The Telling

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February 6, 2014 by smithartonline

The Telling Mixed Media on Paper 15 X 22 inches

The Telling
Mixed Media on Paper
15 X 22 inches

The Telling spent a few months on the back burner…I had a few misgivings about it…well, one major concern. I picked it up recently, finished it and the final result is not disappointing.


Months ago I had blocked in the orange balls, top edge and the two figures in the lower right area. I had planned to reference the First Nation story Coyote and Raven and the Creation of the World (A short and magnificent video is currently available on YouTube titled Coyote Dream by Alex Blackwood). As the work developed Buffalo Woman found her way into the mix. An excellent retelling of the story of Buffalo Woman can be found in Nathaniel Philbrick’s book The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn


Work stopped. I had (and still do, to be honest) misgivings about presenting a representation of Buffalo Woman. I like the compactness of the two figures and have no major concern about presenting Coyote; a figure of mirth in many tales. Buffalo Woman, on the other hand, is a much more sacred figure in First Nation myth and religion. I would never want my art to denigrate nor disrespect any person or group. The artist does have a certain responsibility for taste…at least this is something my mentor Bob Hansen drilled into us as his students at Occidental College. Hence. I hesitated to use her.


Last week I picked up where I had left off. On occasions when everything seems pretty bleak and there appears no salvation at hand, I find painting pulls me out of my despair. This past few weeks definitely were trying times, and, initially, I had to really force myself to start painting. I kicked against it, but then, happily, gave in to the Muse. Over the years, my art has saved me numerous times from what appears to be a well with no way out. The painting wanted to be completed.


With all this said, the various stories referenced are magical tales explaining the world and its origins – stories which sing to me and have found their way into a visual presentation. I happen, in this circumstance, to be the instrument chosen to give them a material form.

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