Tuesday, 18 October 2016

100 Days Of Sacred Art Afterglow

I have completed 100 days of consecutive posting of my work on my Instagram page. It was challenging, rewarding and bewildering.

Initially, I began the event as a challenge to keep me practising drawing on a daily basis. The rules were that no matter how dodgy the sketches were, I had to put them on the page.

By day 10 I was exhausted. However, I am not one to start something and not finish it, so I began to expand upon and reinterpret the rules. All of my work including previous sketches I had not published before where now included. I was able to include not seen before sketches - rough as they were - of my trips to the US and Egypt that inspired my most recent paintings.

Even this was proving limiting as my sketch vault was not chock filled, so I began to show sketches and previews of my (then) current painting The Netjeru In New York City, something as a rule I tend not to do.

The entire project occurred whilst I was completing TNINYC, and this had pressures of its own. Do I slow down the process of creating the painting (which was already proving to be my most challenging and intricate work to date) to keep the momentum of the project going without missing a day?

On a magickal and initiatory level, I feel like something has been achieved. I found something to publish every day even on those days when I really, really did not want to play. Much emerged as a result of this, including revelatory feelings that were hidden away about my artwork, my skills as an artist, as well as some amazing sketches for new paintings which would never have been realised had I not embarked on this adventure.

The last 18 months have been quite an insular time for me, and in a state of semi reclusion it came to be that stagnation was lurking. The 100 days project shook me up and out of this, finishing on the day after an auspicious birthday and full moon.

Above is the image that got the most "likes" in my project - a statue of the Goddess Sekhmet from a video a friend took inside the Turin museum. (The statue is a different one I used as the model for Ruby Sekhmet last year and a different angle).

I have also included below some that will one day become paintings.

Abandoned / Found 

Avatar, Angel, Netjeru, God

Winged Heru

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The Netjeru In New York City

The Netjeru In New York City
60" x 30"
Acrylic, 23 carat gold leaf, sterling silver on linen
A long term vision, an inspired trip, Lawren Harris and echoes of previous paintings 

The idea for The Netjeru In New York City has been gestating for some time. The process required another trip to NYC at the beginning of last year to complete the vision and pull the concept together.

The third and final New York related piece of The Netjeru In America series, the painting has been my most challenging and intricate to date, combining large scale and minute detail with the new process of gilding that I have been learning in the last 12 months.

The painting is a rendering of the New York Cityscape, with various Netjeru appearing on, in or above the buildings and landmarks that characterise New York City. The buildings also include 4 of the principal shrines of Ancient Kemet blended into the cityscape.

I have chosen buildings that resonate with my idea for the piece, and also include iconic landmarks that had an impression on me for one reason or another during my visit(s) to the city so far. There are 21 in total. From left to right:

  • The apartment building that sits at the west entrance of Central Park and was featured in the film Ghostbusters
  • Commercial building
  • Woolworth building
  • Westin Hotel
  • Shrine of Pe
  • WTC waterfront building
  • St. Patrick's Cathedral
  • The Guggenheim Museum Of Art
  • Waldorf
  • Anonymous building
  • Shrine of Buto
  • Anonymous building 2
  • Empire State
  • Apartments in Chelsea
  • Shrine of Hierokonpolis
  • WTC waterfront building 2
  • Statue of liberty
  • WTC building 3
  • WTC waterfront 4
  • Shrine of Nekhen
  • World Trade Centre
  • Chrysler Building (Central Park)

The Netjeru
There are 32 Netjeru featured in the piece: 28 are depicted in anthropomorphic form, 1 in abstract form, 1 in animal form, and 2 in hieroglyphic form only. Every Netjer has Their hieroglyphic designation in an enclosing band (a device I have used from my earliest paintings), in this case a neon one.

The Netjeru along building tops and in the sky from left to right:
  • Ptah
  • Nut
  • Khepera
  • Heru
  • Khonsu
  • Nehebukau 
  • Astoret
  • Sutekh

The Netjeru inside the "Netjer boxes" from left to right, start top and go down and return to top:
  • Renenutet
  • MehUrt
  • Wepwawet
  • Wadjet
  • Anpu
  • Hehu
  • Atum
  • Shu (name in hieroglyphs in Atum's hand)
  • Tefnut (name in hieroglyphs in Atum's hand)
  • NebtHt
  • Ausar
  • Auset
  • Amon Ra
  • Mut
  • Sokar
  • Maat
  • Nekhbet
  • Sobek
  • Djehuti
  • Bastet
  • Nefertum
  • Sekhmet
  • Geb

Artistic elements: Lawren Harris and 2 of my earlier works
The skyscape in this painting was one of the earliest elements to dominate the artistic process. In fact, it was the first colour element to go on the canvas once the initial drawings were laid on.

