36th Entry "The Shinigami Series of 2011"

There is a strange sense of strength in feeling free, without the inhibitions of the physical - where the rules though they are still present can be skated on like leaves in the wind against gravity.

This was the leading thought behind the premier piece in the 2011 Shinigami Series "Shinigami Aki". But to understand the theory and concept behind the entire process one has to know what a Shinigami is.

The series came about after reading some Chinese and Japanese folklore. The stories were rich in a time where forces and spirits walked the Earth - timeless, wise and/or bored. These forces played a variety of tricks on humankind for what ever reason and administered tests of character testing one's cleverness, inner strength or worthiness of honor.

I used this spark of interest in tandem with a song by Origa which uses Russian, Latin and English vernacular in a haunting message that to some may seem common sense. However, it is so profound in its portrayal of near to 100 beats per second in some areas (you can hear and read the song in complete translation here CLICK THIS just use your browser back page to return you to the post when you are done).

The Shinigami are a curious lot, no one can really say for sure exactly where they come from and their history is shrouded in mystery being that there are several theories as to how they got the title "Shinigami" and what exactly they are. Some think of them the Asian version of Guardian Angels or a mix of Angel and Soul Reaper, while others view them as Gods of Death or dead spirits. Within the many stories Ive read in research and portrayal of these interesting creatures I have seen examples of all kinds of Shinigami and their interpretations. Some state that these creatures are based on the Shinto, Buddhist and Hindu mix of their deities of the after life. They combined in time with the European influence of the classic 'Soul Reaper' image during the Sengoku Era where all of these cultural elements were in contact and mixing.

The first time really that the term is recorded is in the Italian Opera titled "Crispino e la Comare" which in turn was based on a German fairy tale recorded by none other than the Brothers Grimm (Grimm Fairy Tales). To the best of recorded knowledge this was the first time that Japanese term was actually used.

The threads of consistency that run through each of these tales are what I based my own creative concept on. The Shinigami are 'strong souls' some of which who once were human and others still that represent forces of nature even plants and animals. They are eternal creatures whose wold is made of 'Reiki' or 'spirit energy'. Each of the Shinigami's powers and authorities are contingent with their divine assignment. Some serve as guardians and advisers while others are warriors and punishers.

The work "Aki" literally means "autumn" I thought this image appropriate as we view life as a spring and summer season in our minds and death as winter as in the "dead of winter" it is a seasonal symbolic trine I wanted to create in this initial piece. Autumnal existence symbolically is where the spirit of things escape their physical, they rest or save their young and leave for the return in the spring. As the first piece I wanted the viewer to in some way be part of the separation into this middle where the physical and spiritual though mixed are becoming more separately defined.

To capture true fall colors in their richness I chose for my raw material all those which carried with it the essence of fall. Cinnamon, Mustard, Jewel Weed and a favorite hue Cayenne Pepper.

The stain from Cayenne Pepper I make takes 48 to 72 hours mixing the dried spice carefully with vinegar and water just enough to saturate the whole mix but still keep the color rich and potent. Too much and it will make the stain runny and weak as second bag tea.

If it isn't done properly, and the saturation is not complete, micro dust in the powder will escape into the air with each stroke of the brush playing complete havoc with one's eyes and sinuses. But when done correctly the treatment is quite worth it. As depicted in the photo's to the left. The final color is a rich fall iron oxide red ox stain in coppery hues. The effect is simply brilliant and after painting several of the fall leaves in the piece went on to add it to the figure's hair and robe.

The image is a fall spirit. A female figure was used as the Earth spirit which is often synonymous with mother nature. She stirs a freshly barren forest with her wooden staff winding fall leaves in the movement to dance. Set in symbolic twilight blue as fall is the proverbial sunset and twilight of the year. The piece captures movement in swirling dynamic air energy. I love the quirk in illustration styles of the 1960's - 1970's. The men and women who did classic comix like "Conan" and "the Warlord" were brilliant innovative artists. They used intense imagery and the physical dynamic in defining a movement that became inspiration for many of today's artists. Though I still wanted the piece to be a finger print of my own creativity this is kind of an homage to them. Still you can see the influence in the direction in which the piece went. The assembly as it is with the element of human, animal and plant in a specific season of time is intended for the viewer to attach a symbolic personal value to the painting as a whole.

Adding to the fall spirit is a pheasant in flight. They are actually very dedicated birds having up to three mates at the same time to which it he serves as a loyal protector. Those who possess a pheasant as a totem use it for the wisdom to know when and when not to express their powers of attraction. Spiritually, it is a symbol of intense love and deep attraction. It provides in nature the ability for its bearers to tap into a personal power to be more productive and creative while utilising their own personal passions to motivate.

"Shinigami Aki" 20 inches by 16 inches on 100% cotton ph balanced canvas mounted on tea soaked pine painted with mixed natural medium. Click the image for further details, click the "price" there for pricing and availability.

Thank you all for taking the time to read and for the love. I hope you enjoy it.

Feel free to ask questions in reference to the other eight pieces in this series and stay tuned. More entries on this series soon. You don't need to be an art ninja to know what you like, you don't need a doctorate in art to see if something is beautiful.


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