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Repainting: Spirit of the Desert

So, a while back I did a painting inspired by going to Milwaukee's Indian Summer Festival and watching the dancers. I was very proud of it, but it lacked contrast. Still, where I was in skill, I hesitated to mess with it. I liked the composition and a lot of other things about it, and didn't want to risk ruining what I'd achieved.

But my skill and my confidence have both improved, in part thanks to @EllenMillion's sketchfest, and so finally, this week, I risked it.

I made almost no actual changes, but I added layers of paint to give it contrast and I added a lot of detail. Before it was very orange. Now it's still very orange, but it's more than that. (I should have thought to take a "before" picture. There might be one on my computer, but I'm tired, and I'm not taking the time to look.)

So, here is my Spirit of the Desert (with a watermark). It's acrylic on a 9 x 12 inch canvass.

Comments welcome! I'm at the *stare at it for a few days to see if it's done* stage.

This entry was originally posted at http://wyld-dandelyon.dreamwidth.org/441620.html. Be welcome to comment wherever you prefer.



( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 14th, 2017 11:27 am (UTC)

It's beautiful

Jan. 14th, 2017 07:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Jan. 14th, 2017 01:23 pm (UTC)
That's very "solar"! Although the dancer seems to be wearing Ojibwe-style feather rosette dance ornaments, and the drummer also looks vaguely Northern, the spirit lizards and the face in the sky are definitely desert-born!
Jan. 14th, 2017 07:39 pm (UTC)
The festival I went to, which was the inspiration for this painting, had a lot of different tribes represented, and many of them were dancing together. I also talked to a couple of dancers, and those particular dancers stressed individual inspiration for their outfits rather than tribal traditions. I doubtless missed a lot of subtlety and significance, but I think that is always the case when you come to another culture as an outsider, especially in a public festival setting. So your analysis is interesting and appreciated.
Jan. 15th, 2017 08:13 am (UTC)
I used to go to pow-wows occasionally, when I lived in NYC (there's actually an annual one, held on a working farm in the borough of Queens!), and I have always been interested in the various forms of Native American spirituality, as well as the different artistic representations of their spirituality. Most "Americans" think that all "Indians" wear the Plains-style feathered headdress, but of course there are many different kinds of garments and ornaments that are worn for dances and other ceremonies.

The Ojibwe/Chippewa/Anishinabeg use "rosettes" of feathers - arranged in a circle, with beadwork covering the center where the tips meet - on their dance outfits. (The arrangement of the feathers on such a rosette has a vague resemblance to the front part of a war bonnet, but they're not really related.) Usually there's one large one attached to a belt, so that it lies just above the fullest part of the buttocks, and often another large one above that on the wearer's back. Smaller rosettes are worn on the upper arms, and there are feathers attached singly to a headband. The rosettes make a particularly impressive display when worn by an energetic, skilled dancer :-)

That was my first impression of your dancer - that you were painting your impression of an Ojibwe fancy-dancer. But now I see that the lines radiating outward might also represent energy that the dancer is raising up and channeling, very probably related to the lightning and the lizards. There's even something faintly Mexican or Central American about the whole scene - you've got a lot of Power there!

Jan. 16th, 2017 09:42 am (UTC)
I know that the dancers I saw certainly impressed me in their raising of both energy and beauty. There probably was an Ojibwe fancy dancer there, who was part of my inspiration.

Thanks again for your comments! I've enjoyed reading them. Some of what you say that rings true to me wasn't really in the verbal/conscious part of my brain, which was busy focusing on and expanding my painting skills at the time I made the original painting. It's fascinating hearing what other people think of your work when they don't get what was in your heart/mind at the time, but it can be even more fascinating to hear when they do get it.
Jan. 16th, 2017 11:40 am (UTC)
You're welcome, as always! I've just always been fascinated by the region where folkways, mythology, and spirituality intersect, so I've read, observed, asked questions, and basically been a pain in the butt about it most of my life. My brain likes to find similarities, resonances, and patterns among all the stuff I've learned.

