Snake Eyes :: Wax, oil paint and gold leafed key on glass, 30"x30", 2013
My love of portraiture began with Van Gogh in High School and then Egon Schiele in College. There was a raw openness in both of these artists works that I found captivating, something that captured the intensity of life, terrifying and beautiful all at the same time.
My first paintings were of myself and the people around me. And as much as they tortured me by showing me my lack of technical skill, they also thrilled me because they always revealed something about the sitter. It is impossible to mediate for hours on someone’s face (even your own!) and not come away knowing something new about them.
The idea for making Magical Portraits started with this love and then developed out of two things – the evolution of a personal mythology that I found through years of self portraiture and group ritual.
Creating a self portrait is sort of like talking to yourself, like writing in a journal. Ever reread something you wrote months or years ago and been surprised you simultaneously had such clarity yet did not see your own signs? Looking back over the years of painting myself I see honest depictions of what was going on for me at the point it was created. But the funny thing is that in the midst of each I would think “I have no idea what this means.”
So I started to think, if I can paint what is true in the present, can I paint something that changes the future? What if I became more conscious in creating these images and used them to create the story that I wanted for myself? If these paintings were revealing hidden truths, could I tease out the ones that reinforced the greatest truths about myself and build a better story? Could I use painting to create a personal mythos that elevated my being?
During the same time I was beginning to explore my ideas of the creation of a personal mythos through self portraiture I was also participating in frequent group rituals both through ALisa Starweather’s Priestess Path and all night fire circle rituals, which gave me the experience of seeing people embody their archetypal selves. Time after time, I watched people play out patterns, like spreading out a deck of tarot trumps.
A cast of light, a shadow, a fragrance, a word and instead of the person I knew I saw Pan or the Earth Mother or the spirit of the Hawk. These glimpses always silenced me, the way we get quiet when we know something is too potent to be pacified by words. But these visions tended to recede like dreams do and once again we would wear the names our parents gave us.
What if I could create paintings that were threads back to these visions? What if the thread was a pathway that allowed more of the persons divine self to manifest in the mundane?
And so, the Magical Portrait. A reminder of your bare foot on cool earth or the wings on your back or the wildness and wisdom you know that you own or the divine light that bathed you. An image that helps you return to the part of you that you need to return to. I’m thinking that the more you return, the more you remember. And the more you remember the more you become.