Nov 7, 2009

Tell me a story

One of the connections I am enjoying right now is with a group of friends and artists that generates inspiration for creative work. Our Art Group meets about once a month, and at each meeting we discuss the artwork that members have created, catch up with each other, and have a lovely meal before selecting a word or phrase for the next piece.

Our latest project is especially interesting. My dear friend April suggested we each create covers to an art book, and decorate the covers with a theme in mind. Books would have to be created in such a way that pages could be added. Then we would trade books around the group, and each artist would add a page with artwork based on the book's theme.

For my book I created a square format with 10 pages for the other artists to mount their work. My theme is "Finding yourself" or "Your life's path". That's been a focus for me lately, so that's what came to mind as I was building it. I will have to add photos of my covers when I get it back at the conclusion of the project.

We all drew names to determine what book we would work with, and I got April's book first. Her theme is "Tell me a story". After some thought, I decided to look into creation stories and settled on "Raven steals the sun" (sometimes told as Raven steals the light) by the Haida people of the Queen Charlotte Islands. I tried this piece in acrylic, and am happy with the results. Enough so that I kind of want to steal the painting back. :-) I think I may create a full series of panels on creation stories in the future.

Here's some photos of how the painting progressed.

Rough sketches

The drawing set up on my art board

Paint roughed in

Complete background, and more detail on the raven

The final painting with additional details and metallic gold paint for  the radiance of the sun

The story written on the back of the painting

The final painting mounted in the book

This was a great project, and there are 5 of us in the Art Group, so I have 3 more pages to create. I have plenty of space in my book, so perhaps I can add some paintings of my own to it over time, or entice other artists to contribute. I'm looking forward to the next painting.

Here's the story in its entirety:

Raven steals the sun

This is an ancient story told on the Queen Charlotte Islands and includes how Raven helped to bring the Sun, Moon, Stars, Fresh Water, and Fire to the world.[1]
Long ago, near the beginning of the world, Gray Eagle was the guardian of the Sun, Moon and Stars, of fresh water, and of fire. Gray Eagle hated people so much that he kept these things hidden. People lived in darkness, without fire and without fresh water.
Gray Eagle had a beautiful daughter, and Raven fell in love with her. In the beginning, Raven was a snow-white bird, and as a such, he pleased Gray Eagle's daughter. She invited him to her father's longhouse.
When Raven saw the Sun, Moon and stars, and fresh water hanging on the sides of Eagle's lodge, he knew what he should do. He watched for his chance to seize them when no one was looking. He stole all of them, and a brand of fire also, and flew out of the longhouse through the smoke hole. As soon as Raven got outside he hung the Sun up in the sky. It made so much light that he was able to fly far out to an island in the middle of the ocean. When the Sun set, he fastened the Moon up in the sky and hung the stars around in different places. By this new light he kept on flying, carrying with him the fresh water and the brand of fire he had stolen.
He flew back over the land. When he had reached the right place, he dropped all the water he had stolen. It fell to the ground and there became the source of all the fresh-water streams and lakes in the world. Then Raven flew on, holding the brand of fire in his bill. The smoke from the fire blew back over his white feathers and made them black. When his bill began to burn, he had to drop the firebrand. It struck rocks and hid itself within them. That is why, if you strike two stones together, sparks of fire will drop out.
Raven's feathers never became white again after they were blackened by the smoke from the firebrand. That is why Raven is now a black bird.

Nov 6, 2009

New Beginnings

So a while back I posted my feelings about my day job and its effect on my happiness. Since then I came to a decision to make change in my life and become the person I really want to be. I want to be someone who spends more time creating artwork and working on projects that are meaningful and/or of interest to me. I want to be less cranky and more graceful about the ups and downs of life.

So how do you go about changing your life? For me, I had to let go of some things that confused my life path. Believing that I should value myself by the salary I earned or the title I achieved was a problem. Driving nearly an hour to and from work was frustrating and sucked up a lot of my free time and energy. Watching people I cared about, trained, and built loyal business relationships with get fired or leave my company, one after another was demoralizing.

So I decided to start over.

I am very lucky to be married to an understanding man, and in a position to be a little flexible with finances. Together we agreed that I would be able to leave my job and focus more on the fine art work that I really wanted to create. I would also take on freelance multimedia projects to supplement our income, and start working towards more rewarding projects with our company Pixel-Artistry. We have created some screensavers and multimedia together in the past, but generally time constraints prohibit us from doing this very often. I have so many ideas for media projects in my head, and now I can make some of them a reality.

It's already been about three weeks since I left the day job to work on my own. It's been busier than I thought it would be. Because of leads from some wonderful friends, I have had a couple of paid projects to work on, and some decent communication about future ones. I attended a fantastic workshop with Annie Silverman at my alma mater MassArt on course design, and am writing a course description that I hope will lead me to some work as a teacher for summer of 2010. I have been doing more painting, and have joined a women's creative group in Providence where I can connect with new people and attend more art events. I have also been brainstorming a special art project involving a family member's charity for children afflicted with heart defects. This is a long-term project that I will write more about later - it deserves its own post, and I would like to blog about the process as it develops.

There's so much more to accomplish! But I am so very, very fortunate to be able to work like this. I am feeling happier, more at ease with my daily routine, and that I am on the right path to the future I want. I will have to give up some things to keep my life more cost effective, but the tradeoff is so worth it. I'm home with my husband and our animals, I am more engaged in artwork and the artistic community, I'm meeting and working with new and exciting people, and I laugh more. It's wonderful.

So I'll do my best to increase my posts and show some of the art I am creating. Here's to new beginnings!