15 September 2015

"What's Inspiring Now" - Edgar Maxence {1871-1954}


Edgar Maxence. Currently the fresh discovery in my little (but slowly expanding) art realm who's work is a validation of much of my creative interests since I was a small child.

It continues to astound me the depth to which we artists can delve and still 'unearth' tens of thousands of beautiful works of art, brilliant past and present artists. There are so many creators in this world, and have been, throughout our part in history, that to think we - as devotees of art - can be justified in limiting our influencers to those mass-accepted rock-stars is, in a word, blind.

It takes time, energy, effort of attention and study, to continue exploring artists as yet unknown to ourselves, so it's understandable that all this work doesn't permeate the field too far from it's original society.

Still - I had never heard of Edgar Maxence! I'm stunned at myself, and more than a little disappointed I had not found him sooner. Perhaps it was my limited art education, or the fact that I have been educated in America, where only big names from other cultures are mentioned in this country? Or, certainly, the fact that I have never committed doggedly to names and dates of as many other artists as I could find, over the years. As I said, it's hard to learn about everyone.

Edgar Maxence was a French painter, born in 1871, died in 1954, trained at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He studied under the noted Gustave Moreau, a symbolist painter, and created much of his work utilizing the female archetype as a vehicle for his symbolic compositions.
And he worked in many mediums besides the traditional oil paint - often mixed media.

I love this chap.

Jeune Fille Rousse Nourrissant Des Cygnes - Redhead Girl Feeding Swans, Edgar Maxence
{Watercolor and pastel!!! That's more my style}

Portrait De Jeune Fille - Portrait of a Young Girl - c.1900, Edgar Maxence 
L'Âme de la Forêt - The Spirit of the Forest - 1898, Edgar Maxence
L'Âme de la Forêt - The Spirit of the Forest - 1898, Edgar Maxence {Framed}

My own work is gaining momentum within the evolution of my personal symbolism, something I've always been inclined towards, but found myself suppressing during my training under the BFA program at PA College of Art & Design. Somewhere along the way, I lost touch with it, and therefore became more begrudging in creating work. It was a chore, trying to be an artist in line with ways of working that I didn't inherently resonate with. And I kept doing it, after school.

It's taken me these last few years after graduating from the illustration program with my degree, to re-cultivate an intimacy with the mythological and philosophically-inspired symbolism that gives me verve in my creativity, once more.
My work, I'm sure consequently, is less smothered and repressed by imposed convention, and more self-sovereign, visceral, and ready to come forth. It's braver. I feel braver.

It's an ever-unfolding experience, learning and growing forward as a creator, and we must cultivate a diverse 'garden' of both gods and fellow mortals of artists in our inspirational repertoire, all the while keeping the fire of our own unique vision.

Don't forget the inclinations that drove you in your art from your youth, and if you do a bit, then you'll find your way back by reaching out into the unknown - whether it's exploring the world, art, or other disciplines and relationships that truly touch you on a deep level - and discovering new things that trigger the inclinations buried within.

Always push forward.

More work coming soon!

In the meantime,
Happy creating!


11 September 2015

"In His Hands..." Susquehanna Orchid Society Annual Show and Sale

A fellow illustrator/artist friend of mine suggested I do a piece for the Susquehanna Orchid Society 32nd annual exhibition and auction, so I gave it some consideration and eventually decided to pull something together.

The historical and mythological predisposition in my inspirational repertoire instantly got me to thinking of cultural origin tales. The go-to in Western society is often Greek mythos, and I found myself dredging up the transformation of Orchis.

"Orchis Transformed" being the alternate title for this little orchid-themed painting, the creative process sprung from how Orchis, the son of a satyr and a nymph, took too enthusiastically to a priestess of the wine god Bacchus during a feast, and was therefore punished, eventually concluding in his transformation into the orchid flower. And so, for Greece, the origin of the erotic plant is explained.

I say erotic because, besides the beautiful and sensual meanings associated with the flower around the world, the orchid species has a distinctive shape to its roots - In Greek, 'orchis' means 'testicles'; when you see the roots, you'll appreciate why they made a connection between a lustful mythological man and this particular flora. 
The ancient culture also maintained that eating the roots of the orchid would help a couple achieve the desired sex of a coming child. It went something like, if the father ate the large, new tubers, the child would be a boy, and if the mother ate the smaller tubers, the child would be a girl... Strange times, back then.

Anyways, the theme for the show is of course orchids, and I wanted the focus of the art to reflect that, so keeping things simple, small, and as mood-appropriate as possible, not letting myself get caught up in the exact Mediterranean-native orchid species that would be best (which I nearly got derailed by focusing on, dorky me), I chose an attractive moth orchid and paired it with dramatic lighting, a natural palette, and tender hands. I also wanted to freshen things up a bit by using masculine hands for an intentionally graceful composition. 
Who says male anatomy can't support beauty in art? They also supported the concept better than female ones would have.

Here is the final piece, followed by a framed shot and then photos documenting the process:

"In His Hands...", 5x7", Mixed Media, 2015

With a cool little find of a frame, 2015

The frame I found for this was a serendipitous little thing, and it's border design has a delicate pattern that looks like orchid leaves to me, so the two elements seem to complete each other nicely.

Besides the research and reference of shooting a friend's hands holding a piece of rope, hah, I did the painting in watercolor, graphite, acrylic, and colored pencil, with a little medium and such thrown in, all in once place, on this little board:

Roughing in the drawing of the hands over the wash
Finding the line variation and value notes for the hands 
Underpainting stage
From underpainting...
...to painting and final touches

I greatly enjoy the puzzling intricacies in the anatomy of hands, and this was a surprising piece to discover at the end of the process. I enjoyed working on it.

Coming Exhibition:

"In His Hands..." is officially juried in to the orchid-themed exhibition for the Susquehanna Orchid Society's Annual Show and Sale, held this October at the Ware Center in downtown Lancaster, PA, in collaboration with the Mount Gretna School of Art and Lancaster Galleries.

This should be a great bunch of original art available with stunning, living ‪orchid‬ arrangements, all for show and sale, and it's *open to the public* {free admission!}

Here's some schedule information to plan by:

     Thursday, October 1st - 6:30 pm to 9 pm Preview Party

     Friday, October 2nd - noon to 8 pm Exhibits open to the public, Vendor Sales open

     Saturday, October 3rd - 9 am to 6 pm Exhibits open to the public, Vendor Sales open

     Sunday, October 4th - noon to-4 pm Exhibits open to the public, Vendor Sales open

Join us for ‪#‎LancasterArtWalk‬! And congratulations to all exhibitors!

See you there,
Until then,