I finished this new artwork, called “Wisdom Rests” (above), a couple of weeks ago but held off on sharing earlier because I wanted to look a little more, and be sure it was done… and, yep, it is done! I worked on Wisdom Rests every day for a couple of months, and it took a lot of time to complete, but I am so happy to see the new piece.
This artwork is a companion to another recent work, called “Wisdom Descends“, and both are part of my larger series, “Songs from the Earth“. Below is a little ditty I wrote to go with my newest artwork here:
Through the great Dark and shattered Light, She steps.
Onward, toward Her Sun.
His red roar becomes a background hum.
His orange glow warms Her body.
And She rests.
In my new artwork you see the sun as a lion, and the earth as a woman. I am interested in mythology, and humanity has always placed characters from our various mythologies up into the stars and onto the planetary bodies. I want that tradition to continue in my work, and use historic symbols to represent objects in space. By associating the sun, planets and stars with a human and animal form, they suddenly become much more relatable.
This artwork is available for purchase as a limited canvas print through toddpowelson.com.
The digital painting (above), called “Wisdom Descends”, was a whole lot of fun to make but took me a very long time to finish. Whew, I’m so glad to see it done, and so happy with how She turned out.
This artwork is based on the old Gnostic story of Sophia. I’ll admit, the story has evolved and changed in my own mind and imagination, but its still heavily inspired by those original Gnostic thinkers.
For me, in my own personal mythology, Sophia (a.k.a. Wisdom) has come to represent the spirit and life-force of the Earth. She is the Earth, and the Earth is something Her spirit created and stepped down into. The Earth is Her material body, and Her spirit and soul sleeps and dreams us all (plants, animals, people) into being.
I know it probably sounds weird, but this is also something that makes me very happy to think about.
Visually, I wanted to focus primarily on the figure, geometry, color, and abstraction. When I started this piece, I’d planned on filling the background with a whole lot more geometry, pattern and shapes, but as I continued working I liked the idea of just leaving the background pure white. Representing the light Sophia is leaving, in favor of the earth-tones of Her material body. The sky and cloud colored fabric morphs into a celestial wing, and in the geometry of that wing you can see hints of animal (primarily bird) shapes following close behind (click the image above for a larger view).
You can buy this as a high quality 20″ x 10″ or a 40″ x 20″ canvas print through my website by visiting www.toddpowelson.com
This artwork will begin Chapter 4 of my “Songs from the Earth” series, and you can check out the rest of that series by clicking here.
I just finished the new artwork above, called “Infinite Worlds”. The basic theme of the piece is something I return to from time to time, but I am not completely sure how to write about it or explain why… I will try though.
I guess I will start by giving a little of my own personal background and how my beliefs and worldview have evolved over the years.
Although I was raised with religion, by the time I was out of high school, I had lost all faith. I lost it for a number of different reasons I am sure, reasons I won’t go into. What made sense to me at the time was a much more materialist view of the world. I believed in my meat body, what I could perceive with my physical body, and that me and the larger world were complex physical and chemical processes that had no real meaning. Creation seemed to be a kind of accident that happened through dumb luck and chance. Even so, I was still extremely curious about the world and obsessed with learning as much about science and philosophy as I could. The more I read and researched though, the more I had this nagging thought…
How do I explain this? It was evolution that started to bring glimpses of the divine and infinite back into my thoughts. Physics too I suppose, but primarily biology and evolution. In time I began to have a nagging thought, over and over, that there was some sort of sub-conscious mind running through nature, guiding the way that different species would evolve. Something guiding the way species of plants and animals would customize their descendant’s body, over time and many generations, in response to the environment. I hope this’ll make sense… For example, an individual moth’s consciousness doesn’t tell its body and wings to grow into patterns that resemble a large owl face in order to scare off predators. How does the moth even really register and know the appearance of the owl? Let alone know it well enough to change its body, change its whole species over many generations, to look like an owl? But that happens, and the moth is just one example. This happens over and over, in every species, to some degree. And yet the individual animal, its individual consciousness, isn’t controlling the process. Something larger is. Anyway, I still believe in evolution. I thinks it is a beautiful process. But I began to suspect that there was something moving through nature, what I started to think of as nature’s sub-conscious mind, doing things like changing whole species of moth to grow their bodies with owl faced wings. And then I began to realize that by thinking of it as a sub-conscious mind… well, the implication was that there would be a conscious mind running through nature too. Can you have a sub-conscious mind without also having a conscious mind?
