Wisdom Rests

"Wisdom Rests" by Todd Powelson

“Wisdom Rests” by Todd Powelson

I finished this new artwork, called “Wisdom Rests” (above), a couple of weeks ago but held off on sharing earlier because I wanted to look a little more, and be sure it was done… and, yep, it is done! I worked on Wisdom Rests every day for a couple of months, and it took a lot of time to complete, but I am so happy to see the new piece.

This artwork is a companion to another recent work, called “Wisdom Descends“, and both are part of my larger series, “Songs from the Earth“. Below is a little ditty I wrote to go with my newest artwork here:

Through the great Dark and shattered Light, She steps.
Onward, toward Her Sun.
His red roar becomes a background hum.
His orange glow warms Her body.
And She rests.

In my new artwork you see the sun as a lion, and the earth as a woman. I am interested in mythology, and humanity has always placed characters from our various mythologies up into the stars and onto the planetary bodies. I want that tradition to continue in my work, and use historic symbols to represent objects in space. By associating the sun, planets and stars with a human and animal form, they suddenly become much more relatable.

This artwork is available for purchase as a limited canvas print through toddpowelson.com.

Wisdom Descends

"Wisdom Descends" by Todd Powelson

“Wisdom Descends” by Todd Powelson

Down from the great light spiral She steps,

Spirits great and small follow close behind.

The digital painting (above), called “Wisdom Descends”, was a whole lot of fun to make but took me a very long time to finish. Whew, I’m so glad to see it done, and so happy with how She turned out.

This artwork is based on the old Gnostic story of Sophia. I’ll admit, the story has evolved and changed in my own mind and imagination, but its still heavily inspired by those original Gnostic thinkers.

For me, in my own personal mythology, Sophia (a.k.a. Wisdom) has come to represent the spirit and life-force of the Earth. She is the Earth, and the Earth is something Her spirit created and stepped down into. The Earth is Her material body, and Her spirit and soul sleeps and dreams us all (plants, animals, people) into being.

I know it probably sounds weird, but this is also something that makes me very happy to think about.

Visually, I wanted to focus primarily on the figure, geometry, color, and abstraction. When I started this piece, I’d planned on filling the background with a whole lot more geometry, pattern and shapes, but as I continued working I liked the idea of just leaving the background pure white. Representing the light Sophia is leaving, in favor of the earth-tones of Her material body. The sky and cloud colored fabric morphs into a celestial wing, and in the geometry of that wing you can see hints of animal (primarily bird) shapes following close behind (click the image above for a larger view).

You can buy this as a high quality 20″ x 10″ or a 40″ x 20″ canvas print through my website by visiting www.toddpowelson.com

This artwork will begin Chapter 4 of my “Songs from the Earth” series, and you can check out the rest of that series by clicking here.

Tolkien’s Trees and Landscapes

"The Gardens of the Merking's Palace (Roverandom)" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“The Gardens of the Merking’s Palace (Roverandom)” by J.R.R. Tolkien

The work of J.R.R. Tolkien has been a constant companion throughout my whole life. I discovered The Hobbit when I was 9 years old, and went on to read The Lord of the Rings soon after. My family was living in Taipei at the time, and there was this cool little bookstore just a short bus ride into the city where I was able to find the books in hardcover, which included these huge intricate fold-out maps, and had Tolkien’s beautiful artwork reproduced on the dust-covers. I also found copies of The Unfinished Tales and The Silmarillion in that bookstore too, which I tried to read at the time, but they were probably beyond me…

Ever since then I go through these phases where I become obsessed with Tolkien and his work all over again. I travel to Middle-earth and stay there for a while. As an adult, I tend to focus on The Silmarillion and related titles. There is something about that book and all of the related stories that is just fascinating to me. And so beautiful…

April ’16 was one of those Tolkien themed months for me. Maybe not as intensive as usual, but the theme was still there. Although now that I think about all I read and listened to, I guess there was a whole lot of Tolkien jammed in there.

I listen to a lot of audiobooks while I work and paint, and I started April off by listening to “Tolkien and the West: Recovering the Lost Tradition of Europe” and “Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth“. I also listen to a lot of podcasts while I work, and spent a bit of time listening to the Tolkien Professor’s “Shaping of Middle-earth” series. And then finally, as the month was wrapping up, one of my favorite podcasts, Rune Soup, had a new talkin’ Tolkien episode that I enjoyed hearing.

In that Rune Soup episode, there was some discussion about the drawings and paintings that Tolkien created during his lifetime. I’d seen some of Tolkien’s artwork before, but not a whole lot. I became curious, started to explore, and now I’ve posted many of his trees and landscapes here on ArtDuh so I can see and enjoy them any old time… and you can too!

