Behind the Art…
~ on Dreams and Nature ~
“Myth must be kept alive. The people who can keep it alive are the artists of one kind or another. The function of the artist is the mythologization of the environment and the world.” Joseph Campbell
“Green Lady” preliminary sketch
The biggest inspiration on which I draw is Nature, and by this I mean the natural world both around us and within us.
What the essence of my work is striving to express is this connection between humans and these two realms: the flow between our inner selves and that of the timeless, archetypal world which will always exists without.
Since a child, I have been moved by the rich world of folklore and mythology in which all cultures relay the human condition in symbolic, story-telling form.
I explored this interest further with a psychology degree, and found that Jungian Archetypes and his work on the collective unconsciousness resonated strongly with me and my affinity with folk tales.
I began to see my art not only as a personal expression but that of the great memory of all people, a visual rendering of what moves us in our daily experiences of relationships to each other and our environment.
Most of what I paint is derived from my imagination drawn from this well of the collective memory, in the natural world. I am very connected to my femininity, and see the feminine in Nature as a strong element for supporting current environmental issues in a symbolic way.
Being a woman has a profound effect on what I create, and I try to express this power and beauty within the images that come to me.
The Creative Process
The following pictures offer some insight into the process of my creativity – the first is a preliminary, raw sketch for the Limited Edition “Time”.
The idea came from an exhibition I was to be involved in called the “Secret Life of Women”, and in thinking of this title I began to personify the concept of Time as a feminine spirit (a recurring theme in my art is portraying such elements in terms of feminine aspects)
I thought about how within all of us is the timelessness of generation upon generation of lives, so that we are in essence the flow of Time itself – in our genes and beautifully meandering family trees.
After I knew what the painting was about and the composition was a vague awareness within me, I sketched it onto watercolour paper in a loose design. I paint with mostly watercolour, but enjoy using any medium that captures the essence of the work I have in mind.
Here, I used pencil outlines with gouache, watercolour washes and oil pastel, and even some blood (which was a medium once used by the earliest artists on cave walls). I worked on this painting over a period of 3 months, on and off. Sometimes a painting can come out within a few hours, or days – often I just relish the process and use this creativity as a form of meditation. The most important thing to me is to really enjoy what I am making and to put as much energy and soul into it – and, hopefully, it shows!!
The next picture is what the Butterfly Necklace design initially looked like while I was working on it- It has been a real learning curve to translate my 2 dimensional artistic skills into a 3-dimensional format such as wax sculpting.
In order to create the master copy from which the pewter castings are then made, I had to sculpt the butterfly from a hard wax, melting and carving away until I was happy with the result.
The master then required some touching up before being sent off to be centrifugally cast into what is now the end product. (kind of – I still have to do all the polishing and assembly of the different components!)
There have always been sources of inspiration and enlightenment to me as an emerging artist, and I thought I would share them here.
Music has been one of the greatest. Kate Bush always seems to epitomise the feminine spirit in her work, and her music is both provocative and truly original. Nick Cave is another amazing and talented poet and musician – I love the violent and anarchic realms that he explores – often a counterweight to beauty and hope, but just as passionate…
The poetry of W.B. Yeats has been a wonderful source of visual imagery and symbolism, embracing an Irish tradition which I am strongly drawn to. Music, poetry and Nature….what more does one need? (….A glass of good red wine…..)
According to the Oxford Dictionary, symbolist art seeks special symbols to express the essence of things by suggestion.
It engages the viewer by appealing to the heart, personality and unconscious mind, as well as the intellect, leading the viewer’s imagination into the unseen world of thoughts, hopes, and fears. Symbols in art are a catalyst to personal revelation.
“A man is always a teller of tales, he lives surrounded by his stories and the stories of others, he sees everything that happens to him through them, and he tries to live his own life as if he were telling a story.” Jean-Paul Sartre
“Imagination is more important than knowledge”