How to Artfully Get into Your Element

Life is the power that’s greater than I can ever comprehend. The way life runs through everything, even the tiniest elements of nature – that makes me humble.” 
— Michael J. Fox 

Handel - Elements 1Handel With Care

No, the sub-heading is not a typo.  I decided, this week, to paint to the music of classical composer, Handel.  I’m not too familiar with his work or his life story but just decided on a whim that he was the one to explore this week.

I did have a slightly pre-conceived idea that I wanted to paint 2 separate landscape paintings but how these landscapes turned out was beyond my reckoning.  I seem to have stumbled onto a very elemental theme with these 2 pictures.

Earth, Fire, Water and Air

“The air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land we inhabit are not only critical elements in the quality of life we enjoy – they are a reflection of the majesty of our Creator.”  — Rick Perry 

I used a lot of mixed-media — such as bits of the Giant Redwood bark that I had picked up in Tokai forest to metallic strips of foil that give this painting a unique ‘elemental’ feel.

I started off listening to his ‘Water Music Suite’ which I think lent to the overall theme (there is an aquatic feel in the first painting in the blue ‘lake’ and in the second painting where it looks like there’s a waterfall toppling into the earth’s core).  However, as soon as I stepped back and viewed what had come out, I saw all four elements immediately.

The final touches of this painting were the cloud high-lights which gives a peaceful calmness to the painting.  The hand in the clouds (in the first painting) was not intentional, it just kind of popped out as I was working on the sky.

So what interested me about these pieces was the running elements theme.

  • Why are these 4 things so important to us?
  • What do they represent for us?
  • How do we embrace them?

Getting Into Your Element

Handel - Elements 2Most of us are living in the rat race, going from one building to another via a freeway of hustle and bustle.  Then we are stuck to electronic devices pretty much most of the day having little or not time whatsoever to embrace the sheer splendour of the great outdoors.

What is missing from a lot of our lives is that raw connection to nature.

Wouldn’t it feel grand to…

  • get buffeted about by a strong wind, swirling around our body as we stand with no resistance and let it tickle our skin and gently blow into our ears.
  • make a bonfire — pile up the wood, strike that match and be mesmerized by the eternal grace of the flickering flames as they lull us into a state of hypnotic awe.
  • skinny dip in the buoyant bliss of deep blue waters — wading, swimming, floating, bobbing about in the supportive delights of this glorious element.
  • stand with our feet growing roots into the soil as we feel the connection to our beautiful planet and all the life she supports.
  • let go and let the awesome symphony of nature penetrate every crack or opening of your being.  Let your soul soak up the splendour of mother nature and revel with appreciation for our beloved Gaia.

Can You Handel a Bit More?

“And the truth must finally lie in that which every oppressed individual feels within himself but hasn’t the courage to express”   Wilhelm Reich

A fellow creative and confidante was the first to see the pictures a day after I had painted them.  He told me straight off the cuff that he was no fan of Handel but when he saw the paintings, he bought both immediately (thank you, because I know you’re reading this!:D).

He said that, in his opinion, the paintings represented the truth behind his understanding of the origin of the music.  He went on to divulge the most remarkable story behind Handel — the very reason he didn’t care for him.

It went something like this (the regurgitated succinct edition):

His music was ‘tailored’ for British aristocracy and therefore very ‘stiff upper lip, old chap’. No passion allowed, no blatant display of emotion.  And all this paved the way for the onset of a new rigid era.  

So, on that note, my friend and I took a deeper look into the grandiose tale of this composers life…

Georg Friedrich Handel (23 February 1685 – 14 April 1759) supplied music mainly for the English nobility which influenced his style to be more aligned with religious and social ethics.

Handel’s music was almost opposite to the music of Bach (they were around at the same time).  Handel was a conformist which was deemed favourable at that specific time because England had descended into a frivolous decadence.

He supplied music with structure and conformity, reintroducing social etiquette.  Glorification and the fear of God was what his music aimed at on a surface level.

His pious music injected a very tightly bound corset of primness, formality and ceremoniousness into the English society.  The aristocracy welcomed this due to the growing debaucherous behaviour in British society.

The direct result of that was Victorianism.

Fake, Plastic Tunes

Now, it’s interesting to take note that people who hide under the cloak of righteousness are usually hiding something of this nature in themselves.  Handel seems to have forged a pious world where his music perhaps tamed his own passions, his own story.

It’s interesting to also note that the structure of Baroque music was mostly stringent, however, bubbling underneath this composer was a burning passion — a passion that was never revealed as his private life was extremely hush-hush.

Another interesting observation is that Baroque music has also been known to connect the left and right hemisphere of the brain.

To read more about and to listen to Handel, click HERE.

The Extracted Essence

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”  — Albert Einstein 

Both these paintings (above) show a remarkable resemblance pertaining to this bit of  rigid but saucy history.