You can also find many more goodies through the link below:

www.tolkienestate.com

Geek out!

"The Forest of Lothlórien in Spring" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“The Forest of Lothlórien in Spring” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Wudu Wyrtum Faest (Grendel's Mere)" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Wudu Wyrtum Faest (Grendel’s Mere)” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Old Man Willow" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Old Man Willow” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Cove Near the Lizard" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Cove Near the Lizard” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Caerthilian Cove and Lion Rock" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Caerthilian Cove and Lion Rock” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Water Wind and Sand" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Water Wind and Sand” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Shores of Faëry" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Shores of Faëry” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Rivendell" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Rivendell” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"The Hills of the Morning" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“The Hills of the Morning” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Tree in Flower" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Tree in Flower” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Fantasy Landscape" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Fantasy Landscape” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Nargothrond" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Nargothrond” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"by J.R.R. Tolkien" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“by J.R.R. Tolkien” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Alder by a Stream" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Alder by a Stream” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"King's Norton from Bilberry Hill" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“King’s Norton from Bilberry Hill” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Foxglove Year" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Foxglove Year” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Tumble Hill, Near Lyme Regis" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Tumble Hill, Near Lyme Regis” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Flowering Tree" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Flowering Tree” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Lunar Landscape (Roverandom)" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Lunar Landscape (Roverandom)” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Man in the Moon" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Man in the Moon” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"The Cottage, Barnt Green" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“The Cottage, Barnt Green” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Three Trees in a Cubist Style" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Three Trees in a Cubist Style” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Moonlight on a Wood" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Moonlight on a Wood” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Bird in a Flowering Tree" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Bird in a Flowering Tree” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Abstract Design" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Abstract Design” by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Fangorn Forest" by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Fangorn Forest” by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Eighth World

"The Eighth World" by Todd Powelson

“The Eighth World” by Todd Powelson

I’m a pretty big mythology nerd. Always have been, I guess. Even now it informs how I understand the world around me and my place in it. Mythical stories often present us with the personification of different aspects nature and natural forces, and I relate to that very well. Not because I take myth for literal truth, but because I believe myth can point us toward elusive “truth”, and help us understand nature and our history a little better.

I’m a bit of an animist too… well, more than just a bit… I walk through the world and see everything is alive and part of a vast living system. We’ve been taught in this post-Newtonian world that we live in a giant clock-work. A vast and complicated machine, and in a lot of ways this modern world wants us to believe we are also just some sort of bio-machines as well. But I don’t see it that way at all.

I look up to the Sun and see this giant living being. Different than me. Incomprehensible maybe, moving through and interacting with the larger Universe in a way I’ll probably never understand, but still alive.

That’s what my artwork here is trying to show.  This is Sól, Helios, or Ra… a.k.a. the Sun. And like Ra was known to do, the Sun helps create and nourish all life here on our living planet Earth.

It’s the Sun, but the firebirds are also an important part of the image. Maybe they are souls and spirits being forged in, or maybe simply passing through, the Sun. New life traveling from the Sun out into the larger solar system. I do know that the firebirds, together with the Sun, also represent the seven classical planets of the ancient world to me. And for me, that is The Eighth World.

You can buy this as a high quality 24″ x 16″ canvas print over at toddpowelson.com, or by emailing me at toddpowelson (at) comcast.net .

This is part of my “Songs from the Earth” series, and you can check out the rest of that series by clicking here.

A Message from Horus?

Horus

It may be obvious if you scroll through my recent posts, but I’ll just restate that I’ve got ancient Egypt on my mind. I haven’t really sought it out, but Egypt keeps popping up in documentaries and in the books I’ve been reading. Well, maybe I have sought it out a bit because I did read the Corpus Hermeticum twice this week. But still, Egypt has been popping up spontaneously in other places too.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about a dream of Osiris and his family that I had a while back, and explained that it seemed I needed to use that dream in some way. Work with it creatively somehow. Well, I have a pretty good idea on how to use the idea now, and it keeps unpacking itself in my mind and becomes more and more interesting to me all the time.

The truth is though, as an artist, it can be easy to question yourself. Is this idea really a good one?  Is it worth my time? Where do I start? Etc.

Recently, while I was walking up in the hills, I was having these sort of questions. But I was also thinking of my new idea too. Thinking of Osiris. Thinking of his son Horus. What’s weird is, while I was thinking about Horus there was this birds in the trees on my right. I could sort of see it and hear it moving, but it flew away pretty quickly too. Then, about a half an hour later or so walking the other way back down the canyon, having these same questions, thinking of Horus, Osiris and my new idea…

This great big shape came flying down at me on the trail. A bird. So close, at first I thought it’d fly right into me. But it didn’t hit me. Instead, it called out and flew into the trees to my left and perched there about 15 feet or so away from me. A hawk. We just watched each other for a while, a few minutes at least. Usually, I find that the birds I come across up close don’t really want me to take their photo, but this hawk didn’t care. Even after a few minutes of watching each other, it stayed patiently in the tree to let me take a blurry photo (below), and then flew away.

