Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Delicate Strength

It's been a crazy past two weeks. I'm just happy to have completed two consecutive art shows between writing and re-shuffling things in the studio while also getting a chance to hang out with some great UFC fighters again at their party in Mississauga during their brief weekend in town. It was great to spend time with Shonie again, along with some old familiar faces. While I'm not a big fan of the attitude surrounding the sport, I have a great deal of respect for some of the fighters who are so down to earth despite their celebrity status and talent. The beauty of the art or sport of grappling is in its fluid strength rather than brute strength since mere brute force isn't the only determining factor of victory on the mat. I couldn't quite remember where exactly I first read the quote that was partly the subconscious inspiration behind the painting below. Digging up my old yellow-paged copy of the Tao Teh King by Lao Tzu, I found the passage I bookmarked years ago:

"In life, man is soft and tender,
In death he is rigid and hard.
In life, plants and trees are soft and pliant.
In death, they are withered and tough.
Thus rigidity and hardness are companions of death.
Softness and tenderness are companions of life.
That is why the soldier who trusts only in strength does not conquer.
The tree that relies on its strength invites the axe.
Great strength dwells below.
Softness and tenderness dwell above."
(From the Tao Teh King by Lao Tzu)
Gotta love book sales! If I have a bigger weakness than bookstores it's gotta be discount book sales. There's a certain charm about used books from old bookstores. There is a certain mystery about them that make you wonder about their previous owners and how they could have let such treasures go. I wonder how many hands they have been passed through and whether or not those people are still alive. There's a dedication in this one which reads, "To Rupert on his 26th birthday, from Cedrick," dated August 1974. Rupert will be 61 this August if he's still alive. He received this book when he was just a little older than I was when I bought it as a teen. I wonder what he has gained from reading it and whether or not it had a major impact on his outlook in life. In either case, I'm grateful for it being sent my way. Below is what is currently my smallest painting on canvas which is hanging at Ben Navaee Gallery's Small is Beautiful show.

Gentle Strength 6" x 6" Acrylic on canvas 2009

Lotus: Birth, rebirth, perseverance, transformation, spiritual awakening, triumph.

The lotus flower has many symbolic links in Asian religions as a symbol of enlightenment and transformation. Its association with birth and rebirth is due to its nature of opening its petals to greet the sun at sunrise and closing them after sunset.
As a symbol of triumph over hardships in life, the lotus begins life as a small flower hidden deep in the bottom of the pond, its beauty obscure, its strength unapparent in the mud and murky water, until it rises above the surface to bloom with all its beauty.

Its stem anchors the flower firmly in the ground so it is not easily washed away in a storm, representing fortitude as well as our ties to our personal roots and past while the flower represents the fruit of our labour. As the lotus bud had to struggle to rise above its humble beginnings to transform into an object of beauty, so is the human spirit beautified and made stronger with each challenge it overcomes.

Dragonfly wings:
Light, joy, strength, maturity, change, adaptation.

Dragonflies are associated with many different meanings depending on cultural beliefs. The Japanese see them as symbols of strength, courage and happiness as well as martial success due to the similarity in the sound of the word "dragonfly" and "victory" in Japanese. Fragile, gentle, yet powerful in its flight as it gracefully darts in the air devouring other insects and peacefully hovers above water at other times, the dragonfly can be viewed as a symbol of gentle strength. As a creature that starts its life in the water to soar as a creature of the air most powerful in the summer with its wings reflecting the light of the sun, it symbolizes change and the self knowledge that comes with maturity.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Greeting the Dawn

Hi guys! It's been a while since my last post as things have gotten really busy on this end. Preparing for three art shows all opening in one month while taking time to train and write is not easy. I haven't painted flowers in a while and I had a specific angle in mind from which I wanted to approach this piece so I spent one day of the long weekend taking some reference pictures of tulips at Centre island for the painting I'm donating to the Parkinson's society at next week's charity art auction. I'm really excited to see how the show will turn out.

Next Wednesday, June 10th, drop by Gallery 402 at 402 King St. East to help support the Parkinson Society of Canada in funding their research for a cure. The theme of this show will revolve around tulips since the tulip is their symbol. The best news? Bids start dirt cheap at $25 so there's a great chance you can walk away with the following painting at a great price.

The flowers rising from the earth always reach forward to greet the sun and stars. They never look down at their own shadows, nor does the shadow of anything greater or above them ever discourage them from reaching ever forward no matter what the skies bring.

Eight tulips represent positive change:

  1. Green bud: Growth, life, hope.
  2. White: Purification, peace, hope, faith.
  3. Gold: Life as the life giving source of the sun, positive thinking and optimism. The yellow tulip opens like a cup receiving heaven’s blessings with gratitude and a bright face.
  4. Pink: Love, friendship and healing.
  5. Orange: Energy in motion.
  6. Red: Strength and freedom.
  7. Blue: Tranquility and healing.
  8. Magenta: Vitality. A purplish pink shade containing the joint meanings of pink which stands for healing, with purple representing healing and progress.

Dawn brings illumination and hope as well as improvement and progress with each day.
Dandelions, representing optimism and dreams, are often unappreciated, considered to be weeds despite their medicinal properties. To adults, they are insignificant plants, unwanted in a well-groomed lawn. To children, they are pretty flowers who listen to their whispered wishes before rising to the heavens to carry those wishes to the stars who always shine as rays of hope.