Mixed media & a bird feather on mat board, 2004.
What: There is quite a bit going on in this piece, so much so that I did not know how to start this post off! I sat for a while just looking at the screen & at the random things in the room and, I kid you not, I said: “Aaaaaahhhhhh!” Writer’s block is as bad as artist’s block. I would have screamed louder, but I have neighbors & they’d think I am nuts. Then again…………….they know I am an artist, so they would probably think I was being normal. Anyway, this drawing features, as you can see, a grouping of hands with some religious & cultural objects and also some other elements. And a lot of lines and a lot of yellow!
What II: This work, as I said, is a religious piece (though, due to its subject, it is also a social piece). By now, many who know me personally and those who frequent my blog know that I am Christian. Naturally I am going to create art centered around that because it’s a part of me. To explain it quickly, this work is about the survival and endurance of three particular groups of people: Africans and those descended from them, indigenous (in this case, Native Americans) and Jewish (though being Jewish is not a race, but is the culture of a religion). I, myself, have descent from a few groups, including African and Native American, so that made this work even more personal. Every race has and most cultures have struggled one way or another through history, but these three groups have more than others. Africans & their descendants dealt with major slavery for many centuries (which includes being forcibly displaced from their original home), and discrimination, Native Americans dealt with some slavery, being forcibly displaced from from their homes and discrimination and Jewish people dealt with major slavery in ancient days, the Holocaust and discrimination. Since people are not perfect and choose to practice evils, hatred and stereotypes still exist (but in lesser degrees, thank God), but there were days when such hate toward others was WORSE. And, so, this artwork conveys God’s grace, mercy and healing on three peoples. Evil slavery no longer exists among these people, the selfish practice of displacement is no longer practiced, the nightmare of the Holocaust is over, the ignorance of discrimination has lessened greatly. Mankind is so vulnerable and exposed to the dangers of fellow mankind, that we need Higher Help. This help comes from God (Yahweh: LORD). The fingers above are larger than the hands below and these fingers are lighter in color (having a subtle glow) than the hands below, as well. These fingers represent divine help and guidance from God. God is present in Spirit and present in all of His creations. The hands below, from your left to your right: 1) the Jewish (represented with the Star of David containing God’s shining name in Hebrew: YHWH-they spelled it without vowels to prevent being able to pronounce His Name since God’s Name is Holy), 2) the Native American (represented with turquoise stone and an actual feather I employed) and 3) Africans and those with African heritage (represented by the familiar Kente cloth in the form of a sheath). God has brought all of these peoples through their struggles, He destroyed evil practices that threatened them and they SURVIVE. God gracefully and mercifully intercedes for mankind, but when you are in spirit with God & Christ (having accepted Them), He intercedes even more with those of FAITH. That being said, these groups contained many people who, before and during their now annihilated struggles, had come to accept God as Father & Jesus as Savior (Jesus is more than a great prophet), but for those who had not yet accepted God & Jesus, I can only hope that many made the choice to do so as they saw the power of God at work in destroying bondages & hindrances that humankind creates. Many still come into personal acceptance of God & Jesus into their lives everyday. I know people have to make their own choice to accept God & Jesus into their life & spirit, but since I am Christian, I naturally will mention the Father and the Savior.
What III: The colored rays are light rendered in an abstract way: as a series of lines. The semi-circular lines at top represent earth. The yellow background just seemed like the right color to help every other color and object stand out. They vibrant yellow also reflects the Glory of the Divine. The various-colored purple circles in the background (there are three) represent the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. That was a LOT of background, huh? But that is the gist of this piece! Struggle becoming survival and endurance! Amen…
Why: Why did I draw this? Well, I will answer in parts.
1) I wanted to have a reason to draw on some more mat board that I had on hand. Mat board is described here: “A mat board, sometimes referred to as a mat, is a cardboard-like material, which sits between a frame and your photograph or artwork to give it a more finished look. Mat boards range in a variety of colors and cores (…mat board core is the center material of the mat board. Mat board cores come in a variety of thicknesses…), depending on your needs.” – definition from wholesalematboards.com. You can read more about mat boards at their site HERE. I discovered drawing on textured (not all mat board is textured) mat board in 2003 some time after graduating from university. I think my first drawing on mat board was this piece titled “when It’s Hidden”: CLICK HERE. It is partially a self-portrait (the subject at front being me). I will post an art analysis on this piece one day. I like drawing on paper a lot, but drawing on textured mat board gives artwork an interesting visual result thanks to the little pits all over the surface of the board. The texture is even more defined & visible when using dark, rich material on it like charcoal. Drawings take on more textural character.
2) Another reason that I created this piece was so that I could add to my portfolio of work. All artists should have an ever-expanding portfolio of work for personal and commercial reasons. Sometimes we do not feel like creating or do not have the motivation (artists aren’t always on a creative high as some people may think), but we must renew our creative fire and use it to go berserk producing, again! 3) I also drew this piece so that I could test my own skills and also to make sure I do not lose my ability to render those skills and do not lose my ability to come up with new subjects (I like to try interesting subjects rendered in interesting ways…I get bored kinda easily). Artists must always challenge themselves and must always progress in skills and ideas. 4) Yet another reason I created this work was to produce a work with a specifically religious subject.
When: I created this in 2004. A year or close to a year after I graduated from university (I like to say it like many Europeans say it: “university”). Americans usually say “college”, which is just as well, but my school has “university” in the title (Claflin University), so I think it more correct to say that word. But I digress!! I know!!
How: This part will be somewhat shorter than the above paragraphs! I utilized mat board, oil paint, colored pencil, black and white (for tints) charcoal pencil, black aerosol/spray paint and a feather. Yes, a REAL feather! After I finished plucking the bird, I prepared it and roasted it. It was one fine bird. ………… Just kidding. I did not eat the bird. I do not even know what bird this feather came from! I just saw the feather laying on the ground in my yard. I have a thing with collecting feathers, cleaning them (because the bird it detached from may have been sick) and keeping them just to look at them (and since I am an artist & so fall into some artist habits, I actually decorated my hair with real feathers when I was at university, like you would put a rose in your hair…but I have since stopped doing that far-out kind of thing!). I think feathers are beautiful & their fine, orderly detailing (again, God at work) is fascinating. I used this particular feather in this artwork. Art can employ all types of objects! I have used wire, thread and even pencil shavings in other works. Art is FAR from boring, that is for sure! I also utilized my own hand in this work. My left hand I used to model ALL four hands (this is including the fingers above). I had to twist my wrist around a lot (especially for the hand at the right) and hold my hand in place in front of my face to render the three different poses, but yes, all three are my hand. I just visually altered the size of the one at the left to appear like a man’s hand (notice it is larger than the other two). As you can see, everything from the hands, to the turquoise stone (modeled after how they can really appear), to the Kente cloth flowing over the sinews of the hand…I incorporate a lot of detail. In my artwork, I am heavily influenced by realism, naturalism and the Renaissance masters. I love detail and modeling. My Mom says I have “eyes like a microscope”! I gotta humbly thank the LORD for that. Anyhow, back to the major wrist-flexing to accomplish the hand poses…I had a slightly sore wrist after the work was complete (this work took me less than a month to complete)! It was like artist’s carpal tunnel, but it was worth it!
Well, that wraps up this edition of WhatWhyWhenHow. Thank God for art and thank God for survival!!
I hope that you enjoyed this post and feel free to comment! Also feel free to return to my blog and read this, older & future posts! Thanks!