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.