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Walking the Spiral Brigid

March 29th, 2011

Walking the Spiral Brigid

Within the deepest reaches of the inner darkness, there exists the smallest ember. It is a tiny spark of light, that once given the proper fuel, has the potential to ignite into a blazing fire.

Brigid, the ancient goddess of creativity, inspiration, poetry, metal-working and healing, is a goddess of fire, but not the kind of fire made of flames. This fire is the divine spark, the ember at the core that ignites the body, mind and spirit into life. It can be related to the Kundalini energy rising up from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, activating power centers throughout the body. Brigid is associated with the dawn, because, like the sun rising out of the darkness, we hold in ourselves the potential to rise above our own inner dark.

This painting came after a long period of introspection. I was facing a challenge in regard to the direction of my art and was contemplating my ability to make a living from my paintings while following the spiritual path they were taking me on. Could I do it? Was it right to do so? Working on "The Morrigan" lead me to the darkness of this introspection. I learned that I had a connection to fiber as a creative medium. I developed skills in making sculpture from wool, which allowed me to continue making an income through my artwork, while I could let the paintings reveal themselves in their own time without the added pressures to produce and market them. Working on "Brigid: igniting the inner fire" lead me from the darkness of uncertainty and fear out into the light.


Walking the Spiral Morrigan

February 22nd, 2011

Walking the Spiral Morrigan

I recently listened to the audiobook The Creative Fire by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, in which she discusses the cycle of creativity.

Most people think of the artist as being moved by flashes of inspiration or asking for a blessing by the muse. Estes explains that creativity moves in a continuing pattern of rising and falling. This has been my experience of creativity.

After I completed the painting "Boann: transformation of a goddess" I felt I had reached a zenith. I felt inspired by this new insight into my artwork and I felt wiser and more aware as a result as well. It wasn't long before I felt a slow decline from this highpoint. My creative work slowed. While I felt more connected to the spirit of the work than ever, my connection to the act of painting felt strained. Suddenly, that light of inspiration grew dim.

The Morrigan is a dark figure in Irish Myth, probably even predating the arrival of the Celts in Ireland. She was a goddess of fertility, the controller of death itself, and later became associated with war. How could a fertility goddess be connected to death? It seemed strange to me at first. But it doesn't take much introspection to realize how growth is preceded by death and decay. Land is made fertile by the decayed plants and animals that enrich the soil. A fertile mind is enriched by the knowledge absorbed. A fertile body is nourished by the breaking down of nutrient-rich foods taken in.

The creative process is likewise nourished by a period of decline, a period of darkness that is the opposite of that outward expression of the flash of inspiration. Without this period of quiet, without this symbolic death, the creative expression loses fertility and richness. Estes uses the Demeter/Persephone myth from the Ancient Greeks as an excellent metaphor for the creative cycle, even making astute distinctions between the way the myth differed in Pre-Helenistic and Post-Helenistic Greece.

This analysis of the creative cycle can be used by artist and non-artist alike. For we all go through a period of darkness in varying levels throughout our lives. From waking at daybreak, after having slept in the dark of night, to the coming of spring after the death of Fall and Winter's sleep, to the ups and downs of any one of life's situations. "The Morrigan: The Dark Mother" taught me that there is a huge difference in outcome when one embraces the coming dark, rather than fearing it and trying to push it away. No matter what, the dark times will come; we have no choice. But we can choose how to move through the dark times. We can enter with awareness and grace, coming out of the experience like the spring sprouts bursting from seeds planted in the fall, with determination and filled with the joy of creation itself.


Walking the Spiral Boann Transformation of a Goddess

February 3rd, 2011

Walking the Spiral Boann Transformation of a Goddess

Back in 2006 I began a series of paintings inspired by Irish mythology. I intended the paintings to explore the ancient Celtic gods and goddesses through a more modern and personal eye. What I didn't realize was that this series would set me on a personal, spiritual journey that has forever changed my relationship to painting. Over the next four blog posts I will share my journey, as it has unfolded so far, in relation to the painting of the first four pieces of the series.

The first painting in the series depicts the transformation of the goddess Boann into the river Boyne, after she had unwittingly released the waters from a sacred well. The creation of this painting came out of a difficult time for me emotionally. I didn't realize at the time that my relationship to my art was taking a more spiritual path. Like Boann as she was torn limb from limb by the raging waters she released from a sacred well, I felt parts of my inner self being stripped away. Intense feelings of sadness then rage surged through me. Many times these emotions had no context. I couldn't make sense of what they stemmed from. I did, however, have a sense that these emotions were connected to the collective unconscious. There was no particular reason I came to this understanding, it was something I just knew.

In the painting Boann looks out from the canvas to the viewer, her gaze squinted. She is looking at the physical world and the spirit world at the same time. As she loses her body, she begins to merge with the spirit. I also began to understand that spirit was influencing my painting process. Once I let go, realizing that nothing was going to hold back the waves of emotion crashing upon me, I found rays of light, like those that streak down upon the Salmon of Knowledge. Here, the Salmon holds a hazel nut from one of the sacred trees that grew around the well. Boann's curiosity not only freed the waters of the well, but the five Salmon of knowledge which is obtained by the senses. The Salmon, having fed on the magical nuts of the hazel trees, possessed the wisdom of the world and inadvertently brought this wisdom to mankind.

I gained a kind of wisdom as a result of this painting. I had a deeper understanding of who I was, what I needed and a clearer sense of purpose. This kind of wisdom often can only be gained by a severe and painful stripping away of one's ego. Boann, who had gazed into the well out of rebellion for having been barred from it, paid the ultimate price, but also evolved into something greater. Sometimes, sacrifice is necessary for growth. This painting taught me that great sacrifices were ahead, but they would lead me toward a deeper knowledge of myself and the path I was embarking on.

Once I completed this painting, I felt scoured clean. I was raw and open, but it was necessary in order to approach the next painting, which was leading me down into a kind of darkness I had never encountered before.

Next, The Morrigan.


Ask the Artist

September 29th, 2010

I am starting a new series of blog posts called "Ask the Artist". Once a month I will be answering questions posed to me by my readers, which focus on art making and making a living with art. If you have questions about my art, how I create my pieces or just questions in general about art, please send them my way. I will answer them to the best of my ability, even contacting fellow creative people when possible to broaden the scope of the answer. The purpose of these posts is to help demystify the creative process for those who may not think of themselves as artistic and to help encourage other artists to find a life in the arts. Here is the first question launching this series:

At what point in your career do you go from considering yourself someone who makes art to a full-fledged artist?

I think this is a question that must be answered individually and determined by the artist alone.
I might even suggest that there is no dividing line between one who makes art and one who is an artist. In my training and practice of Buddhism, the Zen Master always cautioned about labeling oneself. As soon as we state, "I am this" or "I am an Artist" one limits oneself to that definition and must then begin to determine the parameters of this identity. Questions such as "what is an artist?" beg to be asked. Or "how do I know I am an artist?" These statements and the answers to them limit us as well: "if I am an artist, can I be anything else?" Such questions can take a lifetime to answer. Hence, the eternal Buddhist question: "Who am I?"

Instead, the Zen Master suggested, we identify with what we do. "I paint." "I make sculpture." "I write." "I drink tea." We are not limiting our identities this way, and thus, the question of when or how one becomes an artist isn't necessary. We are not self-limited to our ideas of what an artist may or may not be nor beholden to others definitions of what an artist might be.

Possibilities are wide open. We just create. I think that is what is important.


Hello, Goodbye, Hello

August 12th, 2010

After five pleasant days in Canada, visiting where my great-grandfather was born, I came back home prepared to get back to work, only to succumb to a summer cold, which was brought on by an herbal detox that I had started taking. I took this as a cue that more rest was needed. So last week I moved about very slowly, only doing work when I felt up to it, but mostly resting.

During this time I thought about my relationship to the hummingbird, to the painting of Etain, to some writing I have been revising and to the planet we live on. Everything around me seems to be speaking about rebirth and renewal. I assumed it was just related to the theme of the art I am currently working on, but then I realized it is more than that. The world is changing and it is changing fast. Society is crumbling, though many people are expending a lot of energy to resist this truth. Climate change has already begun re-shaping the weather and the geography around the globe. It is beyond the time to make corrections to prevent climate change, it is now time to adapt to what has resulted. It is now time for a planetary wide rebirth and a renewal of our thinking and living habits.

Rebirth is a painful time. But it is also a joyous event. Clinging to what we know, fearing the unknown, only prolongs our suffering. I often experience these feelings of fear and clinging when creating a new painting, or a sculpture. Fear of doing the wrong thing of not being able to create another successful piece always hovers in the back of my mind. Clinging as I am afraid to try a new thing. Now suddenly, it seems we are all facing this kind of fear and resistance in some form.

It is easy to become sucked into despair, as we hear all the bad news out there. The oil spill, the loss of income, the instability of the economy, wars, the collapse of society...I don't need to go on. I admit that at times I get bogged down by the overwhelming inflow of bad news. I wonder, sometimes, why does making my art matter. Does it really matter? Who really cares about what I am working on? There are so many other things that are more important. Maybe I should stop and move to the Gulf and clean oil-slicked birds for the rest of my life.

But, part of rebirth, is also about trust and faith. Giving up is not honoring the process, it is accepting the status quo. I don't think obsessing about the negativity really honors the wonders and richness of life. The planet is changing--has changed. Nature is designed to adapt. Change is the reality that touches us all, for to believe that things can stay the same only invites suffering. The planet is working to readjust, heal, and continue to evolve. It will do so with or without us humans. Society too is changing. It is likely collapsing, but it doesn't need to be perceived as the Big End. Instead, it can viewed as a rebirth process, and we can enter into the collapse with grace. Societies are similar to a cultivated field, for they grow beyond their capacity to sustain themselves, collapse, and new societies grow out of the wreckage.

Instead of feeling helpless and frozen with fear and despair. I have chosen to see this time as beautiful and inspiring. It is not easy. Change is hard. Especially when that change is forced upon you. But, change can be the catalyst of tremendous growth. My art is a way to process this change. My art helps me to understand the world, how I fit in with the world, and how we all are connected during this time. My art is a vehicle of communication to others who are interested in learning about the world around them and how we can relate to each other and to all living beings.

Does my art matter? Maybe, maybe not. But I know it teaches me how to navigate in the world. Art quite literally keeps me sane and centered, when all around is chaos. I believe that art is how I can contribute something positive to a society that is overly addicted to the negative. If we are to leave a legacy behind, I would like it to be one the resonates positive positive energy with the changes in the world. I do not feel comfortable adding to the fear, anger, frustration and resistance.

Rebirth is always easier when it is viewed as sacred, when it is respected and is assisted with loving spirit. We can all enter this rebirth time with helping hands, rather than clenched fists or flailing arms. When we reach out and embrace those around us contributing to each other in whatever capacity we are able, rebirth into the new world becomes an act of love and healing.

Now is the time for support, coming up with new and innovative ideas, and sharing resources. This is why I do my art. This is why, despite the bad news already, I stay positive and seek out the good stories. One doesn't need to wear rose-colored glasses and cling to an outmoded way of being to exist in a changed world, rather, it is best to open one's eyes and see the whole picture and trust in the process, even if that process is so much bigger than little 'ole me and you.


Economic Recovery

August 2nd, 2010

I recently read the book Plenitude by Juliet Schor, and it really got my mind rolling. Many of the things she said were ideas I already had tumbling around in my head, but she articulated them much better than I ever could. She had a lot of research and analysis to clarify her points, which really helps. Some of these facts are rather shocking and sobering. She talks about shifting away from the business-as-usual mentality and work toward a future of stability and sustainability. It is not easy work, but necessary is rarely easy. I highly recommend this book, what she says is a real wake up call for all us.

