Her pose is self-reflective, Magdalena is internalized and self-possessed. Her back turned to the artist and the viewer; she cares not. She is contemplative and self-aware, John Paul’s Mona Lisa.
A mighty expanse of alizarin crimson blood flows within; carrying teardrop forms, the lime colored forms, highlighted with zinc yellow.
These forms, her protean DNA, emerge from a winding internal canyon of deep burgundy, which defines the perimeter of her body in the picture. The forms are buoyant, gathering upward, seeking to manifest the woman in the world; another victory in sport or profession, or another loving act as wife and friend. This is my child.
A spring palette surrounds her. The twenty-five carved pieces of canvas are interposed to undulate and counterpoint one another, ever redirecting the viewers’ attention back to the subject, forming a colliding garden of moving components around her. In the background, textural spring floral oil paint mixed with sand flutters and stumbles across an azure hue of pale blue sky behind.
A competitive swimmer and triathlete, I have watched Magdalena remove her swim cap on the pool deck a hundred times after a race. Her long dark burnt umber hair would fall onto and through a waiting hand as she briefly groomed it and strained the water out . The long-mirrored shock of hair arises from the nape of her neck, arches over her head and passes down the length of a strong athletic torso and leg.
Effortlessly kneeling and passively stretching a limb, the cascade of polished bronze reaches her lower femur, It curves inward toward the other leg. I intend this long bronze metal shape to be perceived as a path of energy, originating in her spiritual center and returning to her lower body, thereby sustaining a continuum of graceful repose.
“Lady in Waiting” is the muse of course. By that I mean, the presentation relies on the general map of a woman’s physical anatomy, totally impersonal, something which we know in a generic sense, she is no one in particular. No culture, race or political agenda or philosophy…only gender. The geometric forms, substitute her body parts and copper hair with abstract shapes, not realistically fashioned, lacking details of identity; not a specific person. Yet the structural architecture of feminine form prevails. It is an armature to compose a color and textural composition, to which I gave my full energy for three months in 2018.
The muse in the artistic context provides the possibility of much more in meaning, much less in identity. The power of symbolism replaces the power of ideological reason. Often one hears spoken; “what women want” or “what women think”. These statements always impress me as presumptuous. In symbolic presentation, the physical muse has a chance to get closer to woman.
Her existential being is presented as structure and Art. She is not illustrated, photogenic or nuanced. This image is not indebted to reality.
Further emphasizing her as symbol, the physically deepest and darkest part of this picture, closest to the unconscious, is her face...and it is absent. The absent face emphasizes the depth of the unconscious.. as most significant.Thus rendering the usual facial glamour of as irrelevant.
Her gesture is of course one of fixing her reddish mane (cut copper pate). I prefer a simple unpretentious act of self-maintenance, as it refers to herself, not a watching world.
The composition is two stacked rectangles. The lower has the back leg cutting diagonally through, upward (with elbow on knee) the upper rectangle, has the head and neck moving diagonally through upward in parallel,to aforementioned leg in bottom rectangle.
Finally the tittle: The initial oil sketch on canvas, the zinc yellow ground, tumbled through my life (studio) for ten years. I glanced or studied the canvas on a constant basis over that period. Finally, I formulated a strategy as to how I might proceed this year.
I wanted to create a muse, a woman who existed before time. She is a priestess, her attributes are both spiritual and ritualistic, yet she exhibits desire, she feels alone. She accesses the ethereal universe, inhabited by spirits and souls, yet she is a physical being whose purpose is to survive on formative earth.
We find her at home, in the location of her choosing; a tidal pool, protected by a rocky structure behind, separating her from the primordial brine from which she arose. She walks on all four limbs, ready for any threat.
Her habits, lifestyle and capabilities are expressed in symbols of her own conception. They are inscribed, and then inlaid in the craggy rock of the background, non-precious metals inlaid…maid precious. Their purpose and meaning,a proclamation of self to both the natural and spirit world. They are a statement or warning to any who trespass her territory. Or…we who simply observe. The symbols she has crafted are simultaneously abstract and real. They are her truths; home, protector, spirit medium, warrior, sensualist and survivor. Foremost she possesses the transformative Magik: she is the first alchemist.
She feels deeply. She is a medium and feels everything that mankind will ultimately feel, but does not understand to what end. She feels exhilaration at her apparent invincibility, but loneliness as she waits for an answer to the question, which haunts her; why am I here? She seeks to share her quest with a mate.
Like a predator in the wild, she drops her forehead laterally, in order to stack eyes vertically to better track a vertical prey; man. She has disposed of an intruder, an imposter, whose remains are dissembled at the bottom of the pool. Her silver hair catches sunlight from the sky, transforming it into fire. She has strung a necklace from his metacarpal bones.
She is the progenitor of all our feelings and aspirations. She is the super-man that Nietchze described, a human who existed before the invented gods.
Like the Greek warriors who follow centuries later, Alchema is intimately connected to her prey. The fallen prey, sustains her life and fulfills a hunters imperative. She devours his flesh and drinks the psych’nous from his skull ,extracting it through alchemized daggered hair.
She notices you. Her head is cocked at an extreme angle, suddenly alerted to your presence. You are prey who entered a predator’s vision.
While running in the woods in the High Country of Northern California this picture came to me complete, a vision intact.
I had run 3 miles pretty much straight uphill with a friend to Alpine Lake near Bear Mountain. The thin air and subsequent oxygen debt undoubtedly contributed to the scene burgeoning in my minds eye; a woman being borne, coming into being, as if a vapor ,slowly assuming a shape.…. something like ‘Eve’.
She would rise upward from a pedestal, opening like pedals of a flower or a formative gas …coming forth simultaneously outward from inside of the painting, toward the viewer. I thought her appearance at first glance should be both abstract and a life-like. This duality intended to suspend the viewers understanding momentarily of what exactly was taking place; fantasy, reality or both.
I wanted fundamental elements from that day to be present too. The White birch trees were essential and would became a useful color design element. Seeing the light through the trees limbs, a cloudscape behind of luminous and dark clouds were observable that day and a distant horizon.
Later that summer day ,while descending from Alpine Lake, I collected bark, from the forest floor, not entirely sure what I would do with it.
Weeks later in New York, I found myself sketching then painting the scene. As the picture evolved I determine to sculpt the figure, giving it preeminence in front of the landscape. I needed her it emerge from the background.I used the collected bark for the surface a sculpted tree stump. The logistics would be daunting; to keep the picture both light in weight and manageable in scale as it was developing into a 3-D reality of its own.
I spent exactly 3 months; sketching the overall, painting the landscape, sculpting the figure, finally crafting the bronze hair and assembling the whole, to resemble my vision while ascending to Alpine Lake.