This second part of “Confronting COVID-19 with Inspired Art and Determination” is adapted from the text description for “Angels of Music Revisited” featured on Fine Art America and at Pixels.com. It combines my tribute to an inspiring historic Italian artist with my own poetry. In you missed part 1 to this post you can check it out here. Part 2 starts now:
Angels of Music Revisited is a mixed media digital painting reinterpretation of the sixteenth century Italian artist Morazzone’s (Pier Francesco Mazzuchelli, 1573 - 1626) “Angel Musicians.” The original 16th century image minus any text was created using black chalk and brown wash, with white gouache used for additional effect. I chose a palette of bronze, gold, and Earth tones contrasting with shades of blue and indigo to suggest a realistic conflict between human suffering and healing spiritual grace.
The background for this edition is meant to duplicate the appearance of classic parchment or an illuminated manuscript. It is also distinguished from the first version by the integration of short quotes (some of them haikus) from my book THE RIVER OF WINGED DREAMS. Most of the quotes are easily read but a couple are partially inverted to emphasize the script’s dual function as text commentary and visual enrichment. That lets it work as a poster and as fine art.
Morazonne’s version was made part of the Getty Museum’s Open Content Project in 2013, classifying it as public domain material appropriate for editing. I wanted to pay tribute to Morazonne’s original vision while hopefully strengthening the sense of visual depth and felt interconnectedness in such a way that it could stand as a true creative response to the COVID-19 2020 pandemic. This seemed fitting enough given the hard hit Morazonne’s homeland of Italy took before the virus jumped the ocean to the U.S.
Below are the quotes from different poems in THE RIVER OF WINGED DREAMS used in the above artwork:
1) Chords of miraculous notions enrich your blessed voice
The extensive impact of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic is, obviously, not something which can be completely summed up, and not at all resolved, by a single creative gesture. But it is through creative expression and productivity that many are sustaining hope and surviving the restrictions of self-imposed quarantine these extremely difficult days. From the beginning, a huge part my purpose for chronicling stories, making poems, and creating visual art has been to help alleviate the anguish history sometimes imposes upon our lives, and I hope to continue accomplishing that to whatever degree possible in this current uncertain hour.
© Harlem Renaissance Centennial
This is technically the third work of art to be included in my Redbird Series but the fourth included in the Redbird Gallery at Fine Art America . A recent visitor to the gallery shared some comments offline about her interpretations of the meaning of red cardinals in my life. I found her remarks very interesting because they reminded me of passages from one of my most recently-completed manuscripts in which I discuss how different birds have functioned as symbols in my literary work. Probably the best known is identified in the title of the poetry collection: Visions of a Skylark Dressed in Black.
What I find particularly interesting about the red cardinal is that it actually has not been incorporated into my writings. The preferred mode of creative expression, where it is concerned, seems to be visual art.
While finishing "Redbird in the Valley of Beautiful Possibilities," I recalled a former co-worker telling me the red cardinal was kind of like a shooting or falling star. "When you see a red bird," she explained, "you should blow it a kiss for good luck." I don't know how many people have discovered that to be either true or false but the artist in me considers the idea very poetic.
"Redbird Sifting Beauty out of Ashes" is the second print in the Redbird Series and my homage to those battling California's historic wildfires of 2018. . It is a landscape-formatted artwork consisting of nature photography, layered oil, digital painting, custom-designed matting, customized framing, and signature Postered Chromatic Poetics digital processing.
The balanced light and dark hues, with colors appearing to emerge from smoky shadows, framed by shades of gold, teal, and rust make it easy to imagine the cardinal at the center of this work surrounded by danger as well as inspired beauty. The landscape formatting make this art particularly desirable for either large wall canvases or smaller purchases like cups and cards, from which a substantial percentage of the proceeds will go toward support for survivors of the California wildfires.
Whether it's because I lived in California for a number of years or because the magnitude of the blazing destruction taking place there at present is so overwhelming, "Redbird Sifting Beauty out of Ashes" is my tribute to those caught up in the 2018 inferno. As horrendous as it is, so many are rising to the challenge of surviving, continuing to fight the monstrous flames, and somehow rebuilding shattered lives.
Yet at the same time that I find myself so deeply moved by the devastation taking place in California, I realize we are living in an era when different kinds of "natural" and man-made disasters are forcing many people to start all over again all over the world. "Redbird Sifting Beauty out of Ashes" is a visualized hope they all find the strength, faith, determination, and support needed to succeed.
I'm not sure how to go about it at this point but am looking for ways to donate a sizable percentage of sales from this work to relief funds for people coping with the wildfires. If anyone has any suggestions I would appreciate receiving them via either message here or in the comments section.
