The newest little Moleskine sketch, 4.5 x 3 inches:
The Lady Providence
After a few months of hardly opening the sketchbook, these latest little Strange Tales have been practically gushing out. Originally, these little drawings started as sketched-out ideas for larger drawings, but lately I just open to a new sketchbook page and start drawing and then the faces emerge and then the details and then the background and then the little drawing is finished and I am on to the next little Strange Tale (whew!). I do not stop and think about or even look at the finished sketches critically, and I am not particularly concerned with how they fit into my larger "body of work". My aim - as far as any of my art goes - is to go with the flow of my drawings: whenever I get involved with pondering on my ambitions or planning a series or even considering any outside response to the images I create, I try to remember that there is a risk of becoming sidetracked or swayed into extrinsic expectations (even imagined ones) rather than following one's intrinsic and unhindered artistic journey. As far as the Strange Tales, I try not to worry about whether or not anyone would find these little drawings to be too illustration-like, and I enjoy them for what they are and where they take me, without too much deliberation.
Interestingly, I have been drawing them in a very stream-of-consciousness manner, and this is a complete contrast to the large-scale drawing that I am currently working on in the studio. [Steadily, tirelessly, patiently, and persistently working on, that is, and at times it seems to go only at a snail’s pace (actually it is more of a snake-scale-by-snake-scale pace, but I won’t elaborate on that just yet)].
I first pilfered the Lady Providence’s eye-flower 15 years ago from an image of St. Catherine to use in one of my large scale drawings (I believe it was a St. Catherine painting, but I only have a vague mental impression of something like a Cimabue or later, gold leaf, Italianate, but the actual painting in mind is a bit fuzzy now). According to my little handbook on Christian symbolism in art (a holdover from one of my past art history obsessions), the flower is a symbol for cause and effect, beginning and end, because it is both the bearer and product of the seed, and the eye symbolizes both physical and spiritual sight. And, with a little thought, I would bet that most people could figure out the meaning of those symbols without the aid of a book on symbolism. At any rate, although the thorns are a bit wicked, The Lady Providence carries her little all-seeing flower with fortitude and grace.
Speaking of stealing imagery, I am totally besotted* with an image of Queen Elizabeth I entitled the “Rainbow Portrait”:
Check out that cloak of eyes and ears, a solid 300 years before the birth of Salvador Dali! Elizabeth, ever enthusiastic with promoting herself via portraiture, was certainly letting the world know that not only is she so all-supreme that she holds a rainbow in her hand, her eyes and ears are also wide open (again, the symbol book is not necessary). This painting is from the end of her reign when her power was well established, hence these more god-like portraits of her were painted; past the stoic imagery of the virgin queen and into the realm of delineating one’s history through divine propaganda. Go, Elizabeth, go!
As far as stealing - oh yes, that fabulous little cloak will someday appear in one of my drawings…
*I should mention that I am also a bit smitten with Elizabeth herself - I avidly read biographies and historical fiction of the time period - so I can’t believe that I had not seen this painting before last week during a bit of late-night cruising on Wikipedia. Alas, if I ever manage to get to the UK again, I will have to fit in a day trip/pilgrimage to ogle it in person.