Meanwhile, I envy you tremendously, because I can't make graphic art at all, and never could :-(

Jan. 17th, 2017 02:02 am (UTC)
Making graphic art is partially in seeing the similarities, resonances, and patterns of things visually, and partially about hand-eye coordination and practice. Short of having a disability in one of these areas, if you really want to be able to sketch or paint, you could learn.

And if not, if your life is full of things you enjoy already, well that is a fine thing.
Jan. 18th, 2017 02:32 pm (UTC)
I'm actually a very visual person - I have a near-eidetic memory, and I can visualize things very strongly. But somehow the connection between my brain and my hands doesn't work, when it comes to trying to get the pictures out of my head and onto a surface. (I'm better in three dimensions, although I'm no great shakes at that either.) There are a lot of other things I enjoy doing, and do well... which just makes it more frustrating that there's one kind of thing I CAN'T do. (Well, there's more than one - I also completely suck at math and anything to do with numbers.)
Jan. 14th, 2017 02:10 pm (UTC)
I like it! This is the time of year when we particularly need color and warmth, and your painting fits the need well. I particularly like the background face and the lightning arrow.

Glad you decided to post this.
Jan. 14th, 2017 07:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you and you're welcome!
Jan. 14th, 2017 03:56 pm (UTC)
Nice. The image didn't show up in the Dreamwidth post; that may be because LJ is blocking it based on the referrer; when I open it in a separate tab it works.
Jan. 14th, 2017 07:41 pm (UTC)
That's weird. _I_ can see it on DreamWidth

I would have just uploaded it to DW, but they don't seem to have that function. One of these days, I should get an imgur account or something, I suppose. I'm not at all sure what services are best for what purposes, though.
Jan. 14th, 2017 11:20 pm (UTC)
Huh! Now I see it on DW, too.

Darned gremlins!
Jan. 14th, 2017 04:47 pm (UTC)
That's absolutely BEAUTIFUL!

I love the colors, and the way the white contrasts with the primary themes.
Jan. 14th, 2017 07:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you. The white and blue paints are nearly all new.
Jan. 14th, 2017 06:08 pm (UTC)
Beautiful! Is that a Gila monster in the front? (Or Sheila monster, as I insisted on calling them when I was little)
Jan. 14th, 2017 07:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

I don't remember which type of lizard I was looking at. It wasn't a gila monster, but something a little more slender and that had a weirder hind-foot.
Jan. 15th, 2017 12:48 am (UTC)
Was going to say beaded lizard, but it doesn't look much like that either.
Jan. 16th, 2017 12:25 am (UTC)
I was really going more for Lizard than a lizard.
Jan. 16th, 2017 01:17 am (UTC)
It is a most excellent Lizard.

One of the hazards of having a herpetologist for a brother...
Jan. 15th, 2017 12:03 am (UTC)
I think this is really awesome.
Jan. 15th, 2017 07:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Jan. 16th, 2017 10:24 am (UTC)

Love the colors and it seems both calm and active enough to look at for a bit. I could see putting this in my house.

Jan. 17th, 2017 01:53 am (UTC)
Thank you. I do hope to sell this painting.
Jan. 20th, 2017 12:50 am (UTC)
Very vibrant, & comprehensive. The color palette's different, but the comprehensiveness of it reminds me of the Jane Yolen book, _Welcome To The Sea Of Sand_. I think you'd like it, especially the artwork.
Jan. 20th, 2017 07:14 am (UTC)
Thank you!

I haven't seen that one, or it doesn't come to mind right now. I'll have to look for it.
Jan. 20th, 2017 03:35 pm (UTC)
It's one of those 32-page kid books, but the pictures are large, detailed, & gorgeous. Your local library system probably has it. She's also done similar books in other settings, such as jungles [_Welcome To The Green House_] & the arctic [_Welcome To The Ice House_] & the Everglades [_Welcome To The River Of Grass_].
Jan. 24th, 2017 05:58 pm (UTC)
That is very beautiful! I love the vibrant colors and the energy in it.
Jan. 25th, 2017 11:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )


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