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The Lilith – past and present

I’m not an art historian. I wish I had the kind of mind that could contain and examine the history of the visual arts, but I do have favorite subjects and enjoy researching them in the hope of adding to the conversation through my own work.

I’m a little late for Halloween, but I’ll be dedicating this post to one of mythologies most hated witchy women, Lilith. Her purpose and definition changes with time and location. She’s a storm demon, a screech owl, a succubus, Adam’s first and rebellious wife, killer of infants, an ancient kidnapped queen, or the tempting serpent in the garden of eden. The feminist in me can’t help but to be fascinated.

Her image over time has gotten combined with other female demons from many different cultures. She’s a femme fatal. A magical, rebellious female character punished for being willful.

My favorite version of her story is that she was Adam’s first wife. Lilith was already on earth(imagine that) and God picked her up and placed her in Eden to be Adam’s mate. She refused to be dominated by Adam and eventually escaped Eden(I guess a sorta first divorce?). She settled by the Red Sea, made out with demons and then was cursed by God after she refused to return to Eden and Adam. She was condemned to spend eternity as a succubus/murderer of infants. Not very fair is it? You can read some other versions of her story at Gnosis.org.

Wikipedia also does a good job summing up the various stories and linking to other sources.

Below are some slivers of older paintings depicting Lilith as the serpent that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. Admittedly I am not Christian, but I grew up assuming the serpent was supposed to be a personification of Satan yet here are Christian paintings depicting the serpent as a woman. In some ways they remind me of Gorgons/Medusa, depictions of Hygeia or even Cleopatra on her death bed. Women and snakes. Women and snakes. How very chthonic.

From left to right, Bosch’s Paradise and Hell, Michelangelo’s The Original Sin and Expulsion from Paradise detail from the Sistine Chapel ceiling, Hugo Van Der Goes’ The Fall of Adam and Eve Tempted by the Snake, Bosch’s The Fall of Adam and Eve left panel of the Haywain Triptych

More Modern depictions of Lilith shown below are by Chet Zar, Tara Macpherson

Creepmachine did a nice interview with Chet Zar about this Lilith inspired paintings.

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Oil Painting Brushes – Too Many

A reader, and I’m sorry I never replied…I can’t seem to figure out the best way too on this blog, pointed me to a great website that compared and reviewed colored pencils. I really appreciated it! It helped a lot!

Since I’ve been working at an art supply store I’ve had more time than most to examine and stress out over brushes. I know you shouldn’t need many(yet they sell a million different types).

I keep reading in ads that synthetic brushes should be fine for oil painting but my experience shows me that it simply isn’t the truth. That said, it’s a good thing that I’m not vegan because it appears impossible to be one and also be an oil painter. Ivory Black is produced with charred animal bones, some reds have been or are made from crushed bugs. The best standard oil brushes are made from boar bristles(yes the wild pig) and then there are sables and squirrel.

I’ve tried sables. I realize some oil painters do beautiful work with them to blend but personally I don’t like how soft they are. That said, I want something softer than bristle(chungking is the standard…I guess? Why is it called chungking?)

I found some mongoose hair brushes at work and they seem to what I’m looking for when finishing a piece. Stiffer than sable and softer than bristle. I’ve been using the Vermeer brand(I honestly side eye brands that use the name of a long dead artist). The only thing I don’t like about it is, once again, it’s made from animals(I’m sorry mongoose!), but the handle is a bit potentially crappy. I’ve found that painted handles are messes waiting to happen. As soon as it get a big wet the paint will chip off and end up on your canvas, and then the ferrules will loosen.

If anyone reading can recommend a good site or brand, I would really appreciate it. Too many site are brand specific ad campaigns.

Also, I think the only weird brush I can’t live without is a winkle. It’s a short sable brush. The ferrule/end is hooked to help paint small weird angles.

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Spirit Board Show

I’m excited and wish I could attend! Some of my work will be on display at San Francisco’s Articulated Gallery this November!

The show will open Saturday, November 15. If you are in the area you should definitely stop by! I’m extremely honored to be asked to participate by JL Schnabel Leva, especially for a show about spirit boards, my favorite subject!

