I have been wanting to create a collection of paintings for some time, that extend beyond aesthetics alone. By adding symbols to the picture, it could enhance the overall appearance, lead the composition and generally add more interest to the painting.
This was to be my first endeavour into adding narrative to a painting for sometime. For guidance I started to look at Tarot, not because I wanted to read someones fortune specifically, I liked that some of the symbolism was routed in a history that stemmed beyond the tarot; for example, chalices and vessels can depict fertility, and female reproduction across many different cultures and religions.
There are four so far in the collection. So here goes, here are the narratives, see what you think?
The Fool With The Fox
The character in this painting takes inspiration from the tarot card, The Fool. Not to be mistaken as foolish or lacking good sense or judgement.
This fool is typified by their adolescence. The Fool represents new beginnings, having faith in the future, being inexperienced, not knowing what to expect, having beginner’s luck. Behaviours we expect from our children as they strive for adulthood.
This fool has a guide, represented here as the fox. This fox, we associate with being cunning and sly, however, taken in a more positive vain, it represents creativity and problem solving.
The red feather carries the meaning of love and hope, happiness, general positivity.
He’s surrounded by trees which are considered representative of life, wisdom, power and prosperity.
The “Fool” is derived from the Latin “follis” meaning a “bag of wind”. The little pouch that hangs from his waste is a little play on this. The pouch represents his individual, airy nature.
All of these elements help to build the narrative in this painting. The beautiful enthusiasm of adolescence, the desire to become fiercely independent and the blind belief that they know everything and there’s nothing to learn from experience.
The Play of Light and Shadows
What does this painting remind you of? Maybe a little bit of Peter Pan, as he stands boldly, cheeky face, yielding his little dagger.
The strong shadow is very reminiscent of the story of Pan, desperate to be reunited with his own again.
While traditionally the darkness we associate with shadows could represent sadness and fear. Shadows only really exist when light is present. The light awakens the shadow and light represents happiness. However one cannot exist without the other, and it’s this dichotomy that children learn from a very early age. How can one experience happiness if one has never known sadness?
This painting shares it’s narrative with the other ones in this collection. It’s about the journey through childhood. The objects within it, are designed to highlight some of this child’s idiosyncrasies of this child. The red feather he carries, means love and
hope, happiness and general positivity. While the little dagger portrays courage and ambition. The little white dog is his companion and guide to help direct him on his journey.
With Grace (Jasmine)
In this painting, this subject holds a glass vase, this is purposeful, it’s like a cup or a chalice. There are many interpretations for this vessel historically in paintings, particularly around fertility, and female reproduction. However, in this painting it is used to convey the notion of growth and development.
Luscious plants and flowers surround her representing her connection to Mother Earth and the small rabbits that rest near her lap also emphasise a compassionate, nurturing soul.
Much of the imagery portrays this as a motherly figure, yet she’s clearly an adolescent. Therefore it becomes more about expectations and accountability – the role they play in the future. She takes on these responsibilities with grace and virtue.
This painting is loosely based on the tarot card Temperance. It’s depicted as a person pouring liquid from one receptacle into another. The person is a winged person/angel, usually female or androgynous, and stands with one foot on water and one foot on land.
The two vessels represent harmony between the spiritual and the material worlds. The composition is supposed to represent patience, moderation, understanding and compromise.