In this series, the artists working at Creative Gateways give us a behind-the-scenes insight into works in progress, inspiration and creative challenges. Today Meg is sharing a story of reflections and the deeper meaning behind a favorite piece.
Meg and the Question of Reflection
It all started with a lily pad. In my painting Mother of Grace, the Virgin Mary appears standing atop one of them in a pond. When I was painting it, I couldn’t decide what to do about her reflection in the water.
Should it be there, or not?
In this series, Virgins and Mothers, I’m using religious images against natural, outdoor backgrounds. They aren’t aspects of the landscape, but images that are superimposed over the paintings.
So the question arose: how should I treat them in terms of the light and shadow of the scene?
Following My Intuition
It was a bit of a battle, making this decision, and after a while I realized my mind was getting in the way. My instinct was to leave the reflection out, so that’s what I did.
Then I read up more around this issue. I looked back at icons and religious painting, going back before it was thought of as “religious painting”, when devotional images were very natural subjects for people to represent through art. And what I saw was that the images of saints and visions created their own light. They’re statements of the divine, and so they create their own light from within; they’re the source of light in the painting. Just as I’d felt with the reflection in the water, these images don’t have “real” shadows connected to what else is going on in the painting. They’re bathed in their own light.
So it turns out that I’m not exploring a brand new frontier. I’m connecting to a much older visual history; tapping into a long line of people looking to explain their universe and their beliefs, before science and the age of reason told us that things could be explained in a different way.
The Journey of Discovery
The paintings in this series have mirrored a personal journey I’ve undertaken in parallel to the art. It’s connected to the time it’s taken for me to think of myself as an artist; to justify that as being of value to the world. Making art can be seen as a very egocentric thing. The artist is someone who does whatever she wants, and that’s something I’ve felt a deep sense of conflict with.
Connecting to this very spiritual tradition, and understanding that it is part of a much longer story of humans expressing their understanding of the world, relieved some of that. I no longer feel as though I have to justify my art or what I’m doing, and reaching that acceptance has been a very empowering process.
Every Piece Tells a Story
Each piece in our gallery, or under construction in the studios, reflects the experience of the artists who make them. Visiting the studios is an opportunity to learn more about the stories behind the paintings, and find out the deeper meaning behind the choices our artists made. To see what’s currently going on, click here to arrange your visit.