Before I paint someone it helps to know a bit about them. Just so that I have a better understanding of the essence of that person, to be able to incorporate it into the portrait. I don’t need to know all the tiny details of the persona, just the bare facts will help. For anyone really. Male, female, young, old, mortal or immortal….
Immortal? You ask. Certainly! A beautiful Goddess, no, more than that – seven of them!
So when I’m asked to paint a Goddess, I need to know abit about her.
When I’m asked to paint seven Goddesses, for one painting, I need to know about each one. In some detail.
I always say that nine tenths of painting a picture, no matter how complex it is, is the thinking that goes into it. The subject, the composition, the techniques to use, the medium, the size, the story behind the image, the whole ambience I’m trying to capture within my painting. So, seven Goddesses needs a lot of research, because I don’t know much about any of them, infact I’d only heard of three of them when I was asked to do the painting……
MMm…..some background details are needed, I realised. Start to find some more about them, to be able to capture the essence of each one… but that has made me realise that I need to read up even more on each of them, as being a Goddess is obviously a very complex thing. You’ve got a lot to be Goddess of, I’ve found, and some of them have varied and diverse connections…….
Take, for example, Hecate, the goddess associated with witches, ghosts, magic and crossroads (why crossroads I wondered, why not just roads?), torches (why torches specifically? why not just “fire”?), dogs (what’s dogs got to do with anything to do with magic, witches and ghosts?), doorways, yew, garlic, aconites, raisin cakes (what the ?!!) masks, candles, owls, bats, trivia, sheep – particularly black female lambs apparently, snakes, boars, willows, sapphire, silver, dark moons, and specifically the number three (what a weird mix THEY all are!).
I haven’t found out much about Demeter yet, she is the Goddess of grain and fertility, ploughing and harvest, the bringer of seasons – and all of that sounds very nice and gently rural and buccolic – especially when I consider Kali!
There’s Isis – a moon goddess of medicine, wisdom, motherhood, fertility, children, reincarnation.
And Astarte – goddess of war AND fertility, love, sexual energy and desire (how on earth are THEY connected?).
And Innana – source of the earths wells, springs and rivers, she is the goddess of sexual love, fertility and warfare (ah, there’s starting to be a pattern here!) associated with lions, mating and fertility of humans and animals, and with rain and storms.
Then, there’s Kali – who seems to a bit disconcerting to me -she’s associated with eternal energy, time and change, war, death and destruction. But when I mentioned to my spiritual healer friend that I found Kali to be very dark, she told me that Kali “is actually a really nice goddess even if she DOES have the ability to be a bit stroppy”. Mm…… “stroppy” eh? She seems more than “a bit stroppy” to me!
But my favourite is Diana – the ancient lady of the beasts. Mistress of wild things, especailly anything young and vulnerable, goddess of solitude, the wilderness and the great silences of nature, she is a moon goddess, a self sufficient goddess who lives life on her own terms. She is especially a goddess of women, and all the phases of womanhood, she stands for the part of us that is at home in the wilderness, in our primitive, instinctual nature. Goddess of the hunt, associated with wild animals and woodland, swelling on high mountains and sacred woods, especially oak groves.
Mmm….. I can really relate to the goddess Diana already- I can feel what she is. I can feel her force. I’ll start with her, and see what I can see of her face, and then I’ve got to draw her and capture that essence in paint. Easy, eh?! 🙂 And that’s before I start on the others – particularly Kali!!!!