I had experimented with different forms of layering and texture (including moulding paste) but felt like these were stepping too far away from the style I am developing with my paintings. A post on Instagram about the Boston Museum Of Fine Arts holding an exhibition of Lawren Harris paintings was the beginning of my resolving just how the sky would be detailed in the work.
I was able to get the precise layering of colours by measuring syringe loads of cerulean blue with degrees of titanium white (thank you Golden Paints new liquid format acrylics!)

The Netjer boxes
How would I render the boxes that some of the Netjeru are featured in? I had a clear idea that the pattern would correspond with the skyscape, but I was stumped for the colour almost the entire way through. It wasn't until I pondered why one of my former art works, The Ark Of Millions was repeatedly popping into my head that I began to take a closer look as to intuitively, why.
The distinctive colour that makes up the background to that work is an unusual one found in the tombs of Kings Horemheb and Ramses I, and I was able to mimic it by using a smalt hue / titanium white mix. By using a similar process of gradation that I used for the sky I then found my colour schema for the boxes.

The hieroglyphs are rendered in a similar way to those featured in Ark Of Millions, and I thought initially that this was why it had been on my mind; but it was only the neon glow aspect that I was borrowing from that work. I could not figure out the colour fill for the glyphs until Material Immortality began appearing in my minds eye in a similar way. This painting was actually hanging up in my studio at the time, so it was very present in my everyday world. Again, the background colour was the beckoning element and so a cobalt green / titanium white mix is the colour that fills the glyphs in The Netjeru In New York City..

I have been studying traditional iconography for well over a year now, and in fact viewed a rather extraordinary exhibition of icons here in Melbourne the week I left for the aforementioned trip to the United States. The traditional form of guiding I have learned has been applied for the first time in one of my own works with this painting.

The Ancient Kemetic And How It Manifests Today
Out of all of my paintings to date, I feel that this work encapsulates the fullstop (I am aware that I have not included one) at the end of the sentence written above.
NYC is one of the world's most sophisticated cities, an icon of the modern and perhaps a representative of what civilisation has become; to juxtapose this man made behemoth with the divine understandings of a culture long past seems at once pointless and intriguing concomittanlty. Can the divine be found in the extreme of civilisation that we have created? And how will it be / look when we find it?

The Netjeru - but not nature - is what my painting reveals. The one tiny slither of Central Park - the focus of last year's This Has All Happened Before And This Will All Happen Again - is almost unnoticeable in my representation here.

If we can not find the divine in nature any more, then how will we find it?

I do believe that Whitley Strieber has devoted a large portion of his life exploring this. Most notably, Super Natural suggests what can happen when mechanics and materialism have cemented over our deeper understanding of being connected with nature and the wonders of what went before.

It was a fun process bringing this painting into being, and extremely intense. A much earlier idea to do separate little portraits of each Netjer has been realised in this piece, somehow without my consciously addressing the paradox of modern and ancient, before and after. Somehow this piece evolved that idea all on its own.

Original sketch for The Netjeru In New York City
February 2015
One of my favourite photos from the 2015 US trip
The Divine Goddess Sekhmet and me
Brooklyn Museum, February 2015

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The 7 Scents Of Setken

My deeper foray into essential oil exploration began about 18 months ago. I write deeper as I have actually been intrigued and in love with essential oils for most of my adult life, having been seduced by them in my late 20’s thanks to my friend Jan Douglass (who sadly no longer specialises in the aromatherapy field).

A health crisis (injury) pulled me up to a point of enforced rest last year and made me stop and smell the roses. Literally, actually. I had began working with a healing modality called The Liquid Crystals which are remedies along the same lines as Bach Flower essences. Each of the remedies had corresponding essential oils. Some I had never heard of, and what’s more, were hard to find unless you went online.

So my journey went way beyond the dusty shelves of health food store racks that stock the obligatory lavender and peppermint bottles, and into a world of scent where the gods themselves reside. I have taken to the essential oils as I would imagine an entheogen enthusiast would, and list below 7 of the most delectable, sacred scents that never leave my olfactory turntable.