I imagine that a materialist reading these words might believe I’m flat out wrong and have another explanation. I really don’t care though. I’ve come to know that materialism is wrong. Or, at the very least, is incomplete.
Anyway, back to my new artwork… Around the same time I was coming to these conclusions, I must have been 24 or 25, I had this dream. A very important dream that, over time, helped change my way of thinking, the way I see the world and every living thing, including myself.
In my dream I was in a large dark cave sitting in front of an urn filled with burial ashes. The lid of the urn was open. A strong wind rose and blew the ashes into my face, blowing my spirit right out of that cave with that ash. Up over the landscape, past the horizon, into the atmosphere. Eventually I saw the moon zip by, then the inner planets, and then the sun. I was moving through and past the solar system, out into deep space. I began to see larger patterns emerge while moving through the galaxy, through and beyond the Milky Way. Moving beyond galaxies and galactic clusters, I began to see this pattern slowly taking shape. Writing the dream out like this makes it seem like I must have been moving fast, but I was moving slowly through the universe. I was traveling slow, slow, slow. But eventually I was outside of it all and I could see the overall pattern and form. I could see the overall shape of the universe, and it wore a human form. It was this dark human form living in and surrounded by a bright bright white light. And I could tell that the Universe was alive and moving. It was slowly lifting itself up off of the ground, so slow its movement was imperceptible, but I knew it was alive and moving as if to stand.
Writing it down seems… I don’t know… I don’t consider myself to be that great with words. But I have returned to this dream a few times in my artwork. Trying to capture it and understand my dream a little bit better, and what it means to me.
Do I really think that this Universe wears a human form? I don’t know. What I do believe is: the Universe is alive. It’s alive, and everything in the Universe is an important part of a beautiful living system. A living and conscious Universe.
Over the years I’ve come to realize that the living Universe is a very ancient understanding. Adam Kadmon, Brahman, and so many others. Even modern science (granted, maybe not completely embraced science) can see the possibility if we consider biocentrism, the implications of Rupert Sheldrake‘s work, and even the holographic principle.
Speaking of the holographic universe… I was introduced to this concept at around the same time I had my dream. The basic idea is that the Universe is similar to a hologram, in that you can divide a hologram in two and each piece will still have all of the information contained in the original. Divide the pieces again, and still, the four pieces will contain all of the original information. Divide the hologram an infinite number of times and, yes, each piece will contain all of the original information. Its very possible the Universe works the same way. As pieces and important parts, it could be that each of us contain the whole Universe inside ourselves. You do, I do, the rocks and minerals do, the plants and trees outside, every animal, every man and woman, the earth and all other planets, the sun and stars, even that moth that looks a lot like an owl does too. It is all alive, a perfect reflection of the larger Universe.
My artwork (above) will be hanging in the Springville Art Museum’s upcoming 30th Annual Spiritual & Religious Exhibition. The show opens this week on November 18th, with an opening reception that same night from 7:00 to 8:30 pm, and will hang until January 12, 2016.
My piece is pretty much based on the old Norse myth of the great wolf Sköll eating the sun. I’ve thought a bit about that story over the years and mulled it over in my imagination since I first read it as a little kid. This is also the first piece from my series, Songs from the Earth.
The Wolf Was the end and a beginning. Running free and wild, He leapt and grabbed the Sun between His fierce teeth. Laughing as He chewed, flames flutter. Firebirds spread their wings, Streaking like comets Across the sky.
I guess I did this artwork in part to remind myself that an act of destruction is also an act of creation. Not only out in the cosmos with the sun and stars, but also on a personal level. It’s hard to remember and see that, but I hope so.
Please enjoy the following interview I had with Salt Lake City digital artist, photographer and author Megan Kennedy, because I know I did.
ArtDuh: I was listening to Florence and the Machine this morning and I was like, “That’s what Megan’s stuff kind of reminds me of.” Have you heard Florence’s stuff?
Megan: Yeah, yeah.
ArtDuh: [The song] “Shake it Out,” with the demons and fighting them – you have a few pieces that focus on women and it always seems like they’re going through some sort of struggle or they’re fighting, but they’re also emitting a strong sort of presence.
