SUNFIRE – oil & mixed mediums on Belgian linen
Whilst working on a series of stories based on my experiences with horses, Sunfire was never out of my mind. His photo above my art space meant his presence was always with me. This majestic stallion is one of a herd of bachelor stallions at Return To Freedom Mustang Sanctuary in USA. He caught my eye from day one, not only for his striking tobiano roan colouring, also the sense of independence and strength I felt from him. I wanted so much to connect with him.
He grazed a hundred feet from me, head lowered, attention fully on me, sensing something unknown in his territory. Once he left the band and raced towards me, defiantly, warning me though not menacingly. Just exerting his presence I thought. Of course I got a fright and in that moment all my expectation dissolved. I felt empty, a bit shaken and sank into a sort of trance not watching, thinking or wanting anything.
When this seemingly endless moment passed I realized the big snowflake red horse was close behind me with his friends, inquisitive, grazing, quietly accepting my presence. Was I being as they were, in the moment doing just what they do.
This incident made an indelible mark on my life, my understanding of judgment and expectation.
A WILD HEART – oil & mixed mediums on a recycled timber panel, handpainted frame
This painting took shape after visiting Return To Freedom, mustang sanctuary in USA. During my time there I learned much about the mustang and the native peoples.Neda de Mayo, Director of RTF, showed me a photo of a warrior of the Choctaw Nation and his pony. So heartfelt was their connection that it inspired this painting. I felt there was a kinship that flowed through their story, both driven to the brink by forces beyond their control.
As always I never know what I will paint. I laid down the initial broken finish before my trip to RTF. It felt awkward without flow with an eagle as the central focus. There was no hook for me so I did not continue. On my return I jumped back into it. The imagery easily evolved this time offering me insight to that story in my heart still so alive for me.
It speaks to my own prayer that all sentient beings have the right to live as nature intended, a prayer for loving kindness and acceptance.
I borrowed the words in the title from Native American poet/musician/advocate for Native American rights,John Trudell, whose is so much part of this struggle. Thank you John for your amazing poetry.
SOMEWHERE A SNOW LEOPARD LISTENS – oil & mixed mediums on Belgian linen
Regal and protective she sits with her cub. The story here tells me of life as ancient as the land reaching back into the snow capped mountains of time. Is the shadow her past or her future, her destiny or her ancestry. Her future undetermined floats on the waters of time. Will there be a future for her kind. Imploring she reaches out stirring me with her quiet reflection.
Inspired by stories told by friends who work with the Snow Leopard Conservancy, she is a part of a series of big cats paintings.
I created the cat large as life so that we, the audience, look up to her.Her home territory is Central Asia also the home of Buddhism, coincidentally where much of my symbolism comes from.
EMERGENCE – oil & mixed mediums on Belgian linen
This painting signified a pause in the restrictions of doing projects and a need to reconnect with my own creative process. Yellow, pink and turquoise created a starting point. My favorite colors, they help me connect with the feeling of beauty that I wanted to express in this painting. I knew it would be part of my horse project but had no idea what might evolve. I struggled to move forward feeling creatively blocked. I keep a beautiful hand-painted box for inspiring words and images. Opening the precious container of my inspiration, I knew it would hold a key to what was needed for this painting to flourish. Symbolically I painted a turquoise border around the image as though the box was open. There inside I felt the story take wings.
I found symbols appearing that had been present in earlier work, the stairway, the 7 moons, the eagle to mention a few. The winged horse was new. At the time I was reading about souls and reincarnation. Maybe there is a suggestion of this here. I do feel there is a birth in this. Or maybe it is the cycle of life-death-rebirth. This painting is always a catalyst for visitors to share their insights.
AS MOWGLI SLEEPS – oil & mixed mediums on Belgian linen
“As Mowgli sleeps the forest weeps tears of joy” – Several years ago I found an original edition of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. It gave me the idea of creating a series around the 22 animals in the story,enough for a large body of work.
The story itself is timeless, coming to life thru many generations. Usually seen through a child’s imagination, as an adult it gave me a deeper insight into my own dream of Mowgli’s inner world.
Beginning with a dark broken finish, I wanted to experience the story as if in reverie. The imagery speaks of the interconnection of all things. As I continued to layer color, the characters appeared. Jungle Book is not a wafty children’s story of goodness rather an often confronting reality of life in the jungle. A metaphor for our human jungle?
Bagheera, Baloo, Akela, seem to have a story of their own to tell. Nearly complete I sat as always quietly allowing the image to wash over me. Usually insights and ideas come from this. Mind you I do not always remember to do it. Words came through to me as I noticed a white space. Truth Love Compassion live here. The symphony of life serenades our dreams. So I added the music score and created the title.
FOR THE LOVE OF LIFE – oil and mixed mediums on Belgian linen
If you have watched mares and foals you will know that although the youngsters gallivant around, when they touch base with their mothers there is always a deep affection between them, a display of unmistakable love between a mother and child.
I wanted to explore this feeling of love and how horses might express it. To jump into the feeling myself I need something to look at.
I found a beautiful image that spoke to every feeling I wanted to capture. I rarely use direct resource material but this image was exceptional and I had never painted a horse. I discovered it was the work of talented photographer Sande Elkins of Gray Horse designs. Thank you for permission Sande.
Painting my first horse was daunting. I knew that it would be the beginning of a new journey and that this painting would hold a message for me. As I dived into the canvas I felt a deep ordering within myself, a letting go. I felt the shapes come through even without looking at the photo. This process stirred up feelings of love, loving what I do and allowing the unique message of my subject to come through.
Hence the name for this piece.
REFLECTIONS – oil & mixed mediums on Belgian linen
Every lunch-time, in the balmy warmth of Vietnam in October, after morning chores were done, I would sit with the bears. A guest at the Animals Asia moonbear rescue centre in Tam Dao Vietnam, this was a gift beyond words for me.
This majestic moonbear would come to the window of the den, gaze into my eyes and make the ‘click click’ sound which seemed to be their form of communication. Something so ancient and knowing glowed in his eyes. So forgiving after the horrific ordeal of a bear bile farm.
I painted him several times but this image spoke most to me. Combining the techniques I used on murals I wanted to present the beauty and majesty of this guy, an ambassador for his kind. I asked AAF founder Jill Robinson how she protected herself from the heartbreak of seeing the condition of the bears she rescued. She replied that ’the bears rescued her everytime’. The recovery and joy in these rescued bears was palpable. They certainly reached out and grabbed my heart.
SOUL OF EARTHFIRE – oil & mixed mediums on Belgian linen
My creative journey took another turn when I visited Earthfire wildlife sanctuary in Idaho USA. Offered the opportunity to interact with rescued wild animals changed the way I see life and my place in the world. There were so many experiences that all have a common thread, the circle of animals and their willingness to interact with us.
I was particularly taken by a lynx ,Elmo, with whom I had some beautiful moments. Researching Lynx I discovered an Iberian cousin in Spain now critically endangered. Although I do not literally paint the experience, I do paint from the feelings of the experience that always open up unknown or familiar insights.
In this painting I wanted to share this through the symbol of the circle, the web of life and the crow ever present in my garden, wherever I might be.
FOR OUR FUTURE – oil & mixed mediums on Belgian linen
This is another painting in my decorative series relating back to my mural painting techniques. Though rather formal in layout it emanates a decorative, symbolic quality. I created this to honor Dr. Jane Goodall during her 80th birthday visit to Australia. I love the juxta position of the elephant sculpture in the background of the photograph.