Then I came across the blog of creative person Amanda Palmer, her blog entry about the relationship to art and income was of particular interest to me. What she says, echoes some of what I read in Lewis Hyde's book The Gift, which talks about the role of the artist as a necessary contributor to the health and well-being of society. Hyde talks about the struggle within the arts when turning something necessary to the culture into a commodity. Amanda Palmer discusses in her blog that financial support is necessary and should not be tied in with feelings of guilt. I have been working for the last three years to shift my income to one that revolves around my creativity. I too have struggled with the feelings of guilt and the strangeness of turning art into a commodity. As a result I have turned toward looking at how my creativity, which as been with me from when I was a small child, is a valid contribution to society. This has opened me up to exploring different ways to make a living.

I have been working on painting, sculpture and my writing as a way to diversify my income. I am careful now about the kind of jobs I choose, to make sure they support in some way my creative work, rather than just take time away from it. I do some freelance web and editing work that is flexible with my art-making schedule and I teach. Right now, it is tight. I live precariously, but I am frugal and careful. This is not how I would like to keep living, nor is it healthy to do so. Right now, I'm afraid, too many people live like this...and far too many of them that do are creative people.

As we try to recover from the "financial crisis" (that politicians like to call it), returning to the status quo is not the answer. This is our opportunity to fix what didn't work and create a new system. For me, it is building a living around my creative work. And a way to do that is to keep my work as close to me as possible. I am avoiding the middle-person to sell or distribute my work, so that I can keep my work priced reasonable and, more importantly to me, maintain relationships with the people who enjoy my work. When so much of my time is spent alone as I work on my art, it is crucial that I maintain some contact with the people that appreciate and enjoy my work.

But, in order to be able to sustain a living, I need support. And it isn't just me. There are so many wonderfully creative people out there doing wonderful work without big contracts with record companies, publishers or galleries. We need to support these people. If we listen to their music, we need to buy their music or attend their concerts or invite them to house concerts. If we need greeting cards, artwork, sculptures, gifts for others or ourselves, we need to buy them from those independent artists. If we cannot purchase their work because our own money is tight, then we can help promote them by telling others, we can give the artist supplies to do their work, we can donate in-kind materials, we can make them some dinner, and so on. Supporting an artist so they can make a living, isn't only financial. There are many ways to help. This is part of the new financial model that we need to build.

I believe this kind of purchase power and support will help tremendously with the economic recovery. By supporting independent artists we help allow work get made, we support the local community, and we play an active role in the kind of work that gets made. We don't need big companies to choose for us what work gets made. We don't need to pay the higher costs of products to cover the big company leaders salaries. We don't need to support big businesses shady practices that come back to hurt the consumer. We can support the artists we know and whose work we enjoy. As Amanda Palmer puts it so well:

it’s about empowerment and it’s about SIMPLICITY: fan loves art, artist needs money, fan gives artist money, artist says thank you.

I ask you, please, the next time you go buy a CD, a greeting card, a print, a painting, a book, a gift or home item, consider supporting an independent artist or writer. They are making good work and it deserves to be noticed and supported! As an artist, who works hard at what I do, I say, THANK YOU!!!


Spring Rebirth A New Focus for DoAn Art

June 6th, 2010

Spring Rebirth A New Focus for DoAn Art

It has been quiet on the blog lately, but the apparent stillness is only on the surface. Behind the scenes much has been going on. So much activity in fact, that I have found it difficult to pause long enough to write a post.

It took me several months after coming back from my three month residency at Osage Arts Community (OAC) in Missouri. Naively, I thought after spending three months deeply connected to exploring and being completely immersed in my art, that it would be easy to fit back into the routine at home. I spent several months trying very hard to fit back in, until I realized my mistake. I couldn't fit back in, because I had changed. My time at the residency opened up my life to what I could accomplish if I devoted my life to art completely. It was counter productive, and potentially damaging to go back to compromising my art by squeezing it in between this or that. I have worked very hard for the last four years to make art a priority in my life. I have willingly and joyously given up a lot of comforts to make this possible. I realized it was not possible for me to come back home and return back living the way I used to.

I spend the last three months figuring out how to continue from where I left off at OAC. Which has resulted in a new focus on my art, which I hope will allow me to support myself through my creativity. This year will be a challenging one, but I am eager for the challenge. The alternative to this direction is not attractive to me: depression, soul-smothering, emptiness...

One of the dilemma's I encountered was in my relationship to painting and the marketing and selling of my paintings. Over the last four years, with increasing intensity with each year, I have found my painting has become a deep, personal spiritual exploration. I am often guided by something outside of me (or something deep within me) to explore a subject and create a painting. The process in creating these paintings are long, challenging, sometimes exhausting. It requires intense focus, a lot of meditation, introspection and letting go. I have found it increasingly difficult to continue this process when I also have to think about how I will market the piece, whether it will be received well by others, if the piece is too personal, or that I am taking too long to create the painting. Some paintings take several months to complete, which doesn't help my income, because I can only produce a few paintings a year. I found I was forcing myself to create smaller works just to provide an income and to prove I was still around working. But the small paintings often were just a distraction, they usually didn't not excite me or challenge me, and few of these pieces sold. I think others sensed the lack of spirit in these pieces a well. They were, in many ways, a fraud. These pieces didn't contain within them, that special something that drew people to my larger paintings. I was forced to pick up multiple part time jobs, and thus the compromise begins.

There is a great challenge in working side jobs that one is completely disengaged from. It is exhausting, draining and sometimes spiritually demeaning. It became more and more difficult to come home and work on a painting that requires intense focus and a lot of energy. Even starting the day with painting was problematic. I could begin really connecting to a piece then suddenly have to pull away to go to a job, which often left me out of sorts, making silly mistakes at the job because my energy and focus was distracted. I needed to find a way of generating income that supports my creative energy, rather than detracting from it. I needed to stop compromising this energy, but I was at a loss as to how to do this.

The last two years I have been exploring fiber, which lead me to needle-felting sculptures. I have been enjoying the challenge of this new medium. I like that it is environmentally friendly medium and that it allows me to work in three dimensions. I have had good success marketing these sculptures and thinking about marketing while creating them doesn't interfere with the process. It actually inspires and excites me. This has lead me to setting up booths at local arts and craft fairs, which growing success. Additionally, I have found setting up the small wool sculptures is far easier and much more mobile than lugging around heavy, fragile framed pieces and delicate prints for shows. Because of this, I have decided to direct most of my marketing energy to the needle felted sculptures as a way to support my art career.

This does not mean I am giving up my painting. Not in the least! The need to paint is deep-rooted and necessary for my emotional and spiritual well-being. By focusing my marketing efforts on wool sculpture, it will free me up to connect more deeply and without conflict to the paintings I am creating. This will also allow me to create a painting first, then reflect on whether it can be marketed afterwards. I believe some paintings call out to many people and some are not meant to be sold, others must wait to find the right person. I will be better able to find the proper homes for my paintings by downplaying the marketing and letting them connect to the right individuals. In the future, I will continue to share my paintings with you, though at times there may be fewer of them and they may be more widely spaced apart.

I am excited about this new direction in my art and life. I feel like with the arrival of Spring, I have gone through a rebirth of sorts. In fact, the next big painting I will be working on will feature the Irish Goddess Etain, who represents the notion of rebirth in all its forms. I am taking a big leap. I am putting faith in the guiding spirit of my art. I have come to learn that when I follow the guiding voice of my art spirit, life seems to fall into place. Obstacles cease being obstacles, and become opportunities for growth. Challenges become ways to stretch myself, rather than a means to defeat.

I appreciate your support over these last four years. I do hope to continue seeing you as I move into this new, exciting territory. It has been wonderful to share my journey with you, and without you along the way, this work would be quite lonely. It is, after all, your continued support that has allowed me to get this far on the path. I deeply believe that no effort is accomplished by one person alone. I have been able to refocus my life, focus on creating art, and give it back to the world because of all of you. I am forever grateful for the relationships that have been forged and the support generated by embracing this life of art making. You are directly responsible for art being made in the world. Thank you! I believe the potential of what I can do creatively will blossom dramatically with this new focus, it will be wonderful to continue to share these new discoveries with you!


Honoring the Spirit of Halloween

October 31st, 2009

Honoring the Spirit of Halloween

Today is Halloween. For most, today is the day to dress up in crazy costumes, go to parties, lead children to stranger's houses to collect candy, and, for many adults, to act like children. America is really good at degrading tradition to its most base of qualities. I have long thought it strange that Americans have adopted an old pagan holiday, but then, the holiday hasn't really been adopted, as much as usurped and corrupted.

Celebrating Halloween doesn't have to be just frivolous and empty fun. It also doesn't even have to be observed in conflict with non-pagan religious belief. At the heart of Halloween is a celebration of the closing of the year and an honoring of the spirits of our ancestors.

We see the cycle of death around us, as the landscape transforms and goes into its dormant stage. It makes sense that the Celts would see this as the end of the year, for endings are occurring all around us at this time. This becomes a wonderful time to reflect on all that came in the previous months and let go of the negative influences and burdens of the previous cycle, while celebrating the achievements and preparing for the new. It is not certain where the idea of costumes came in, there are lots of speculation, but nothing conclusive. I like to think of dressing up as a way of re-creating your new self for the coming year. It is an opportunity to try on a new identity, see how it fits, before starting the new cycle. We are not limited to mundane, well-defined roles. We can become archetypes, heroes, spirits, fantasy creatures whose attributes of which we can connect to and carry through into the next year.

There is a dark aspect to Halloween. Many dress as monsters, attend haunted houses, talk of the ghosts and ghouls that run rampant through the neighborhood. Much of this stems from a very deep-rooted fear and misunderstanding of death and endings in general. But, if we look at this dark aspect as something positive, rather than frightening, what might we discover?

The painting posted here is of The Morrigan, the ancient goddess of death and fertility and the land, now most commonly associated with ancient Irish myth. The Morrigan is a symbol representing the dark aspects that we all experience and possess within. Everything emerges from the dark, the child from the womb, the day from night, light from the void, and The Morrigan symbolizes the power that exists within this place of potentiality. She is the perfect symbol for Halloween as we celebrate the end of the cycle by returning to the dark and beginning the cycle again. We acknowledge that day gives way to night, that the trees and plants die around us, only to return again with the light of spring.

The dark aspect is not something to be feared, for to fear the dark, is to be afraid of our own nature and the action of creation itself. Darkness is to be understood as part of a natural cycle of rise and fall, expanding and contracting, reaching out and turning inward. The symbol of The Morrigan offers us a way to understand and navigate the dark paths throughout our life, if only we overcome our fears and reach out to accept the “fruit” (or perhaps candy!) of knowledge she offers us. I am not suggesting that we all worship and idolize the image of The Morrigan, instead, I am encouraging that you look upon her as a symbol and archetype, representing the energies and qualities that your particular belief system supports. You can find your own symbol that represents the qualities of The Morrigan and use that to help you connect to the energies of the season.

Ultimately, Halloween can be a day of transformation and an evening of celebration, it doesn't have to be empty and meaningless. We can use this time to honor what has passed before us, let go of that which burdens us, and remember our ancestors who sacrificed their lives to give us what we have today.

Have a safe and transformative Halloween!


Completion The Waning Moon

October 11th, 2009

Completion The Waning Moon

Today, as the full moon recedes into the Waning phase. we come to the end of the lunar cycle.

The decreasing of the moon's glowing appearance signifies the need to focus energy in order to tie-up all the loose ends of the project started at the beginning of the cycle. If the project is complete, this is the time to double check and make sure that nothing was left out or forgotten.

Soon, at the start of the New Moon, it will be time to reflect on accomplishments and rest and prepare for the next cycle. But, for now, during this last week, let the moon be a reminder that there is still some time left to complete and finalize the project and achieve the goals for the month.

