Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Family Totem

I have been obsessing over the art of the Pacific Northwest Natives again.  The Tlingits in the Alaskan territories are fascinating, but what I find even more interesting are some of the tribes on the Olympic Peninsula and in the present day Seattle Tacoma area.  The form lines and characters in the Pacific Northwest characters are beautiful, but the story behind the tribes makes the the topic even more rich.  As I've been checking out the artwork and reminiscing about my time in Seattle, I've started putting together my own ideas of creation and tribes.

I've read that at ceremonies the costumery which members of the tribe wear is dependent on ancestry.  If you are descendent of the person who first experienced a rainbow for instance, you would wear regalia at ceremonies and potlatches which were indicative of that moment.  This idea got me thinking about a shift in ideology.  I've used the idea of totems, a story documented from top to bottom, generally expressing the story of a tribe, creation, or parable passed down through generations, as a catalyst for using my own creatures in made up parables.  As my wife has just reached her tenth week of pregnancy, I've been wondering what spirit my father passed along to me.  My father was a forest ranger in the state of New York, Region 5.  His area encompassed parts of the Adirondack State Park through some waterfront on the St Lawrence River and Lake Ontario.  The area he was left to cover was huge.  I've always searched for a way to express this authoritarian figure that I remember from my childhood.  I've started multiple paintings, some good and some particularly awful, but have never been able to indicate the amount which I have looked to my father as this figure of guidance and as my way of learning to both assimilate and to exist independently of this world.

A portrait of someone doesn't seem to be the best way to get at the type of respect that I am looking for.  I needed something that stood for my father's role professionally and paternally.  As I was reading about totems it dawned on me that Smokey the Bear was indicative of my father's role and his profession.  Eureka.

The Mighty Lark sketch became necessary as an indication of my own influence on the baby badger that is inside of my wife.  Notice the badger to the right page of this sketch.  Originally I was thinking of keeping the Mighty Lark more Pacific Northwest in design with formlines defining the eyes and beak but I think that I'd rather keep the figures notably mine.

Here is the final drawing laid out.  I will post the finished painting very soon.

Be sure to keep up.  I'm positive that my posts will get harrier and harrier as the weeks ensue in this pregnancy.  I'm also curious what type of art I will be thinking of as I keep reading about being a partner.  That word has always kind of made me gag.  I like wife.  Wife is good.  Partner, bleck.


No comments: