When I start a new piece of work I need to have the basic ingredients in place. I need pictures in my head and preferably a title. No piece I've ever made that has any merit at all has come into existence without the all important name! It's never any good trying to conjure a title after it's made - the name comes first and the work has to grow into it. I've struggled with the Oriental theme because I usually work from everyday subjects. It feels quite foreign (no pun intended) to use anything so far removed from my personal experience so, although I did until she died a few years ago, have a Japanese aunt, I have no other connection even vaguely oriental to inspire new work. I draw and paint crows and rooks all the time because I am aware of them on a daily basis and fascinated by their appearance and behaviour.
They have a mixed reputation don't they? I am aware that some people consider them omens of bad fortune whilst to others they are thought of as clever and inventive. You may remember on a recent visit to Wolverhampton Art Gallery I photographed crows that decorated a number of Victorian chinoiserie objects like this one above and this prompted me to read a little more around the symbolism associated with them. Imagine my delight to find the following (much edited) in of all places, wikipedia!
The most popular depiction is that of a sun crow called 陽烏 or more commonly referred to as the 金烏 or "golden crow". Even though it is described as a crow or raven, it is usually colored red instead of black.
According to folklore, there were originally ten sun crows which settled in 10 separate suns. They perched on a red mulberry tree in the East at the foot of the Valley of the Sun. The sun crows loved eating two sorts of mythical grasses of immortality. The sun crows would often descend from heaven on to the earth and feast on these grasses.
These grasses in my garden look mythical enough to me - I'm sure they could rise to the challenge.
Folklore also held that, at around 2170 BC, all ten sun crows came out on the same day, causing the world to burn; the celestial archer saved the day by shooting down all but one of the birds.
Doesn't that just conjure up wonderful images in your head? I have included suns and moons in my paintings and quilts for years and now it seems I might even have a reason (other than the fact I love them) for them to be there. All I have to do now is make my black crows red and find out what a mulberry tree looks like!
Hope you are all feeling excited by the coming year and all the creative opportunities it offers! Love Linda