Thanks for sharing this cycle with me, I hope you found it a helpful way of re-balancing and giving guidance for a healthy and natural way to operate in daily living. In order to follow the moon's natural rhythm all one needs to do is look up in the sky. It's free and it's there to guide you with its gentle light.


Reaching the Peak Full Moon

October 2nd, 2009

Reaching the Peak Full Moon

The full moon phase begins its influence a few days before its completely full state. It offers heightened energy and stimulates productivity, which aids in the completion of a goal. The full moon tends to influence emotions (we have all heard the stories of the rise of activity at police stations and hospitals at the full moon), however, the heightened emotions rarely lead to lunacy. Instead the full moon's influence assists in gaining new perspectives, experiencing breakthroughs and revelations.

Now is the time to pour energy into a project or task. This is the time for high productivity and more investment in creative and physical resources. In a healthy productive cycle, as guided by the moon, a week of high production and extra effort is much more realistic than continuous and unsustainable action. The full moon offers the light of inspiration and serves as a beacon that our goals can be met when we work toward them with balance and clarity.

Additionally, a day or two after the full moon is the best time to remove old habits, end unhealthy relationships, or quit an addiction.


Moving Forward The First Quarter

September 24th, 2009

Moving Forward The First Quarter

The moon has moved from its dark phase and now begins the first quarter or waxing phase. With increasing light of moon, energy too is increasing. Your monthly projects are taking shape and your plans should be in motion. However, just like any project that has been started, obstacles and challenges will arise.

The First Quarter energy reminds you to take a moment to re-evaluate your course of action and determine whether you should continue on as planned or to redirect your path. If you followed the guidance of the New Moon, you will have taken time to rest and gather strength, so you should have the stamina to alter your path should you find it necessary or plug away as you have.

As the moon moves ever closer to its Full phase, we will find our energy continuing to grow and our projects coming closer to fruition. Let the moon guide you. It's a giant reminder above showing you that work can be accomplished in a healthy and balanced way, which is the path of true productivity.


Exploring Cycles The New Moon

September 18th, 2009

Exploring Cycles The New Moon

Because of my interest in exploring and connecting to natural cycles and rhythms, I thought it would be appropriate to officially begin the process and share my journey at the start of the New Moon phase. In ancient Celtic tradition, the beginning of a cycle is it the dark time. For example, the day begins at sunset, not at midnight, and so the beginning of the lunar cycle is when the moon is dark.

Energetically, the time of the new moon calls for introspection and meditation and to reflect on your accomplishments of the previous month. The new moon can then be a time of being rather than doing, a time to rest and prepare for the next cycle where energy will increase and action will begin again.

I believe, for me, the previous lunar cycle was focused mainly on my getting to O.A.C. and getting settled in here. I spent the last week wandering about the grounds (I have probably only covered about a quarter of the land so far!) and just connecting to the energy and abundant life here. Sometimes I just sat and observed or read in different locations of O.A.C. and other times I sketched or took photos. Over the next week, I will reflect on my being here and meditate on my plans for what I will work on through the next lunar cycle.

It makes sense to me to incorporate a regular interval quiet time in our lives. So much of our society is focused on constant production and a striving to attain goals at all costs, which, I think, is unhealthy. It is impossible to be constantly productive (and I believe it's unnecessary), because eventually productivity fails when a person becomes exhausted, burned out, and depleted of all resources. Yet despite this, society pushes us ever harder to live up to this impossible notion. However, if someone wants to be truly productive (in a healthy way), there needs to be a period of rest and reflection. Without such a time, we are more apt to become depleted and spin off into directions that may not necessarily be appropriate for our goals. I can think of a lot of examples in my own life or in America where this is just what has happened!

Why not join me during this time to let things go for a week? Stop doing and just be for a little while. Reflect on the last month and the work you have been doing. Examine whether you are on track with your goals, or if an adjustment is needed. Rest. Meditate. Give thanks for what you have, so that you can begin the next phase with renewed energy and focus for the next cycle ahead. Avoid thinking of this time as a waste. It is a critically important part of a natural and healthy cycle that promotes growth and balance in any endeavor. I look forward to seeing you with me in the dark!


DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of DoAn Art may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

All artwork and text © Copyright 2005-2009 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

The Hare

April 5th, 2009

The Hare

This painting is titled “The Hare: Fear, Creativity and Rebirth” I have been thinking about the role of fear in life. What does fear teach us? When I approach a new painting, I often struggle with fear. Sometimes it can be a silly fear, like what if I use the wrong color and ruin the whole painting. But, often the fear is much deeper and more personal.

Sometimes making art is very hard, because in order to do it, you have to spend a lot of time with yourself, alone, with only your thoughts and emotions. Many times startling thoughts and feelings can rise to the surface and really shake me up. I have to overcome the fear that each time I sit down to work on a painting those dark thoughts can come and stir things up, whether I like it or not. Some paintings really force me to explore the darker aspects of myself and the world I live in. There are times when I have to put limits on the amount of time I can work on a particular painting, as the thoughts and feelings that come up can really drain me.

But, despite this challenge, I feel triumphant each time I leave a painting and come back to it again. Fear is only as bad as we allow it to be. The Hare has many enemies. Every day it must leave the safety of its home and forage for food, knowing that danger lurks from every direction. Yet, it must leave despite this fear, or it would starve or be unable to find a mate. I believe that the Hare teaches that we each have the ability to overcome fear, even if we are faced with it every day, whether it is from outside or inside.

Additionally, it takes creativity to outwit our enemies or to find ways to over come the fear that stifles us. The Snowshoe Hare changes its coat from brown to white during the seasons, an example of nature’s creativity at work. We are gifted with many tools available to us to outwit fear, it is often our own creativity that helps us use those tools effectively.

And, always, whether we succumb to fear or find ways to transcend it, we experience a rebirth. It can be small or completely transformative. The barberry bush behind the Hare bears little red fruit, each fruit contains two tiny seeds. Each seed is the potential and rebirth we all have within ourselves and is present in any given situation. Each time we transcend our fears we emerge stronger and more empowered, we are reborn as new beings, like the Hare, wearing a new coat ready to face the next fear that waits to challenge us.

(The Hare: fear, creativity and rebirth, 5×7”, ink fresco)


Looking Before Leaping Forward

March 7th, 2009

Looking Before Leaping Forward

Looking Before Leaping Forward

I recently finished the painting "The Morrigan: the Dark Mother", which is a mediation on the roles that darkness, death, the end of things, etc. plays in our lives. (A detail of it is seen here. )
And as signals of Spring begin to make its appearance, I feel the need to pause and consider the dark of Winter as it begins to pass.

I think our society often shrugs off the dark times too quickly, thinking it is a bad thing. It can be uncomfortable, but the dark is not bad. I can think of many places in nature where the dark plays a regular, if not, important role: things such as sleep, night, the moon moving from dark to full and over again. If we look to the cosmos, we find that most of space is made of what is called "dark matter".

The dark times offer reflection of past action and future possibilities. So much of my creative progress leaps forward tremendously after a period immersed in darkness. But, this growth only comes when I allow myself to really be in the dark, no matter how uncomfortable it might be. I think when we leap forward to escape the discomfort of the dark, we increase our chances of landing in a worse situation. Sometimes the situation requires quick action, and we are lucky and land in a better place. But, I believe most of the time, hurrying out of the dark, only limits the awareness of our situation and delays the suffering that comes for not learning the important lessons.

So, as we turn our clocks forward, or prepare for the season's change from winter to spring. I am taking a moment to thank winter--the dark time--for the opportunity to work through life's challenges by giving me time to focus and reflect. Spring comes, bringing new energy and respite from the dark time, but it is only temporary, for soon enough, Winter takes us back into her arms for another season of rest and reflection.


All artwork and text © Copyright 2005-2008 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

What the Mid-winter Teaches

February 27th, 2009

What the Mid-winter Teaches

We have arrived at the midpoint between winter solstice and the spring equinox. In the ancient times this was a time to acknowledge that spring was not so far away, despite the tight grip winter still had over the land.

The ancient Irish Celts called this time Imbolc (im’olc) and it was the time of the winter hag, the Cailleach. On this day, she wandered out to gather her firewood for the remaining days of winter. If she felt strong and wanted to make winter last longer, she will make sure Imbolc was a sunny, clear day, so that she could easily gather firewood. People would use Imbolc day as a predictor of the length of winter. If the day was dark and weather foul, then the Cailleach was sleeping and winter would soon be over.

Imbolc was traditionally celebrated on the full moon closest to the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. In more contemporary times, the holiday is celebrated on February 2nd. Groundhog’s day, with its prediction of the coming of spring, is very likely a modern remnant of the ancient holiday of Imbolc.

Many other cultures found this time of year to be important. The Greek myth of Persephone returning from the underworld was enacted at this time of year as part of the Eleusinian mysteries, to celebrate the coming of spring. The Romans celebrated Lupercalia, which honored the founding of the city of Rome by the twins Romulus and Remus. The ancient Egyptians celebrated the Feast of Nut, whose birthday was February 2nd (according to the Gregorian calendar). Nut was the mother goddess to the sun god Ra. The Catholics celebrate Candlemas, having usurped the holiday from the native European pagans.

For the ancient gaels, this time of year was particularly harsh. It was considered the dead month. But, despite the harsh winds and icy rain that fell, signs of spring could be found. Ewes began to lactate, Cows gave birth, Ravens started to build nests, and green buds started to appear on branches and poking through the dirt.

The holiday was sacred to the goddess Brigid, who became Saint Brigit when the Catholics took on the holiday. Brigid was the patron goddess of Fire, Poetry and Healing and symbolized by a spiral. Imbolc was important because it fell on an in-between time, a very powerful and sacred time for the Celts. Brigid, if properly respected, brought the flame of spring, healed the dead-time, and brought words to the poets lips. Her miraculous powers could change water into ale and stone into salt. With boundless generosity she fed birds, animals, and the poor, and they all loved her in return.

Rabbits and Hares are also ancient symbols of spring. Hares sleep in nests or “forms” which look very similar to the nest of the lapwing bird. The lapwing builds its nests on the ground and in spring the nests are filled with eggs, which people took to be hare’s eggs. The hare was an emissary of the Otherworld and a symbol of the in-between time, which made Imbolc a such a sacred time. It is also the time of year that the footprints of rabbits and hares can be seen in the snow, as they search out the tender green shoots to eat and court their mates.

In modern practice, Imbolc can be seen as a time to look bravely into the darkness and bear witness to the growing light. It is a time of renewal, of re-affirming those resolutions we took at the beginning of the year to better ourselves. Now is the time to understand that no matter how difficult and dark things may appear to be, it will pass, for in order for darkness to exist light must exist as well.

On February 2nd, or perhaps before the next rise of the full moon, take a moment to sit in a darkened room. Meditate upon what you would like to see grow in health and strength this year: for yourself, your family, your community, the Earth. Meditate on the darkness in your life, look to what it can teach you, then light a candle, or many candles, fill the room with light and celebrate in the knowledge that the dark times will soon come to an end. With the lighting of the candle, you ignite the flame of your soul, offering strength to last through the remaining dark times.


Vermont Mountain Memory

January 13th, 2009

Vermont Mountain Memory

This is watercolor sketch in honor of the green mountains of Vermont.

I grew up surrounded by the Green Mountains. They have shaped the way I see and find myself connecting to the landscape around me. Flatland now feels empty and cold to me.

I recently spend four weeks at the Vermont Studio Center where I was nestled within a ring of mountains. Often I would watch from my studio window the snow falling over the pines that bristled the crest of the mountains.

This sketch is an amalgam of all the memories I have of the Green Mountains of Vermont. It is available as prints and greetings cards at Fine Art America and RedBubble respectively.


DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of DoAn Art may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

All artwork and text © Copyright 2005-2008 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

A Gathering of Crows solo show

January 8th, 2009

I just hung a new show of paintings and drawings that I completed at the Vermont Studio Center residency. The show is called A Gathering of Crows and celebrates the crow both in myth and nature.

The piece pictured here is called Crow's Fall (30 x 40", acrylic on canvas) Many cultures around the world have stories about how the crow became black. The title of the painting comes from the poem Crow's Fall by Ted Hughes.

The artwork is currently hanging at the Sherrill-Kenwood Free Library, 543 Sherrill Rd, Sherrill, NY 13461.

A Gathering of Crows
One crow for sorrow,
Two crows for joy,
Three crows for a girl,
Four crows for a boy,
Five crows for silver,
Six crows for gold,
Seven crows for a secret never to be told;
Eight for a wish,
Nine for a kiss,
Ten for a time of joyous bliss.

If you are in the area, I hope you will stop by and visit the crows!


Winter Deer

November 21st, 2008

Winter Deer

The sky is an endless white plain.
Snow falls in silent drifts.
Miniature clouds coat the fields,
muffle the wind,
soften the calls of birds.

Hidden in this world
of white and quiet,
a stag.

He is waiting,
patiently biding his time,
for that moment
stillness and silence
has passed.

(Moon Phase: waning crescent)

("Winter Deer" is also available as a greeting card. Please visit

All artwork and text Copyright 2005-2008 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

The Spiral and a New Logo

November 17th, 2008

The Spiral and a New Logo

Some of you may have noticed that the DoAn Art logo recently changed. Over the last two years I have seen my art develop and evolve in a direction that was less rooted in Asian traditions as it used to be. Traditional Asian painting techniques will still be a big influence in my art, however, I wanted to open my work up to a more universal source, rather than be tied to one particular culture. I meditated for some time on what symbol would best represent my work and it wasn’t long before the spiral appeared in my mind’s eye. I immediately knew it was the right symbol for my logo. But it did take some teasing and study to get that image out of my mind and into the shape of a logo.

I learned that the spiral is a powerful symbol, long held in high regard by nearly every culture on earth. The Romans and Greeks used spirals to decorate pottery and temple columns. The Celtic and Nordic people used the spiral to decorate jewelry, clothing, weaponry and many other objects. The megalithic peoples of Europe carved spirals into many of their stone structures. The Australian Aboriginals used coiled snakes to represent the spiral and Islamic art used the mathematical principals of the spiral.

The spiral appears in nature. Geothe noted that many plants grew in a spiraling motion and that many seeds and flower petals formed spiral patterns. The spiral can also be found in the movement of the tides and winds as well as in the growth of shells and horns.

Symbolically the spiral can represent the growing and waning influence of the sun as it moves through the cycle of the year. Or it can represent the cycles of life and the rhythm of coming and passing, such as in the seasons, or of life and death itself. By the curving path of the lines, the spiral links outside to inside, space and spacelessness, time and eternity, material and spirit. I have even used the spiral in my own artwork. If you look at my last painting The Honeybee, I centered the thorax of each bee over the path of a spiral.

As a result of my meditation and study, I decided to develop a logo utilizing the symbol of the spiral. I also made two spirals emerging from a single source, perhaps they are merging into one, or maybe it is both simultaneously. I wanted a logo that symbolized how my art comes from a common source, a universal place that we all share. It is my hope that my art will connect me to other people, to nature, and to all that makes up the world we know and don’t know. I also believe that the spiral adequately represents the patron-artist relationship, where two people work together toward one goal, unifying their energies for a common purpose. Over time, I am sure my logo will continue to develop, but for now I believe this new design best represents my art and what I hope to achieve through it.

I hope you enjoy the new design! Please take a moment to look for how the spiral informs and influences your own life!

(Moon Phase: waning gibbous )

DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of DoAn Art may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

All artwork and text © Copyright 2005-2008 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

Halloween the ending and the beginning

October 31st, 2008

Halloween the ending and the beginning

Over the past year year, much of my art has focused on exploring our relationship with the natural world. As a result, I have discovered both fascinating things about the earth and frightening things how we treat it. We have come to a time where we face the very real possibility of global catastrophe because of our collective disregard for the earth and the cycles of nature. Many of us (including myself) are starting adjust our lifestyles by reducing waste and conserving energy and I believe it is a step in the right direction. However, in addition to these efforts, I have decided to go a bit deeper. I chose this Halloween to begin relating and connecting to the earth by following the seasonal and lunar cycles. I believe by tuning into the cycle of the earth, I will find myself becoming more psychologically aware of the needs of the earth as well as more harmonized with the energy of seasons. I suspect that by having been separated from these natural rhythms and cycles, I have also become disconnected from the earth, from others and myself as well.

The reason I chose Halloween to begin this new way of being in the world is that traditionally it is the time when the world (the Northern Hemisphere) enters the dark of the year. This is not regarding the sun’s cycle, which is followed by the solstices and the equinoxes, but rather the seasonal cycle. Halloween marks the time when autumn turns into winter. The leaves have fallen from the trees, most of the harvest has been gathered, any blackberries left on the brambles are no longer good to eat, and frosts get heavier and colder. In the Celtic world-view this time marks the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. The ancient Celtic and the Hindu systems (and I believe many others as well) understand that the dark precedes the light, so a time of darkness must begin a natural cycle. Consider that many of the popular holidays and festivals are celebrated on the eve (Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, All Soul’s Eve, etc.).

I am going to experience the energy of the season, by using this time to celebrate the end of the yearly cycle and the beginning of the next. It will be a time to reflect on all the things that I did and did not like about the past year and decide on what should be changed or implemented to benefit the new year.

In ancient tradition, this transition from the old year into the next existed outside of time. I believe this came from following a lunar calendar in which there were a few extra days (five I believe) that didn’t quite fit into a annual system. Those remaining days where held over for this time of year where chaos was given time to rule. People played pranks, dressed up, and generally acted silly or crazy. I suspect this is partly where the tradition of dressing in costumes and celebrating “cabbage night” may have originated. Another belief at this time was that the line that separated the physical world from the Otherworld disappeared. People could commune with their ancestors and those who had passed on before them. By honoring and giving thanks to those who helped to shape them and gave them what they had, they could better understand their own lives.

So tonight at 5:55pm EST (the time of sunset where I live) I will light a candle and take a moment to reflect on the past year, give thanks to those who came before me, and acknowledge the changes that I will need to implement in order to make the coming year beneficial for all who share this beautiful place we call home.

Happy Hallowe’en, All Soul’s Eve, Samhain, Autumn into Winter, etc.

(Moon Phase: waxing crescent)

Fall into Winter

October 29th, 2008

Fall into Winter

This is the view I woke up to this morning. I have officially experienced the effects of living in the north land! I remember as a child living in Vermont that I felt enormously blessed if it didn't snow before Halloween. There was nothing like working several months on a costume only to have it destroyed in the snow or freeze while wearing it.

Fortunately for the kiddies (and those young at heart) an Indian Summer is being forecast, which means temperatures in the 60s and perhaps higher for Halloween and the days following.

This is one of the things about nature that I absolutely love. She always keeps you on your toes and makes you remember that nothing about Her can be left for granted. She is much much bigger than me or you or any one person and for that reason, She should be respected. She is our mother and our keeper. She blesses us with life, food and shelter. She also takes it all away, sometimes in an instant. I believe this is one of the important lessons the autumn season teaches us. A lesson that is important to meditate on. I am going to have a cup of tea and ponder...


The Honeybee Community and Harmony

October 9th, 2008

The Honeybee Community and Harmony

The Honeybee: Community & Harmony is my latest painting in the Animal Spirit Totem series. I have been reading a lot of fascinating literature about the honeybee. This painting celebrates the all that the honeybee contributes to life on earth.

Until recently, the honeybee has been taken for granted, and feared by some. However, the honeybee is an integral part of our existence on earth. Without it, we would not be able to survive like we do now. Honeybees are responsible for fertilizing the flowers and plants we depend on for food. One third of all our food is produced by pollinators, which include the honeybee. Not only does the honeybee play an important role in our ability to provide food, but they can also serve as examples and guides of how to live better lives.

The honeybee teaches about community and harmony. They live in hives comprised of the Queen and many Workers and Drones. The Queen begins building the hive by choosing a home and laying the eggs. While the eggs develop into Workers the Queen continues to construct the hive. Once the Workers are old enough, they take over building the hive, collecting food and caring for the developing bees. The Drones aid in propagation and in controlling the temperature of the hive. The health of the hive depends on the cooperation and health of every one of its members. Every bee has a role and contributes to the over all harmony of the hive.

One lesson we can take from this is that the well-being of any community is dependent on the health and contribution of each of its members. One member cannot take on all the responsibilities, nor can one sit back and reap all the benefits without harming the community in a negative way. Another lesson is that sometimes one can work too hard, ignoring the others in the community who can contribute, risking their health from stress and depleted health. Think of the classic workaholic. Being part of a community means knowing you cannot do it all, and asking for help when it is needed. It also means to step up and help out those who need it.

Honeybees work very hard to prepare for a long winter, collecting pollen and nectar to feed their young and to sustain them during the winter months when food is scarce. We can also learn from the honeybee about conserving and preparing for the future. By balancing working roles, the hive (the community) can run efficiently and create a harmonious living environment.

Honeybees have had a long relationship with humans throughout history and in many cultures. Most of the ancient myths are centered on Europe and the surrounding area, because honeybees are not native to North America (They were brought here by the European colonists).

To the Ancient Egyptians, honeybees were believed to be the tears of the sun god Ra and honey was believed to be a symbol of resurrection and protected against evil spirits.

In Ancient Greece the honeybee was thought to be messengers for the gods. The Priestesses of the Oracle in Delphi were sought to answer questions about the future and past. The Priestesses sat on three-legged stools near a spot where sweet-smelling fumes rose up through an omphalos stone, which was hollow and shaped similar to a bee hive. The exterior of the omphalos stone was carved with the images of honeybees.

The Honeybee was sacred to the Celtic goddess Brigid, who kept an orchard in the Otherworld, which was visited by bees.

(The Honeybee: Community & Harmony, 5 x7", Ink Fresco)


The Orphan Act Bill The End of Free Creative Expression

October 3rd, 2008

The Orphan Act Bill The End of Free Creative Expression

Back in May I wrote about a very problematic bill being proposed by Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and other Senators. You can read about what I said here. (

Well, now that the country is caught up in the scare tactics of the government over the financial crisis the Orphan Acts Bill was slipped into the senate where it PASSED because no one was present to vote against it! Please take a moment to write your representative now! If you value art, writing, music either as a creator or a collector, this bill will effect you dramatically.

Use these templates to send out a letter to your representatives:

It is best to copy and paste the letter template into a hard copy and mail the letter out. I was informed by an assistant to a senator that emails go to a junk folder and are never opened. The best way to have yourself heard is by sending a letter and addressing the envelope by hand.

Here is the Orphan Acts Bill as proposed:


Donate now!

DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of DoAn Art may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

All artwork and text © Copyright 2005-2008 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

Thoughts on the Harvest

September 26th, 2008

Thoughts on the Harvest

As Autumn takes the stage here in the upper hemisphere, I pause to reflect on the notion of the harvest. For many of us, who live busy, urbanized lives, the harvest time is hardly considered. When food comes readily at the grocery market and supplies can be purchased throughout the winter, do we really need to think about the meaning or necessity of the harvest time?

