I am embarking upon a new art series, "The Elementals". Elementals are understood in multiple traditions as energetic beings who work with Earth, Air, Fire, and Water in our ecosystems. The call to make a series of art devoted to these beings came from my wanderings and workings in the forests, fields, and mountains, in last year's warmer seasons. The subject matter seemed particularly in line with my own 'mission', the statement of which I have been honing: 'The art of Aralia Rose reflects Woman as Goddess; Man as God; Humanity as Divine. Her earthy, rich images help anchor an emerging movement towards embodied awakening and creation of a conscious spiritual relationship between humans and nature. Inclusion of ceremony in her artistic process infuses images with an understanding of oneness with the Divine. Aralia’s archetypal works evoke spiritual connection with elemental, seasonal cycles of nature, the sacredness of the earth, and our own physical being. Her images create energetic portals which communicate deep spiritual truths, resonating with many paths."
Over several years I've developed a specific art process. I think of it as "ceremonial portraits". The story of my process with Austin, the model for the first elemental, is illustrative.
Austin wanted to work with Earth or Water. As a first step I brainstormed concepts. I came up with lots of ideas on the thinking/mind level, but many of them felt forced.
One day in the midst of this process, walking in a spruce forest at about 10,000 feet near Taos Ski Valley, I veered off trail to explore. As I climbed a hill in silence, a young bull elk emerged above me. Each aware of the other, we stopped, and stood watching one other for some time.
I sat on a large, mossy rock and gazed at the elk. He sat at the top of the hill and returned my gaze. It was a magical sight; the late afternoon sunlight was streaming through the tree tops in golden columns, full of dust motes. The elk emerged from the rays like an otherworldly vision.
I soon connected the experience to the Celtic lord of the hunt, Cernunnos, or "The Horned God." Cernunnos is also known as "The Green Man" in many parts of the UK. I contacted Austin with the idea. He responded enthusiastically, saying that this resonated with his own spiritual path.
Austin and I went to the forest together, where we created ceremonial space before doing a photo shoot. I asked Austin to listen to his intuition as we proceeded. He stepped into the archetype and let the energies emerge; I held the space for this to happen.
Arriving at Elsewhere Studios in Paonia, Colorado, for a five month artist's residency several weeks ago, my main concern was with the style I had been working in- tight, photo realistic, and illustrative. Recent paintings are beautiful and magical, but the process had become painstaking and unwieldy. My first intention was to open up my working style to let in more flow, movement, and elasticity.
The group of artists here immediately began collaborating. We started with an art critique, and decided to do an "art experimentation day". I am now playing with watercolor and gouache techniques beyond those I have already been using. I've ordered some other materials such as chalk and ink to add into the mix. I'm feeling into a style that contrasts looser techniques and illustrative, realistic work.
I'm also throwing pottery in the clay studio here, to help me move into a more meditative space. When I throw, I focus on finding the center of the piece and staying there; closing my eyes and being present with the moving clay. This is a way to infuse my art with fresh new energy by 'switching gears'.
The art that has started to emerge feels very alive and resonant, and I'm excited to see where the process leads!