Here’s a painting I made for my wife late last year, for her birthday. Godzilla, you done got knocked the #*@$ out!
The white marks scattered across her head are from paper left atop the painting before the varnish had completely cured. The paper stuck to the varnish enough to rough it’s smooth surface when it was pulled away. It’s easy to repair– just sand them down and re-varnish. It’s what I get for painting it and gifting it last-minute. Acrylic really needs at least a good week after it dries to cure properly.
“Woman, in the picture language of mythology… is the guide to the sublime acme of sensuous adventure. By deficient eyes she is reduced to inferior states; by the evil eye she is spellbound to banality and ugliness. But she is redeemed by the eyes of understanding. The hero who can take her as she is, without undue commotion but with the kindness and assurance she requires, is potentially the king, the incarnate god, of her created world.”
–The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell
I’m working on another painting of Kali. Below are some studies. Kali’s grimace is a challenging expression to illustrate– it may not really exist in reality. Each of these faces has an element I want in the painting, but none of them are exactly what I want. This is often the way of using reference– you have to extract from it the details that you have trouble visualizing, but the final synthesis still has to go on in your head. Often being too true to your reference (at least in fantastical paintings as I tend to make) just ends up being a painting of someone dressed up as a goddess, rather than the goddess herself.
Kali is a theme I return to often. I’m not a Hindu, nor are my paintings of this Hindu Goddess particularly honest or true to the religion she comes from. But the idea– this personification of the destructive element of the female; the recognition that to be alive means someday to die; this cosmic mother that gives life to all, yet beheads and devours her children… well, let’s just say she’s a potent symbol, and has much to offer to a simple painter like myself. Being raised a westerner, a destructive, powerful and deadly female– who isn’t a villain— is extremely novel, and as such, fascinating. Each of my paintings of her grasp a different tiny shard of her meaning, letting the rest, the really important parts, slip away. I suppose that’s why I keep coming back. Next time I might be able to hold onto more.