This week, I started painting my commission, though it’s been percolating for a couple of months.
The title is “Aurora Leigh,” a reference to Browning’s epic poem. Browning’s poem is organized into nine chapters, the use of nine is her reference to the Divine Feminine. Specifically for Browning, the Sibylline Books. The number nine is cross-culturally associated with Goddess traditions, and it’s also the number of completion. The inter-webs have buckets of information on the mystical significance of nine. Joseph Campbell elegantly discusses this symbolism in ‘‘Sukhavati’.
The work comes together magically. When my friend offered a commission, I had a set of ten blank canvases waiting to be opened. I put out five, thinking of a dialogue between them. I didn’t want to take on too much, as I do.
But it struck me with clarity: no, this work needed to be nine canvases.
Nine canvases connected by elements, including a Sacred Circle: one work, nine canvases.
I knew this work would carry the Divine Feminine.
I gessoed the canvases inside (like priming walls before painting), but had to wait until Maine’s weather let me work on the porch.
The weather was warmer this week, the river is swollen with music, and the birds are chatting it up nonstop after the winter.
A thought flashed in my mind: wouldn’t it be lovely to go on the porch barefoot and start painting. Barefoot seemed important.
And that’s what I did.
I hadn’t read the ‘Aurora Leigh’ quote yet, hadn’t decided on the work’s name, didn’t even think it would have a title.
Nor did I consciously realize that I was starting the painting under an approaching full moon. A Blue Moon, no less — that fact occurred to me while writing this entry.
The only thing I did have in mind, while choosing the base colors, was sky and earth — merging a richness of blues and greens as how we experience the natural world: sky and plant life.
My porch crammed with heaven.
The bliss of losing myself to color, rushing river, budding trees, birds singing, and Purcell’s Fantasias streaming from the Bose.
Heaven crammed into a porch, a day, each conscious breath.
The other details, the title, the quote, how this thing might play out, started giving themselves to me in unrelated ways (business phone calls, accidental web discoveries) as the day went on.
Here are the first layers — more to come. It looks scary because I have an thing for layering my works with textures and light. Read: glitter and shimmer and metallics and color saturation that strain against kitsch.
“Stained glass like,” my friend has said.
May She prove him right.
And because there is no end to light, here’s a detail from a small mandala that is almost finished.
Until next week, may joys lead.