As artists, I'm sure we all get questions about how we integrate our passions and ideas into our finished works. And oftentimes we're asked what motivated or inspired certain designs/compositions. So, for anyone who has ever looked at my portfolio and thought, "I wonder how she came up with THAT one," here's my attempt at an answer. :)
I guess one really has to start with the basics, like how and where you were raised. Sometimes heritage plays a big part in molding our creative talents, or family traditions. Then there are the influential moments in our lives...maybe as big as a man walking on the moon or as small as receiving a special book on your fifth birthday or picking flowers in your mother's garden. Obviously we are all made up of countless experiences which shape our spirits and guide us along our way. Well, me too!
Some of my favorite memories as a child were being out in the garden with Mom - helping plant, listening for birds, studying the flowers and animals. Whether on family vacations to lakeside cabins or National Parks, going to camp, fishing in the Ozarks or throwing snowballs in July atop a Rocky Mountain ridgeline, the beauty of the natural world has always been a piece/peace of my soul. This connectiveness probably drove my interest in Native American cultures as well from a young age. Having family in the Southwest also heightened that interest even more and their traditions still facinate me to this day. You can see the Native American influence in several pieces I have up in my personal online galleries HERE .
On the polar opposite end of the spectrum, another fond memory was getting to stay up late with my sister to watch scary movies (you'll probably also see a little evidence of this in my galleries). I saw all the classics and then some by the time I was ten and was absolutely facinated by the make-up and creature effects (but then again, growing up with Star Wars, who wouldn't be wowwed by that). If I wasn't drawing animals or Native American themes, then I was combining them into creatures and characters very similar to what you'd see in today's video games and movies. That was my dream back then...to make my living at one of the Hollywood "creature effects" studios. I wish I still had those drawings today! Maybe I'll start a collection of them up one of these days! LOL
Now when you combine all these influences with a sleep-deprived mind, sometimes you get some interesting ideas! The majority of recent compositions in my portfolio were jotted down after being awakened in the middle of the night by a mental snapshot of the finished piece. I'm not sure how many other insomniac artists work this way but it seems to be working rather well for me so far. Not ALL of my work happens this way, but I have to say that the more successful, eye-catching ones all have this is common.
So with all that background in mind, let me take you on a quick journey through the process of creating one piece...say "Summoning The Ancestors."
As with many other pieces, this one awakened me at around 3:30 in the morning. I recall dreaming of fleeting images in Amazon Rainforest and native peoples gathering in a small village for ceremonies. I was brought before a row of skulls, the ancestors of the inhabitants, and watched as they placed the ceremonial feathered headdresses and colored cloth upon them and spread before them offerings of beaded necklaces, herbs and sacred plants. With the souls of the departed appeased from these offerings, a ceremonial bowl was then filled with fresh water and offered to the ancestor. They believed that the water would renew them to life. As I watched, I saw the living faces of the ancestors reflected in the offering bowls and was startled back into wakefulness. Back from dreamland, I got up and scribbled a quick sketch of what I had seen and when I saw it the next day, I really liked it.
I'm not sure if these kind of ceremonies actually take place. I remember seeing a photo some years back of a South American native laying with his head resting on the skull "of an ancestor" and a mention of "ancestor worship" of which I probably made a mental note. But I'm not sure if that was what triggered this dream...although a more recent documentary showed an elder accompanying some boys to see the forbidden cave of the ancestors (I think that was how they explained it). Maybe these have something to do with it or maybe it was the spicy tomato sauce? Just not sure.
In any respect, this is how the idea for "Summoning The Ancestors" came to be. A mish-mash of background interests in nature and native cultures, some obscure mental notes taken from old photos and possibly documentaries, a penchant for drawing feathers and beadwork, a glance toward the paranormal/spiritual realm, a continuing personal journey of transcendence and then some. All these things working together toward the finished product...all these things converging on a piece of white Canson paper for you to interpret through the lens of your own interests/experiences.
Well, I hope this gave you a bit of insite into the dream-inspired aspect of my process. It doesn't always work this way, especially if I'm doing commissioned work, but I have a sketchbook filled with them, ready to be let loose on paper. LOL
Thanks for reading and have a terrific day!!!
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