Forest Creatures

Forest Creatures

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Acrylic and glitter on gallery wrap canvas, 36" x 36".

This large painting is a personal interpretation of the Day of the Dead, focusing on animals, wilderness, and the renewal of the natural world. The stag with his antlers connotes power and fertility while the butterfly and the snake symbolize transformation. Everything here is in a state of flux, as evinced by the abundance of spirals in the background interacting with the animals in the foreground.

Some parts of "Forest Creatures" are covered with glitter. I use a durable polyester glitter which is adhered with clear acrylic gel, and then sealed with another transparent layer.

The triple hare motif is an ancient archetype, the occurrence of which spans many centuries and cultures. I came across the design years ago while researching the image of the green man. The triple hare design often accompanies depictions of the green man in European medieval churches. The website of "The Three Hares Project", http://www.chrischapmanphotography.co.uk/hares/index.html, a non-profit organization whose aim is to record and research all known occurrences of the 3 hares motif, states that "…the earliest known examples … are to be found painted on ceilings of Buddhist cave temples at Mogao, near Dunhuang, China." They are dated from 581 through 907 CE. The design is found on an Iranian coin dating from 1281/1282, on a bell in the Cistercian Abbey of Klosler Haima, Germany, dating from 1224 CE., and in other churches in England, France, and Switzerland.

This well traveled and enduring image is an archetype and a puzzle. I have used it here and elsewhere as a symbol of transformation, mystery, and renewal. The implied circular motion seems to indicate the wheel of life, perhaps the seasonal wheel of the year. I altered the traditional design to include skeletons, so as to fit into the context of this Day of the Dead themed painting.