My painting shown above won the Best Overall Oil award in the recent December, 2015/January, 2016 bimonthly PleinAir Salon competition. The judge was Gary Haynes, the owner of Haynes Galleries of Fine Art in Nashville, TN and Thomaston, ME. The picture is currently available at the Michael LaConte Gallery in Chicago.
The introduction of photography profoundly changed how we perceive images in general. A homogeneous focus over the whole picture plane, visual distortions and haphazard compositions are only part of the problem. A photograph mechanically isolates a moment in time. It is inherently tied to our experience of Time as is the moving photo, i.e. cinema. The psychological impact has been enormous.
The strength of painting is based on a symbolic power of the image that is not limited to linear narrative. Every element of a picture gains significance when the formal elements of design: line, color, value and subject, come together for a common purpose. That aim is expressing something of the eternal in relation to the subject.
This painting depicts Persephone, the goddess of the spring. She was the daughter of Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, and Zeus. Her eventual abduction and marriage to Hades made her also the queen of the Dead. For those not familiar with her myth, more can be found here.
Persephone is shown bridging the two worlds of light and dark. She offers a sprig of grain to the living world with a setting sun as leans towards the nether regions of Hades. Her weight is sustained by a ruined bust of Demeter, a symbol of the mother’s grief as the goddess of spring reigns in the underworld. It was Demeter’s entreaties to Zeus that led to the intervention that resulted in the eventual agreement of dividing Persephone’s time between the realm of the living and the dead. The result was the creation of the 4 seasons.
Her story is more a right of passage than a tragedy. In antiquity, Persephone was the a divine representation of the terrestial bride. The numerous votive offerings found in temples to attest to this. Above is a famous Pinax from Locri depicting the groom Hades with his bride.
The hope is that this painting can be enjoyed and ‘read’ on many different levels. A lot of work, effort and emotion was put into creating a piece that it is rich enough to survive the test of time and enjoyed in the future.
Great painting strives to represent the ‘eternal’ by removing temporal restraints of traditional narrative in order to touch the divine.