The mythology of the phoenix, a creature consumed by fire only to rise from the ashes, has always captivated me and thus found a way to a way to rise to the surface of my creative process. The struggles and soaring triumphs of the phoenix are themes that have seemed to resurface through a number of my greatest pieces over the years, repeatedly rising from the ashes as I find myself doing the same.
I myself am a fire sign and that may be one reason I'm drawn to the flame and into the fire. The idea of the phoenix is so powerful a message, inspiring and downright necessary at key pivotal moments in life. It's relatable for just about anyone and everyone that has ever had to overcome great struggle or hardship. We all fall, but only those willing to feel the heat of the flame, be consumed by the fire, and rise from the ashes will truly understand the power of exactly what that means. That is why I was so excited for the opportunity to dive right into this fire for my latest painting commission, requested by a friend of 18 plus years that I know is all too familiar with this same cyclical journey of growth and struggle to be reborn or reinvent yourself as a better and truer version of that self. It's the most difficult journey one can take, but also the most necessary.
I'm a big believer in process and for this painting, though I'm often a bit more introverted and secretive with certain studio practices, I elected to share that process a bit more than normal...from the 10-15+ coats of gesso with sanding in between to the underpainting, to the labor intensive hard-edge masking techniques, to the handful of clear coat layers for varnishing. I also shared the palette for the painting because a color palette can tell a beautiful story as deep as the painting with which is corresponds. It is the fuel, the blood that pumps into the heart of the painting. I have an entire collection of palette pieces that I call my "Beautiful Accidents." This one, in particular, accurately captures and pairs with its kin. It is not more, it is not less...it is simply other and yet the same. It is fire and it is hope to rise again.
For this painting, in addition to adding one of my #MostlyForHer poems, I included a few Easter eggs and hidden treasures. One of the coolest things things I did as part of the process was visibly working the ashes from a painting I burned and sacrificed into the composition. I refer to my process as "Acrylic Alchemy," which is based based on the law of equivalent exchange. In accordance with that law of energy transaction, nothing can be obtained without sacrifice. In this case, it was sacrificing one creation that I loved so another could be born. This could tie no better than with a painting telling the story of a phoenix rising from the ashes. If you look closely, you can see those ashes and remnants of charred framework.
It is often not enough for us to simply rise once. I have had to a number of times during the course of my journey and likely will have to many more as I continue to fight for this life. One of the greatest lessons I have learned in life is that life demands sacrifice. If you are willing to make that sacrifice, you have an opportunity to rise...just like the phoenix. This is your time. Rise.
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