Moon Sister Paintings
The Moon Sisters. They are my newest paintings that I'm so happy to finally write about. I've been through a journey with them, as usual for my process with each and every dancer I paint. However these girls have brought me to a more open space in my creative process. For almost two years I was in the dark places of an artist "block." Environment and life changes had much to do with it, nevertheless I kept working. After moving back to living on our own, Andres and I, we felt our lives slowly roll back into place - and so all the information I horded of the time I was "blocked," began to emerge. We moved in August and by October I had begun the first sister, Butterfly Moon.
I'd love to share my process here and I will, though it is an intricate one with seemingly no order. Hang tight! Their story is very special to me.
I begin with barely anything except an abstract feeling of inspiration from an event. In August I attended the Miami Belly Dance Convention and fell in love with a performance by Ukrainian artist Julia Yakovyuk. This performance was moody to a slow song like a ballad, strong in the passion in which she expressed - her moves were so lengthened and clean, her hair so long and used gracefully, with that extra long soft-pink skirt that trailed around and behind her - it was incredible watch! At these type of conventions we see so, so, sooo many performances sometimes, and there's a lot going on in one weekend with workshops and shows every night. I like to take in, wait, and after the weekend is over I digest all the information swirling in my mind. This was one of the most memorable experiences in these small moments as a spectator of a performance. Although, it wasn't JUST the performance that added to the inspiration, but also the idea that these Eastern European dancers are emerging with similar dance characteristics. In other words, you can tell which countries they have studied in. The stylistic lengthening, ballet and lyrical background, extreme long hair, style of costume, music choice and how they accent the music… it's all there from what I've observed so far.
With Butterfly Moon, at first I thought I was painting observations of these type of dancers, and so I continued to think that until the very end of the painting. I thought I was painting a Russian/Ukrainian dancer, that that's what I was "talking" about. Butterfly Moon tells me that those initial inspirations was just one of the upper surface levels of meaning to her. It was just a step to continue the stairway deeper into the waters of the psyche.
I had been painting her for about a month and a half and felt so stuck that I had to make a second painting, a sister for her so that I could arrange a consistency of style and palette. I had come across a gorgeous photo of a dancer in Argentina that looked just like a Baroque painting. It was mesmerizing!! The soft pink fabrics shined and the lengthening of her pose was just before or after a back bend - I just had to ask to use it as inspiration! Hence came the younger, A Kiss for the Moon. Here, again, I thought I was having a conversation between Russian/Ukrainian dancers versus Argentinian's, which have similar discipline yet differences of culture, music choice and some other elements. My psyche was sending me messages of deeper things I would find out later.
Sometimes I plan the composition or what I think it will look like, but many times I change it or leave it for later when my mind is ready to open. I can't help it - just as I am mostly an improvisational performer, I am an improv-painter. My personality loves surprises, it loves to listen to my senses, it likes to wait until I am ready. I understand and accept my process that I have fought with many times! I have tried many systems from traditional to experimental. Intuition - the most important tool I have learned to listen to - asks for patience and time and that's what I have to give because it is SO worth it at the end! And regardless of process and technique, the most vital element that I accredit to the "final" product is trust in my own journey - a spiritual place that guides my senses and creative executions. These two ladies are the beginnings of my next series of work in the future.
And so I listened. I grow with my paintings. I trust that the inner workings of my soul know what to show me and be revealed through my paintings. I push and pull between planning and leaving space for what I may not see yet that's needed. Yeap, I'm a bit of a hipster, I go with the flow! How I keep myself in check is with deadlines, and that's just necessary for working artists.
In the end, here is what the girls showed me….
Side Note* Imagery and symbolism to observers: In general, from what I have learned from my studies of Art and Art History, is that at first glance many people judge before observing images without even knowing they're doing so, either walking away or stay intrigued. I know, I'm guilty! Though by learning how to consider an art work, I have learned to look at my own work with fresh eyes too. This is done through a method I learned in college and practiced while working as a Museum Educator later on. Visual and Visible Thinking Strategies is used by some school teachers and can be used easily on a day-to-day personal basis. The combination I use is from when I was a Museum Educator at the Frost Art Museum, FIU, and it basically calls for a series of questions: 1. What do you see? Only observations of colors and shapes. NO interpretation. 2. What do you think is going on in the art work by the elements that you see? What do you think the story is? 3. What makes you say that? In other words, combine your "judgment" from question number 2 of what you think the story is with question number 1 of what you observed. Be a scientist looking for clues.
