Inspired by the song Muhammed, My Friend, from the album Boys For Pele.
As I was drawing, the lyrics "ashre, ashre, ashre ..." and "Moses I know, I know you've seen fire, but you've never seen fire, until you've seen Pele blow!" kept coming into my head. I sang as I worked, and I tried to bring a fiery glow into the drawing, in keeping with Pele's energy.
Yesterday, I bought a block of tinted pastel paper... Canson... beautiful... sumptuous texture... how could I not dive right in?! It's been a long time (omg, years!.. really? yes!) since I worked on tinted paper. It's so different to work lights into darks, rather than the other way around, and it really forces me to approach my drawing from a totally different part of my brain.
Inspired by the song Scarlet's Walk (from the album of the same name).
Yesterday, I was listening to this album and, as always, it was reaching into my heart and stiring things up... the colours of red clay earth always come to mind when I hear it, so I went to them in the studio, and we had a visual conversation.
This drawing helped to remind me everything about why I love chalk pastels.
1st November is the Day of the Dead, and for the occasion, I went to my favourite local cemetery, to visit the west corner, which I had not yet seen. I discovered two beautiful angels, one in bronze, and another in marble. The light was lovely, as the sun began to set, throwing pink and gold light on the black lava stones.
In Ancient Greek mythology, the pomegranate was known as the "fruit of the dead", and believed to have sprung from the blood of Adonis.
The myth of Persephone, the goddess of the underworld, prominently features the pomegranate. Persephone was kidnapped by Hades and taken off to live in the underworld as his wife. It was the rule of the Fates
that anyone who consumed food or drink in the underworld was doomed to
spend eternity there. Persephone had no food, but Hades tricked her into
eating six pomegranate seeds while she was still his prisoner, so she
was condemned to spend six months in the underworld every year.
The palette knife was my weapon of choice for this piece -- slashing and striking at the wet paint and gesso, calling out the inner demons of anger and bargaining, of which even now, there are still a few lingering in the darkest part of the sorrowful pit in my chest.
The first painting in my "Grief" series, which I began, yesterday.
I bottle-in my feelings, and tend to keep my emotional sufferings and traumas to myself. In the past, I was never comfortable with creating artworks as a means to express my most personal and sensitive emotions... it felt too much like letting the world read my diary... but, recently, I've come to terms with my need to make expressive works. The feeling of release which followed this painting spree was, indeed, quite liberating.
This is one of my two favourites from the series, thus far.
The first of the 6 paintings I did yesterday . . .
. . . exploring the my physical and emotional feelings of suffering.
This one, La Douleur, as one might guess, about my back pain.
I have a crooked spine, which has given me chronic and often debilitating pain, for as long as I can remember. As I get older, it gets worse... I've lost 2 inches in my height over the past decade, and there are 2 discs under compression. The upper disc, which is just between my shoulders, behind the solar plexus, sometimes pinches a nerve, which gives me searing and relentless pain that can last for months at a time.
Having been quite crushed under the feeling throughout September; I needed to release some of it through my brushes...
Inspired by the song "Weatherman" from Tori Amos' new album, Unrepentant Geraldines.
(To see the series of "Unrepentant Geraldines" postcard paintings, go here)
"Weatherman" is, without a doubt, my favourite song from the album; it made me weep upon first listen, and it still brings tears to my eyes every time...
The exquisite lyrical poetry and haunting, delicate melody bring my heart to its knees.
The lyrics are inspired by the works and painting philosophy of Cessane, who would see the forms of women while observing nature. The lyrics tell the story of a widower who sees his wife in all of nature, through the seasons.
Know one knows for certain, the name of the woman with absinthe eyes and ruby lips, though some say it's Maria, and others say it's Adeline, but both foes and lovers, far and wide, will testify: she is The Ace of Spades.
They say she flies a shining airship,plated with brass and beetle-green glass, and she never looses in games of chance. Rumor tells that beneath her ruffled skirt she hides a dagger with a silver blade, which she won (or stole) from a smuggler in floating market (or perhaps an airship bar,) but no matter who tells the tale, one knows for certain whatever became of him...
The lady's voice is low and soft, like something creeping in the dark. She enters a room like a peacock, a flash of colour and plumes, and all eyes turn to her in wonder... and wonder they do, who is this lady with hair like midnight, and a smile like a dangerous gift?
