charcoal drawing, Covid 19, figurative prints and paintings, in the studio, Sacred Feminine, Spiritual in Art
Sometimes you create a piece of art because of the materials you have available to you. This is especially true during the Covid-19 lock down. I had this beautiful large sheet of amate paper, a hand-made paper made in a village near Puebla, Mexico, rolled up in a corner and nearly forgotten. I bought the paper for the size, 45″ x 97″ – finding paper that size isn’t easy – so you grab it when you can. But the sheer beauty of it also attracted me. I bought a couple of sheets from the maker who was traveling through Mazatlan a number of years ago.
In June, I unfurled and tacked the huge paper up on my sheetrock wall in my studio (in San Miguel de Allende) not knowing what I was going to do – without a plan. That’s my normal modus operandi: show up at the page and see what happens. I’d thought I might cut it into 3 pieces after I got started. And since I’ve been working figuratively, I began in the center – sketching in a rough figure with charcoal.
I love working with charcoal, although it is very messy. It’s a very sensual medium, one you have to get your hands into. A push/pull of black and white, adding and subtracting, making marks and erasing. Smearing, rubbing, softening with fingers, rags, and erasures. As the figures took form, the symbols began to emerge from the page as well – the moon, the circle, the bird, wings, the spiral, the ouroboros (snake), and flowers.
I began to see the power in the full size paper – no way was I going to cut it into three pieces! It won’t be easy to frame or exhibit, but art is not practical and we don’t make practical choices in the studio.
As the figures emerged, a story developed and The Sacred Feminine Trilogy came to life. On the left is ‘Strength’ – a young woman turns towards center one hand in a fist, in defiance – “a don’t mess with me stance”. A bird sits on her shoulder, another hovers nearby, possibly her Spirit Guides. In the center is ‘Spirit’ – one hand upturned to receive, the other to give back, a sacred mudra or hand gesture. She stands in front of the Full Moon, a sacred feminine symbol if there ever was one, her wings fully in place – suggesting she is a spiritual entity. The Ouroboros, the snake eating its tail, encircles the moon, an ancient symbol for renewal and the cycle of life. On the right is ‘Abundance’ – the Mother, pregnant and abundant with life. She holds white Cala lilies in front of her stomach – a symbol for fertility – and looks towards ‘Spirit‘ for guidance.
The viewer’s interpretation is as valid as the artist’s. What do you read into the Trilogy? Enjoy!
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