A play between a shadowy realm of the light and the dark spaces of our consciousness…
Observation: A figure stands with her (or his?) back towards us wearing a long, flowery and wavy pink skirt, hair flowing down in the breeze, swaying to the right. The figure is looking up towards the sky, the left arm pointing up towards a galaxy and the right hand extended out to the side, gently, palms facing down to the ground. The figure stands close to us in the foreground, and in the background there is a landscape half in shadow and half in moonlight. The scene is at night under a bright, nearly full moon. There seems to be mountains, lots of clouds, stars, water, possibly a lake to the right, two pyramid looking shapes in the clouds mirroring each other at the center right of the canvas, there could be a forest of green. And the figure seems to be casting a shadow on the land. She/he seems to be standing on water because it's blue under her. There is also yellow/gold abstract shapes from the bottom right going diagonally up to the top left to where the galaxy is painted.
Interpretation: This is the eldest sister. She is facing her back towards us in order to guide us into the painting by her pointing left hand and trailing skirt on the water. I feel her heart is very open because of her extended arms to the sides. She is wild and reserved with her own wisdom. Though we do not see her frontal view, she is bare-breasted as there is no indication of a top, opening her heart towards the land, the moon and beyond to the universe.
Her shadow, one of the "accidental" things I painted (it was not planned and I thought I had to "fix" it) is not cast over the land as a symbol of doom or dominance, but as a feature of our psyche that there is always darkness, the unknown, a type of fear as we walk through life. Because of her open pose, this combination symbolizes courage of the unknown. To me, later after this was done and I was contemplating, it was my psyche sending the message that it takes courage and an open heart to get to where you want to go, sometimes we get there by accident, some may call it "fate" and not accidental.
The left hand, considered as our feminine side, reaches up to the galaxy and to our cosmic soul; painted as a small homage to Raphael's "Leonardo Da Vinci" in his "School of Athens." The right hand faces down acknowledging earth and grounding forces, reminding us our place and space in this physical body. She stands on water, though it is very much in shadow; water as a symbol of the deepest corners of our consciousness. Large hips of feminine wisdom in that tight-to-ruffled extended, soft-pink skirt; it's an elegant fearlessness. The moon, the last accidental piece before she was given an name, has a shadow of a butterfly. Andres actually saw that before me, and I was so happy at this serendipitous element, she was therefore named Butterfly Moon; a blooming stage of a dancer. The Moon, an homage to the feminine realms and the butterfly for the metamorphosis of life, symbol of change, resurrection, spirituality, endurance, hope.
Her sister, A Kiss for the Moon.
Observation: We see a figure in the center whose body faces us in a back bend, face towards the moon to the top left corner. Her torso is defined, wearing an oriental costume, bra and flowing skirt. One of her hands holds what looks like a star near her face, the opposite leg is extended towards us to the bottom right corner. Her skirt flows upwards as if there is a swift wind that just past, and we barely see her supporting leg in the shadows balancing her body. There are clouds all around and she is also in part-shadow, part-light like her sister. She is closer to the sky than Butterfly Moon, also more exposed to us and covering most of the space on the canvas.
Interpretation: A romantic title for a romantic dancer. The star is part of her kiss to the moon behind her. She is cheeky, she is flirty, yet she is stable and grounded in her "flight" as we see by her supporting leg in the shadows and the strength in her musculature. For a girl in love the title and the moon in the painting may symbolize a special someone who she is blowing a kiss at. But for a woman aware, she is more…. She is how we feel on a good day, walking home as we see the moon rising in the sky… makes us want to blow a kiss at her, thanking her for those special moments. A kiss for the Goddess in the moon that aids us through our stories. Her skirt rises yet still conceals, positioned effectively at that height to be somewhat erotic, intriguing and definitely freeing. She is open, but not indecent. That is her personality, that is her fire within and she has so much energy to show that quality through!
Because I began painting her together with Butterfly Moon, I had a little more control as to what her story would become. She was more simple in elements but had much more high energy in her body composition. The message she sent me afterwards was this: That the reality of reaching the heavens is that it takes courage and energy to jump, to grace and dance for the stars so that you can shine together.
These paintings became their own beings after I was done. They have a universality to them. Their stories will continue after-the-fact, to hopefully a new and good home. More will be added to their journey, I don't doubt that. They have been "chicken-soup-for-the-soul" to me, a gateway for more.
Hope you enjoyed this explanation and the paintings! If you're interested in purchasing them, please contact me. If you would like to have a personal art work created of your own uniqueness, let's dance ideas together!