Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Thunder Woman & Great Jay

Thunder Woman has appeared many times now, but Great Jay is new. I think he's showed up at the urging of the scrub jays who keep me as their pet.

I first painted him talking to Snow Kachina, which I'll post when winter returns. Here he & Thunder Woman seem to be reaching some kind of agreement while the swans head north for spring. About halfway into painting this image, I got upset with it. I hated it. Just too tame! I ached for something wilder & messier.

So I took out a bigger piece of paper & painted a closer view, bending spatial reality & flinging paint about. Aaaaaah. Much better.

Then I was able to go back to the first image & very happily complete it.

I'm fascinated by people's reactions to the two paintings.  Some people really like the first image & others love the second. Their reasons revealing aspects of the paintings I didn't see consciously--and themselves! 

Both paintings are on display at Sebastopol Gallery until June 12.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bats As Ecosystem Messengers

Today a man visiting Sebastopol Gallery admired this watercolor painting of Changing Woman & the Blue Bats. He'd been looking intently at the seven mushroom watercolors I have displayed here, noting that his son is a mushroom enthusiast who also quotes Paul Stamets.

When he moved his attention from mushrooms to bats, I remarked that as an ecology nut, I often celebrate the essential beings that people tend to forget.

Bats may not be as essential to the health of all life as mushrooms, but they're high on the list of neighbors who benefit the rest of us. I'm always delighted when I see one, & wish I could see hundreds, as I walk along the Laguna de Santa Rosa in the evening light. The irony of losing bats (& swallows!) in the process of chemical "mosquito control" coils anger & sadness in my belly.

In this painting, Changing Woman sits on a rock that divides a river curing away into the distance. Two blue bats approach: are they bringing a message from the dark beyond?

I certainly believe that the presence, abundance or absence of bats is a good indicator of the health of an ecosystem, especially any habitat with a significant water feature.

Bats are also associated with the death & rebirth needed for shamanic consciousness. We may need to die to many "needs," to be reborn to generous love, willing to share "resources" with other species. You could imagine bats as ecosystem messengers, intimate with the consciousness we need to comprehend & value the complexity of life around us.

Guided by their echolocation, we may sound out in the darkness the path to what really sustains us, & how to sustain it in return.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bird Women in Watercolor & Archaeomythology

Last night I had the great pleasure of attending a talk by Joan Marler, "The Body of Woman As Sacred Metaphor."

Joan is the founder of the Institute for Archaeomythology, and was the special guest of the Sonoma County Pagan Network.

Her talk was a delicious feast of images & information about goddess statues, mainly from about 37,000 BCE to 3000 BCE, from central Turkey to southeastern Europe.

She described voluptuous female imagery invoking & expressing the source of animal & plant abundance & domestication. Her account was simply the most satisfying version of this rich history I've encountered. I awoke this morning with a new sense of moving within a continuous, unbroken, ancient flow.

Two smaller themes were particularly poignant for me: statues of women & children with bird heads, & owl statues & vessels. These so vividly convey how communion between human & bird was once taken for granted, I feel affirmed in the communion I experience with birds today.

With excitement, I recognize the animal spirits I paint as legitimate actors in the long, ongoing drama of human life playing in company with all sorts of fellow beings. I savor in a new way the work of creating these images.

This one is Bird Grandmother in the Redwood Grove, which flew out of me after a visit to Armstrong Woods. She is a watercolor, about 11" square. After Joan's talk, I feel how she expresses the happiness of being briefly among great beings who endure thousands of years. She is a messenger of our joy among trees.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Changing Woman & the Buffalo Ghost

Changing Woman & the Buffalo Ghost, watercolor, 9 x 10.5", was the second image in the Blue Coyote series, painted in July, 2008.

Last year I watched Dances with Wolves for the first time since 1991. I had thought the buffalo hunt was filmed with a few buffalo, with special effects to make them seem like a huge herd. From the dvd, I learned they filmed that sequence on a ranch with a real herd of 3000 buffalo.

3000 buffalo. I wept.

Not a lot compared to the millions that once swept across the plains, but a miraculous multitude compared to "now the buffalo are gone."

The buffalo are not gone, nor are the buffalo secure in healthy numbers. There are still a lot of ghosts to answer to.