Megan: It’s definitely something purposeful, but still subconscious. I’ve dealt with stuff in my life that has given me the kind of perspective where it’s all just a choice. To me, where you’ve got the abyss and you’ve got life and you just kind of have to make that choice every day to which one you prefer… What it’s boiled down to for me is that I just remind myself to choose the life anytime I feel that, because depression’s a scary thing to struggle with and anybody’s who’s been through it understands how heavy that can weigh on you. So pushing off of that is kind of a constant theme in my life now, just remembering it’s not anything that’s happened to you or about you; it’s just that you’re choosing to ignore it, whatever’s causing that darkness. So it’s definitely a theme that means a lot to me.
ArtDuh: Do you personally struggle with it, or do you have people close to you that do?
Megan: Yeah, I’ve got family members that do, but I’ve definitely struggled with it since I was a young adult, so it’s been a crappy presence in my life, but something that I think, you know, you go through stuff and you become a better person on the other end.
ArtDuh: Where else do you draw your inspiration? Right now you have a series that you call a fossil series or a dino series; where’s that coming from?
Megan: I just restarted school and I’m going in for history. I love old things. I love just that history, and how old the world is and that there was really such a time when there weren’t any people and it’s so hard for us to wrap our minds around it. I’m just really attracted to anything that represents this thing that we can barely really understand. Just trying to picture these things walking and that we can still dig them up and how lucky it was that the right circumstances made these bones survive because otherwise we would have had no idea. Like, how old would we have thought the world was? So, just all the questions that something that old draws to my mind, it’s definitely why I like that series so much. It’s just fun. The museums did such a good job arranging them as well, so they do get credit for the awesome way they put them up. It’s awesome to go see them.
ArtDuh: Where do you grab your images? Some of them seem so surreal. The album cover you did for Arsenic Addiction and the skull, did you have that lying around?
Megan: Yeah, so basically what I do is either I’m taking the photos or just use them from stock photography (so people that take these pictures and then sell them or give them out for artists like me to utilize them). So, if there’s something I can’t take a picture of like, you know, I’m not in Europe, so there’s no way I can get a medieval castle around here to shoot, so luckily there’s these awesome photographers who take these shots for artists like me. And they’re artists in their own right, really. But usually I grab from that or pictures I’ve taken, pictures friends have taken, things like that. It’s almost a mixed medium, but not really.
ArtDuh: Do you work with other mediums?
Megan: I’m not a very good draftsman. I started school for art first before I switched over to history and it’s just, I love photography, I love the digital arts, but it doesn’t really translate to traditional forms. I’d really love to know how to paint and do it well, but that’s probably for another time.
ArtDuh: Are you self-taught?
Megan: Pretty much. I took those few classes at the University of Utah and it was 3D art, 2D art, and a kind of instruction drawing type thing. It wasn’t digitally focused. But no, pretty much self-taught. Like, I found this stuff, and it’s funny because I’ve never been into art, but when I was a teenager and going through probably the darkest period that I referred to earlier, writing… I’m a big writer, I’ve written my whole life, but it wasn’t doing the trick as far as therapy. So I found deviantART, I found dark art, and it was so new and it’s expression of darkness and how they were doing was exactly what I was looking for. And so it just compelled me to start trying to build my own.
ArtDuh: I find that fascinating because I don’t know if I’m drawn to making art in the way that I need it as an outlet for emotion.
Megan: It definitely is for me. I have a hard time processing emotion really just as a person, I think. I just get really uncomfortable with feelings, I don’t like them. That pushed-down stuff, this is where it comes out and I’m grateful for it; it’s really awesome the stuff that comes out. You know, watching people buy it at festivals, it’s just cool to actually connect with people and it’s a different kind of emotional connection and one that’s actually not uncomfortable for me.
ArtDuh: So when you’re at these festivals, what does it feel like when someone shows an appreciation for your art?
Megan: It’s powerful. It’s an acceptance. For somebody who has such a hard time connecting with people, it means a lot. Because I think especially dark artists or digital artists… every artist suffers some sort of rejection even in their art. So to have people like the one where it says, “When I grow up I want to eat the weak;” I made that as this dark joke, and I can’t believe the amount of people that responded to it, like old women and moms that buy it for their kids’ rooms and people want to put it in their office all the time. For something that was just a dark joke that usually some people would criticize me for and to have so many people just laugh at it with me, it’s just cool. It’s given me a whole new perspective on people. It’s hard not to judge people, but it gives me a whole new perspective on people who I would have never thought were into that. It kind of opened my eyes in how much art can affect people. There were people I otherwise would never have talked to, probably, because we share no interests, but in that one moment we shared that same joke.
ArtDuh: You said you weren’t really attracted to art in the first place. Tell me about that.
Megan: Yeah, as a little kid, it was mostly science. Science and history. I’ve always been fascinated with history. I suck with numbers, but I can remember eras and I love storytelling. I’ve loved books my whole life. I don’t know, my brother was always (he’s not the hugest artist or anything now) the one doodling around or sketching and he was all very good at it. So we just always kind of thought he was the artist and then just this transition happened. (I enjoy art, especially CD covers, that’s kind of what got me into it. I love the art that comes with music.) But until I got this digital medium where, not that it was any easier to learn than say painting or traditional mode, but just whatever it was spoke to me as a person and the way my brain operated and it was easy for me to finally translate that stuff. For somebody that has never been that artistic outside of writing, it was a really awesome thing to discover that I could do. But yeah, logic brain, that’s where I’m comfortable.
ArtDuh: Do you incorporate history into your art?
Megan: I try to, yeah. I’ve always dabbled in the idea of doing some flat-out historical piece. But there’s something very flat about it, the way I’m approaching it, so if I can hit it in the right way, then absolutely. I got really into paganism the last couple of semesters, just learning about what these religions really were. I’ve incorporated a lot of that lately into my art. But yeah, if I can find the right, reason to use it, I will.
ArtDuh: What else do you do for work?
Megan: I work part-time, day job at a pet store. I love animals. I’m about to start school again at the University of Utah. I’d love to expand my degree into archeology so I can actually dig this stuff up and study it but for right now it’s about getting the degree first. I work for SLUG Magazine, and I’m covering Napalm Flesh which is the heavy metal side. It’s super awesome because I’ve been a metal head for a long time so it’s cool to be a part of the community. I’ve got the art and then the writing. I’ve had a couple things published and I’m working on novels and things like that. It’s fun. I like hobbies.
ArtDuh: I saw that you also photograph for SLUG, too?
Megan: I’m on the photography team, technically, but it’s mostly writing. I started with writing, and then I went and covered Mayhem Fest and they had an extra camera. Shooting bands is one of my favorite things to do. It’s so cool to watch people in their element and capture that happiness. And they’re never like that off-stage, it’s just that one moment.
ArtDuh: How did you get the inspiration for the album cover?
Megan: That was so much fun, because I was struggling. I’ve done their album art before. This was the first time where they were like, “We’re not going to be on the cover as a band. We don’t need to do any photography and this is all up to you. We’re just letting you do this. We trust you.” It was a lot of pressure. I don’t even remember my whole original idea, but it was something totally different and then I just thought, “You know, let’s just do something crazy.” And so I’d been working on it for 3 or 4 weeks already and it was so frustrating because it didn’t feel right. (And I’ve been getting better as the years go by, recognizing when it doesn’t feel right and to just abandon it. It’s hard to do that when you’ve been working on it for 15 hours already.) The one that came up, that album cover, I did that in 5 or 6 hours in a night because it just hit. It was something about the way the woman’s body was bent. It was such a dramatic expression. It came together and I got the colors right and I decided to make it that foreground focus thing because it felt like you were coming upon something that you weren’t supposed to see. It just popped.
ArtDuh: Tell me about your book.
Megan: It’s a horror novel. It started as a frustration project to get some emotions out, basically. I’m way into zombies, I’m way into horror picture. And more than that I’ve got this super fascination with anti-heroes and what means good and bad and the whole apocalyptic world view. You always wonder what would happen if it really did happen and what would the remainder of humanity be like. And the zombie movies, they’re entertaining, but it’s all of these good guys, these people that survived by banding together and everything. But nobody does a movie about just the bad guys. That’s who I think would survive; it would be a world of the worst people ever, because they would be cold enough to survive. So that’s the perspective I came from and I have a huge soft spot for the South, so I set it in New Orleans so I could have some fun with that. And I just started building this story about this jerk drifter that’s the worst kind of survivor and coming across others who are just as bad as him.
I’ve had more downloads than they say you should expect as an indie e-book person. If it gets my name out there, awesome, but I have plenty of writing to do, so I’m not too worried.