I think we do. And I think that it is because many of us have forgotten the meaning of the harvest, that we find ourselves in such a difficult time now. The harvest is a time to celebrate on a year's hard work. It is a time to gather and be thankful for what one has...whether it is food, shelter, a family, friends, a community. Without this time to reflect and to give thanks, it is much easier to take those things for granted. Without considering the hard work that goes into providing one with those basic things, it is easier to assume it comes from an endless source and that can make one desire more and more without appreciating (or even knowing) what one already has.

Now we find ourselves in a society that is struggling with the pitfalls of greed and over-consumption. Economic crisis, environmental crisis, social crisis...could these have been averted if more attention had been paid on the harvest? Now is the perfect time to reflect, for it will be a challenging winter, and perhaps by acknowledging what we have, we will be less likely to take things for granted in the future.

For many, it feels like it will be a bleak, terrible winter. But, take a moment, and pause to reflect on what you have. Don't compare yourself to others, try not to strive for more, really look at what you have now. I suspect many of us will find we already have much more than we need. If you find you have more than you need, share it with those who are struggling. If we are lacking something, perhaps it is time to cultivate new relations and reach out to others. This doesn't have to be limited to money and material things. Friendship, hugs, volunteering in the community, helping a neighbor, sending out positive thoughts, they all are part of the harvest.

Happy Autumn!

All artwork and text © Copyright 2005-2008 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

Humans and Honeybees

September 15th, 2008

Humans and Honeybees

Did you know that humans and honeybees have been working together for thousands of years?

In 1934 images were found in a limestone cave in Spain depicting humans honey-hunting. This is the first painting discovered in Europe that illustrates humans collecting honey. The image shows a human hanging on ropes suspended over a cliff-face. The human is reaching into a nest of bees taking honeycombs while individual bees swarm around. Another figure stands below holding a bag with a long handle where the honey is collected. It is estimated that this painting was made between 2000 and 8000 years ago.

Bee-keeping is depicted in Egyptian temple reliefs as early as the 5th Dynasty (2445-2441 BC). The reliefs show that beekeeping was well established in Egypt by the middle of the Old Kingdom (3rd millennium BC). Records from at least one tomb workers' village during the New Kingdom (1550-1069 BC) indicate that the workmen there kept bees and this was likely true of other communities throughout Egyptian history. Bee-keeping is also depicted in some 18th and 26th Dynasty tombs. Bees were certainly of great importance in providing honey, which was used both as the principal sweetener in the Egyptian diet and as a base for medicinal ointments. The Egyptians also collected beeswax for use as a mold-former in metal castings and also for use as a paint-varnish. Read the book Sweetness & Light by Hattie Ellis for more fascinating history of the relationship between humans and bees.

As humans focused more on development and less on the environment, suburban sprawl has destroyed many of the natural habitats of bees. It seems like it might be a good time to think about giving back some of the living spaces we took away to bees again. I looked into ways that people with very small amount of land can provide living space for bees. I was glad to find that it is very simple and doesn't end up with someone having swarms of bees taking over their yard! The National Wildlife Federation has some tips on how to build bee houses here.

You can create homes for Orchard Mason Bees who are very helpful in pollinating plants. Ochard Mason bees are not aggressive and rarely sting, so they are safe to keep in your back yard, or porch, or outside your window, if you don't have a yard. You can also create houses for bumble bees, which are native to North America and very important pollinators. I found a site by Dave Pehling that gives simple instructions on creating a bumble bee house, but you can search for other sites quite easily that give instructions on how to make houses for them. If you are not handy at all, there are also sites on line where you can purchase pre-made bee homes.

In the spring I will be setting out both Orchard Mason Bee and Bumblebee homes and I will be sure to share the results with you then. Please consider continuing the long-standing relationship between humans and bees by creating a home for them. After all, it seems like it is the least we can do after taking away so much of their natural habitat. The plus is that we can live together and share the benefits from each other as a result!

If you find this interesting and would like to learn more about the honeybee and other teachings from nature, please consider donating to DoAn Art. I am currently raising money to attend a residency at the Vermont Studio Center where I can synthesize this kind of information into artwork to share with society. It is my hope that by sharing my teachings and paintings from nature, I might help inspire others to seek ways to make our world and all the beings on it a beautiful place to live.

Donations can made in any denomination. However, for donations $100 or more, you will receive a gift of a hand-colored print "Gift of the Community" by DoAn. (A detail of the print is pictured above.)

DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of DoAn Art may be made payable to Fractured Atlas. The value of the hand-colored 5 x 7 matted print, The Gift of Community, is $20.00. Any contribution above the amount is tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Please make checks payable to:
Fractured Atlas
820 West Hamilton Ave,
Sherrill, NY 13461.


Could the end of the Honeybee be the end of Us

September 12th, 2008

Could the end of the Honeybee be the end of Us

For several years now there have been reports of dramatic declines in honeybee populations around the world. There is even a name now for the phenomenon. It is called Colony Collapse Disorder. Entire colonies of bees have mysteriously disappeared, leaving the developing bees to die, and caches of honey and pollen to rot. There is a lot of speculation to what is causing this, but no consensus yet. When I hear about such things happening, it concerns me deeply. It drives me learn more about the creature (or culture) that is threatened so catastrophically that its very existence hangs in the balance.

In the case of the honeybee, I have not only read about its biological history, I have also explored its history with humanity It is a long and fascinating story, which I never knew about and I suspect many people don't know of. Though, due to the honeybee's situation perhaps, many of us are starting to learn bit by bit. I also look to nature as a teacher and guide, and in exploring the honeybee, I have also learned more about what the honeybee can teach me.

One of the first things I noticed about the honeybee is how organized it is. It works and lives in a very efficient community, where all members have a role and work toward a common goal. In folklore and spiritual traditions around the world, the honeybee represents community and organization. In reflecting on this, and the decline of the honeybee, and the condition of Colony Collapse Disorder, I can't help but look at this as a symbol of the human community as a whole. Could the honeybee be telling us to watch out? Perhaps it is time to take a good hard look at the communities, both large and small, around us and evaluate their well-being. I suspect that they need help and, since each of us are in some way a part of many communities of one kind or another, we need to get organized and participate in healing them. Perhaps, in the process of healing our own communities we may end up helping out the honeybees who are in need of aid. I think nature can teach in both directions. And, after all, humans really are not separate from the honeybee at all, we are both part of the great community of life that exists on earth.

I will share more about the fascinating honeybee in the next few posts. If you find this interesting and would like to learn more about the honeybee and other teachings from nature, please consider donating to DoAn Art. I am currently raising money to attend a residency at the Vermont Studio Center where I can synthesize this kind of information into artwork to share with society. It is my hope that by sharing my teachings and paintings from nature, I might help inspire others to seek ways to make our world and all the beings on it a beautiful place to live.

Donations can made in any denomination. However, for donations $100 or more, you will receive a gift of a hand-colored print "Gift of the Community" by DoAn. (A detail of the print is pictured above.)

DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of DoAn Art may be made payable to Fractured Atlas. The value of the hand-colored 5 x 7 matted print, “The Gift of Community“, is $20.00. Any contribution above the amount is tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Please make checks payable to:
“Fractured Atlas”
820 West Hamilton Ave,
Sherrill, NY 13461.

All artwork and text © Copyright 2005-2008 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

The Gift of Community

September 5th, 2008

The Gift of Community

Please consider helping me attend the Vermont Art Center artist residency in November 2008!

As many of you may remember, I was accepted to the Vermont Studio Center residency from November 21st through December 21st this year. I was granted a partial scholarship to cover a little over half the expenses of the residency. I have since been working on raising money to cover the remaining fees and I am glad to report I only have $1000 left to collect! I appreciate the support of those who have believed in my work enough to donate and help me produce work that continues to explore nature, spirit and healing.

As an added incentive I am offering a special limited time print for donations of $100 or more.

* The print is titled “The Gift of Community”
* Each print is hand colored by me with artist grade colored pencils, matted and signed.
* Once the fundraiser is over prints of this piece will no longer be available.

I believe the print speaks to how every member of a community has a role and supports each member as well as benefits all. The Honeybee is a perfect representative of this ideal. The print shows honeybees working together in their hive collecting pollen and nectar.

Attending this residency is a crucial step not only in developing my career as an artist, but also in supporting the community at large by allowing creative work to be made. Your donation will go directly toward supporting art to flourish, which, in turn, helps make our society healthier and balanced.

While at the Vermont Studio Center I will be creating paintings that relate figures from mythology to objects in nature and the cosmos. The purpose of this series is to help people see and experience the beauty and diversity of the natural world in a new way. With our misuse and neglect for the well-being of the environment and the over consumption of nature’s resources, I believe that people need to once more find respect for and appreciate the natural world, which we are not separate from but intimately connected to.

If you have enjoyed reading my blogs or benefited from the artwork and information that I have shared with you, please consider contributing. No amount is too small. However, my appreciation for your gift will be limitless!

Donations received will go toward:

* Fees for attending the Vermont Studio Center residency
* To support me in continuing to produce artwork that stimulates thought
* To support my goal to produce work that is environmentally and socially aware

For donations under $100:
DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of DoAn Art may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
You can donate by credit card at

For donations $100 or more:
DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of DoAn Art may be made payable to Fractured Atlas. The value of the hand-colored 5×7 matted print, “The Gift of Community“, is $20.00. Any contribution above the amount is tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Please make checks payable to:
“Fractured Atlas”
820 West Hamilton Ave,
Sherrill, NY 13461.

If you have any questions or concerns about donating to DoAn Art through Fractured Atlas, don’t hesitate to contact me at

Thanks for your support! It is only like busy honeybees working together can we combine energies and resources to help everyone around us to see how fascinating and beautiful our world is and how much we need to help protect it!


Vermont Studio Center Residency

July 14th, 2008

I have been accepted into the Vermont Studio Center for a four week residency starting in November!

The Vermont Studio Center hosts 50 artists and writers who participate each month in 4 to 12 week independent studio Residencies. VSC Residents represent a mix of mediums, cultures, experience, and ages, for a diverse and vibrant community.

The VSC hosts 600 resident artists and writers from around the world, and 72 visiting artists and writers each year. During the 4 week residency I will have a private studio space to work in where I can focus on producing work without the usual daily distractions. I will also have access to a community of artists and writers to share work and ideas.

This is a tremendous opportunity for me. While at the residency, I will be working on paintings that explore our relationship to nature and spirit. I will have the time to devote myself completely to producing work, which will in turn help me contribute work for the good of society. In addition, I will have the chance to meet other established and emerging artists.

I was awarded a partial grant from VSC to help cover some of the costs. I need to come up with $1500 to cover the remaining of the expenses. I would appreciate any donations in any amount that you are willing to give to help me attend this residency. In return, you will be making a great contribution toward the future development of art for the betterment of society. You can donate by going to this link:

DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of DoAn Art may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

I greatly appreciate any support you can offer!


Environmentally Conscious Art Derwent

May 17th, 2008

In the continuing examination of the products I use to create my art, I am pleased to announce that Derwent is a company whose products I will continue to use. Derwent produces a large array of artist pencils and related products. Aside from the usual drawing and colored pencils, I also use their watercolor pencils, graphitint (colored graphite) and inktense pencils (ink in pencil form!) to create my art. I went to their website to find out about their environmental policies and here is what I found:

Our factory is situated in one of the most beautiful parts of
England, in the heart of the Lake District National Park. We are therefore
probably more aware than most how important it is to protect the world around
us. We comply with the internationally recognised environmental management
standard, ISO 14001 and are committed to ensuring that our materials,
processing, products and services have minimal environmental impact. For
example, in 2002 we were awarded a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for developing a unique, solvent free paint application system which has greatly improved the air quality in this production area. We have also been awarded the BOSS (British Office Supplies and Services) Federation Environmental Award for the past 11 years.This comprehensive award scheme covers a wide range of environmental issues, such as reducing energy consumption and improving our employees’ working conditions.