These are the scents that I will use in meditation and for focusing when I am at a particular stage of painting a work. Whilst putting these in rank of favourite is near impossible, I will leave the most powerful to the end.

Not a top 12 but . . . .

If this were a Top 12 I would have to mention the power of these fragrances also:
Palo Santo (bursera graveolens)
Pink Lotus (nelumbo nucifera) also called Sacred Lotus
Blue Lotus (nymphaea caerulea)
Cedarwood (juniperus virginiana)
Rockrose (cistus ladanifer) also known as labdanum and Rose Of Sharon

The 7 Scents

Sandalwood (Australian) (santalum spicatum)
The exotic wood smell of sandalwood has the ability to transport one into a meditative space immediately. It is not a heavy wooden scent but an intense one that invites deeper inhalation and with it, greater contemplation. 
I prefer the Australian variety to the Indian ones that I have sampled, but am intrigued by Hawaiian sandalwood, which I wonder if it will have a salty note to it?

Galbanum (ferula galbaniflua)
The heady and commanding scent of this Mediterranean flower is both focusing and dispersing of one’s contemplative tendencies all at once. In the same way that kerosene alerts you to its presence, galbanum does so also albeit with a rewarding, clarifying tone that does not engender chemical alarm.

Rose (rose damascena)
The king of florals that produces instant calm, rose has a luminescent quality that brings emotional equilibrium and inspires a harmonic stillness. Yet this stillness is not of this realm and hard earned - given how many petals of this precious flower are required to make but one drop of essential oil. 
The aromatic blessings bestowed by this oil can not be overrated. 

Copaiba (copaifera reticulata)
Woody in a way that echoes sandalwood, but which takes you in a completely different, upward spiral of olfactory adventure, this subtle but obsessive fragrance speaks of hidden dimensions within its molecules that in turn mirror the hidden ones in you. I have sampled two types of Copaiba – both are oleoresins and considered a balsam.
One is from YoungLiving and the other Simplers Botanicals – the later has a greener note to it than the former.
I have experienced real and prolonged “feel good” states after inhaling this essential oil, and am led to understand that this is owing to the high content of beta-caryophyllene which has been studied for its ability to modulate the body's response to irritation.

Frankincense (boswellia sacra)
Frankincense has been a personal favourite for years, but using it in meditation and prayer practice has become commonplace for its ability to engender a spiritual (or sacred) state.  It is commanding in the same way that galbanum is, yet it has a subtle, softer tone that beckons burgeoning spiritual states to emerge and become manifest in this world. 
I am familiar with many types of frankincense now – serrata, neglecta, olibanum, and caterii – and whilst I enjoy all of these, sacra (sacred frankincense) is my preferred. 
I have frankincense from Young Living, Pro Oils and Floracopeia

Myrrh (commiphora myrrha)
Calmative, exhilarating, exciting and sacred are words that describe myrrh. Like frankincense, this has been a favourite for years, but as my olfactory senses develop I find new, richer depths to this woody resin that find me sticky in my spiritually indeed. 
It is a kind of bliss to be trapped in myrrh’s exotic clutches, and dare I say it may indeed bring us closer to parts of our soul anatomy more readily than most of the others.

Agarwood (aquilaria species of which there are 8) 
also known as aloeswood and oud / oudh
I was not prepared for the overpowering ominousness of agarwood when I first encountered it earlier this year. I am obviously predisposed to woody essential oils but to describe this fragrance simply as woody is to do it a grave injustice.
I mentioned soul anatomy in relation to myrrh above; but if there were a scent to be anointed with in order to take ones physically immortal body into the realms where the other 8 pieces of soul anatomy reside, then this is that scent. 
A sacred scent (like many of the above) to many ancient cultures and religions for a very long time, oud is especially favoured in the Arab world and beloved of Islam.
Wood that has been regenerated with spiritual fire, wood that has survived decay to become a new holy thing, wood that is wet and wood that is caramel are just a few ways I can describe this majestic fragrance. And yet no words can do this justice.
The agarwoods that I own are from Grandawood, and called Wild Dark Merauke and Wild Cambodian.

