Here we are, at the end.
The end of the exploration of Tom Hiron's wild god and all the poking and prodding and demanding it has made of us - a gut-check and a reminder to nurture our passions. Oh and Oh.
There is something deeply satisfying about creating a body of work in response to a poem. Beginning last summer with Nudge - Shove with Sylvia Plath's poetry and artist Helaine Abramson, the unfurling of a thread between the words, the thoughts, the emotions and the arts became a lure, a whisper, a nudge. (Helaine and I will travel this path again, we think! But view last summer's exploration here.)
Wandering with Hiron's wild god in the paint pushed me places I've not been, and also renewed passions I had let wither a bit. Not dissimilar to the wanders my husband and I take in the wilds, where the ways are difficult but the payoff is placing your feet (and eyes and ears and skin and heart) places where you've not imagined before. Oh again.
The full poem and the paintings it inspired are gathered for viewing here. A solo exhibit, of sorts. My cheeks are wet with tears, my mouth aches from laughter and shouting. A minotaur sits in the paint.
About the art: beginning with a gesso'd linen canvas, "drawing" the figures on in a toned neutral oil paint thinned with Liquin. Wiping away the paint to create the highlights - removing details with a battery-powered eraser tool. This creates texture and grit where the paint has been absorbed into the linen and removed on the high points. Adding in darks and color. Deciding the man needs hair and a beard like seaweed, as the story reveals itself and the characters tell me what they want to be. Resisting the urge to perfect and correct. Allowing the paint to direct and murmur. Wishing I could be hugged by a minotaur.
We're so near the end of Hiron's poem. Are you listening to the snakes in your arms yet? Hiron's wild god wants us to inhabit our passions - to nurture and protect our unfettered creativity. The words are visceral and rightly so. It resonates deep within my bones.
Just one more piece to this poem, which has kept me company in the studio for a couple of months now. It has prodded, poked, stabbed and shoved. I will miss its daily prickliness. And yet, I am now holding a knife, a bottle and a handful of black fur. A beast emerges in the paint.
About the art: beginning with an inspiration image the A.I. bot and I collaborated on (the beast in the background of the imaged called me deeply), I toned a smooth cradled panel with a neutral glow. Slowly working outward from the center and creating texture within the wet paint using paper towels, chopsticks, small rubber wedges and the wrong (right!) ends of paintbrushes. Allowing the "frame" portions to remain rather sketchy, keeping the focus on the (now nodding) wild god.
Here I am still. Communing with this poem and the wild god at my door, in my studio, in the paint. And this bit of the poem - oh and oh. Why did you leave me to die? asks the wild god. And how often have I left my inspiration, passion, interests and sparkle to die while I was busy surviving? For much of my life, I fear. But, I didn't know how.
How do we feed what makes us thrive when we are busy trying to survive? How do we exist in the world of should and musts and responsibility and busyness and yet nourish, protect, inspire, infuse, inhabit the wild god of our passions and explorations? It is, by far, the thing I most hear from other artists and creatives - how do we live in the world and yet create?
I know how I have learned to do it. And how I am still learning to say yes and yes and YES, HALLELUJAH when the wild god knocks at the door (and yes even when the muse is not present - show up and often things happen) But what I'd love to know is how do YOU inhabit your passions, dear reader? Perhaps your secret techniques will be just the whisper another creative needs in this very moment.
Both Wonder Mike and Lilly think this is an important question - and will reward one lucky commenter with a piece of original art! Yep, it's time for the MARCH READER GIVEAWAY (not giving away a reader, nope nope! Giving away a bit of original art!! Leave a comment below to be entered.
About the art: beginning with an inspiration image generated by the A.I. bot responding to written prompts. Note the bot decided the woman did not need an arm!!! I used a grid on this one to keep myself from veering too far from the composition. After toning the Arches oil paper with oil paint and liquin (several days to dry), then a grid and sketch with colored pencil. Working from the inside out, applying layers and glazing the requisite 80 million times. I pulled the man forward in my rendition, deciding the interaction between these two characters needed a spotlight. And that she needed an arm. :)
About the art: this piece, a full sheet of Arches oil paper, was a dance in itself. Wanting to capture the essence of the inspiration image, but lighten the ominousness of it a bit, I began with a background of layered oil paints thinned with liquin and applied with a rubber wedge and paper towel. A light sketch in colored pencil and then working methodically right to let (I am largely a southpaw, so trying to keep my arm from dragging through the paint) and from top to bottom. Using negative space to define the figures. Building layers with brushes and wedges, then drawing back into the paint with a bit of paint thinner on a brush to create the delicious runny "swirlyness" that the bot does so well.
You might notice the bot does not do hands well - take a look at the inspiration image. It's good to know artificial intelligence has creative limits. :)
March finds me still in thrall with the wild god.
Hiron's poem nudges and prods, demands and whispers, pushes and dares. Let the wild god not find us, dear reader, wondering how we got so old and where our passion went. Instead, let us listen to the foxes and otters and snakes and live on the edge of our eyeballs whenever we can. And so, in witnessing what is emerging in the paint while the wild god prods, I both exult and weep at once.
About the art: beginning with an inspiration image provided by the A.I. bot, who seems to very much like ballet (oh yes, even monsters, villains, goats, rabbits and demons might be wearing tutus when you ask the bot for things), I set out to create a deeply colored piece with an air of thoughtful wistfulness and contemplation. Beginning with a light sketch in color pencil, laying down thin washes of oil paint with rubber wedge, brush and paper towel. Allowing the paint to do things on its own, resisting the urge to perfect, overly clarify or define. This one is on Arches oil paper, which remains my new favorite.