Please also check out the Facebook event page for the show and RSVP if you will be attending.

Saturday, November 15, 2011

“Spirit Board” Group Art Show

Articulated Gallery is very excited to announce our November group art show “Spirit Board”, opening November 5th at 8pm-11pm.
DJ’s WhITCH & NAKO will be providing the music for the evening.
Curated by Artist / Art Writer / Jewelry Designer JL Schnabel.
Featuring works centered around the infamous “Haunted Boards” from…..

Jennybird Alcantara
KuKula
Edith LeBeau
Sienna Freeman
Jon Todd
Allyson Mellberg Taylor
Dave Miller Weeks
Liza Corbett
Chad Merritt
Jeremy Hush
Darla Jackson
Lincoln Smith
Margaux Kent
Paul Romano
Kristen Ferrell
Elizabeth Levesque
Bird Reynolds
Monique Ligons
Jason Goldberg
Heather Gargon
Kelly Louise Judd
Leila Marvel
Karyn Crisis
Christina Brown
Eric Eaton
Caitlin Hackett
Jessica Ward
Buddy Nestor

Reception will be 8pm-11pm, November 5th, beverages and treats will be served.
Many artists will be in attendance. :)

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Awash in a Sea of Unfinished Work

journal-foresightinprogress

It’s been hard to churn out work this semester and get into a good rhythm, but I think it’s beginning to happen now.

I also started a part time job working for the art supply retailer Jerry’s Artarama. I have to say working retail again feels odd, but it’s a good place with nice co-workers and familiar clientele. I just have to be careful I don’t get sucked into spending all my wages on art supplies. I feel like working there is helping me become more familiar with different brands and get to know other local artists. Now I just wish I had time to paint! Or that they’d pay me to just sit and paint!

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Leonor Fini – Sphinxette

Artist Leonor Fini Portraits

My google searches and tumbling for artwork featuring Greek sphinxes keeps bringing me back to the work of Leonor Fini, a 20th century female surrealist, and I am left feeling ignorant because I have never read about her, heard her mentioned in a class or viewed her work before. Of course I am not an art historian and my education has been far from exhaustive, so I shouldn’t be surprised, but yet I am.

She was incredibly prolific and multi talented(stage designer, painter, illustrator, writer), but I am drawn more to photographs of her than her own work. There is so much theater and poise, much like her sphinxes. Much like her cats. Even her paintings that feature herself tend to appeal to me the most, which is odd. I feel very uncomfortable, almost annoyed, when looking at a female artists work that tends to concentrate on the artists own image. It has more to do with me than the artist, I’m sure. I think I am uneasy about the fact that women are taught to be looked at, to want to be looked at, to share their face and appearance for others pleasure, and to take pleasure in others pleasure in their image. It’s an exercise in culturally taught narcissism. It’s beautiful and sick. I’m part of it too, though I don’t often paint myself. Perhaps I would too if I thought my image would appeal to the art buying public. A prettier way to interpret what I said above is that women are socialized to want to share themselves, be it their thoughts, feelings or face, with others, and that the narrative self portrait is a natural step.

Leonor Fini Paintings

Off hand I immediately am reminded of William Blake, Bosch and in the colors and allegory some Klimt. She was a contemporary of the better known, and male, surrealists. She was not one of their wives or sisters and seemed to be an extremely independent and strong willed artist. In fact she didn’t identify as one of them(surrealist), but art history needs to categorize things and that is where she falls. There is sexuality in her paintings, but it feels remote and not necessarily for the male gaze. Many of her figures are sculptural yet also ghostlike. They have both the solidity and coolness of a marble sculpture, yet look like they could float away like a spirit, or they are operating on a different plane than us, and we can only see them shimmering momentarily(specifically her lithographs). Wow. I should stop there before I embarrass myself.

See more Leonor Fini works at CFM Gallery, Spaightwood Gallery and Minsky Gallery.

You can read an informative essay about her here and find more work from her on the Wurzelforum.