A sketch trying to convey the sentiments expressed above; the device is a nebulising diffuser - my "olfactory turntable"

Sketch for painting "Liquid God"; the chemical equations are that of the aquilaria tree, the Netjer featured is Setesh

Monday, 15 August 2016

100 Days Of Sacred Art

On my Instagram page I have started a project where I publish a sketch a day for 100 days.

The idea has emerged in order to keep me practising drawing every day. Without my sketching and drawing skills my paintings can't exist, and it has been a practice I have been lacking in paying attention to. It has helped stimulate new ideas and one recent sketch began a rather intense healing episode!

As I still work full time it has not been easy to produce a new sketch every day, so the project has evolved to incorporate other elements of my work (like early sketch / drafts of earlier paintings).

It has been quiet on the blog because of my art work, so Instagram can fill some gaps in the meantime. Some of the sketches are done quickly and as practice, whilst others have more craftsmanship evident. I am including everything including the rough and raw as an insight into my methods and craft.

A scene from the sarcophagus of King Seti I

The forgiveness of Khnum

An older sketch and template for another painting in my Sacred Bull series: Hap

Heru - original sketch that appears in my new painting The Netjeru In New York City; the glyphs have been revised in the painting to keep with cannon

Original sketch for my new painting The Netjeru In New York City; this is from my Netjeru In America series 

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Spiritual Insomnia (My Restless Ka)

Spiritual Insomnia (My Restless Ka)
Acrylic on canvas 42" x 32"
March 2016
My 2nd completed work for 2016 is a study of one part of a tripartite statue that I extensively photographed in late December last year in the Cairo Museum.

Said statue is the coronation of Ramses III where the king is being blessed by Set and Heru. This same piece was also a focus for my 2013 painting, The Artist As Beloved Of Heru And Set, which was included in the Blake Prize Director's Cut that year. Unlike the 2013 work however, the focus of my latest is on Set exclusively.

In my opinion this is the most exquisite statue of this god remaining from antiquity. I wanted to capture it from as many angles as I could, and the photography amnesty at the Cairo Museum (a major reason for going there late last year / earlier this one) permitted this. It was something I had dreamed about doing up to that point. And photograph away, I did.

My restless ka flew to the Cairo museum, and in a whirlwind of breathless amazement, left with inspirations for many new works . . . . the first of which I feature here
The selected colours
My painting features only a handful of colours. The statue itself is rendered in Red Oxide and Burnt Umber - colours I likely would never have used had I not began studying Iconography painting last year. Indigo and 4 shades of purple (ultraviolet, 2 types of light violet, and a white violet blend) make up the rest of the palette.

Burnt Umber captures the colour of the actual granite statue itself, whilst the Red Oxide captures the inner fire of the statue that I felt in its presence. These colours interact well with one of the two Light Violets that I have utilized. The main Light Violet used in the background is the colour of the walls in the part of the museum where the statue is situated, and actually weaves through the statues in my painting upon closer inspection.

Spiritual Insomnia (My Restless Ka) detail
Serpents, iconography
I became intrigued by friezes of serpents as I toured the country; a particular collection (featured below) that was in the outdoor museum of the Temple Of HetHrt in Dendera inspired the top frame of this painting.

The frieze of cobras that lay outside in the grounds of the Temple Of HetHrt at Dendera
I spent a great deal of time searching out Set's icon in the cartouches of Seti I in the outdoor ruins of Karnak Temple, as well as at Seti I's mortuary temple in Qurna (Western Thebes). These are featured in the bottom frame of the painting.

Spiritual Insomnia (My Restless Ka) detail
The symbols in between each Set glyph are not hieroglyphs: they are a rendering of a decorative pattern I saw in the Cairo Museum. I find that place enchanting and wanted to include something of it as a homage to that iconic place, the current "temple" that houses all the wonders of Netjer that we admire today. I feel that this and the use of the wall colour in the painting satisfy that want.

A frieze that I noticed high above the staircases in the Cairo museum; a rendering of this decoration is included in my painting
The title of the painting
Who are we?
What are we?
Where are we?

These questions have plagued me since I was an infant. Whilst the search that they fuel has not always been centre front of my life, it has been there enough for me to know that it's always been there. It has created an insomnia in my being that often makes it hard for me to "fall in" with the flow of day to day material life . . .

As I face these questions rather in a more confrontational manner  now, my painting is an answer; this rendering of a relic of antiquity: a tale in paint of a near forgotten god - if not a misunderstood one - from one of the greatest civilizations our world has known.

