THEME: “THE WATER’S EDGE – FLORIDA INSIDE-OUT”
PAINTING TITLE: “RAINWATER CYCLES OF LIFE”
Do they not see the birds above them spreading
and contracting (their wings)? Naught upholds
them save the Beneficent (God). Surely He is Seer of all things.
Holy Qur’an, chapter 67, verse 19
Against the grassy field droplets of rainwater amasses developing into a pond-like oasis in a roadside ditch. As rainwater settles against the earth life emerges, drawing sustenance from the natural flow of energy, it flourishes. My soul consumed with pure delight to see the wings of birds outstretched in flight and the Muscovy’s graceful glide upon the silky emerald rainwater; glistening like jewels of greenish-blue hues. A moment filled with such surprise as cycles of life emerge along the water’s edge of a Florida roadside paradise.
Ever in passing something so momentary and unassuming captivates your attention? Well this is how “Rainwater-Cycles of Life” began. Driving along with my friend on University Drive in Plantation-Florida nothing exciting to see when suddenly a slight glance to my right and I saw green. It was intensely bright! In the midst was a mother duck and her babies swimming through a makeshift rainwater pond in a roadside ditch. Well to some, no big deal, but to my creative senses it was a moment of pure artistic appeal.
For days, weeks after I had this experience I could not get it out of my mind. Mainly, because I didn’t have my camera and I needed to hold on to what I could remember. In truth, it came up so suddenly as we drove by that I may not have had time to snap a picture anyway.
Nonetheless, my memory would suffice to a point but I would have to go out looking for that scene again snapping photos and putting it together like a jigsaw puzzle. So I photographed rainwater puddles in driveways, grassy ditches, etc. wherever I could find a similar image. Here’s one of my photos of a grassy area ditch at the Westfield Mall in Plantation, Florida.
Next, I began searching for images with color and light reflecting on water picking up the greenish bluish hues; the closest I came was the water below. Now the grassy area is my photo as shown above, but the water I can’t take credit for.
I began building up the base color by applying several coats of green acrylic paints. The green base coat separated the white primed surface from the developing artwork. This allowed me to have a more pliable surface to begin shaping and developing the appearance of grass and water.
I began developing the grassy landscape not with one blade of grass at a time but with daubs of paint and free flowing directional brushstrokes. To create shadow and shape distinction I applied several coats of light green permanent (acrylic paint), chromium oxide green, olive green, mixed with small amount of black paint and daubed the various hues of green on top of my base coat.
Now that the landscape is established and depth is achieved with daubs of darker hues I freed up my brushstroke patterns. They became a bit more lengthy and somewhat wild, yet deliberate, controlled and defined to give form to the blades of grass.
It was a rainy day in spring; raining pretty heavy but at the time I arrived in the area there was only a light drizzle. Still, the amount of water accumulated in the makeshift rainwater pond was evidence of heavy rainfall. The Muscovy didn’t seem to have a care in the world as they swam in the rainwater. At a quick glance, it appeared as a little pond in paradise set against a beautifully manicured landscape.
The preliminary sketch is a guide; like a coloring book you avoid going outside the lines which are visible here. At times that requires a little disciple and patience. “Patience” is always needed when developing such detailed realism in a work of art. Can you imagine the level of patience, skill, and disciple of “The Creator” as He imagined, designed, created and perfected lifeforms.
The rule changes at a certain point and in order to create a more realistic image it requires crossing those lines to merge and blend colors.
But, I digress for a moment! I want to explore what art is, and how its viewed. I’ve been trying to understand what art means to people and why it means so much to the civilized world. But for now I’ll talk about what it means to me.
HeART & SOUL: “The Art of Nature and the Nature of Art!” I believe as it is said “Art is everything!” It is nature, it is humanity, it is life; it’s about living things and that which living things do. It’s also about the nature, function and behavior of the subject as much as it is about its artistry and design. It’s the “created thing.” It’s about the creative process (that goes into the development and existence of everything). It’s the creative mind at work; the art of thinking, creating and bringing things into existence.
HeART & SOUL: “The Nature of Art” is about the exploration and discovery of created things in as much as it’s about self-discovery through creating. Art is a creative expression and study into the design aesthetics, interaction and influence of a subject with its environment but also with the inner person, its creator.
The Mayans say “Time is Art!” That implies the expending of energy (work) within a given day. That energy or work is the use of talent, skills and resource to materialize and bring into existence ideas. Art is creating reality; it is reality if you understand! Every creative thing one engages in happens within the realm of “Time” everything we do is locked into the dictates of “Time” and that (doing) is “creating” and that “creating” or created thing is “ART” the Actualization and Realization of Talent.” A.R.T. “Actualization Realization of Talent” is an acronym I created to sum up the meaning of art as I see it.