The health and safety of our employees
is, of course, paramount. In 2006, we were awarded the prestigious RoSPA (Royal
Society for the Prevention of Accidents) President’s Award for Occupational
Safety and Health. The President’s award is only open to those companies who
have already achieved 10 consecutive RoSPA Gold Awards. The RoSPA awards scheme covers all aspects of health and safety, including good health and safety
management systems, compliance with legislation, continually improving health
and safety performance, employee training and commitment. Actively involving our employees in these issues through training, health and safety audits, meetings
and regular communication is one of our greatest strengths.

Please check out the Derwent website for more information about the company and their products!

I have not heard anything from Frederix (Tara Materials) who makes the canvases I use, nor have I heard from Dr PH Martin's, or Daler Rowney, both of which make the inks and watercolors I use. I have contacted them twice now. Unless I hear back from them regarding their environmental policies, I will use up what I have of their products, and will not purchase any new materials from them. It is a shame, because I really like their products a lot. Let's hope they come through sometime in the future.


Environmental Consciousness Winsor and Newton

May 17th, 2008

Winsor & Newton produces the tube watercolors, brushes, and watercolor mediums that I use. I am happy to report that I will continue to be using their products, as they have very strong environmental policies in place. Here is what I found on their website:

*We are holders of the manufacturing environmental British Standard 14001. This is an international standard and certification for environmental systems and we are committed to achieving the targets which allows us to keep it.
*We have achieved significant improvement in reducing waste (reduction at source, alternatives to landfill and by recycling.)
*Our factory machinery is monitored for energy usage and has been upgraded to improve efficiency.
*We have reduced the amount of water usage in our factory and have invested in an improved effluent treatment plant. This has enabled us to recover 30% of water resulting in a saving of 1.2 million litres of water per year.
*Our packaging recycling facility enables us to reduce landfill disposal by 180-220 tonnes per year.
*Our office's new individual heating and cooling system has greatly reduced our energy consumption.
*Our cadmium levels in our waste is dropping by about 80-90% year on year which is a clear reduction in our hazardous waste. This is due to improved processing, not a reduction in the use of cadmiums.
Natural Resources:
*Our policy is to use suppliers who can source FSC wood for all our brush handles, easels and canvas stretchers.
*Where this isn't possible, for technical or quality reasons, we ensure that our suppliers prove that the wood they are using is legally sourced and harvested.
*We also ensure that we work with suppliers who have the same level of commitment to environmental issues.
*All our natural hair products are obtained from sustainable sources and are by-products of other industries. Animals are not sourced for the sole use of our brush-making.

*Winsor & Newton is an equal opportunities employer and provides a safe and healthy environment for all its employees.
*We are all committed to reducing our impact on the environment through numerous office policies including recycling policies and water and energy reduction policies, which focus on how we use paper, lighting, temperature control and electrical appliances.
*We give our employees the opportunity to reduce their environmental impact by providing a government-backed policy to save tax by cycling to work along with a company car policy that reduces emissions.

In addition, Winsor & Newton provides tips to artists on how they can reduce their own environmental impact. Since I may not be able to use the Dr. PH Martin's Hydras Watercolors due to their lack of response to my inquiries, I may begin using Winsor & Newton tube colors more often. Please visit their website at Winsor-Newton to see all the great products they make and to learn more about their environmental policies.


The Finished Piece the Goose

May 10th, 2008

The Finished Piece the Goose

The Goose is a continuation of a unofficial series that I started with the Fox paintings I completed at the end of last year. I had thought it would be interesting to do a painting representing the animals that have served as guides and symbols for me over the years. These animals have repeatedly shown up in dreams, journey work, or through unexpected situations. The Fox has connections to place and home for me, which is why I created four paintings representing the four seasons that my home passes through.

The Goose represents my own spirit. You could say it is kind of a personal totem for me.

I read a lot of folklore and mythology associated with the goose. Before I stated this painting. I wanted to allow the information to simmer a while so when I began the piece, I could tap into the qualities of the goose that I connected the strongest to. However, because I let the information fill my subconscious, I believe that the painting can be viewed by many different people and each person will connect with an aspect of the Goose that doesn't necessarily represent my relationship to it.

In this painting, I focused on the qualities of the Goose that represent protection, creation, and community.

I have a Goose standing on an overlook, keeping an eye out for danger. The Celts associated the goose with war because of its watchful nature and aggressive temperament. Geese will vigorously defend their territory and warn of any visitors with their loud honking. If you have ever experienced a territorial goose on a farm, you will know they are very effective! There are stories about how geese saved the Romans with their warning cries when the Gauls attacked the citadel of the Capital.

I depicted a goose on land, one swimming in the water, and another flying in the air. Because Geese are equally at home in all three environments, they represent the integration of the physical (land), emotional (water) and spiritual (air) spheres necessary for creation. The main goose is standing on one leg, which represents the goose's ability to travel between the three spheres. Standing on one foot, in ancient tradition, was a technique for accessing the Otherworld. In Ancient Eqypt and China the goose was considered a messenger between Heaven and Earth.

In the foreground grows a blackberry bush. The blackberry is associated with the goose, probably because it is a plant that is protective and also serves as a portal to the Otherworld. I have the canes of the blackberry growing in the shape of an infinity symbol, to represent how the integration of the three spheres is a never ending cycle. The leaves on flowering canes always grow in threes. The number three is a sacred number, which is reflected in the triple nature of the Goose.

Geese are never alone. Community is everything to them. Geese mate for life and will never leave their partner behind. If one of a pair is sick or wounded, its mate will stay with it. When migrating, geese work together, flying in a V-formation to help save energy in their travels. In China the goose is a symbol of marriage because of their life-long pair bond.

Even though the Canada Goose is more common around my home, I chose to depict the Greylag Goose because of my years practicing Korean Buddhism, which uses gray robes for its dharma habit.

There are many ways to view the Goose. Don't let my interpretations limit your own. Go ahead and explore how you might relate to this fascinating bird.


(The Goose, 5 x 7", ink on clayboard)

Stages of Creation Part 4

May 6th, 2008

Stages of Creation Part 4

Step 4: The Creation Stage

I have done the research, come up with the image, mediated, and completed the drawing, and planning. Now I am ready to really bring the painting to life. This process is the least complicated, but often the most demanding.

Before I start painting, I get the colors together that I selected from the previous stage. Then I use the tracing paper and transfer a very light tracing of the drawing on the painting surface. In this case, it is an Ampersand Clayboard Smooth board.

Then I might play some music to help connect me to the energy of the painting and to set a creative atmosphere. In the case of the Goose painting, I listened to a lot of medieval music, with a tendency toward heavy drums. The band Corvus Corax became a favorite while working on this piece. The music helps to connect me to the painting, which is beneficial when I have to stop and start painting many times.

When I actually start the painting, a curious thing tends to happen, I find myself entering a meditative state, similar to when I am creating the drawing. I have a tendency to lose track of time. In fact, I often can paint for five or six hours straight, thinking when I have stopped to take a break, that I have only been working for an hour or two. When I am working on the beginning stages of the painting I need to be sure that have a good chunk of time in which to work. If I have a place to be or have a job to go to, it is not a good idea to start painting, or I will end up missing the appointment or being late for work. If I wait until the end of the day, after I get home from work or my appointments, I might paint until the wee hours of the night and end up losing precious sleep! At later stages when I am doing detail work, I can start and stop more easily. So, sometimes I can paint for an hour before work or after I come home, without fear of disappearing from the world for too long!

Where do I go when I paint? If any of you meditate, you might relate to this experience more easily. I practiced very serious sitting meditation for over four years before I began shifting my focus more heavily on painting. To me, there is little difference between sitting meditation and painting. The only difference perhaps is in the posture. In both instances my mind is open, my thoughts are focused, but not fixed on any one thing. I am connected to the present moment. Suddenly, I am aware of no past, present or future, perhaps, I am aware of them existing all at once. I believe this helps me to create a painting that is connected to universal energy. It helps to keep my artwork authentic, which I hope, in turn, helps my work to reach people on a deeper level.

The tools I use here are:
(clockwise from the bottom left)
--The drawing from which I refer occasionally as I paint, mainly for the finer details that come later in the painting.
--The color sketch and color palette
--My laptop, which I use to view reference photos (I try not to print too many of my photos to help save trees and reduce waste)
--My tracing of the drawing (beneath that is a composite photo I created in Photoshop to use as a compositional reference)
--My cup of tea (now it is white or green tea, since I need a steady hand at this stage)
--My inks for painting
--Blending medium (for extending the drying time of the inks)
--Masking Fluid (This is a special liquid use to mark off areas of the painting that I don't want the ink to cover. Perhaps I want to reserve white in places. I can brush the masking fluid on and let it dry. Then I can paint all over it. When I am done, I simply rub the masking fluid off and the the area it covered is untouched by the ink. I can paint that area or leave it white.)
--Spray mister (to keep my palette wet so the inks don't dry out)
--Jar of water with my brushes in it
--Small jars of mixed colors
--Watersoluble Ink Pencils (These come in handy for very tiny details, as this painting is only 5 x 7")
--My mixing palette
--Paper towels (These are made from 100% recycled materials. I try to reuse them many times. Since once the ink dries it is permanent, I can re-wet the paper towel and don't have to worry about the ink running.)

The length of the Creation Stage various depending the painting. Some paintings can take weeks or months to complete, others only a few days. Usually, the smaller pieces take less time. But, if I am doing a lot of glazing work, the time to finish a piece can be significantly longer due to the drying time required between layers.

I am adding the finishing touches to the Goose painting now, and I will be posting the final piece in a few days. Be sure to check back to see the result. At that time, I will also share the background information about the Goose and why I chose it as a subject.


Stages of Creation Part 3

May 4th, 2008

Stages of Creation Part 3

Step 3: Cultivation Stage

Now that I have the idea or concept and a composition is drafted, I can explore color! Color is a very important factor to my paintings. It is probably the main thread that connects all my varied styles of art. I am drawn to saturated colors. I like rich, vibrant colors that are still natural and not too garish. This is probably why spring and autumn are my favorite seasons, as they tend to be the two most colorful seasons.

The purpose of this stage is to determine the color palette that best suits the piece. The colors I choose are not only part of a visual aesthetic, but should also match the theme and concept of the particular piece. Color not only reflects the world we see, but it can also evoke mood, create atmosphere, and act as symbols. I try to incorporate all these in varying degrees in each of my paintings.

In this stage, I will create a color sketch of the painting. First, I transfer the drawing onto paper, then I will start to paint the image using the colors I think will work best for the piece. I am not as concerned with detail or exactness of the image. I am focusing mainly on color relationships. While I am painting, I keep track of the colors I use and think are right for the piece by making a small color palette on a separate sheet of paper.

One of the side benefits of doing a color sketch is that I get a second chance to see if the composition works. In the case of the Goose painting here, I realized once I started adding the trees in the background, that the painting was feeling too cramped. So, in the final painting, I will get rid of the trees and leave an open sky with a low horizon. Now the goose can breathe!

Often, while I work on the color sketch, I make notes to myself about the piece. For example, on the Goose painting, I didn't like how dark the grass was behind the black-berry bush, so I made a note to lighten the green in the final painting. I might make suggestions about altering the composition, adjusting a color, or adding or subtracting details.

The tools I use here are:
On the left side:
Colored pencils for coloring small details or fine lines
Permanent marker for writing comments on the color test.
Paper for testing out colors.

In the Center:
Bottles of Ink.
Bottle of blending medium for mixing with the ink to keep it from drying too fast. (Once ink is dry it is permanent and nearly impossible to make corrections.)
Color Palette of selected colors for the final painting.
Color Sketch.

