Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Crow Paintings: Series Three...

I started these paintings back in April while we were in the middle of the move. I worked on them in different batches. Each series contained thirteen paintings except for this one, which had six. I had plans to finish these much earlier, but life got in the way and we've been busily working away. I finished these on a recent trip to Asheville where I had a little bit of creative time with the family and Candie Cooper. We hung out for the weekend and went to the gem shows and had a really great time. So much so that we're planning to do a retreat together next year.

I originally created these crow paintings as sort of a fundraiser to help recoup the costs associated with the shop move. You'd be surprised how quickly your budget can get out of control. (Or maybe not depending on if you have experience with these sort of things.) We are still paying things off and doing what we can as time and money allows it. We recently installed built-in shelving and added bookshelves and card racks. Up next is a new sign. We bought the brackets for them already, which had to be specially made. It's basically two metal poles with mounts on them, but since it is for a retail small business, the price tag was quadruple what I thought something like that would cost. A friend said that it's kind of like a wedding cake. Cake itself isn't really all that expensive, but the moment you say it's for a wedding, the price goes up. Apparently the same thing goes for metal poles.

A lot of people asked about the different symbolisms behind the paintings. Of course, being the cryptic person that I am, I said that they had to live with them and let the paintings reveal their secrets on their own. But it's more complicated than that. When I work, I'm very much like a magpie. I collect bits of poems, snatches of images, interesting textures, and things that excite my curiosity and I grind them up and let them percolate in my subconscious. Everything sort of stews there and ferments and grows and changes. In my dreams, these ideas sort of manifest and sometimes they come out fully formed and sometimes they're gentle hints that have to be realized as they're being worked on.

You'll see repeating motifs like crowns and adornment. There are keys and hearts and bits of flora. Certain color combinations emerge on a regular basis and of course there's this twilight quality, where the sun has set, but it's not quite dark and the stars start to reveal themselves. I try to capture the undulating movement of nebulas and spiraling galaxies. This manifests itself in the dot patterning. There are so many different cultures and styles that implement this technique, but I am most moved by Aboriginal artwork where there is this almost obsessive dedication to repeating patterns and mark-making.

The crows themselves are messengers. They get a bad rap sometimes. There are those that believe that they are omens of death or bad luck, but I don't agree with that. It's like the old saying goes... don't shoot the messenger. Crows and ravens and other corvids, depending on the culture, have a wide and varied folklore. Some people believe that they are symbols of magic and mystery. I've found that they are extremely intelligent creatures and can recognize different people and use tools and can even be gift-givers. I love stories about people who befriend them and how the birds bring them presents to show their affection and gratitude.

To make the paintings, I start out by creating layers of paint and salt on heavy watercolor paper. Once everything is dry, I sand down the surface and remove all the crunchies. It creates a really neat patterning. To that, I add more layers of acrylic paintings, iridescent pigments, and metallic paints. And when they're done, I seal them. Each painting measures 5"X5" and is signed and dated by me.

All of them have found homes and are flying out all across the country to find their forever perches.

I've always loved crows and ravens, and actually collect a lot of artwork featuring them, but it seems like they've been appearing more for me this year. While I had intended to move on to something different after these were done, I don't know. I still have more ideas and I'm not tired of them yet. So who knows. I might paint more. I might not.