27 March 2009

An Irish Dancer.

This is part two of the Myerly Family request: Irish Dance. This one is for Sophia Myerly who is very much loves traditional Irish dance and studies at the Rince Na Chroi school in St. Paul, MN.
Unfortunately, don't know much about anything Irish. However, years ago, I used to frequent Kieren's Irish Pub where I would often order chips with curry and a Guinness after getting off work (which sounds delicious right now). Sometimes I would stay late with friends and listen to the Irish bands that played there. I also saw a great number of Celtic knot work tattoos in the early nineties and have always liked the Pogues, but somehow I feel these things don't give me a true understanding of Ireland.
She sent me a link to the Rince Na Chroi website and I checked out several galleries of photos of dance performances. I was immediately impressed with how amazing every one's hair is. (Then I got suspicious and googled "Irish Dance Wigs". That explained it.) The effects of hair bouncing up and haloing the head is quite stunning. It made for an interesting visual image. Because of the nature of Irish dance, in photographs, the performers appear to be standing still, levitating while their hair is going crazy. I consulted some You Tube videos to understand exactly what was going on in those pictures. It looks like magic.
I made this painting as a composite of several dancers. After trying more elaborate backgrounds, I decided to go simple and abstract. There is a tiny hair of mine stuck in the lumpy white of the background that I left. It was hard to get out and not very noticeable. So, if I ever get lost and someone needs a DNA sample of me to reunite me with my people...

As a side note, I've recently become aware that the subject matter of the paintings here seem to be changing. This is the third painting in a row with a human figure. Where have all the animals gone? I'm not sure if it is the requests or how I'm relating to them.

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20 March 2009

Prayers Rise As Incense.

Last January, I went to liturgy on the morning of my Name Day, January 7, for St. John the Forerunner, as I try to do every year. Afterwards, when I was about to leave, I was rounded up by some people I had never met to get coffee and koulourakia in the Fireside room. I had no where to go, so, I joined them. Usually, I'm pretty quiet about what I do and prefer to hear other people's stories but the day before I had just made the first post for this blog. And it was my special day. I was so excited, I couldn't stop blathering about myself and the blog. Luckily, they were interested (Or humored me).
This painting is for the Myerly Family,,who I am pleased to have met that day. They are members of St. Mary's Greek Orthodox Church in Minneapolis, as am I, and are kind and observant Eastern Orthodox Christians who travel a very long way to go to church. God bless them.
They gave me a couple of requests last week and this is the first. Though on this one, I deviated some from their request.
Their request was one simple word, Eucharist. (or, rather, a complex word). No elaboration. I didn't really know what to do with it. I took it and meditated on it hoping I would be handed the beautiful gift of an idea. It didn't happen. I realized God was going to make me work for it, as always. Free will is problematic.
I went literal. I started this painting as a scene of an Orthodox Priest serving communion, but it wasn't working. Too static and the subject matter seemed so intimate. I felt wrong portraying this in a tiny format.
Half way through I changed it. Here, the Priest is censing the church, blessing the icons and the people and the church. The abundant incense rises like prayers. I can think of all kinds of ways that this applies to the eucharist, but I'll let leave that to be contemplated by whoever wants to. And maybe the connection isn't there.
I may have been a little off the mark for the subject of this piece, but I think this is a pretty good painting. I don't think this photograph does it justice. Some of the paintings here don't look as good on the blog as in real life. (It's hard to shoot small glossy paintings). However, there have been a couple of exceptions that I think look better as a digital image. When this happens I feel a little like I am cheating. But maybe all of this is in my mind.
It's hard to have a good perspective on what I'm doing; to detach myself from these paintings. Only after a couple of weeks looking back do I have a decent perspective. But not always. Sometimes, when I'm working on a piece and I have the luxury of time, I will hide it from myself for a week or two and try to see it again with new eyes before completing it. I often put paintings in front of a mirror when I'm working. To see the image reversed brings out what is really there as opposed to what my mind has come to believe I'm doing. Or turning them upside down might work.

Anyway, I thank the Myerlys, again. I wish them a beautiful and meaningful Lenten season.
Their second painting involves Irish dance. It will be up soon.

13 March 2009

Shellae Doesn't Remember Her Dreams.

I'm back to the blog after about two weeks of not making an entry. I've spent this time working and reworking some larger paintings for a couple of show possibilities. But, I'm pleased to be back blogging and I feel refreshed with a new perspective on what I'm doing here. I'm getting looser and channelling a weird tiny painting energy.
I've been sitting on this painting request for about two weeks, so I've had time to stew and revise in my brain. It is for my friend and coworker Shellae Mueller. She is very kind and has been spreading word around about this blog (maybe more then I have). She's a blog evangelist. So, I wanted to make her a painting.
Shellae couldn't think of anything for a long time, then finally one day she started talking about dreams and how she doesn't remember them. She is certain that she has them but they are always forgotten by morning. (The only exception is the occasional nightmare that sometimes involves a clown, but I was told, "No Clowns").
So with that, I am left with the project of painting a dreamless sleep. Easy, right?
I didn't want to use black or eerie images. I wanted something light, so, I decided use the wood for what it is and drill holes. It turns out, these are where her dreams are escaping. They lead to ether. Maybe when she gets this painting she will plug them with tiny things to try to stop this. I would suggest wet tissues.
Thank You, Shellae.

I have three more orders lined up and will be painting and posting quickly over the next couple of weeks so keep checking. Really.