Friday, April 19, 2013

Raven Skull Vanitas


Raven Skull Vanitas
Original Oil
Judy Vars
In Skokomish tribal legend, snow-white raven stole the sun, moon, stars, water and fire back from
gray eagle at the request of the people. He hung the sun, moon and stars back up in the sky. He dropped the water, forming streams and lakes. He made fire available to the people, growing black from its smoke as he flew.

The black Raven is usually associated with the trickester and the creator, in North American native culture, able to pass between our world and the spirit world.

The raven either black or white brings the secrets of magic between our world and the spirit world.
Whether black or white the Raven is a powerful symbol and one I paint over and over.
Raven magic is powerful medicine that can give you the courage to enter the darkness of the void, which is the home of all that is not yet in form. The void is called the Great mystery. Great Mystery existed before all other things came into being.
Great Spirit lives inside the void and emerged from the Great Mystery.
Raven is the messenger of the void.

My Raven skull vanitas painting is so beautiful with pink arctic rose flowers and periwinkle forget- me-nots representing the spirit. The theme of spirit and duality reoccurs  frequently in my art. I find very satisfying the Yin and Yang philosophy; that in opposites lay the paradox that we are related to each other, in creation we need both sides. The Ravens are mythological birds which carry messages to the spirit world. Nothing is ever black and white. Yes these are this things I contemplate while creating my art.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Anthony a Modern Fayum Portrait

Painted by Judy Vars
Encaustic on Panel

Happy he who drew you, and happy this wax that let itself be vanquished by your beauty. If only I could be transformed into a maggot or a crawling worm, that I might devour that wood!
 The Greek Anthology, XII, 90

Fayum Portraits

One thing all these portraits have in common is their direct and hypnotic eyes looking as if suspended in the eternal now.
These faces from the past have fascinated humans for hundreds and thousands of years, each portrait gazes back upon us giving us a glimpse of their personalities; one who frowns with the brutal look of a soldier, a young girl with a mischievous smile and playful eyes, a middle aged woman who wears rare jewels and a melancholy smile. .

Meet Anthony an urbanite from both coasts Los Angeles and New York, a 21st century man captured in a modern day Fayum portrait using the same palette, tools and techniques from antiquity. The artists in the time of Alexander the great (332 BC) were the rock stars of the day respected and renowned for their talent.

Working with human subjects using encaustic beeswax is a painstaking process and is very challenging; however the art it produces is well worth the effort.  Encaustic painting entails: melting the beeswax, mixing it with dammar resin and pigments, layering the paint while still hot and liquid (it cools almost immediately), then fusing each layer with heat. Encaustic painting was described in writings by Pliny the Elder, 23 AD, the early artists used the same type of tools we use today with one notable exception, no electricity.  To flesh out the portraits I use heated sculpting tools to manipulate the wax and carving tools to scrape back layers and reveal what lies beneath. Encaustic wax is fleshy, malleable and perfect for icon painting because of its depth and luminosity.

"My medium encaustic painting is a part of the fabric of ancient man (having been with us before Marc Antony and Cleopatra had their infamous love affair), yet it is still viable and vibrant for story telling today."