Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dragons become the subject in 2007

"SunnyDragon" is watercolor mixed with acrylic medium
on a wood cradled box 7" x 5".

Seeing whimsical dragons hidden in my calligraphic brush work can be fun. And fun is a good reason for keeping the happy accident dragon shapes in older landscape paintings. What is different now is my purpose. I have purposely painted dragons - enough of a series to do a solo show "Dragons Boogie Woogie" in February at the Keizer Art Association's Enid Joy Mount Gallery, in Keizer, Oregon.

In 2007 I found hidden dragons in my paintings

"Granny's Wind Dance"

" Granny's Wind Dance" is a portrait of what I want to be when I am older. When I was painting I was thinking about the "Three Graces" shown earlier in this blog. Both paintings are inspired by Sandro Botticeli. I am expressing my appreciation of the Rubenesque forms of mature women, prehistoric fertility goddesses and especially the sculptural convex volumes of Artistide Maillol. A few months after painting"Granny's Wind Dance" I spotted a connection with another painting I had just done,"A self-portrait of me flying my Chinese Vase Vessel, I noticed the Camel Dragon handles of the Chinese vase is like the arabesque pose in " Granny's Wind Dance". The handles were made by addition with no concave subtraction and furthermore the dragons are posed in arabesque. "Granny's Wind Dance" is one of my hidden dragon paintings.
"Granny Diane Sails her Chinese Vase Vessel"

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Beach grass and dune painted in 2000 is recognized in 2008 as a serpentine shape that is repeated in my work

Almost eight years after painting these rhythmic strokes like calligraphy, I am happy to see that "Beach Grass" is a prime example of how dragon images occur with frequency in my painting. The dragons often appear in the calligraphy. I am also in debt to my college education under Frederick Heidel at Portland State University, Portland,Oregon. His teaching and understanding is very much appreciated. His teaching is that there is no right or wrong way to start a painting. You can begin by marking off large shapes or as I have done here with the calligraphy. What is important is having a rich development.
The blog "From Then to Now" is not just about me but a giving back to the art community. I attempt to demonstrate the rich experience coming from having a body of work to look back on and to continually grow with my history of examples in easy reach.

Painting from the 90's

In 1999 I enjoyed a very productive week painting at "Rain's" Tucson home. I was just getting into the flow after a dry period of researching my roots. I was very happy about returning to Tucson where I had painted the desert during the late 60's. (photo by Rain)

Although I didn't mention it in my artists statements or even gave it much weight in my own paintings, the dragon did appear in a number of my paintings in the 90's. "Falling Star" came from sketching at Ramat Hanodiv Gardens near Zichron Yaacov. I have now renamed it to "Yellow Camel Dragon, Mustard and Falling Star".

Connecting with ancestors in Israel 1994

In 1994 I visited Israel. Pictured below: My train ride from Benjamina to Tel Aviv in 1994. Also notes from my travel sketches. Plus dragon motif Dutch and Italian antiques from Jerusalem museums.
One daughter pointed out to me, "Mom, the reason you see dragons in your work comes from your interest in your ancestor Jewish merchants. It started when you went to Israel" She has a point. I did look for and found dragons in Israel. I even found them hidden in the single image that symbolized to me Jews and their whole history. On a walk I spotted a rod iron gate between Pardes Hana and Karkur. The symbol of the "S" shaped metal at the top of the gate is similar to the motif in a museum Hanukkah Lamp from(1574) Holland. On the gate there is the Star of David centered between two scrolls. The scrolls are like the water of two rivers (Tigress and Euphrates also symbolized on the Israeli flag). The gate motif could be interpreted to be like the two dragons of Imperial China - a symbol of a nation. Although dragons are associted with Pegan symbolism, they have a historic place in the Middle East. Two cobras were the symbol of the Imperial Nubian Pharos. Also Imperial China and their two dragon state symbol did extend all the way to Persia.
The rod iron gate was very old and in bad repair and has been replaced since I was there. It was too badly beaten to photograph with respect to its owners so I made this sketch. I will always have that symbol of the gate as an emblem not only of Israel but of my Silk Road Jewish ancestors - symbolizing a little of what my ancestors might have been - amalgam binding the Far East with the Middle Eastern arts. They were merchants handling movement of goods and could have also handled ship ballast rod iron used decoratively on colonial architecture.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Oil Painting during the 80's

The South Santiam River Rapids started out as an acrylic painting and then I switched to oil working all over the canvas. I wanted clouds that were curved and wispy. At the time I thought the orange cloud was snake-like but didn't connect it to a commonly repeated characteristic of my art work.

En Plein Air Watercolor painting during the '80's

(photo of me by Rain)

My favorite places to paint have rock formations or vegetations that is conducive to imaginative forms like dragons.