Tag Archives: native americans

Native Americans Invade My Artwork

I don’t know if you’ve seen enough of my colored-pencil Paffooneys to tell this, but for an old white guy, I draw a lot of Native Americans and am rather deeply in love with American Indian images.  You may have seen this dream painting I posted before.

Magicman

The girl in the painting is a combination of this warrior’s daughter and myself.  I was naked in the dream and a female, facing this huge ghost-stag.  The dream came while I was reading Hanta Yo by Ruth Beebe Hill.  Maybe that book was the beginning of my Native American obsession.  Who knows?  I am a crazy dreamer.  But that wonderful book turned me on to the rich spiritual life that the Dakota people lived.  I identified with it so completely that I dreamed myself into their culture.  I was also struck by the manner in which a Native American culture handles education.  The grandfather is in charge of the boy’s learning.  He teaches by story-telling.  Here you see the grandfather in Sky Lodge teaching his grandson.  The girls would learn very different things from their mothers and grandmothers.

Skye lodge

I am also entranced by the life of the people expressed in dance and ritual.  Dance has deeper meaning than we white guys normally assign to it.  Dances could be magical.  Of course, the notion of a “rain dance” is the result of too much simplification in movie scripts and ignorant popular white culture.  Dance could connect you to the Earth, the Sky, and the Spirit World.  That’s what this most recent Paffooney shows.

Pueblo Bonito

So, you can see, I don’t really understand the concept of moderation when it comes to my obsessions in the world of colored pencil art.  Hanta Yo!  Clear the Way!  In a sacred manner I come!

child of fire

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Framing the Picture

Framing the Picture (a poem about autobiography)

I pop out of bed and look in the mirror

And there is horror in that picture

Wrinkles, spots, and a crypt-skinned leerer,

Stare back from that ancient mixture.

It isn’t so terrible to be really old.

But you have to learn to live with the mold.

And it makes me long for when we were young,

When the sounds and feels of Spring had just sprung.

Remember how we were limber and spry?

And fully intended to write our names on the sky?

But looking back the picture will shift,

Deeds that were done shine brighter with fame,

With polish and retelling, the purpose to lift,

We remake the picture by placing the frame.

That Night in Saqqara 1

The picture is called That Night in Saqqara I Was Taken By Surprise.  It is built on the themes of life versus death, youth versus age, fear versus courage, and probably other things that I never thought of because the interpretation is not entirely up to me.  I can indicate that the Mummy Imhotep has suddenly come back to life.  The picture on the wall behind him is supposed to suggest what he was like in life, at least in his own mind when he had it carved and painted in his tomb.  The boy Tanis is supposed to appear startled, but not afraid.  He wears the Ankh around his neck that symbolizes life and resurrection.  If the mummy kills him, as horror movie monsters once portrayed by Boris Karloff are apt to do, the mummy himself is proof that the dead live on in some way.  The god Horus on the sarcophagus is practically kissing Tanis on the lips  The hawk-headed god is also leading the procession on the side of the sarcophagus, which you may interpret as having the naked boy in line with the others following the god of resurrection and life.  But all of this drivel is me telling you what to see, and you are welcome to disagree with all of it.  Truth is our own to define.  And we define it by putting a frame around it and saying, “This is what you should look at.”  Aren’t we the silliest of creatures when we lie to ourselves and tell ourselves that we can actually do that?

Magicman

This is called Wakanhca’s Daughter.  Wakanhca in the language of the Tetonwan Dakotah Sioux means “lightning dreamer” or, loosely translated, “Magic Man”.   But the interpretation is again up to the viewer.  The brave in the foreground could be that magic fellow since the shield he carries has figures on it that represent a bolt of lightning and a man flapping his arms.  The girl, however, is white-skinned and fair.  Possibly my own daughter rather than his?  Except the Princess wasn’t born until years after this was painted.  The stag, as well as the two Native Americans, is illuminated in a way that is brighter than what you might expect from a night of thunderstorms.  Is he a warrior’s spirit animal?  He is not behaving like a real deer or elk.  And is he looking at the girl, or the warrior?  Consider too, these framings;

Magicman 3

So, what, in the end is all this nonsense about “framing the picture”?  We are the authors of our own stories.  We get to set the whole thing in a frame of our own making.  Does that mean anything important?  Oh, probably not.

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Native Americans Invade My Artwork

I don’t know if you’ve seen enough of my colored-pencil Paffooneys to tell this, but for an old white guy, I draw a lot of Native Americans and am rather deeply in love with American Indian images.  You may have seen this dream painting I posted before.

Magicman

The girl in the painting is a combination of this warrior’s daughter and myself.  I was naked in the dream and a female, facing this huge ghost-stag.  The dream came while I was reading Hanta Yo by Ruth Beebe Hill.  Maybe that book was the beginning of my Native American obsession.  Who knows?  I am a crazy dreamer.  But that wonderful book turned me on to the rich spiritual life that the Dakota people lived.  I identified with it so completely that I dreamed myself into their culture.  I was also struck by the manner in which a Native American culture handles education.  The grandfather is in charge of the boy’s learning.  He teaches by story-telling.  Here you see the grandfather in Sky Lodge teaching his grandson.  The girls would learn very different things from their mothers and grandmothers.

Skye lodge

I am also entranced by the life of the people expressed in dance and ritual.  Dance has deeper meaning than we white guys normally assign to it.  Dances could be magical.  Of course, the notion of a “rain dance” is the result of too much simplification in movie scripts and ignorant popular white culture.  Dance could connect you to the Earth, the Sky, and the Spirit World.  That’s what this most recent Paffooney shows.

Pueblo Bonito

So, you can see, I don’t really understand the concept of moderation when it comes to my obsessions in the world of colored pencil art.  Hanta Yo!  Clear the Way!  In a sacred manner I come!

child of fire

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Unfinished Art

Image

Sometimes you create something and reach an impasse beyond which you cannot seem to go.  Such happened with this double portrait of a young Native American and a noble stag.   I wanted to create a picture behind a curtain of snowfall.  The problem… I liked the picture too much to risk painting snowflakes and dots of white all over it.  How easily I could’ve turned the whole thing into a miasma of pockmarks and polka dots!  In order to go forward, you have to risk a total whangaroo of everything you have already accomplished.  It isn’t just oil paintings that can happen to.  My teaching career… every novel I’ve ever attempted… my family…  Everything you do in life risks blowing everything all to Hell.  There is simply no safe endeavor to be found.  If it’s safe… it simply isn’t worth doing.  You will never get the full effect.  Okay, so here’s the thing… I keep sitting in front of this painting, staring at it, and wondering how good or how awful it will be if I dare to go forward.

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The Magic Man’s Daughter

The Magic Man's Daughter

This oil painting reflects my love of the Native American culture of spirituality and connection to the natural world. Behind Wakanhca (the Magic Man or shaman), his young daughter has been bathing and is confronted with a glowing stag. Lightning in the background confirms that this is a lightning dream of a spirit animal. I used images that were as authentically Dakota Sioux as my silly old German-American brain could manage.

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March 12, 2014 · 3:00 pm