When I did this panel as part of my cloud atlas, I found that it was my favorite one, but I couldn’t fit it into an arrangement with the others,because it was too dominant. I think it works very well just on its own, in company here with a romantic pair of Sandhill Cranes. It reminds me that while searching for enlightenment is all well and good, it’s so much more pleasant in the company of a like-minded companion.
‘Riding the wind’ is a Zen expression connoting the experience of samahdi, or ‘getting it’ which can come after many years of meditation, or suddenly, as when the Zen master gives his student a sharp blow to the ear. Either way, it is a difficult thing for people to achieve. Birds, on the other hand, naturally ride the wind. They are seamlessly part of the universe. This painting is one of a series based on sky panels I had made previously. I am interested in the many different expressions of the art of riding the wind shown by various species of birds.
Painting the sky is a huge challenge, I have discovered. This is the final work for my most recently completed uni unit. I was trying to capture some really difficult aspects of the sky, such as its luminosity, its changeability, its vast size, power and mystery. In the end I discovered that painting on aluminium composite panels gave me the best results for smooth, luminous colour. There are still some technical problems to overcome, which I am currently working on.
I’m trying a different way of combining the figure and the landscape here — the landscape is in the figure, rather than the other way around. I’m not sure what anyone else will make of it, but I’m rather liking it. Instead of being a straightforward narrative, the viewer has more freedom to create their own meaning. For some reason, as I was painting it, a verse of the Rubaiyat came to mind (verse 32 Fitzgerald trans.):
There was a Door to which I found no Key:
There was a Veil through which I could not see:
Some little Talk awhile of Me and Thee
There seemed — and then no more of Thee and Me
Not sure if this even fits the painting, or what it means, but that’s what came to mind.
This is my tongue-in-cheek take on the Genesis story. I think it fits into my mythological series. I guess some people won’t like it because they feel that mythological stories from the Abrahamic tradition should be privileged. Obviously, I don’t think that.
The fact that the fruit of the tree of knowledge (of good and evil) is traditionally depicted as an apple strikes me as odd. It seemed to me it should be a book. Books are where we get our most dangerous and exciting ideas. And there’s nothing more dangerous than letting women get their hands on books, is there? Next thing, they start getting uppity.