JOURNAL 2016

ALCHEMY INITIATIVE

Exhibition Piece: August 28, 2016

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I am encouraged with what has been happening as I work more on the composition of this artwork. This is a preliminary figure study and below is my first try at putting things together for this full figure composition. Although I am somewhat happy with the pose – I now think the model’s right hand should be in front of the figure resting on her belly.

Currently I’m thinking that there will be plant life throughout the entire composition – we will see how that turns out. The circles and lines that appear in red are from a medieval diagram of the proportions of the male figure. I plan to adjust that to align with the model’s figure proportion when I have her completely drawn out. For now I’m calling this composition “In The Garden”.

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654f4f7667547fe0a4f0bfa2e0488e31I will be leaving for Ireland on Thursday, September 8th. While I’m in Ireland I will be doing more drawings of plant life for this composition. The portion of the plant life drawings I have already finished are from photos I took in a hazel forest when I was in Ireland before.

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JOURNAL 2016

Alchemy Initiative

Exhibition Piece

The Alchemy Exhibition will take place in the Netzorg & Kerr Gallery, Richmond Center for Visual Arts at Western Michigan University during the months of  February through May 2017. The specifications of the artwork is that it must somehow relate to the Alchemy Initiative and not exceed 24″ in width. A loose description of the Alchemy Initiative appears immediately below – it is taken from the project’s blog.

ALCHEMY is about process. As writers and artists, we trust that through process we will be lead to the gold, the transformations that take us to new understandings of ourselves as makers. The initial ALCHEMY involves workshops and demonstrations by Kalamazoo community members as we fortify our grasp of the chemical, psychological, and practical aspects of this complex theme. From these investigations we will generate works, then invite our audience to step into the creations we have imagined in the gallery, on the page, and in public presentations. A good collaboration takes chemistry, our initiative strives for more: we want alchemy.

The Alchemy participants are encourage to do research, attend the initiative’s sponsored workshops, participate in discussions and demonstrations and explore the many varied possibilities that may relate to the topic of Alchemy.

The workshops started in January of 2016 during the winter and early spring months were held during the evenings. Because of my nightly teaching schedule I was not able to participate in the workshops until the semester ended in early May. I am finding that the workshops and discussions that I have been able to attend have been successful in inspiring me.

My academic research has consisted of the exploration of what Joseph Campbell had to say about alchemy in his book, Pathways To Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation, New World Library, Novato, CA 2004.

Now, the alchemists always had the feeling that they were helping nature to bring forth gold from the gross metal, but what they were really interested in was not so much raw gold as the GOLD OF THE SPIRIT.

This caught my interest so I decided to read more of what Campbell had to say and found more interesting concepts that refers to artists and poets. (The Power Of Myth, Anchor Books, New York, NY, 1988) . . .

Bill Moyers asks, “Who interprets the divinity inherent in nature for us today? Who are our shamans? Who interprets unseen things for us?” Camplbell answers, “It is the function of the artist (poets) to do this. The artist is the one who communicates myth for today. But he has to be an artist who understands mythology and humanity and isn’t simply a sociologist with a program for you.”

This discussion of the “divinity of nature” is something that related so well with what I strive to communicate in my artwork I started taking notes and read more.

Alchemy Notes

Moyers, “Scientists are beginning to talk quite openly about the GAIA principle.” Campbell, “There you are, the whole planet as an organism.” Moyer, “Mother Earth. Will new myths come from this image?” Campbell, “Well, something might. You can’t predict what a myth is going to be any more than you can predict what you’re going to dream tonight. Myths and dreams come from the same place. They come from realizations of some kind that have then to find expression in symbolic form. And the only myth that is going to be worth thinking about in the immediate future is one that is talking about the planet, not the city, not these people, but the planet, and everybody on it.”

The discussion went on . . .

Moyers, “So you suggest that from the begins the new myth of our time?” Campbell, “Yes, this is the ground of what the myth is to be. It’s already here: the eye of reason, not of my nationality; the eye of reason, not my religious community; the eye of reason, not my linguistic community. Do you see? And this would be the philosophy for the planet, not for this group, that group, or the other group.”

For reasons for which I am not totally sure –  this was enough to inspire me to start doing some exploration. I’m seeing GAIA in this – I am beginning to intermingle plant forms and in this exploration may add other things.

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This has led me to decide to work on a series of foliage drawings to incorporate into this concept (see below). Also, I am thinking of giving the drawing of the woman more information – complete her face, hair and figure (and perhaps include a child). The drawings in the piece above are all graphite on paper. They were scanned and layered together digitally. The color was added digitally.

Below is the progress of a one of several foliage drawings.

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