Random thoughts and bits of life of a coffee loving artist

Thursday, December 31, 2015

From Tears to Hope

It has been about 2 years since I last cried. 

In February 2016, it will be 2 years since my mother's passing. Because of a promise that I had made to her and to myself, I have not cried. In a way, I have been suffering with depression during that time but I haven't told anyone about it. it is probably because of my mindset of so many people that I care about are having their own cases that they have been suffering from for much longer and on much more extreme ways that the last thing that they need is to hear of my troubles. So I've kept things locked up inside and forced myself to push forward. Sadly, my work has been affected. I would look at my paintings during this period and compare it to how my skill level was previously and I could see that the quality has dropped. Frustrated and angry at myself, I have lost count of how many pieces that I have discarded in the trash because what I was producing was no longer at the high level I was creating previously to my mother's death. This year has been especially difficult and at several points I have asked myself if I needed to just give up on everything that I had spent my entire life fighting to achieve. That's when a little voice in the back of my head suggested that it might be time to completely reinvent myself. 

The contents of 1 of 4 book cases
of my research books.
This one is my main one which is
located next to my desk.
About midway through the Autumn through a series of discussions with one of my best friends that I realized that unlike my past younger self, my work has no focus. Technically this was my fault because I had it in my mind for the longest time that to run my business, I needed to be as flexible as possible in order to have a little bit of something for everyone. What do I mean by having no focus? As a child, I have always been fascinated in studying various cultural beliefs. In high school, my AP Art Class (advance placement classes are designed to function as a college level class) had the requirement of having a theme which mine was female deities in various world religions. By college, I had expanded my research to include some of the darker aspects of religion and in the process started collecting books that varied from crystals to demonology and everything in between. It's a rather odd collection but one that I am rather proud of. As I went ahead and analyzed myself and my work, I realized that the pieces that I was always extremely proud of where those of some religious annotation or had reference to cultural beliefs. I concluded after much thought that what I needed to do was not just make a side project for myself, but completely start from scratch to make what I do into something that I could truly be proud of. 

For a lack of a better title, I thought that I would slowly ease my viewers and clientele into the transition that I was going through by calling the pieces that I was beginning to create by calling them part of an Altar Piece Project.  As I had explained to my Facebook followers, I realize that with so many having various beliefs and traditions that it is always difficult to find
'Sacred Vessel' by Dawn Star Wood
Created in 2013 before the conception of
the 'Altar Piece Project', is an
interpretation of Quan Yin.
something that may a good gift. With this project, I will be creating small altar piece art for various religions and beliefs. These small pieces of art are meant for personal sacred spaces. My goal is to have a little bit of as many religions as possible represented- from Christian and Pagan to Islamic and Judaism to Hinduism and Buddhism. What I hadn't had a chance to explain to anyone as of yet was that my ultimate goal is that this particular project, per-say, would be the stepping stone that will allow me to continue my research into various cultures and religion along with giving me a reason to travel more in order to establish connections with outside of my current web of resources.

As of this point, besides a small piece that I had done for myself, I have done 3 pieces so far (1 having already found a loving home). I am hoping that as I am able to continue forward with this that I will be able to create increasingly larger pieces that I will make available. I have been absolutely enjoying being able to research and learn more about the various deities and philosophies as I work on these pieces, learning about how they were originally supposed to be and seeing how over time due to region, outside influence and even changing opinion that these beings and thoughts were changed to what we know them as now. One thing I have noticed as I work and share my creations is that not only have I been receiving an incredible amount of positive feed back about the pieces  and the project but have taken note that each one seems to have been giving a sense of hope to those who have seen them. That has actually given me so much conformation that my decision to reinvent myself in this manner has been the correct thing to do. Here is what I have done up to this point:

Lady of Guadalupe (Virgin Mary)
Religion: Catholic (Mexico)
Watercolors, white acrylic and gold calligraphy paint on paper (5x7 inches)
I have never been much of a fan of the traditional depiction of the Lady of Guadalupe, the interpretation of the Virgin Mary that is commonly seen throughout Mexico. So I decided to keep the traditional roses and veil of stars that she is usually shown with and bring a different view of the serenity that she is said to have.

Quan Yin (Guanyin) 
Religion: Buddist 
Watercolors, and gold calligraphy paint on paper (5x7 inches)
Here is the second small piece in my Altar Piece project. Since there's so many variations of Quan Yin, I will probably visit her through out the project and also include her original male form which was more common before the 1200s. With this version, I wanted to keep to the traditional white gown she's usually in but with at least a little bit of texture but without realizing it leaned towards the version of her which was originally Princess Miaoshan.

Cernunnos (Horned God)
Religion: Celtic
Watercolors, white acrylic and gold calligraphy paint on paper (4x6 inches)
This time around I decided to go with something for the Horned Forest God, Cernunnos, of Celtic belief. I wanted to balance out the previous, rather feminine pieces I had been doing with something a bit masculine. Incorporating one of the better known metal reliefs of Cerunnos with an elk, I was aiming to have a feel of natural with some mystic tones.

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