Monday, December 23, 2013

Unlocking Grace

So... I'm delighted to have many folks asking about the story behind this painting. I will start off by explaining the technique, and then getting into what it's about.

The technique is something I've been studying since college (2005) that was used throughout many centuries by the Flemish Dutch, some notables such as Rembrandt, Van Eyck, Reubens, and my favorite Gerard Dou of the 17th century. Through history the technique has been considered "divine" in the sense that artists used to live their spiritual life parallel with their art life, research shows they were even as dedicated to the numbers proclaiming that "7" layers was sacred, and so on. I personally have explored every technique I could possibly find, in search of unveiling the divine... something transcendent. For many reasons this flemish dutch technique seems to breathe, showcasing atmosphere while sharpening details and lighting up your highlights. In a nutshell the idea is to use many translucent layers for natural light to travel through and bounce off the bottom white of the board and back to your eye... this creates an unsurpassed illusion of hyper reality, also your light areas taking advantage of the white of the board, natural light shines through and appears to make light areas glow. It's a technique that can't nearly be appreciated on the internet as much as in person... as the internet flattens the true beauty of the layers. It gets incredibly technical with grisaille layers, polishing between layers, certain alchemy that uses lead based mediums, complementary colors for your underpainting structure to create harmonies for later colors etc. It's a technique artists have obsessed on and evolved through centuries. I plan on directing my focus on it for many series to come, we'll see where it goes.

... The painting, specifically, is about finding grace within yourself. I was tempted to write the latin phrase "inter spem et metum" in there somewhere, which reads "between hope and fear"... through my studies and experience, hope and fear are both ways of the ego, it takes a very still mind to understand that one... however, any strong identification with anything, even emotions, will keep you from knowing your "true" identity, where grace is found. I imagined the key as God, always within reach, always a matter of will... to unlock the center of what turns all our inner workings into a divine harmony of grace. I heard a quote from George Lucas that has really stuck with me... something along the lines of, "if every religion was sitting around a single elephant describing what they saw, they'd all explain something differently based on the angle they were sitting."... I thought of this when creating the inner circle of gears, you will notice different symbols, especially ones that have been an influence on my own journey (zen buddhism, hinduism, taoism etc.) They are represented there as gears around the heart (shaped as a triangle representing the trinity, or illuminati) the center of stillness in which the key can unlock to get the gears moving, working together, and the human body in harmony. Her face is fierce with passion, but relaxed with a touch of care and sympathy... empathizing through her hand's emotion atop a character that is strengthening the idea of conviction, hope, faith... suffering in her desire for something more than what is present. A character lurks in the shadows of the human's neck, clutching her and giving her sweet whispers of the ego, manipulating her of gratification and physical desires... caressing her away from the truth, attempting to pull her into it's own cold mechanical shadows.

In the background of the painting you'll see a brick wall, looking closer you'll notice monks... I wanted this to signify that meditation and surrender breaks down dark veiling walls, opening up serenity and freedom. You'll also notice the ladybugs... these were included as I came across a saying that they signify that "God is near"... they are a symbol of love, they also add a splash of color and life in what is a cold worn mechanical world that's awaiting to be unlocked by the divine, and fresh air of grace.

... The development of this painting ran parallel to my own life story. It was deeply personal... I struggled with it, I celebrated with it... I lost 12 pounds from stress and dedication to it. For me, I'm seeing my paintings becoming harmonious with my spiritual journey... it's a transcendental trip I can't quite explain, other than when I look "in" to these paintings I don't very much feel like I am the creator, just fortunate enough to illuminate a message, kind of like a lighthouse. I mostly care about unveiling something within your own journey... even for a blip of a moment, a "what was that" enigma within. Something to spark an awakening process... but most folks will only see what they're ready for.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Reaching towards the Sun

It seems some artists don't think about a story or saying anything, or especially anything profound (subjective I know) but in other words... they are content with the aesthetics. All art provokes some kind of response however... and considering that, wouldn't it be advantageous to provoke the strongest response... emotionally, mentally, visually...? I think about all aspects of a painting, how to evolve. Some might follow a Yoda like pattern: "there is no try, just do"... Some might be scientific with their process of coloration, geometry, composition, etc. Anyhow... we live in a fast paced society that appealing to the masses requires a quick read and easy accessibility within what you're expressing... couple with the fact we are energy contained beings of ego, mind, spirit... all unique universes with infinite complexities makes a white canvas a pretty daunting area for an artist with something to say. My goal so far has been paintings with many layers... gripping and easy on the surface, spiraling down the rabbit hole...

I've seen a broad audience from folks that search for the depths... interspersed with some that just seem to like the colors. All are welcome and equally as appreciated. However, it reminds me of something Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull said in an interview, he mentioned that Aqualung is a favorite album of his, granted, but it's all the masses wanted from him... and as a singer/songwriter that evolves and wants to explore his own depths, becoming more sophisticated is one of the hardest processes, because he felt that you leave so much of your audience behind. Steven Spielberg also comes to mind... who said in an interview that he's always tried to do 1 film for him, for every 1 film he does for the masses. Some visual artists come to mind... for instance, H.R. Giger... clearly painted for himself, stories that reflect his own psychosis... is he one of the lucky ones that was able to paint for himself and later exploded into mass appeal? Rather than the opposite process that seems to be the general way of this contemporary society for an artist. Is that the ultimate journey?... Does it require selling your soul a little in this society to build an audience to view what you're really about later on? Or should you say "f" it and enjoy being broke creating brilliance alone and cold... to become appreciated after you die. How does one define "purpose"... how does survival balance with "purpose"... what are you going to "say" to make everything you believe in shine bright and change the world... or are you content "being in the moment" within your happy place on the mountain top...?

... Even a tree has to grow through the elements to get closer to the Sun... rooted in the ground, graceful in their acceptance... I would still bet, some effort is required.