There seems to be a very ‘fake’ landscape painted on top of a what feels like a bubbling inferno (Handel’s passion?).  Could this represent the suppressed passion for life that was stifled into forced subjugation — pomp and ceremony as opposed to naked truth?

I hope that this painting is an opening for the observer to see that all forms of artistry can reveal the innate truth if one is persistent enough to dig deep.  There could be contained emotions lurking beneath even the most austere of displays.  So what is the message here?

Don’t judge a book by its cover?

Or, perhaps, feel free to express who you truly are — it’ll save you a lot of time, hassle and stress.

On that note…here is your free poster/quotation of the week:

To download, click on the picture and then ‘right-click’ and ‘save image as’ to your computer. I don’t mind if you share this on your social networks or print it out for use around the home or office. Please can you leave the copyright notice as is, thanks.

If you would like to purchase a full-sized poster of the above quote, please CLICK HERE.

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How I Got ‘Raw’ With Jeff Buckley

Explaining the Painting ‘Raw’ in the Rock Art Series

Please recap on the last blog here, “Rock Art Series Painting no. 3 — Jeff Buckley ‘Raw’

Close upAs I go further and further down this rabbit hole that I labelled the ‘Rock Art Series‘, I am beginning to uncover a quantum field of bizarre and amazing coincidences and realizations about myself and my role that I find myself stepping into (there will be more about this in next weeks blog, as I go mixing the melting pot of Harmonic Convergence and visual healing therapy).

This painting maxed my abstract potential and what I thought was achievable through a state of ‘mindless’ painting — it brought out something in me that I will call guided art.

Who’s guiding me?

God alone knows!  My soul?  My guides?  The man on the moon?  Jeff Buckley himself (for those of you who don’t know, Jeff died in a drowning accident in 1997)?  Or a mixture of all?  Probably…

Tapping into the Matrix 

For more information about Jeff Buckley, click on this picture.

There is an information highway in the ether — a kind of universal computer hard-drive that stores everything and anything for posterity.  I think this could be a good description for what I’m trying to tap into with this art.

How do you capture the essence of the message from the musician and put it onto canvas?

Music is multi-dimensional and speaks straight to the soul.  When you are able to pull this kind of cosmic sound down into the third dimension, it has a powerful effect on the listener.  See an article about ‘The 8th Chakra and the Universal Heart’ HERE.

Now, the question is:  Can an artist tune into the message in the music and translate it as art?

Well, here it goes:

The Emotions of the Music

These are the emotions that came up for me as I was painting.

  • Pure

    Prints Available Now

  • Heartfelt
  • Raw
  • Desire
  • Earthy
  • Sensuality/Sexuality
  • Basic
  • Simple Beauty
  • Tactile/Touching

I wrote all these words down on the side of the canvas as they were arising in me.  For those of you who know who Jeff Buckley is, you’ll probably be nodding your head and saying ‘yeah, that’s him alright’.

For those who don’t know him…let’s start you off with this song (although it is not his original song, he was reported to have said that it is a song he wished he had written as it encapsulates all that he is — and he performs it admirably):

Lilac Wine (CLICK HERE TO LISTEN)

If your appetite has been whetted, I suggest you move on to this song with the addition of some tasty visuals of the artist:

Last Goodbye

Moving on with the painting process…

Feeling Presence, Photographing Orbs and ‘Ghost’

I was completely ‘in the zone’ with this one — otherwise what I referred to as my ‘mindless state’.  Working purely from the heart and feeling rather than linearizing and thinking it through.

  1. Heart close upThe first thing I did was spray paint a big red heart onto the canvas…I stood back and thought, ‘a bit kitsch, isn’t it?’.  Then I decided to trust the process and see where it led me to.  At that point, I thought that even if I painted over the heart, I suppose it will still be imbued with that heart presence — the heart would remain the core of the painting.  As it turned out, the heart became the focal point.
  2. I started mucking about with clay paint (a kind of textured acrylic and a lot of fun to get your hands in!  Really squishy and messy).  I used a palette knife to apply it to the canvas.
  3. I felt as if I wasn’t alone, it didn’t freak me out or anything, I just went with it.  I then dropped the palette knife and started getting my hands into this squelchy clay-type paint (I think this is the point where I wrote down the ‘earthy’ emotion — being grounded, getting ‘real’).  I felt as if my hands were being guided, moving over the canvas in waves of delicate caresses which led on to vehement scratches (very sensuous, darling).  I have to admit it was a bit like the scene from the movie ‘Ghost’ — you know that part when Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze were sitting down at the potter’s wheel getting all down and dirty in the clay.  To coin one of Jim Carey’s phrases, I was starting to get a bit swampy in my pants.
  4. Orb - Jeff BuckleyThe whole time I was painting, I would stop every now and again to take a photo for the pictorial process blog.  Imagine my surprise, when in one of the pictures I saw an isolated, huge orb (see picture to your right)!  I give you my word that it is not part of the painting even though there are other ‘orb-like’ circles, those are gold spray-paint ‘blob’s and the orb is white.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the orb phenomenon, please click here.  Otherwise, in a very small nutshell:  Some people believe it is the camera’s ability to pick up on what we can’t see with the naked eye — yes a bit like photographing spooks, or rather, balls of energy (UFE — he he…unidentified flying energy).  Others feel it is just light bouncing off dust to create this effect.  What they don’t know is that my studio is a dust bomb and if this was the case, the photographs would be Orb City.  Besides, I rather like the story where Jeff is helping me to create this work of art — nobody wants to be alone at the party, you know what I mean?

    orb

    Close up of the orb – as you can see it is completely circular with a kind of aura that surrounds it, completely different to the gold painted orb below it.