HeArt & SOUL: Art imitates reality! Art documents reality! Reality is Art! Torian Tobechi Ugworji a beautiful mind and person at a recent Art Expo at the Broward Convention Center said to me, “Art is history and reality.” This struck a chord with me, because he understood that viewing, relating to and conveying the essence, subject, and meaning of a work of art was far more than saying that’s a pretty painting. He spoke of what he saw, the substance, the history, how things are positioned and what they conveyed to him. He knew to look deeper into (the who, what, why, when and where); which is not just for books but for the visual story on a canvas as well.
PROCESS AND DEVELOPMENT:
Initially I had the drake…the male Muscovy duck standing in the grass along the water’s edge not immersed in water, but I eventually brought the water up around his legs. Then I changed the head-feathers to black to make him more distinguished. He’s gorgeous! His wings reflects more color with sunlight passing through and rain splashing against them as they rapidly fluttered back and forth. He has so much personality. He seems as if he’s beckoning the team of ducks approaching. Now take a look at the rain, hey I’ve stopped time and motion when I inserted the falling rain, lol! I’m loving it!
PROCESS AND DEVELOPMENT:
A lot of my paintings start out with the actual photo, but beyond the photos my imagination plays a major role in enhancing, shaping and directing the concept, flow and energy of the painting. Here’s an example! I kept visualizing the White Ibis in the setting though they were not in my initial concepts. Hesitantly and cautiously I tested the idea and made them a part of the scheme. Like the Muscovy, the Ibises’ are an everyday occurrence on our front lawns, at the park, or along the highways and byways, nothing exotic. Like an old relationship that has lost its zest complacency sets in and affection for the simple everyday beauties fade. So slow down and take a look then carry on.
HeART & SOUL: There’s no challenge in coming up with things to paint; just look around there’s inspiration in every element of life. For the most part I’ll only paint those things that holds my attention and preoccupies my mind long after I’ve left the scene. These are things that hold me not just visually, but emotionally, spiritually and intellectually, especially when it’s congruent with my theme.
HeART & SOUL: There’s an unexplained feeling, a surge of energy that fills me when I’m artistically intrigued by someone or something. I put these feelings into every brushstroke and into every mixture and application of color and paint. So that when a person is standing before one of my paintings they too will have a sense of the creative energy and force that connected with me when I first came upon that scene, person or concept.
HeART & SOUL: I love naturalness of life, the dependability I find when I walk out my front door or peek through a window and there it is, Life happening! I love to see the natural happenings of everyday life in both humanity and nature. They add to the landscape and ambiance and to the beauty and function of my everyday life in the Art of Creation.
HeART & SOUL: Each work of art is a place I go mentally, psychologically, spiritually and in many instances physically. It’s a brief reprieve from the harsh realities of life; human suffering, injustice, and pain. As I’m working on this painting “Rainwater: Cycles of Life” there is “An Intensifying Universal Cry For Justice” resounding around the earth.
Sometimes the continuous noise and cry becomes too much. Nevertheless, nature redirects my attention to remind me of the natural order and harmony God established in the universe. The disruption of that order, the disharmony and chaos, the cries against injustice in the earth is mankind’s doing. The Creator and Fashioner of All things did not created a world of chaos and disharmony. He created a world of harmonic contrasts. He says in the Holy Qur’an 49:13:
We created you from a single (pair)
of a male and a female,
and made you into nations and tribes,
that you may know each other
(not that you may despise (each other).
Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah
is (he who is) the most righteous of you.
And Allah has full knowledge
and is well acquainted (with all things).
There are lessons in nature. The study of nature through art brings me to a study of myself and the world around me. What have I inherited of knowledge as a result of this work of art. “I am what I am, a child, a descendant of God. I am who I am, that which God has created me to be. I am in the nature in which He has Fashioned me. I am endowed with His attributes and talents which He has deposited in me from Himself. I am purposed by Him to discover, uncover, develop, share and serve in the onward progression of the humanity. These are the feathers of my wings. I am able to soar to great heights when I’m whole and connected to a body of like minds. Like these birds we’re communities of diverse nations, cultures and races, but we are the human family.
Together we all soar to greater and greater heights, individually, we lay against the earth blowing aimlessly without function, purpose or usefulness. How much greater and advance would human civilization be globally if we functioned cohesively for the betterment and advancement of the “Human Family” rather than for our individuality. Sure each nation must work for its self-interest and for its own kind, but work in truth with righteousness. Work in a collective manner that takes humanity soaring into an era of human advancement, healing and unlimited progress for all.
“And there is no animal in the earth,
nor a bird that flies on its two wings,
but (they are) communities like yourselves.”
Holy Qur’an – Chapter 6 verse 38
Every time we see the Genius, Artistry, and Beauty of the Art of Creation be reminded of Allah (God) the Originator, Fashioner, Creator, The Artist of it all!
“Seest thou not that Allah is He,
Whom do glorify all those who are
in the heavens and the earth,
and the birds with wings outspread?
Each one knows its prayer and its glorification.
And Allah is Knower of what they do.”
Holy Qur’an, chapter 24, verse 41.