Heart is Home

Heart is Home

I recently completed this piece, working outside the Alchemy Notebook for a change.  It is a collage done on Strathmore 500 bristol board, using engraved illustrations from old books.  The media used includes liquid acrylic inks, Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils, Prismacolor watercolor pencils, and metallic acrylic inks.  The image is 5″ by 5″ square.

This piece is a part of the Love, Lust and Desire show currently running at the McGowan Fine Art in Concord, NH.  You can read more about the show HERE.

Putrefactio: The Crow and Skull

The fifth stage of the alchemical process is Putrefactio.  It signifies the end of the blackening process where the imperfections of the material are removed by fire.  The crow and the skull are symbols of death, but similar to the death card in a tarot deck, in alchemy these are primarily interpreted as symbols of transition.  Putrefactio is a transitional stage from the end of the blackening process to the beginning of the whitening.  In addition to the crow and skull, the presence of the  black sun symbol signifies the importance of this stage, as the ultimate goal of the Projectio (symbolized by the phoenix) is present in its imperfect state.  It is the promise of the completion of the work.

The image is painted on Strathmore 500 bristol board using acrylic inks, Prismacolor watercolor pencils, Derwent Inktense pencils, and metalic acrylic paint.  It measures 2.75 inches high, and is card number 5 in a series of 12.  More cards to follow.

Projectio: The Phoenix

I have started making a small deck of cards – one for each of the (more or less – depending on the source) twelve stages of the alchemical process.  I started at the finish for some reason – with the last stage: Projectio.  Projection is the moment when the base metal, after the long and careful process of the first eleven steps of the work are completed,  is finally turned to gold. One of the symbols of the Projectio is the phoenix, the fiery sun-like bird, rising from the flames.

I made this small card (height = 2.75 inches) and this small deck to fit into a small copper and brass box I found at my favorite local antique store.  The image is painted on Strathmore 500 bristol board using acrylic inks, Prismacolor watercolor pencils, Derwent Inktense pencils, and gold acrylic paint.  More cards to follow.

Alchemy Notebook: Serpent

This is the most recent image in the Alchemy Notebook Project, created in my Moleskine pocket sketchbook.  I used liquid acrylic inks, Prismacolor watercolor pencils, Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils, and metallic acrylic paints.  The page measures 3.5 by 5.5 inches.  It was created as a symbolic portrait of someone very close to my heart.

Inspiration: 500 Handmade Books

I recently came across 500 Handmade Books (Lark Books) at the library where I work, and after renewing it more times than was reasonable, I decided I needed to buy a copy for my personal library at home.  Rather than put it on the bookshelf, I keep it on the corner of my drafting table so that I can easily flip through it for inspiration.  Browsing through the pages of beautiful photographs depicting such a wide variety of handmade books is always an inspiration, and I find it helps me quickly transition into a creative mindset.

One of the featured artists, Mar Goman, uses Moleskine Japanese notebooks, the ones with the accordion pages made from heavier sketchbook paper, and creates an expanding collection of collage based images.  Two of her 2006 books are included in this publication (see images of a similar work HERE).  Her work particularly captures my imagination, and it would be wonderful to be able to hold one of these books in my hands and slowly unfold the visual narrative.

A Confrontation with the Unconscious

One of the best kept secrets of psychology will soon emerge from the shadows with the publication by W. W. Norton of the Liber Novus, Carl Jung’s Red Book. The Red Book was Jung’s own hand-written and illustrated journal, an account of his personal struggle with the unconscious, and the crucible for his professional theories. Jung never quite dared to publish The Red Book during his lifetime, and his family has waited almost 50 years after his death to do so.  This is a significant publishing event of what the publisher describes as “The most influential unpublished work in the history of psychology.”

I myself can’t wait to see what  is between the pages, especially the illustrations.  Unfortunately, the $195 price tag ($105 at Amazon) means that I will have to wait until I can find it in a local library collection. There is a glimpse of the original Red Book included as part of a recent New York Times Magazine article about it HERE.  You can read about the process of reproducing the book on the DigitalFusion website HERE.  And the Rubin Museum of Art in NYC has the distinction of being the first institution ever to exhibit the original Red Book – so beyond the publication of the facsimile it is now possible to see the actual book itself.

I will close with this quote and image featured in the Times article:

“I should advise you to put it all down as beautifully as you can — in some beautifully bound book,” Jung instructed. “It will seem as if you were making the visions banal — but then you need to do that — then you are freed from the power of them. . . . Then when these things are in some precious book you can go to the book & turn over the pages & for you it will be your church — your cathedral — the silent places of your spirit where you will find renewal. If anyone tells you that it is morbid or neurotic and you listen to them — then you will lose your soul — for in that book is your soul.”