My Netjer, my namesake (the second painting I have "signed"), a god of chaos, a god of magick, a dazzling god. A god of great strength. My ka can not rest . . . . until I know the answers to these questions. Until I know my Netjer . . . . My spiritual insomnia persists.

Spiritual Insomnia (My Restless Ka) detail
The emblem on the front doorway of the Cairo Museum
Spiritual Insomnia (My Restless Ka) detail

Monday, 21 March 2016

Important Things - Books And Articles Provoking Much Thought

Here are some words that are making an impression right now.

Chakra article
A very informative article for those interested in the deep history of the chakras and their Sanskrit origins written by Sanskrit scholar Chris Wallis.

The Super Natural
The new book by my fave author Whitley Strieber, and co-authored by Jeff Kripal. Perhaps one of the most important books about consciousness and how we experience religious phenomena that I have ever read.

Immortality Is Material
Mentioned on this blog before, the author has recently made a free pdf' available. Very worthwhile if you are interested in the everlasting nature of consciousness and the body as an integral part of soul awareness.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Beloved, Magickal Kemet

"From the heights of these pyramids, forty centuries look down on us"
Napoleon Bonaparte to his troops in Egypt (21 July 1798) (Variant translation: "Soldiers, from the summit of yonder pyramids forty centuries look down upon you...") 
Source: Wikipedia

Khepera in shrine, Nubian Museum

Statue of Sutekh, Cairo Museum

Cairo Museum Grand Hall
Uraei atop shrine of King Tutankhamun, Cairo Museum
Statue of Shu, Cairo Museum
The Bent Pyramid of King Snefru, Dashur
The Red Pyramid of King Snefru

Inside the Red Pyramid of King Snefru; note the orbs that appeared in the photograph that were not visible at time of capture

The Temple of Heru at Edfu

The Temple of Sobek and Heru Ur, Kom Ombo

Detail of pylon tops of Temple of Sobek and Heru Ur, Kom Ombo

SobekRa, Crocodile Museum, Kom Ombo

The so called Colossi Of Memnon (Staues of King Amenhotep III) on the Theban West Bank

Temple of Auset, Philae Island

Main temple entrance, Temple of Auset
Wall carvings detail, Temple of Auset
From the mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut

A chapel from the mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
The Temple Of HetHrt, Dendera

Side view of the Temple Of HetHrt, Dendera

Pylons, Temple Of HetHrt, Dendera

Temple Of Karnak

Sutekh glyph close up from cartouche of King Seti I, Temple Of Karnak

Sekhmet, Temple Of Karnak

A fallen block featuring the cartouche of King Seti I, Karnak Temple
Superb glyph details on broken block, Temple Of Karnak

Vast glimpse of wing of Temple Of Karnak

Avenue of sphinxes.Temple Of Karnak

Paint detail, Temple Of Karnak
Alabaster statue of King Seti I, Luxor Museum

Colossal head of Sekhmet, Luxor Museum

Luxor Temple

Forest of pylons, Luxor Temple

View with the sky, Luxor Temple
Mortuary Temple Of King Seti I, Qurna, West Bank

View from top of Mortuary Temple Of King Seti I with view of pyramidal peak that indicates location of Valley Of The Kings
Block with exquisite hieroglyphs indicative of King Seti I's reign post Amarna style, Mortuary Temple Of King Seti I,

Mortuary Temple of King Ramsess III aka Temple Of Millions Of Years

Inner courtyard of mortuary Temple of King Ramsess II

Paint detail, mortuary Temple of King Ramsess II

Pylon, mortuary Temple of King Ramsess II

View from window of appearances, mortuary Temple of King Ramsess II

Exquisite winged disk, mortuary Temple of King Ramsess II

Ptah and Sekhmet, Abydos Temple of Seti I

Wepwawet, Abydos Temple of Seti I

NebtHt, HetHrt, Auset and Ausar, Abydos Temple of Seti I

Chapel with King Seti 1 making offerings to Ausar, Abydos Temple of Seti I

Exquisite wall detail, Abydos Temple of Seti I

Djehuti, Abydos Temple of Seti I

Sublime, exquisite, 19th Dynasty Temple art - Djehuti, King Seti I and Heru, Abydos Temple of Seti I
AmonRa and me, Mortuary Temple Of King Seti I, Qurna, West Bank
Ra - setting over the Nile