I’m very grateful to have made contact with Peter Barrett of Metanoia Galiano. He runs an art gallery on Galiano island and I am sending him the following work this week. If you are in the area, please drop by and support his good work.
I have personally found it far more empowering to view my difficult experiences as Metanoia or a spontaneous attempt of the psyche to heal itself. I hope my artwork can help others take a more empowering look at their own struggles.
Celtic Brain Knot
I combined the Celtic knot with the brain image to try to bring a sense of sacredness and beauty to an often taken for granted textbook image of the brain. The Celtic knot also represents an interconnected, intertwined pattern of complexity that mirrors that of our brain’s incredible connectome. Because Celtic knots were often used to decorate sacred objects and illuminate sacred manuscripts I am hoping that the viewer will make the connection that the brain too is a sacred organ, its development a sacred process, and it must be treated as such. In many languages, including Old English, the word for health and wholeness is the same and with this work I hope to show a whole interconnected pattern made of separate intertwined lines to represents the holistic health of the brain and the human.
The complete interweaving of my Celtic knot was compromised to include more brain anatomy such as the central and lateral sulcus. I feel this was an appropriate artistic decision because it is more important that the work represent a brain and represent a Celtic knot then accurately portray one over the other.
I used a marker and watercolor pencils to render this illustration because I believe the hand drawn approach has a more organic, human touch. The imperfections are due to human hands but it still comes across as a beautiful, intricate work of art. I like the boldness and accuracy of the marker contrasted with the softness and organic textures of the watercolor. There is something about art rendered by the hand that makes the viewer think: “I can appreciate that! It is done by a human, I could do that too!” I wanted that feeling to also be a part of this art.
I came across this poem at a time in my life when I was feeling quite lost, quite stuck and I found it very helpful. In the painting I did here I am trying to convey the idea of being lost in your own mind and taking the same advice to be still and get to know the “forest” around you.
What do I do if I am lost in the forest?
Stand still. Stand still
The trees ahead and the bushes along side of you are not lost.
Wherever you are is called here.
You must treat it as a powerful stranger and ask permission to know it and be known.
Listen. Listen. The forest breathes.
It whispers, “I have made this place around you. If you leave it, you can come back again.”
No two trees are the same to the raven.
No two branches are the same to the wren.
If what a tree or a branch does is lost on you, then you are surely lost.
Stand still. Stand still.
The forest knows where you are. You must let it find you.
– Northwestern American Indian proverb, as told by David Whyte.
Grain of Salt or Grain of Truth?
This painting is a wet on wet watercolor with the three primary colors (yellow got covered up) sprinkled with salt. An old prescription (I lost it, got another and found it again) and page from the physician’s desk reference manual of the medication prescribed ripped up and glued on top.
After describing to my doctor a therapy (fairly mainstream) that I was reading about and thought it was doing me some good he reminded me to “take it with a grain of salt”. In my head I said “Like your medicine doctor?”
Triskelion Tree of Life
After struggling with duality in my own mind, I was introduced to this poem by the Anthroposophist, Rudolf Steiner. This poem is about the trinity of human creativity. The archetypal tree of life depicted in this image grounds itself in will, grows through feeling and reaches towards enlightenment. The triskelion is a three limbed symbol appearing in many early cultures and one Celtic Christians continue to use as a symbol of the trinity.
In the heart the weaving feeling,
in the head the light of thinking,
in the limbs the strength of willing.
This is the Human Being
This work was done as part of a workshop with Anthroposophical artist Malcolm Glover at the Calgary Waldorf School. I started off with quite a fragmented background but out of the fragments a tree emerged, then a cocoon off the tree and finally a butterfly. The understanding of my seemingly fragmented journey is quite influenced by the writing of depth and ecopsychologist Bill Plotkin and in his book “nature and the human soul” he describes a phase of life he calls the cocoon, it is my hope that I am finally ready to emerge from this stage in my life.
My dragon work is largely based on trying to understand the mythical basis of some of my delusions and fears. I attempted to do this by reading some of the work of Joseph Campbell but I now have a more feminist approach to dragons. I currently see dragons as repressed feminine creative energy and I like this poem by Rilke.
“Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.” – Rilke
She is a monster with a soft spot and if you can find it her treasures will be revealed to you.
She is a monster of the dark damp organic wet lands and if you respect her she will revitalize you.