it. He laughed in my face, such an absurd request , who would want such a monstrosity. With withering condescension he offered it to me for five bucks. My heart was racing with joy-to hell with his arrogance, this was a treasure!
It has been with me for over 25 years , I love it more every day. I rely upon it for facial expressions, painting technique, coloring, companionship during adversity, it has in so many ways been a mentor.
As I mentioned before I am taking a course in printmaking, so far we have focused on etching and its various methods.
It is as many can imagine, very exciting, frustrating and humbling.
But I am thrilled to be gaining this knowledge. The following image is my first complete print, which consists of three distinct processes: hardline etching, soft ground texture and aqua/mezzotint.
Predictably I have chosen my beloved Quetzalcoatl sowing his seed (naughty innuendo intentional) .
First off, please understand I am still trying to master the most basictechniques; my stylus slips all over the zinc plate, my hand is unsteady and insecure, this clumsiness is apparent .
But at this stage I really am trying to merely understand the process and the opportunities afforded by this new medium.
The first stage of this print is hardline etching, pretty basic ; you press your stylus into a plate prepared with a base coat of hard asphaltum. Warm the wax on a giant hotplate, you roll it out, cool it and presto, a lovely surface to doodle upon.
Unfortunately i have yet to master line control on this slippery surface.
Patience and practice… first stage follows:
The second plate, adds texture and mood (or so I am told), frankly it is my least favorite stage.
I prefer creating texture by hand.
In this assignment I was instructed to press textured material into the plate which had been prepared with a softer ground of asphaltum than we had used for the hardline step.
I chose, given the print’s very small size, wisps of broken cheesecloth and snippets of an ungodly 70’s textured wallpaper.
The third plate, which was to be our last, was aquatint, a variation on mezzotint (made famous by Goya).
This was the most challenging step, values are determined by timed soaks in an acid bath.
Having first fashioned (a time consuming) value chart , I had a sense of how to achieve the values I sought; or so I thought.
Unfortunately my timing was off, I hadn’t created any blacks; a problem in that I wanted them, and more importantly the assignment demanded them.
Back to the acid bath, blocking out the areas I wished to keep with a material called Stop Out ; then with careful timing, seeking to attain my goal of a richer black foreground.
I achieved what I sought, I would make changes if I could have better predicted the outcome, but I am pleased that I am beginning to better understand the complexities and opportunities of etching.
My appreciation for my own collection of 18th and 19th century engravings and etchings has soared beyond mere aesthetic appreciation; what was accomplished by these past masters is technically astounding.
A technique I was eager to play with was drypoint.
I have a few drypoint prints in my collection, I love the evocative smudgy quality of the images. Rembrandt of course made the technique famous, but others have mastered it as well.
It turns out (thus far) to be my favorite technique.
It also proves to be the most challenging, this little (3 by 4 inches)Ecce Homo is my first incredibly naive attempt.
It is a brutally ugly image, I’m frankly embarrassed by it; but Clive has encouraged me to revel in the process.
So here is what reveling in the process looks like.
God save me.
Tomorrow we start a new process, soft ground etching. It is a process my insructor believes offers artists the freedom drawing affords. In anticipation I have put together this finished drawing of Cain. I understand the final image will not retain the precision, but I like to work out all details BEFORE facing an acid bath. I will post the result and perhaps some of the process when I am finished.