27 February 2009

A Tibetan Buddhist and her Border Collie.

Leon Mott has come back for more. This time it's for a gift for his mother on her 60th birthday. I'm honored. The only information he gave me was that she loves her Border Collie and that she is a Tibetan Buddhist. He wanted me to run with that. I instantly thought that this was an awesome request, and a challenging one.
I spent a lot of time reading cliff notes versions of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and looking at pictures of Border Collies, which I guess are great herding dogs. My original idea was to have a Border Collie herding animals into nothingness to illustrate the transitory nature of the physical world. I began painting this on my tiny wood and quickly realized that this was not going to be effective in small scale. I needed something different. I emailed Leon and asked if his mom liked Tibetan art. He said "yes" and mentioned "thangkas", which is a type of Himalayan Buddhist iconography. I had never heard of them before, but after seeing a few images I was taken. I thought I could maybe borrow something here with the style. The symbolism was so dense in these paintings that I knew I had better keep my fingers away from it unless I really wanted to study (which I still may well do).
I was very unhappy with my initial painting so, even though I was nearly finished, I gessoed over it and started new. This is the first time I've done that in this project. I turned the block vertical and began again, this time using a flattened perspective and bright colors. I outlined almost every object in the painting and stole landscape elements from the thangka paintings. (Funny enough, I often use a flattened perspectives and dark outlines in my own work but with a Byzantine reference. It's strange I didn't jump on this first). I avoided using images of the Buddha or a Bodhisattva because I don't know what I'm doing with the religious part. I'm not Buddhist. It didn't seem sincere to me.
I'm not expecting anyone to look at this painting and think it was stolen from a Himalayan monastery, but I think some of the aesthetic is there.

Part of my reason for doing this project is to open myself up to working in ways that I wouldn't normally work and to expand the bag of ju-jus that I pull from. I don't want to get constipated. This painting was a great experience.
Thank You.

No comments: