Wisdom Rests

"Wisdom Rests" by Todd Powelson
“Wisdom Rests” by Todd Powelson

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.

Wisdom Descends

"Wisdom Descends" by Todd Powelson
“Wisdom Descends” by Todd Powelson

Down from the great light spiral She steps,

Spirits great and small follow close behind.

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.

Infinite Worlds

"Infinite Worlds" by Todd Powelson
“Infinite Worlds” by Todd Powelson

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 animalevery 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.

Whew, a long post.

All of that is what I call “Infinite Worlds”.

You can buy this artwork as a high quality 24″ x 16″ canvas print over at toddpowelson.com, or by emailing me at toddpowelson (at) comcast.net .

This is part of my “Songs from the Earth” series, and you can check out the rest of that artwork by clicking here.

 

The Wolf

by Todd Powelson
by Todd Powelson

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.

In addition to myself, there are many other talented artists who will also have their work hanging, like my sister and brother-in-law, Tonya & Steve Vistaunet, Jeffrey Hale, Brian Kershisnik, Justin Wheatley, and many other artist that I look forward to meeting. I’m happy to be included. Stop in and check it all out!

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.

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The Fifth World

"The Fifth World" - by Todd Powelson
“The Fifth World” – by Todd Powelson

I may be wrong, but I expect this digital painting might seem kinda strange to some people. With this nude dude running across the piece, and these brightly colored rainbow bodies running uncomfortably close with him… But this painting isn’t about ascension,  as the rainbow body might normally imply. Instead, this piece is showing the descent of the soul/spirit/mind down into a physical body. When I draw, I am sometimes trying to work out through my artwork an idea or philosophy that has been on mind, and this idea of our descent into matter is something I seem to return to again and again (and again!).

I struggled with this piece. I had a number of false starts, one in particular that I spent a lot of time developing, drawing… and I was pretty happy with it… but then, one day while walking, the image above just sort of floated in front of my minds eye and I knew this was it. This was a better expression for the idea, so I started over.

It is usually hard for me to talk about the artwork I make. The picture should say it all, right? Francis Bacon said, “It’s always hopeless to talk about painting – one never does anything but talk around it”. Even though I get his point, I don’t know that I believe it is completely true, so I will try to explain some of what I was thinking the best I can.

In ancient Egypt, there was the idea that the human soul was made up of five different parts. These different parts, when combined with the physical body, are what make up a human being. Now, I don’t think I was literally trying to represent this Egyptian idea, but I am bringing it up because I’m sure this concept was lurking around in the back of my mind while I was drawing. I could see an overlap with what I was creating…

… And I was creating, like I said above, a picture of the soul’s decent into matter and the physical world.

In Asia, it was/is thought there are five different elements that combine and make up everything we see. Of course, in the western tradition we typically only recognize four (earth, water, air, and fire). That missing fifth element is sometimes called wood, sometimes called life, and sometimes called spirit. I represented that spirit in the grey human form that surrounds and encompasses the other colors or “bodies”.

The other colors or “bodies” represent the more physical and classical elements… the elements which literally do create each individual physical body. Red is fire. Fire in the mind, the fire in our heart, electrical and nervous systems. And it shows an external fire too… How does that old song go? “We are stardust, billion year old carbon. Well, I guess we really are…  elements created and forged in star fire, exploded into space and eventually ending up here. The lighter blue body is the air we breathe, the air that circulates through our blood. The darker blue is water and rivers inside each of us. And the main and most obvious running body is the earth… the meat suit. What we tend to see when we look at each other. All of these combine to make us. And the body is running because that is what it’s for. It seems to me that the body is a kind of vehicle that the spirit uses to run around in.

I’m not the greatest writer I know, but that was some of what I was thinking on while I was painting. And all of that is The Fifth World.

You can buy this as a high quality 24″ x 16″ canvas print through my website by visiting www.toddpowelson.com

This is part of my “Songs from the Earth” series, and you can check out the rest of that series by clicking here.