When I look at this artwork in its current form, I am reminded of the late art critic Bertha Husband's description of the style and technique known as "real" painting. In her review of the ELEMENTAL Exhibit then on display at the Jepson Center for the Arts in Savannah, Georgia, she actually excluded from the definition my own fondness for mixed media and growing appreciation of the digital canvas. But what I find applicable from her review and relevant to my experience with this work is Ms. Husband's observation about the artist confronting a blank canvas with just the following:
"...an idea that cannot be expressed in words, and perhaps just a few sketches. The painting is realized in the process of its creation, and the end result can often surprise the painter, himself."
That entire last sentence and the part about being surprised oneself is especially true in the case of Song of Love and Compassion. Believe it or not, it started out as a light sketch for pages containing single words popping up out of a book (I still might try that again). Or maybe just one page containing a quote. In the course of considering things like text fonts and placement, I got so carried away with fusions of colors and lyrical lines until what was supposed to be something more concrete and representational evolved into an abstract celebration of shared humanity. I wasn't just surprised. I was flat-out stunned.
Different people looking at this artwork might tend to see different things. Some may see a mysterious cloaked (possibly winged) figure that appears to be either ascending or descending in a cloud of chromatic light. Others discern something along the lines of space nebulae, a jeweled tapestry, or a simple colorful holiday greeting card. What I see and feel is a small tribute in the form of a visual ode to the ordinary folks of this world who continue to give life invaluable meaning just by treating each other with such tax-free things as kindness, compassion, and mutual respect.
©14 July 2018
Lovers Dancing in the Golden Light of Dawn is one of those pieces I had to force myself to stop working on after years of experimenting with different ideas for it. A number of artists have told me about similar struggles deciding when to quit or whether to "give up" a certain work for sale.
I got started on Lovers Dancing in the Golden Light of Dawn back in April 2016. A lot of U.S. citizens at the time were concerned about unification as an extremely divisive presidential campaign got underway. Thus even though the two figures seen here are confronting each other, they are also celebrating the democratic process of a peaceful transference of power from one political administration to another.
The style chosen for this image was inspired by the painted linocut art of Luther E. Vann published in ELELENTAL, The Power of Illuminated Love, a book he and I created together and published with the assistance of the Telfair Museum of Art. The woodcut images in the book are "The Boudoir" (p. 25), "Washington Park/A Night Out" (p. 48), and "Star People" (p. 71). However, with Lovers Dancing in the Golden Light of Dawn I mixed that particular technique with a layered oil pigment effect.
Early experiments using photographed eagles as models resulted in a single silhouetted figure that was featured in my poster titled How to Hear Each Other. At the same time that I doubled the figures to underscore the significance of balanced relationships, I decreased their physical density. This was done to emphasize the feelings of emotional or spiritual connectedness some people say they experience when committed to consciously practicing love and compassion as an antidote to the damage caused by hate groups.
The final sections of the sound waves in the upper left quadrant, the waves of metallic teal light in the right, and the entire bottom section of the sparkling green river and shadowed banks took months to design and apply. The creation of the gold frame is a developing story in itself and is another one of my attempts to employ frames which supplement the narrative of the portrait or landscape.
Flowers and Wings for Her Years and Tears was almost titled Roses and Wings for Caring and Giving because of the subject which inspired it. Elderly matriarchs in most large southern families in America have traditionally been taken care of by younger female relatives when the time for such attentiveness came. The situation was different in the case of this family portrait. The matriarch seen seated in the lower left corner was looked after by an adult son, standing behind her.
More and more people around the world are coping with the issue of caring for the elderly as different countries' populations age. Depending on the culture, some see the challenge as a burden while others view it as a blessing or ennobling responsibility.
The flowers in this instance represent an accumulation of the woman's grace over the years and also the gifts of wisdom and patience that make caring for each other possible. On the woman's dress is a glowing winged figure carrying a yellow rose but the figure itself appears empty on the inside. This emptiness is symbolic of the loneliness from which many elders (and Millennials for that matter) tend to suffer on our planet even though we number in the billions with individual mega-cities containing populations of more than 15 million. Moving toward the woman to help alleviate the pain of loneliness is another winged figure bearing light and carrying a rose to fill the painful hollow void. The caregiver benefits as much from this exchange of beauty and intentional compassion as the one receiving care.
I wanted a frame for this print that would function as an extension of the artistic theme and of the portrait itself, so worked to construct one of gold-embossed flowers to do exactly that. Felt humbled by the surprising results.