As I walked on, I saw the hawk flying overhead through the trees, and over the next few minutes and could hear it calling out. I could also hear another hawk replying from further away. I started wonder if I might have been by a nest or something, and maybe that was why the hawk flew down and me and stuck around. I don’t know, but I wondered.

A little side experience that I also liked… about 20 minutes later a deer also came charging up from the stream below, running right in front of me. We didn’t spend time looking at each other though. The deer was off and away, running up into the trees.

I wasn’t sure if I should write this post. To try and explain this encounter and what the hawk meant to me. What it meant to me is personal after-all, and I don’t expect it to mean much to anyone else. Also, it might seem silly to a lot of people, but I guess I don’t mind. The modern world likes to tell us that in our materialist world, these things just happen and really have no significance. And maybe they don’t rationally… but the world isn’t completely rational.

For me, in my own mind and imagination, these things always have meaning. On a personal level, I think everybody should pay attention and listen to these kind of experiences. When a hawk comes to you and hangs out for a bit while you’ve been thinking about Horus, and whether or not you should pursue a creative idea involving him… well, I think that is important.

Aristotle said, “Art completes what Nature cannot finish.” There is some truth there. But that completion cannot happen if we don’t listen to those personal messages that Nature is sending our way, no matter how subtle.

Maybe that hawk is just kinda saying “go for it kid. Why not?” And I agree, why not. It may take me some time to get to the idea, I’ve got so many other things I am working on, but I am excited to put Horus down on paper (even if Horus is really a falcon).

blurry hawk photo

blurry hawk photo

A Dream of Osiris

Osiris_and_Atum_seated_with_Offerings

osirisDreams can be pretty important. Maybe not always, but they certainly can be.

I don’t often remember my dreams. Sometimes, but not all that often. About a year ago I had a dream about Osiris and his family. It came at me out of the blue really. I have a very deep interest in mythology, but I’ve never really looked too deeply into Egyptian mythology, but just have what I think of as a sort of hi-level familiarity with it really. Anyway, I hadn’t thought about the dream a whole lot since, to be honest. A little bit, from time to time, but not a lot. This last week though, for whatever reason, the dream has haunted me and I think about it almost all the time.

1373320719_osiris_egyptian_godI think of the beginning of the dream in particular, it started with Osiris being murdered by his brother, his body bleeding green in the dirt, with flowers and vines growing through that green blood.

I keep thinking about that image. It just struck me again, like I say, about a week ago. It seems like I’ve got to do something with that dream vision. I don’t know what to do yet, or how to do it, but… Until I am able to, until I catch up on other artwork and projects, I guess I’ll have to just let the idea percolate even more and post a few images here on ArtDuh.

Amen.

Ra-Amen-Ka.

__________________________________________________

Oh, as I was concluding there I remembered a book I read a few years ago that I thought I’d share… kind of a loose interpretation of The Egyptian Book of the Dead (as it’s come to be known. Traditionally known as The Book Of Going Forth By Day), called Awakening Osiris: The Egyptian Book of the Dead. Awakening Osiris isn’t meant to be a literal and exact translation, but I did enjoy it quite a bit.

Also, I just remembered this story from earlier this year too.

Mercury Inventing the Caduceus

"Mercury Inventing the Caduceus" 1878 - Jean Antoine Marie Idrac

“Mercury Inventing the Caduceus” 1878 – Jean Antoine Marie Idrac

"Mercury Inventing the Caduceus" 1878 - Jean Antoine Marie Idrac

“Mercury Inventing the Caduceus” 1878 – Jean Antoine Marie Idrac

"Mercury Inventing the Caduceus" 1878 - Jean Antoine Marie Idrac

“Mercury Inventing the Caduceus” 1878 – Jean Antoine Marie Idrac

I’ve had the Caduceus on my mind lately. Maybe I’ll explain why soon, but in the mean time I thought I’d post pictures of a couple of sculpture showing Mercury (Hermes) inventing the Caduceus. Both are exceptional. I especially like the sculpture by Antonin Idrac (images above), but I also love Henri Chapu‘s interpretation (below) too!

"Mercury Inventing the Caduceus" Henri Michel Chapu - 1860-1862

“Mercury Inventing the Caduceus”
Henri Michel Chapu – 1860-1862