Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Transformation Begins

Back in 2007 I completed my first watercolor painting on watercolor canvas, which was entitled Boann: Goddess of the River.

All during work on this piece, I experienced fluctuating emotions, which were sometimes very powerful and often unsettling. I would feel very sad, then very agitated. I didn't attempt to analyzye the emotions, I just figured I needed to feel what I was feeling and I would gain some insight after it was over. Once I had finished the painting, I decided I should do some more research into the goddess Boann. I was surprised to find, what I had thought was a obscure, rather minor goddess was actually quite profound and rather powerful. Since I completed that first painting, I knew I would need to create another painting featuring Boann. I set it aside for a while, working on some other gods, and some commission work. I felt like I needed to allow a little distance between me and "Boann". Then I went to FaerieCon in Philadelphia back in October. I hoped to get some more research about Faeries and the Tuatha Dé Danann for my series as well as meet other artists and talk to them about their work and marketing, etc.

After FaerieCon, I went back home with renewed energy and started working on Boann. I have been working on this painting ever since. I did an initial sketch for a composition that I thought would work, and what I found developing was a fusion of abstract and representational styles. First I drew the waves, which became the twining of river plants, then a swirling black hole, then out of those things came a face and a rocky well. I knew enough of Boann's story that she had opened a forbidden well releasing the waters of wisdom, which chased her across Ireland and eventually swallowed and drowned her.
One day, during sketching, a salmon appeared in the drawing. I thought that was odd, so I decided I needed to learn more about Boann. It seems there is a whole deeper story about what Boann did when she released the waters from the well. Surrounding the well grew nine magical hazel trees, on which grew hazel nuts. These hazel nuts fell into the well and fed a salmon that lived in the well. As the salmon ate the nuts, it became magical as well. When Boann released the waters, she also released the salmon. There are stories about people trying to catch the salmon, so that they would gain wisdom from eating its flesh. There are different stories about who actually caught the salmon. There are also stories that suggest there was more than one salmon. After this event, Boann became, not just a river goddess, but also the goddess of spiritual insight and divine wisdom. She brought mystical knowledge to humanity. Through her curiousity and refusal to accept the restrictive rules of her husband, she allowed humanity to achieve a higher state of awareness. She is, therefore, a powerful deity for poets and spiritual seekers. Knowing this gave me a much deeper understanding about why I connected so strongly to this painting.
The more I worked on it, the more I felt that my art revolved around spiritual exploration and knowledge. I think this has been happening all along, but suddenly, I was consciously aware of this process. Working on this painting has been very challenging. It is emotionally hard at times and often very draining. I believe that I need to cultivate the proper energy physically and spiritually in order to engage fully on the piece. Until then, I can only work a few hours at a time on it, then I need some space from it to recharge. I am working on improving my diet and incorporating yoga back into my life to help with building this energy. During those "resting" times, I work on new sketches and smaller pieces of work. It seems that Boann is part of a trio of goddesses, each belonging to a river in Ireland, all with a very similar story. I am developing work on these other goddesses, as well as some other pieces. I completed a drawing of the Boann painting which is posted above. Drawing the composition first helps me with understanding the values (shades of black, gray and white) that are important. It also gives me the opportunity to play around with the composition itself a little. The painting will look quite different than the drawing. Not just because the painting will be colored, but because the medium (ink and watercolor) evokes an entirely different emotional expression than drawing with pencil does. I will be posting the drawings and smaller pieces as I develop them. The larger final paintings will take some more time.

Fine Art Prints
As I mentioned late last year, I will be doing more work which can later be made into prints. I have already gotten orders for greeting cards from my Four Seasons of Fox paintings. I print and hand assemble the cards myself in my studio. The prints for my larger paintings were another matter. I found some good quality print on demand printers that will post my work on their website. People can go to the website and order prints, mats and frames. One of the artists at FaerieCon said that the quality was quite good. I took several of my paintings to an image specialist, had them scanned and have posted them to the website. You can now begin to order prints of my work at: Fine Art America and find my webpage under DoAn Art.