On the Right Side:
My cup of tea. (I am back to black tea here, as this part of the process doesn't require any careful brush strokes.)
More bottles of ink.
Jar of water.
Small containers for storing newly created colors. (Sometimes I have to combine two or more ink colors together to create my own color mixtures. It is much easier to make large quantities at one time to make sure the color is consistent in one painting.)
Dropper for mixing colors.
Ceramic palette for mixing colors.
Paper towel for absorbing excess water and pigment from brushes and for clean-up.

Once I get the colors right and have a good color palette created. It is on to the next step: the Creation Stage


Stages of Creation Part 2

May 2nd, 2008

Stages of Creation Part 2

Step 2: Growing Stage

After the idea or inspiration for a painting begins to take more solid form and substance in my mind, I can begin sketching and working out the composition. Here the previous research and meditation have its greatest influence as the image begins to appear on paper.

I usually make several drawings, some will be simple line drawings, others will be value studies. I will play around with compositional elements as well. I use many different pencils for doing the drawing and value studies. I use tracing paper to trace over my drawing and then use the tracing to reposition the drawing. That way I can experiment more freely with the composition and save time from having to redraw the entire thing from scratch. The rubbing alcohol is used to fix the graphite on the tracing paper so it doesn't smudge all over the paper when I am transferring the image. I use the colored pencils for tracing so I know what part of the image I have already traced. For example, in this drawing I have the main goose in the foreground and two other geese in the background, one swimming, one flying. I can trace my drawing, then transfer it to a new composition, moving the flying goose higher or lower to create a stronger composition.

Often, when I am working on the drawing, I lose awareness of time and my surroundings. When that happens, it is only when I step away from my desk to stretch or refresh my tea that I notice fully what I have been working on. I may decide to do some refinement at this point, or perhaps follow up with some further research. Occasionally symbols or images appear in the drawing that correlate with a deeper meaning from what I had originally intended. This happened recently with my drawing for the painting Boann: Transformation of a Goddess. After several hours working in the drawing, I stepped away and noticed that I had drawn a fish. I did some further research and found out about the powerful connection between Boann and the salmon. The information was very likely in my mind from previous research, but it was stored somewhere in my subconscious memory, because I wasn't aware of it. The trance-effect of the drawing process tends to bring the subconscious material out onto the paper.

The other valuable tools I use are erasers. I use the white nylon eraser for getting rid of large areas completely. The kneaded eraser (that knobby grey item) is used to lighten areas without erasing the pencil completely. The electric eraser (the thick pen-like object) is one of the most fantastic inventions! I use this as another drawing tool, erasing areas to shape and give form and depth to the drawing. The power of the eraser lets me erase fine areas all the way to the white of the paper. Sometimes drawing is more about subtracting pencil marks, more than making marks!

The tissues are for smudging the pencil on the paper to create more gray tones I also use the tissues for applying the alcohol to the tissue paper.

You can see some field guides and some photos for some quick references, in this case, to make sure I get such things as the number of leaves on a blackberry branch or the pattern of the goose feathers correct. Even though I am working with myth and folklore, I like to have some aspects rooted in reality. I would prefer to have most of my information come from direct observation, but unfortunately, until I can become a full-time artist, I often have to rely on other sources like these.

And lastly, my faithful cup of tea! By this time, I am beginning to move away from the black teas, into black tea blends and oolongs. Soon, I will be breaking out the greens and whites.

During this step, I might take breaks and, weather permitting, go for walks in the park. I usually bring my camera and take pictures of things that inspire me, or catch my eye. If I have time, I might bring my sketchbook and do some quick observational drawings. Usually, however, the walk is more about stepping back from the drawing process. I might need to clear my mind or settle my energy. This part of the process tends to raise my energy and I find that once I get up from my chair, I feel a bit antsy and hypersensitive. Walking outside helps to ground me once more.

Once I get a feeling that the drawing is ready, it is time to move on to the next step: The Cultivation Stage.


Stages of Creation Part 1

April 30th, 2008

Stages of Creation Part 1

There is much that happens before a painting is completed, posted on my blog and loaded to my website, or various print-on-demand sites. I thought it would be helpful to my clients, those interested in my work, and to other artists to share my creative process with you. Over the next few posts, I will be giving you the step by step process of how I create my art.

Part 1: The Germination Stage

Here you see my desk with many of the tools I use to brainstorm and come up with ideas and compositions. Many times, I already have a picture in my head of what I think I would like to create. Other times, I have no image, but an idea of a theme or a subject. In either case, I need to refine the image or develop the idea into something workable. It is rare that I can actually recreate the images in my mind to my satisfaction, so research helps to develop something more workable.

You can see several books that I reference for ideas. In this case, I have an idea to create a painting based on myths and totemic relationships to the goose. I look at books on folklore, mythic traditions, field guides, and studies in biological behavior. I use the computer to do some additional research (see the pages of notes on the right). I compile all this information and write about it in my journal, which you see in the center. On the left are small thumbnail sketches that pop into my head as I research and write my notes.

In the back are CDs of music that I listen to while brainstorming. Music is a very helpful tool in creating my art. Sometimes music is a direct source of inspiration, like the band Boann's Clan was when I worked on my painting Boann: Transformation of a Goddess. They had a CD that was about the life of Boann. I am not always so lucky to find such perfect music, however, and usually find music that is relaxing and inspiring. Music helps me to set a mood and atmosphere for creation. I often listen to the same music over and over while working on the same piece. No matter what I am doing, or what other jobs that might take me away from working on my art, I can put in the CD and I am right back in the same space I was the day before.

Occasionally, I will stop, do some meditation, and let the information I have gathered interact and merge in my subconscious. This helps with developing images and gives my intuitive side an opportunity to offer input. I am much more interested in allowing the subconscious have a more prominent role in the development of my work. The research I do helps to ground my work and gives it the potential to reach a wider audience. My intuitive side, helps to personalize the gathered information, so that my work remains original.

Lastly, there is a cup of tea. There is little I can do without a pot of tea nearby. Those who know me, know about this minor obsession of mine. It doesn't matter what kind of tea: green, black, white, oolong, etc. Though I do tend toward the blacker, more robust teas at this stage of the creative process. The lighter teas like green and white are more favorable at later stages of creation, as they tend to be less stimulating, and allow me to connect more directly to painting as it is being created.

Next Step: The Growing Stage


Socially Responsible Art Products

April 28th, 2008

Socially Responsible Art Products

As part of my on going exploration of earth friendly art materials, I looked into Golden Artist Colors. I use Golden products for my acrylic paintings, including paints and mediums, as well as for varnishing all my pieces. I like the quality and consistency of their products. But, with my new mission, whether I like a product or not isn't enough of a factor to keep me using the product. The company has to offer more.

I went to the Golden website and found an extensive section on social responsibility . That section describes such "green" initiatives as the Seconds Program, explained on the site:

GOLDEN has an overall "green" attitude; everything that we are striving for as far as our formulations are concerned is geared toward environmental friendliness. This includes the ingredients that go in our paints, the wastewater we generate making our paints as well as cleaning out equipment, and any waste we may generate in between or after that process goes to good use in our Seconds Program. The Seconds Program is a way for GOLDEN to support artists and keep product out of the waste stream. Employees, along with local and artist communities, are offered products from the "Seconds Program." The Seconds Program offers paint that does not meet GOLDEN standards at little or no cost to artists or non-profit organizations that can greatly benefit from the program.

Golden produces a newsletter titled "Just Paint", and in issue #18, there is an article that explains the company's new water reclamation process. Water is a necessary component not only for the artist to use paint, but also in the manufacturing of paint. Golden has installed a Reverse Osmosis (RO) filtering system that reuses over two-thirds of the water used to clean production equipment. They also utilize RO in a wastewater treatment process that filters out the solids of acrylic, pigments and other materials from the water. That water is then sent to a city treatment plant where the remaining chemicals are removed. Please see the newsletter for the complete explanation of the RO process.

Additionally, the website has extensive instructions for artists about how to reduce waste of materials and how to dispose of waste materials in an environmentally sound way. To fellow artists, please do check this section out. Even if you don't use Golden materials, many of the suggestions are applicable to other mediums. I use some of the cleaning techniques recommended by Golden in my studio, but will begin practicing even more waste-reducing techniques.

I wrote to the company inquiring about the possibility of Golden producing a line of colored inks. I received a prompt and friendly reply indicating that their line of Airbrush Colors are essentially inks. I was sent a packet of informational materials on Golden products, newsletters and hand painted color swatches of many of their paints. I have since purchased some samples of the Airbrush colors and will experiment with them to see how they work in comparison to the inks I currently use.

Because of Golden's commitment to social and environmental responsibility, I am happy to continue to include their products to produce my art work.

I am still waiting to hear back from other companies I have been using, if I don't hear back in another week, I will send out one more inquiry. If I do not receive a response after the second inquiry, I will write a letter explaining that I will no longer use their products until I have heard from them regarding their environmental policies.

I will keep you updated!


So What Kind of Art is it Going to Be

April 22nd, 2008

So What Kind of Art is it Going to Be

Many of my collectors have come to appreciate my work through the abstracts I have been working on for the last few years. I also have a base of clients who have long enjoyed the representational work I do and at the same time there are others who respond strongly to my Asian-inspired brushwork. So, what is going on here? Some have asked about my varied styles of work. Shouldn't I just pick one? Do I have a problem making a decision? I realize that from the outside it must be somewhat confusing. So, I decided I should explain a little about my art and where it comes from.

Most artists develop a style, then focus on that style, refining it, and simultaneously guiding and being guided by that particular style. The style of art that a particular artist works in, becomes their mode of expression, of documenting their relationship to a particular thought or idea. If the artist is serious about their work, their style will evolve over time, sometimes dramatically, other times very subtly.

Perhaps because I am a self-taught artist, my style developed out of an intuitive relationship to my art, rather than from any formal structure. From an early age I felt a need to express myself through art, even if at the time, I wasn't quite sure what it was (or that I was) expressing. My deep love of nature gave me a subject to focus on as I learned different tools and mediums to create my works of art. I even turned to writing for some time, when I felt my relationship to art becoming strained and forced.

To me abstract, representational, or brush painting styles are all very strongly connected. They do not appear very different to me at all. I have called myself an interstitial artist, because I never felt I could classify my art within a particular group. Lately, I have been thinking about the idea of my art being intuitive. Perhaps Intuitive-Interstitial? But, why apply any labels? Regardless of what I am creating, I strive for the piece to be authentic. I utilize a lot of meditation, either before or during my painting that helps to keep me connected to that authentic source, be it Spirit, God, Unity (again, more labels).

The art I create is challenging. It pushes me. Sometimes it is agonizing, verging on painful, but when the painting is finished and it successfully resonates with that authenticity, I experience joy. This joy grows stronger when I learn that my work reaches and affects others in a positive way. I know then, that I listened well to that inner voice and remained true to the Source that makes each of us both unique and the same.

Originally, when I posted my work on my website, I grouped it all together because, to me, it all seemed the same. However, I realize that the connection, from the outside viewer, may not be so clear. But please don't let the separate galleries keep you from seeing those relationships. If you go to my page on Fine Art America you will see that I didn't separate my work. Each piece on that site has a description about it that gives background about the development and what the painting means to me. Perhaps, from there, you too will see that each piece is both unique and the same.


Boann Transformation of a Goddess

April 14th, 2008

Boann Transformation of a Goddess

My latest piece titled Boann: transformation of a Goddess is completed. It was part of a commission that began almost a year ago. The process of completing the work was rather demanding but ultimately inspiring. The research, meditation, and painting process itself all became fuel for many more projects that are now been developed. And, yes, there are some new abstract pieces on the horizon for those who have been inquiring!