If you ask anyone, they'll tell you: "She is The Ace of Spades."
I was recently interviewed by (amazing painter!) Lucy Chen, where we discussed painting, personal inspiration, my love of mythology, creating one's own personal dictionary of symbols, the catharsis and confidence that comes from painting from the "inside-out", and my book Garden of Illumination.
Lucy Chen Fine Art: Painting for an Expressive Living
Last Saturday, on 17 May, I took the train up to Paris to rendez-vous with friends, and then to (hopefully) meet Tori Amos and see the show at Le Grand Rex.
Luckily, there was a meet-&-greet that day (the first in Paris since 2009!) so I had the opportunity to tell her how much I LOVE the new record (Unrepentant Geraldines), as well as get an autograph (to me and my husband, on the song lyrics for Selkie,) and I gave her two gifts: a painting, and a copy of my book....
Another painting in my recent series of local land/cityscapes.
Chateau Rocher is just a ruin now, tucked away in a hidden corner of the Auvergne, looming over a tree crested valley, ever a steadfast sentinel of stone. I was here, a few years ago, would like to go back again ...
This place is so magical; the rocks actually sparkle with natural mica glitter!
water-soluable crayons, watercolour, and graphite on paper
I'm super excited about Tori's new album (Unrepentant Geraldines, which hits the shelves next month!) So, I went a big listening binge, and about an hour into the playlist, I came to Suede (from To Venus and Back), and when it got the line "revving, yes, revving from a central source," it just shouted, "Paint me!" ... so I did.
I wanted to show sexually-charged, fluidic energy...
a flow of motion, like a the feeling of an engine revving up...
a little off-kilter, a little haphazard...
lots of purples and some lagoon blues...
a sort of lucid dream space...
I went digging through some photos and found a few to use as references, put the song on repeat, and then I let this painting exploded out of my brushes!
"... anybody knows, you can conjure anything by the dark of the moon ... "
"La Fée Verte"
(water-soluable crayons, watercolour, graphite, and ink on A4 paper)
Like a lucid dream at twylight, emerging from an absinthe glass,
La Fée Verte awakens from her slumber.
Stemming from the 19th century, La Fée Verte (French, for "The Green Fairy") is a popular euphemism for absinthe.
I'm an infrequent drinker, but absinthe is one of my favourites.
I'm fond of both the flavour and its digestive qualities, and it does, as purported, induce a sort of lucid drunkenness, which makes it an excellent companion to late-night painting and musical swoons.
“Absinthe is the only decent drink that suits an artist."
This painting comes after a long month of rest, reflection, and regeneration.
Lately, my chronic health issues have been an upward battle, and it's not so surprising that I've been feeling depressed and depleated (since my mother's death, in November) so it seems I've had no will to communicate with my painterly muses, or, perhaps, they have been giving me a little time to myself.
Through the month of March, I did a lot of introspection about growth. No doubt, the spring buds and cherry blossoms have had a hand in this... but, growth, rebirth, and reinvention of the self have much been on my mind of late.
‘Spirit!’ the Fairy said, And pointed to the gorgeous dome, ’this is a wondrous sight And mocks all human grandeur; But, were it virtue’s only meed to dwell In a celestial palace, all resigned To pleasurable impulses, immured Within the prison of itself, the will Of changeless Nature would be unfulfilled. Learn to make others happy. Spirit, come! This is thine high reward: -the past shall rise; Thou shalt behold the present; I will teach The secrets of the future. The Fairy and the Spirit Approached the overhanging battlement. Below lay stretched the universe! There, far as the remotest line That bounds imagination’s flight, Countless and unending orbs In mazy motion intermingled, Yet still fulfilled immutably Eternal Nature’s law. Above, below, around, The circling systems formed A wilderness of harmony; Each with undeviating aim, In eloquent silence, through the depths of space Pursued its wondrous way.’ - Percy Bysshe Shelley, excerpt from "Queen Mab"
" Where dips the rocky highland Of Sleuth Wood in the lake, There lies a leafy island Where flapping herons wake The drowsy water rats; There we've hid our faery vats, Full of berries And of reddest stolen cherries. Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild With a faery, hand in hand. For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. "
- William Butler Yeats, excerpt from "The Stolen Child"
" ‘I am the Fairy Mab: to me ‘tis given The wonders of the human world to keep; The secrets of the immeasurable past, In the unfailing consciences of men... "