23 April 2010
This was a very special painting for me to make. I love the subject matter. It was also a very tricky painting to make because it's all about capturing someone else's experience. (Not to mention it has six animals in it that I have never painted before). Fortunately, I feel Orin and I have a similar attitude and approach toward life and this dream really resonated with me. I let his dream absorb into the pores of my skin and run around in the marrow of my bones for a while. This wasn't hard but when it came to making the painting I had to shake my hands really hard to force it out of my fingers. ...and I'm happy with the result.
The flat gold background here was Beth's idea. It was a last minute thing. I used a gold block printing ink that was left over a project years ago. (And it smelled toxic!) The painting was almost complete when I added this. I rolled it out with a brayer on the wood to make it completely flat and then wiped off with a wet rag the areas that had the animals and repainted the edges. I think this flat gold makes the painting. It acknowledges the spiritual. Like the gold leaf in Byzantine work. (With the Lion, it seems kind of Ethiopian).
Anyway, I'm copying the description of Orin's dream here in case you missed it in the earlier post:
I dreamed I was out in the middle of an open prairie (not like MN prairie but more like Africa…maybe the word would be Savanna.)
Standing in a circle around me were large animals…twice as big as life. In front of me on my right was a Lion, standing next to the lion was a rhinoceros with a white horn, next in the circle was a large bird (ostrich family…Emu?)… on my left next to the Lion was a brown bear, next in the circle a gorilla, next in the circle some kind of baboon like animal. I was surrounded by a complete circle of other animals but I can’t visually recall each of them right now.
In front of me behind the Lion was a beautiful bronze colored sunset arching across the horizon. The sun was not visible. It had already set. The animals were high-lighted and shadowed in browns and bronzes against the rays shining over the horizon.
Standing in the midst of this circle I felt about two feet tall.
Then, the Lion stepped forward and bowed his head. I reached out and touched his head. I will never forget the feeling of that moment. Then the Lion stepped back into the circle, turned around, and walked slowly off into the sunset. Next the rhinoceros stepped forward and bowed his head. I touched him. He stepped back into the circle, turned around and walked off into the sunset. This took place with each animal around the circle ending with the huge brown bear.
When they all had left, I spoke: “Wow all of God’s creatures care for me and are here to help me.” Then, a warm wonderful feeling flowed from my head down to my feet.
Thank you for this experience, Orin. ... and Happy 80th Birthday!!! I wouldn't be surprised if you lived for 80 more.
I recommend reading Orin's book Lost Souls and Mad Saints about his years working people with severe mental illnesses and reconciling that with spirituality. It's an intense read. Available here:
Lost Souls and Mad Saints