"Vine of Spirits" 2013 Acrylic on Board 30"x30"

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"Vine of Spirits" portrays an anthropomorphized spirit of the Ayahuasca vine, an entheogenic plant from the Amazon. The Spirit has the head and arms of a man, whose body morphs into the face of a hyper-dimensional jaguar, then to the coiled body of an anaconda, which ultimately tapers into the vine itself. At the tip, his tail turns into an array of Ayahuasca Flowers with an arrangement of seeds at their focal point. He represents the beautiful and terrifying aspects facing those who ingest Ayahuasca. While the benevolent human figure represents the positive aspects and access to higher dimensions of reality and consciousness, the Jaguar, mouth gaping, represents the possibility of being swallowed whole by the experience.


I painted this image using a modified Mische Technique - a flemish oil painting method which I'm adapting to acrylics. I detail this below in a photo-journal documenting the painting in its various stages of evolution. The technique employs many layers of transparent paints atop one another rather than blending of opaque pigments to construct the image. In this way, a luminous depth is achieved and the painting almost glows.

Progress Journal

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Close-up of the Figure's Head. Slightly more color accurate than the image of the painting to the right.
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Over the underpainting, I have begun laying various color glazes. The photograph is much more yellow than the painting appears to the eye.
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After Applying a thin wash of Yellow Ochre, I brought highlights back out with Zinc White and added shadows using Raw Umber. This completed the underpainting, fully establishing highlights and shadow over a warm ground composed of many layers. I finished this phase of the painting over the course of Symbiosis Gathering 2013
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Over the red layer, I used many glazes of zinc white to "sculpt" the 3D Image. This is the progress I made while at Bass MTN Gathering 2013. After the value scheme was established, I gave the whole image a wash of Yellow Ochre
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Over the background I projected the initial sketch. I painted the central figure white with gesso and traced the sketch over the white ground.

At Bass MTN., I painted a glaze of Red Oxide as the first pigmented layer over the transferred image.

The designs around the figure I decided to measure off and draw them in precisely by hand with a yard stick and compass.
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After building the cradled board, I applied three layers of gesso, sanding between layers to create as smooth a surface as I could. Then I applied the background using wet into wet blending, keeping all edges soft such that they visually blur; this way the background doesn't compete with the central image
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While waiting for the gesso layers to dry, I used photoshop to color in a scanned version of the initial sketch. I find it much easier to work this out ahead of time rather than painting and repainting an image until I'm happy with the color scheme as I have done in the past. With a computer, by isolating layers of the image, I can test out various combinations, adjust and experiment quickly and easily.
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Here is a refined sketch of the initial drawing, conceived late at night, listening to Akasha Experience. Ayajuasca is mentioned in a couple of their songs and this image flowed out under their sonic influence.