  5. When I re-sprayed the heart and saw it dripping in and mixing with the clay paint, I got a real feeling of being ’embodied’.  You know, the whole tethering your soul to your body type-thing?
  6. I then went on to add some words that I had torn out of a magazine.  I’ve not really done this before so had no idea how it would turn out.  I like the effect and just happened to synchronously stumble upon the most relevant-to-Jeff descriptive words imaginable.  Like:  ‘Shaken, Stirred’;  ‘Stay in touch’;  ‘Beautiful’;  ‘History and Heroes’;  ‘I think I’m on the planet Mars!’ (lol, don’t ask!);  ‘lovers, this one’s for you!’; Made with unrestricted access’…you get the picture (I hope!).
  7. I then added on some finishing swirls and details to embellish and make the painting really ‘pop’ with pleasure.

And that’s it!  You’ve got the low down of the inspiration behind the art.

Here are some more Jeff Buckley performances that you may enjoy:

Hallelujah

So Real

Yard of Blonde Girls

Lover, You Should Have Come Over

Everybody Here Wants You

Where is The Rock Art Series Going?

Close up 2I’ve had a few questions about this series that I want to clear up or probably make more hazy:

Am I selling individual pieces now?  No, I am going to exhibit all 10 paintings when it is finished so I need to keep them as a unit for now.

When do I plan on having this series finished?  I am working my butt off to have it all done by June 2013.

When and where will I be exhibiting?  No clue at the moment but I just know the right place, venue, person will present themselves when it is ready to go on the road.

Can I buy prints?  All the pieces I have done so far are available as prints.

You can view the Print Gallery HERE.  Or click on the pictures below:

         Jeff Buckley --- Raw 24 x 36 LR

Have Your Say and Avoid Being Bitten

  • What does this painting say to you?  You can be honest, I promise I won’t bite or take anything personally (just leave your name and street address where I can find you alongside your comment!  lol).
  • What does Jeff Buckley’s music mean to you?
  • If you didn’t know who he was, did you feel enticed to listen to his songs?
  • If yes, what did you think?
  • Did you feel that there was no need to listen because you ‘got it’ straight away?
  • What emotions arise when you listen to him or look at this painting?
  • Are they congruent?

Spill your beans, please.  After all, I told you I got all swampy in my pants (the ice has been broken and melted all at the same time) — you can’t get more personal than that!

Hitting the Nail on the Head

To get the interpretation ball rolling — I sent the final picture to a musician friend of mine who didn’t know much about the artist or his music.

I found what he came up with remarkable for someone who wasn’t familiar with Jeff Buckley.  It’s as if the information of the music was transported through the painting.  Perhaps, as was proposed earlier in this blog, artists can tune into the message behind the music and translate it through visual arts.  I’ll let you be the judge…

This is what my friend had to say:

One definitely does see the emotional – hmmm… turmoil(?) this guy had during his life. What music do you suggest I listen to to get a deeper understanding of it? 

The silver foil on the left reminds me of those staples they used to use on operations patients… i.e. a broken but patched up heart, one that’s been severely injured and not healed completely but very good physicians.
The green hand is definitely somehow connected with it, perhaps someone slipping away that was responsible for it — losing someone? Trying to hold on or not quite being able to touch the heart
The (hand)print ON the heart is interesting too — someone definitely left their touch on his heart.
The (hand)print on the right is almost like a hand in the background — a shadow,  someone in his life that he never really have his heart to or allowed to get to know his heart.
The silhouette above that (looks like of a person) sort of underlines that message — especially because it looks like he’s looking away from the heart, the heart dripping very obviously also indicates an injured heart.
All the noise, colour and excitement below the heart, to me, is like the experiences and life he had, on which his heart is based yet nothing that grounds him or supports his heart. It’s up there in the air, surrounded by chaos — although beautiful chaos at times.
I wonder if the damaged heart has something to do with the experience below in the words “stay in touch”? 
“lovers, this one’s for you” is very interesting as it’s on the “non-accessible” or shadowy side of the heart.
I love the reddish brown eye on the bottom left — something that’s weaved its way into his life that’s severely affected it (negatively)…tearing away at his foundation?”
~ Steven Rafferty
Musician

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