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A Return to Painting & Drawing

Finally, the day has come when I can reveal a brand new figurative painting...

I've been aching to make a return to figures beyond the mixed media collages I've been producing. My inititiation into the art world started years ago, painting and drawing through figure drawing [from life] classes. This is where I draw the core of my passion to produce art. I'll always be a purist in this regard because there is nothing more satisfying then getting down and dirty with the beautiful tangibility of working with buttery paint or dusty charcoal, sitting for hours working out the nuances between light and shadow, the gradation of tonal values that create lines without being literal about it – there is no finer reflection of humanity and nature in this gesture [no pun intended] and no better subject than the human body – the tangible weight and vessel that poetically carries every line of memory and identity through curves, and crevices, revealing unspoken secrets.

Quite a few years back I started a series reconstructing well known myths into more suitable models of modern day heroes. My subjects were women that I knew personally reclaiming power depicted through ancient and archaic mythical icons and allegories such as Eve, Persephone, Ariadne and so on. You can read more about that and have a peek at those pieces HERE

A couple of years ago I started a series based on a similar premise; everyday women I knew were depicted as imaginary constructed mythical queens to squash notions of class and shine a light on 'everyday royalty'. You can view a couple of them HERE. It was pushed to the backburner when Garnet & Ashes was ignited and all my energy went into building it as a business throughout 2014.  

For those of you following Garnet & Ashes on instagram, you've seen some of my time-lapsed videos of current work in progress. I've put together a choppy version [I'm new at this] of this new piece.

Introducing my dear friend, Lynn Hardaker, who in her own right is a brilliant Canadian artist & writer residing in Germany and who is indeed queen of the fireflies. Do yourself a favour and discover her work HERE and HERE.

 The Firefly Queen, 16 x 16, Oil on Cradled Wood. 2015

The Firefly Queen, 16 x 16, Oil on Cradled Wood. 2015

Igniting light on 'The Fire Series'

What is this "Fire Series" business all about, are you a pyromaniac?

No, no. it's merely an intriguing way to depict this alchemical element in a symbolic way which is what Garnet & Ashes is inspired by; processes of transformation and cycles in nature. The idea recognizes and emphasizes the essential importance of experiences and process rather than fixating on a starting point and end point. Juxtaposing vintage photographs honours the past, unifying it with the current moment, and offers a symbolic gateway to new beginnings –  a reminder that we are always in the state of becoming. Pairing photo transfers with paint creates a surreal feel that requests the viewer question varying realities we create by our own personal perceptions. 

But why fire specifically?

The fire in each piece represents "the moment", whether it be the beginning, the in between, or the end. It insists that we pay attention at any given time, that beginnings are not beginnings and ends are not ends, but rather we are over-lapping experiences that lead to new opportunities and adventures. Even when we are on our knees, we are on a path leading us to the next chapter. Perhaps landing on our knees in one moment prevents us from slaughter up ahead. The fire represents an ember; the light and passion we have access to at any time if we reach inwardly and take hold of it. You may be familiar with this little diddy: "this little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine". I acknowledge that darkness exists in all of us; one cannot have light without dark after all. We need to embrace it and integrate it to actualize our full inner fire. It requires great balance, if we hang on to any one thing for too long, we start getting fixated. Fire doesn't allow us to hang on. It reminds us of how quickly things can change and that is the only assurance we have in this life. 

What on earth is the meaning of 'Garnet & Ashes' anyway?

Garnet & Ashes is inspired by cycles. It is in our nature to resist change. It's as though we completely forget how change invites as yet unforeseen treasure, because we mistakenly let fear of the unknown stop us; forgetting to let go, we imprison ourselves by our own self-imposed limitations, illusions and fears. This can be like a type of limbo. This is where the symbolism of creating gemstones from ashes comes in. We can still choose to get up and continue when life 'burns' us. It is a choice to lay in a heap of ashes or get up and shine. It may not be the same path we started on, but it will be a continuation of a great adventure if we choose to let it be. Herstory. History.  We are the story that never ends, a phoenix rising from the ashes from one chapter to the next. 

 

VIEW THE FIRE SERIES HERE.

 

Further sparks:

"You don’t ask what a dance means, you enjoy it. You don’t ask what the world means, you enjoy it. You don’t ask what you mean, you enjoy yourself; or at least, so you do when you are up to snuff.

"But to enjoy the world requires something more than mere good health and good spirits; for this world, as we all now surely know, is horrendous. 'All life,' said the Buddha, 'is sorrowful'; and so, indeed, it is. Life consuming life: that is the essence of its being, which is forever a becoming. 'The world,' said the Buddha, 'is an ever-burning fire.' And so it is. And that is what one has to affirm, with a yea! a dance! a knowing, solemn, stately dance of the mystic bliss beyond pain that is at the heart of every mythic rite.”

Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live By

"I don't feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning. If you knew when you began a book what you would say at the end, do you think that you would have the courage to write it? What is true for writing and for a love relationship is true also for life. The game is worthwhile insofar as we don't know what will be the end. My field is the history of thought. Man is a thinking being." 
 

--from "Truth, Power, Self : An Interview with Michel Foucault" (1982)