Handmade paints & 22k gold leaf on sheep skin parchment
Image Size: 6" x 7.5"
Mother is inspired by early Armenian manuscript illuminations. Each piece is made with 22k Gold leaf and handmade paints and is on sheep skin parchment. These paintings explore the source and nature of the creative process, in particular, the alchemical idea that actions performed in the physical world have a corresponding reaction in the interior spiritual world. This is reflected in both the materials I used and the imagery.
While making these piece, I entered deeply into the creative process and achieved a greater intimacy with the divine well of creativity. I was opened so more artwork could pour through me. According to alchemical philosophy, that energy of opening which I experienced was captured in this painting and it therefore can act as a key for others seeking to open to their own creative process.
Every material was handmade by me from medieval recipes except the sheep skin parchment. The processes at work in these recipes are deeply linked to spiritual symbolism. Take for example, Gilding, the process of adhering a thin sheet of gold leaf to a painting’s surface. First the artist applies bed of clay and glue called gesso and allows it to dry. Next, the artist breathes deeply on the clay to reactivate the glue. This gesso symbolizes the clay from which God formed Adam, the first man. When the artist breathes, it symbolizes God blowing the breath of life into Adam. I ground tree sap, stones, metals, cooked plants and sorted earths. All the while I was in a deep meditative state, seeking to become the funnel for creative energy to pour into the art supplies I was creating. These pieces explore the alchemical idea that actions performed in the physical world have a corresponding reaction in the interior spiritual world. So as I transformed my materials, I transformed and healed myself. This is done by staying through the technical difficulties, breathing and being with any emotions of frustration of feelings from the past that surface. By stay through the process, things shift, recipes complete outside as emotions clear inside.
I did not make the sheep skin parchment they are painted on, but as I painted, I was acutely aware of the cycle of life and death, rebirth and regeneration. I understood that I was honoring the animal who died and bringing a new form of life to its body.
For more on this process see Finding the Sacred in Contemporary Art on my blog.