As a result of my work on the series of paintings based on the Tuatha Dé Danann, I have developed a deeper understanding of the spiritual nature of my work. Working from a spiritual center requires a huge amount of focus and energy, which is often very challenging and exhausting when juggling several other jobs. I have decided that during 2008-2009 I will be devoting a lot of time to attending artists residencies and retreats in order to produce more work without interruption. I believe, in order to grow as an artist, to really develop the work that I believe needs to be created I need a separate environment to work in for a while. I believe my art can actually be a tool in helping people to reconnect to their spiritual nature and to the natural world.
This will be largely possible through the support of my Patrons, and people like you who appreciate my work. I greatly appreciate your help and support--no matter if it is monetary, emotional, or otherwise. Over the next several months I will be downsizing my personal belongings, transferring them into cash for living. Obviously support through purchase of my art, both original and prints, will be helpful. Additionally, you can make donations through Fractured Atlas: DoAn Art. Ask me or check out the Fractured Atlas* site for more details. I am also in the midst of applying to some grants to assist me in funding for supplies and living expenses while I am at the residencies. I will keep you posted on the development of all these things!
As always, thank you so much for your interest and support!


DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of DoAn Art must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Paintings & Greeting Cards

Hello All and Happy New Year!
I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays. I took some time off, stayed in and did a lot of meditating, some yoga, and some inward reflection so that I can start the new year with renewed energy and a stronger focus on my art.

Since I have been focusing a lot of my artwork on using inks. I came up with a small series of paintings utilizing images of foxes on aquaboard and colored inks. The results are what appear to be watercolors on paper, but are much more durable and longer lasting than watercolors or a work on paper would be.

Back when I started working on these pieces, I had been chased with images of foxes. Some in my dreams, others just popping up randomly in books, or tv programs.
I had a fondness for foxes when I was younger, so I thought the fox would be a good subject to explore again.

For my research I examined different kinds of foxes and how they relate to the natural world and in mythology and spiritual lore.

The first painting I did was the Autumn Fox. This is represented by the Red Fox. Autumn in Celtic lore was considered the time when the line between the living world and the otherworld was the thinnest. People were better able to commune with those who had crossed over to the otherworld at this time. The fox because of it's illusive nature, is often associated with magic, and supernatural abilities. It's most active times are during dawn and dusk, the "in-between-times", and therefore, a natural emissary representing the borderlands between this and the otherworld.

The next painting was Winter Fox. This painting is represented by the Arctic Fox, who is the master of camouflage. In the warmer months, the Arctic fox comes in a range of colors from chocolate brown to charcoal black. As winter approaches, it sheds its dark fur for a thick white coat. The fox (no matter which species) is a master of camouflage, being able to vanish, practically right before your eyes. The Arctic fox is the master of invisibility, being able to disappear right into a snow bank.

The third painting I did was of the Spring Fox. I chose the Gray Fox to represent spring. I have always held the Gray Fox to be one of my favorites. It is a very quiet, shy creature. It is the only fox that can climb trees. Here I drew a fox in the branches of a flowering cherry tree. In spiritual lore, the fox is represented by the World card in the tarot deck. The fox represents that the world is growing and shaping itself into new beneficial patterns. Spring is the time of year where the potential for all things begins to manifest. The gray fox standing on a tree branch in spring bloom, seemed like the perfect image to represent that.

Lastly, the Summer Fox. Represented here by the swift fox. It is one of the smaller species of fox. It occupies the drier regions of North America. There is another fox called a kit fox, which some argue might be just a smaller breed of swift fox. They look nearly identical, with some slight variations in ear size and body weight. Summer is a time of heat and activity. The legs of the fox are adapted for running. It requires a great amout of stamina, and fox can trot along for a long time without appearing exhausted. The swift fox, by name, seems to embody this idea of energy very well. Also, the swift and the kit foxes have very large ears. They are designed to help rid the body of excess heat, another adaption to address the hot months of summer. This painting depicts a swift fox, trotting along in a field.

January & February is usually devoted to my meditation stroke paintings. I will be discussing the process and posting new stroke paintings in the next couple entries to keep an eye out for those. In addition to the stroke paintings I will be continuing to develop work on my series From Beyond the Ninth Wave.

It should be an exciting year!

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