The abstract print Cultural Literacy for Lovers & Dreamers Number 1 along with its corresponding piece, Cultural Literacy for Lovers & Dreamers Number 2, was created out of recognition of the millions of people currently #seeking relief from war, starvation, terrorism, gun violence, drug addiction, & various forms of intense struggles in the world.
The concept of cultural literacy has become an important one as #immigrants attempt to #assimilate into new #communities across the globe. It has also increased in significance as diverse demographic groups--like #Women, Latinos, LGBTQ, #Asians, Middle Easterners--within various countries have begun exercise considerable political power and social influence.
The symbols of opposition in the #painting see here are easily apparent but these are not what ultimately define it. The discerning #viewer will also notice harmonizing forces attempting actions which ultimately result in mutually-beneficial unions. It is a visual representation of one of those strange things about human beings wherein we somehow often manage to extract out of our individual and collective suffering different kinds of #beauty: such as #love, compassion, & yes, art.
My hope is that all the abstract works in this gallery containing this image reflect some of our capacity for transforming grief and horror into inspiration, healing, and love.
The current celebration of the 10th anniversary of ELEMENTAL, The Power of Illuminated Love, continues this week with the posting of two new print images: Portrait of the Poet as an Angel Drunk on Love, and, Black When Haitians Were Heroes in America (first in a series of 4).
The beautiful irony of this part of the celebration is that for the original ELEMENTAL book and museum project sponsored by the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia, my contribution consisted of poetry and essays. For this 10th anniversary celebration, following the passing in 2016 of my co-creator, Luther E. Vann, on the original work, I am now producing visual and literary art.
In addition to commemorating the anniversary of ELEMENTAL, I like to think the new images on Fine Art America also pay some small tribute to the creative vision manifested in Vann's work. That would, in addition, mean acknowledging the exemplary labors of such Harlem Renaissance artists as Romare Bearden and Beauford Delaney.
You can check out both new images by clicking on the link. The extended descriptions of each can give you some idea of what inspired the titles and creation of the images themselves.
May 11th, 2018
I have received a lot of encouragement from the great community at Fine Art America since joining a couple of months ago and today was notified about my first sale. It is for of a pack of Official Chromatic Poetics greeting cards titled “Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge The Morning After Hurricane Matthew No. 2.”
Have to admit to being very moved by the sale of this particular image because the black and white composition was inspired by the work of my late great friend photographer Jack Leigh.
With hurricane season now fully upon us, this particular image along with the artwork titled “The Hurricane and the Confederate Monuments” make good reminders to plan ahead for possible catastrophic weather conditions. The link is to the Talmadge Bridge image that sold.
Fountains are among the most admired ornamental man-made structures because they combine the artistic beauty of refined sculpture with the precision of engineering and architecture. Celebrated examples can be found all over the world, including in Savannah, Georgia.
One of the city's most famous is the subject of two new Postered Chromatic Poetics images. Below is the text for them and although I like both, I confess to being particularly pleased by the results achieved with Champagne Twilight:
CHAMPAGNE TWILIGHT: FORSYTH PARK FOUNTAIN IN SAVANNAH, GEORGIA (USA)
The elegantly-sculpted Forsyth Park Fountain, also referred to as the Versailles Fountain, dates back to the 1850s when model for it was derived from French-styled designs of the period. Along with the Confederate Monument, this is one of the primary centerpieces of Forsyth Park. The present-day fountain is the result of many renovations over the past century and a half, including a complete restoration in 1988.
A robed woman adorns the top of the fountain as water birds and tritons (or mermen) spout water below. In addition to benches that allow passersby to sit and enjoy the view, the fountain is surrounded by moss-covered oaks, palm trees, magnolias, and elms.
Prior to becoming known as Forsyth Park, the location during the Civil War was the South Common military encampment where POWS and a hospital were maintained.
SEPIA AFTERNOON: FORSYTH PARK FOUNTAIN IN SAVANNAH, GEORGIA (USA)
A solitary figure stops in front the Forsyth Park Fountain to enjoy one of the city of Savannah's most popular and majestic attractions.
Ever since the days following the American Civil War, the fountain has been a favorite location for residents and visitors alike to take photographs. During the war, the park was known as the South Common military encampment where prisoners of war, a hospital, and poor house were maintained.
The fountain's spraying water is dyed green every year in celebration of St. Patrick's Day. In this image, late afternoon sunlight on a hot summer day creates an amber sepia haze that colors the air and water, slightly clarified and enhanced by digital filter.
Award-winning author and artist acclaimed for works in multiple creative genres.