This painting depicts the transformation of Boann, of the Tuatha De Danann, into the River Boyne. The story of Boann is a fascinating one. There are several interpretations and, as is often the case with Celtic mythology, they often contradict each other. Here is the story based on my research and how it assembled itself after meditating on it:

Boann’s husband was Nechtan, who was keeper of the sacred well Segais (the Well of Wisdom). Around the well grew nine magical hazel trees, from which grew magical crimson hazelnuts. The nuts fell into the well feeding the five colorful salmon that lived inside the well. Each salmon represented wisdom obtained through the five senses and had distinctive crimson spots on their bellies from eating the hazelnuts. All, but Nectan and his assistants, were forbidden to approach the well.

This restriction irked Boann, and she decided one day to approach the well. To spite her husband, whom she believed greedily coveted the well, Boann approached the well counter clockwise. But what she didn’t know is that the well itself had specific conditions in which one could gaze into it. One must approach clockwise three times before looking straight and steadily into the well or one’s eyes would burst from the power of the wisdom contained within.

Boann peered cautiously into the well, which caused the water to rise angrily and it took one of her eyes. Because she approached the well counter clockwise, she had further angered the waters and so the well erupted with a torrent. Boann fled from the rushing waters losing an arm and a leg before the angry waters reached the sea, leaving behind a 70 mile long river, now called the Boyne River.

Having lost one eye, one arm, and one leg, Boann was transformed. She existed from that point on somewhere half in and half out of the physical world. She became the soul of the river, but also something much more powerful. For when she released the waters of Segais, she freed the salmon of knowledge into the world. Now humans had access to the wisdom reserved only for the gods. Anyone who ate the flesh of the salmon, instantly possessed the knowledge they contained.

Boann then became the patron goddess of poetic and spiritual inspiration. Her influence bridges the gap in the wisdom of mind to allow the feminine nature in each of us to stream into our being. Her sacrifice represents the transformation of the self that is required for wisdom to enter. Her essence is present in all rivers. To call upon her, one must simply invoke her name while sitting next to a river and listen with a clear mind and an open soul. Her gift of wisdom will transform you!

The original has been sold. But prints and greeting cards are now available for more info go to


Beag in Print

March 9th, 2008

Beag in Print

Beag: the keeper of the well of wisdom is published!

Emerging Visions, an e-zine for visionary art, edited by Laurie Corzett, has posted its LeapDay Issue on the theme of ImagiNation, ( and I am happy to announce that my painting, Beag; the keeper of the well of wisdom, was selected to illustrate the issue. Please take a moment to check out the poetry, essays, flash fiction and visual art by the other talented artists and writers.

The original painting of Beag is available for sale as well as prints and greeting cards. Please visit my pages at FineArtAmerica.


Print On Demand Now Available

February 13th, 2008

Print On Demand Now Available

I now have selected pieces available as giclees and fine art prints by Print on Demand at
Please visit regularly as new images will be added as they become available. You can also get the prints matted and framed from the same site, one stop shopping!

If you are interested in having greeting cards made, please look through my gallery ( and contact me if you see an image you would like made into greeting cards. I am happy to work with you to create a unique card.

The drawing posted here is a preliminary plan for a future painting. This drawing came from a sketch I did last year. I used the sketch as a basis for an ink and watercolor painting that failed miserably. I liked the composition and thought I would develop the drawing more and later would try to paint it again.

About the drawing, well, I wanted to do a painting that featured the Dagda, the Father god of all the Tuatha De Danann. He had many consorts, and Boann was one of them. His relationship with Boann was kept a secret, because at the time he was with another goddess. Boann became pregnant as a result of their union and the Dagda extended one night to cover the nine months of her pregnancy. Thus, their son, Oenghus Mac Og, was conceived, gestated and born in a single day.

I am not sure if the woman in this drawing is Boann. It could be the Morrigan, who was the goddess of war, who the Dagda slept with on Halloween, in order to gain battle wisdom from her. Or, perhaps she is another goddess. Perhaps I will know who she is once I start the painting.

I used a new product called graphitint, which are graphite pencils with a tint of watersoluable colors. I intended to keep the drawing dry, but when I sprayed it with fixative to keep the graphite from smudging, the colors bloomed. I actually like the effect.


The Transformation Begins

February 1st, 2008

The Transformation Begins

Back in 2007 I completed my first watercolor painting on watercolor canvas, which was entitled Boann: Goddess of the River.

All during work on this piece, I experienced fluctuating emotions, which were sometimes very powerful and often unsettling. I would feel very sad, then very agitated. I didn't attempt to analzye the emotions, I just figured I needed to feel what I was feeling and I would gain some insight after it was over. Once I had finished the painting, I decided I should do some more research into the goddess Boann. I was surprised to find, what I had thought was a obscure, rather minor goddess was actually quite profound and rather powerful. Since I completed that first painting, I knew I would need to create another painting featuring Boann. I set it aside for a while, working on some other gods, and some commission work. I felt like I needed to allow a little distance between me and "Boann". Then I went to FaerieCon in Philadelphia back in October. I hoped to get some more research about Faeries and the Tuatha DĂ© Danann for my series as well as meet other artists and talk to them about their work and marketing, etc.

After FaerieCon, I went back home with renewed energy and started working on Boann. I have been working on this painting ever since. I did an initial sketch for a composition that I thought would work, and what I found developing was a fusion of abstract and representational styles. First I drew the waves, which became the twining of river plants, then a swirling black hole, then out of those things came a face and a rocky well. I knew enough of Boann's story that she had opened a forbidden well releasing the waters of wisdom, which chased her across Ireland and eventually swallowed and drowned her.
One day, during sketching, a salmon appeared in the drawing. I thought that was odd, so I decided I needed to learn more about Boann. It seems there is a whole deeper story about what Boann did when she released the waters from the well. Surrounding the well grew nine magical hazel trees, on which grew hazel nuts. These hazel nuts fell into the well and fed a salmon that lived in the well. As the salmon ate the nuts, it became magical as well. When Boann released the waters, she also released the salmon. There are stories about people trying to catch the salmon, so that they would gain wisdom from eating its flesh. There are different stories about who actually caught the salmon. There are also stories that suggest there was more than one salmon. After this event, Boann became, not just a river goddess, but also the goddess of spiritual insight and divine wisdom. She brought mystical knowledge to humanity. Through her curiousity and refusal to accept the restrictive rules of her husband, she allowed humanity to achieve a higher state of awareness. She is, therefore, a powerful deity for poets and spiritual seekers. Knowing this gave me a much deeper understanding about why I connected so strongly to this painting.
The more I worked on it, the more I felt that my art revolved around spiritual exploration and knowledge. I think this has been happening all along, but suddenly, I was conciously aware of this process. Working on this painting has been very challenging. It is emotionally hard at times and often very draining. I believe that I need to cultivate the proper energy physically and spritually in order to engage fully on the piece. Until then, I can only work a few hours at a time on it, then I need some space from it to recharge. I am working on improving my diet and incorporating yoga back into my life to help with building this energy. During those "resting" times, I work on new sketches and smaller pieces of work. It seems that Boann is part of a trio of goddesses, each belonging to a river in Ireland, all with a very similar story. I am developing work on these other goddesses, as well as some other pieces. I completed a drawing of the Boann painting which is posted above. Drawing the composition first helps me with understanding the values (shades of black, gray and white) that are important. It also gives me the opportunity to play around with the composition itself a little. The painting will look quite different than the drawing. Not just because the painting will be colored, but because the medium (ink and watercolor) evokes an entirely different emotional expression than drawing with pencil does. I will be posting the drawings and smaller pieces as I develop them. The larger final paintings will take some more time.

Fine Art Prints
As I mentioned late last year, I will be doing more work which can later be made into prints. I have already gotten orders for greeting cards from my Four Seasons of Fox paintings. I print and hand assemble the cards myself in my studio. The prints for my larger paintings were another matter. I found some good quality print on demand printers that will post my work on their website. People can go to the website and order prints, mats and frames. One of the artists at FaerieCon said that the quality was quite good. I took several of my paintings to an image specialist, had them scanned and have posted them to the website. You can now begin to order prints of my work at: Fine Art America and find my webpage under DoAn Art.

As a result of my work on the series of paintings based on the Tuatha DĂ© Danann, I have developed a deeper understanding of the spiritual nature of my work. Working from a spiritual center requires a huge amount of focus and energy, which is often very challenging and exhausting when juggling several other jobs. I have decided that during 2008-2009 I will be devoting a lot of time to attending artists residencies and retreats in order to produce more work without interruption. I believe, in order to grow as an artist, to really develop the work that I believe needs to be created I need a separate environment to work in for a while. I believe my art can actually be a tool in helping people to reconnect to their spiritual nature and to the natural world.
This will be largely possible through the support of my Patrons, and people like you who appreciate my work. I greatly appreciate your help and support--no matter if it is monetary, emotional, or otherwise. Over the next several months I will be downsizing my personal belongings, transferring them into cash for living. Obviously support through purchase of my art, both original and prints, will be helpful. Additionally, you can make donations through Fractured Atlas: DoAn Art. Ask me or check out the Fractured Atlas* site for more details. I am also in the midst of applying to some grants to assist me in funding for supplies and living expenses while I am at the residencies. I will keep you posted on the development of all these things!
As always, thank you so much for your interest and support!


*DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of DoAn Art may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Mission for 2008

December 11th, 2007

While doing research for my next paintings I couldn't help but begin to think differently about how I related to nature and the natural world. Connecting this with all the information about global warming, carbon footprinting, pollution and mass extinctions, and I cannot help but wonder where my art fits in with it all.

I believe I am an artist that is less concerned with making aesthetic pieces of art, and more concerned about connecting to the creative spirit and communicating something meaningful. The aesthetics of my work come after I understand what my art needs to say. It is the communication of my work that must come first. So, I started to think about what my art could be saying, or should be saying about humanity's relationship to nature.

A few months ago I began thinking of about a fox. I have long held an appreciation for the fox. Perhaps like a totem animal, it was something I thought of when I was younger as a guide and a source of inspiration. I hadn't thought much of the fox for many years, but then, here it was appearing in sketches and random images. I decided to paint a series of small pieces featuring a different kind of fox in different seasons. In doing these paintings, the need to connect my art to nature grew even stronger. But, I knew this wasn't going to culminate in a series of quaint little portraits of animals. There are plenty of great photographers and naturalist painters who can do that much better than me. If I were to paint nature, it had to be in a way that best utilized my skills and particular vision.

I also realized that it couldn't just be about the art itself either. It had to be about who I am as an artist. If I am going to celebrate and honor nature through my art, I would have to do it through how I live as well. So the year 2008 will have me doing some re-evaluating and adjusting of my work and how I live as an artist.

Beginning in 2008 and over the course of the year I will phase out all products that are not environmentally friendly. I believe I have been very careful about avoiding hazardous materials, but I will be going through my supplies thoroughly to be certain. Additionally, I will be recycling more materials to reduce waste.

I will simplify my life dramatically. By decreasing my material consumption and energy usage, I will be able to devote more time to my art. I see my role as an artist, as primarily a service provider. I am willing to sacrifice many of the comforts and material things that I accumulated and sought after in the past, in order to provide my services as an artist. Some of those services will obviously to be to produce beautiful works of art that people will like to see hang in their homes. Another service is to provoke thought and ideas about a particular thing or subject. And finally by working with individuals in a patron relationship I can provide a service to the patron, to myself, and to the community by creating works of art that would likely never be created.

All of this is to ultimately help me realize my goal of being a full-time artist that contributes in a positive way to society. I intend to produce work that is meaningful, of high quality, and that is enduring without causing damage to the world.

I would be interested in hearing from other artists who are trying to be "green". What resources do you refer to to determine what is safe and durable? What things do you do to reduce consumption and save energy? I would be interested in hearing from you.