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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Face and Body Paint

Oh, The Places We Will Go.

48" x 96

This may have been something Dr. Seuss said, but it is oh so true when it comes to the art brain....oh, the places we will go.

48 x 96

Recently I rehung a painting of mine that had been in storage due to its size.....48"x 96".  It's big.  After installation it was seen by someone who requested I create something similar, a painting inspired by the style and materials.

I am not sure what happened inside my brain.  Maybe it had something to do with my recent focus on the Indian Women Portraits, but swimming to the forefront of my conscience came the idea of creating a series of work based on Tribal or Cultural Face and Body Painting.  I am not even going to try to make the connection, or explain it, so however loose or disjointed it may seem, I was off to the computer to research. Oh, the places the art brain will go.

This is what I have come up with, what will lead my series:

The art of transforming ourselves with make-up and masks is a universal phenomenon.  Before we sought to vent our artistic impulse on a cave wall, we painted our faces and bodies, providing the power to change ourselves and demonstrate our humanity.  For thousands of years, cultural groups from all over the world have participated in ceremonial face and body painting for a variety of reasons. 

In this new series of paintings titled Hidden Identities, layer upon layer of pigment mimics the application of mud, clay, and pigments created from plant material.  Scoring through the paint and the thick cracking texture are reminiscent of how these materials dry as a result of movement of the face and body.  The addition of other natural materials will vary from canvas to canvas to assist in telling a story, relaying a thought, providing a historical link.  Each painting will be different from the next yet all will follow the theme of Hidden Identity, Spiritual Connection and a Bond with Nature.

Out came a gallon can of paint,

a mess of raffia, 

and a collection of feathers.

A Flicker hit one of my house windows several years ago, dying, giving up its magnificent plumage.  I always save this type of thing, so the feathers had been sitting in my studio just waiting to be used in some way to honor the bird.

A canvas was under painted.

Additional color was added.

Layer upon layer of paint was applied.

I cut through the pigments with a variety of tools allowing the various colors to show.

Raffia was added.

The feathers of the Flicker were tied onto the canvas.

Yellowhammer Dreams
48 x 60
Mixed Media

Glazes were added and the end result is this painting: Yellowhammer Dreams.  Native American legends of Northern California and Oregon relate that the Yellow-Shafted Flickers or Yellowhammers are believed to bring good luck and healing;  hearing their cries means that you will soon receive a visitor, and in some Northern California tribes, dreaming of a Yellowhammer is a sign that a person will become a traditional healer. The first in the Hidden Identity series is 48" x 60", created with layer upon layer of pigment reminiscent of the colors used in traditional face and body painting.  The addition of raffia and Flicker bird feathers was inspired by the connection to nature and the idea of extraordinary characteristics borrowed from the bird. These materials also lend line, form and movement to the composition.   The intent with this painting is to capture the texture of face and body painting, to emote the feeling of hiding behind the paint as well as the spiritual connection to this bird.

Yellowhammer Dreams
48 x 60
Mixed Media

This is where my art brain has gone, to Hidden Identities. Check back to come along, there will be more, and it should be most interesting.

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