My life as a painter began in Oaxaca. It began before I even started painting seriously. I had the calling there, and knew what I wanted to make. It took years of study and practice before I was able to start fulfilling my vision, and it is an ongoing process, as I expect it will be all my life. I haven't been thinking about painting much in last few years. Recently though, my second son started sleeping through the night, and I found my mind and will returning to it. I didn't actually sit down in the studio yet, but I was beginning to think about it again. Just at this time I had an opportunity to travel to Oaxaca on my first solo trip since I had children. My return to Oaxaca was a wonderful revisiting of what I love about that city. It is a hotbed of inspiration in so many ways, and it connects to me on a subconscious level. On the second of the few nights that I was there I had a powerful dream, in which I traveled across oceans and through other worlds, feverishly searching for and then finding something of great value that I had once forgotten I ever had. In my dream featured prominently a bat family, absolutely glowing in a fruitful tree, surrounded by flowers and scented with the perfume of the ages and that which remains untarnished by the mundane. For the rest of my trip bats featured prominently, I saw real bats in courtyards at dusk, bat statues, bat paintings staring down from the ceiling. A powerful message! In native American and Meso-American mythology that bat represents the shedding of old patterns and the entrance into new life, such as in the ritual death of the shaman. The appearance of bat can be a call to enter into transformation, to rise to a challenge, to become. I find that to be a little daunting as a message, but it certainly was loud and clear. I hope my ritual death is not going to be too painful! But I'm definitely not going to say no. I feel very lucky have gotten such a powerful call back into my craft, and it was a pleasure meditating on bats and their unique bodies and abilities and ecological niche over the last several months while I worked on this painting, which is my first oil completed in about 4 and a half years.
It's time for the Topanga Studio Tour again! This Saturday and Sunday June 9th and 10th come see us in the canyon!
Lots of new original pieces and new prints and cards as well, including the coyote icon featured here!
Here is my newest image, to celebrate that most iconic animal of the holiday season. This reindeer is now available on holiday greeting cards. The cards are large notecard sized and come in individual cellophane wrappers with white envelopes. They are available through my etsy store in for $4.00 each, or $14.00 for a four pack. The message conveys what I wish for all creatures during these holidays, "May the season bring peace and joy for all upon this green earth."
This new image was inspired by a story that happened to my neighbor and friend in Maine. Their pig got loose and ran down the busy main road in front of our houses early one September morning. The whole family, mom, dad, two little girls and 8 lb family dog ran down the road after it. The four year old and the dog ended up catching it! That pig has spent it's summer being part of a kind, happy family and living in a green field in Maine. Through the winter the family will sustain itself from the life of that pig that they cared for so well.
As Thanksgiving and the holidays come up I try to remember that this is the season to be extra grateful for our agricultural animals that sustain us through all seasons, but especially the cold ones. May all animals that sustain us and support us in our lives lead healthy, safe, humane lives with environmentally integrity, and may we always be mindful and appreciative.
We are back from Maine. It was a beautiful, fleeting summer of ocean and gardens and friends and family back east where life looks like a Wyeth painting and the patina of age and weather graces all surfaces as the seasons make their dramatic turns.
It is always sad to leave Maine, but it's wonderful to be back in sunny California in Topanga Canyon amongst the coyotes and sycamores.
The Topanga studio is ready for classes to start again this fall and I look forward to taking time to create some new watercolors and oils. I will be limiting my teaching to individual classes this season and working on pieces of my own design instead of continuing to pursue my MFA for the time being because I will be welcoming by first child into the world sometime in October! This is a welcoming in that I am ecstatic to be undertaking this season!
I am still also welcoming new students, and enjoying keeping the brush in my hand these days with gratefulness for all of the creative energy in my life!
Here is my painted belly, being celebrated by friends, family and a wonderful henna artist!
It was wonderful to start the summer off with the Topanga Artwalk. Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by the studio, chatted, petted the dogs and bought some AnimaliaArt!
I am already dreaming of succulent summer on the coast of Maine! I just upddated my websites and opened registration for classes at my former Chickenhouse studio surrounded by gardens at our farmhouse in Warren, ME. I will be teaching two watercolor sessions. It's going to be so fun, I can't wait for gardens and ocean and watercolors! Check out the classes and workshops pages of my website for more info!
Animalia Art will be participating in the Topanga Canyon Art Walk on the 2nd weekend in June. Mark your calendars!
The Topanga Art Walk is a really great event taking place simultaneously at art studios and gardens all over the Canyon. It begins at the Topanga Canyon Gallery at Pine Tree Circle, and visitors are outfitted with a map that will take them to visit individual artist grouped together at central locations around the beautiful landscape of Topanga Canyon at the northwest corner of Los Angeles.
I'm really looking forward to taking part! More info closer to the event.
Last week I finished a small watercolor of a very sweet and beloved doggy, Pino Pie the shi-tzu. Unfortunately I can't post photos here so see the Animalia facebook page for his photo, but he is an adorable baby. He just had his 11th birthday and he is incredibly devoted to his owners Ron and Judy and they are to him as well. Judy is a former hairdresser and cuts his silky hair herself. He loves to snuggle on the couch and bed and have a nightly play session with Ron. I'm so glad to be able to offer this painting to them because I know what wonderful companionship he provides and how much he means to them, and they to him.
This is space for reflections and backstory on and of the images that are created for AnimaliaArt and the endeavors of this small artistic undertaking created and authored by me, Jessica Rhys.