To Touch the Earth

When I first completed this painting last year, I titled it “Under the Bodhi Tree” which isn’t bad…but it didn’t feel like the name or completely recognize the actual theme of the painting.

That title does a great job of representing the broader location of the story, but a lot of things happened under that famous tree.

Most of them involved other ways Gautama Siddhartha (aka Gotama, Shakyamuni, Sakkamuni) pursued enlightenment until he finally found success simply by sitting and observing his breathing as he describes in the first discourse.

This painting on the other hand symbolizes the moment that Gautama defeats Mara and becomes the Buddha.

To Touch the Earth. aka Under the Bodhi Tree
To Touch the Earth

It is taught that after Gautama attained enlightenment, Mara challenged him, declaring that he too was enlightened and should be the Buddha. To show that Gautama could be shaken, Mara sent all forms of attacks and temptations to bring Him back into attachment and suffering. Finally Mara even sent their three beautiful daughters (known as Desire, Aversion, and Passion) to tempt Him.

Gautama Siddhartha reached out his right hand and with a single finger touched the Earth, and the Earth Mother herself acknowledged His imperturbable nature by lighting the Morning Star and Gautama became the Buddha.

The painting itself is Gouache on 18×24 Watercolor paper. 140 lb. It is not in print, but the original is available to the right owner.

Cernunnos Resting

Todays image is another more doodle type drawing.

I may do it again as a straight pen and ink, but the title is “Cernunnos Resting”, and is a portrait of the Green Man just after making his rounds to fertilize the forests.

The Horned God is depicted sitting under a tree holding his Torc in his right hand and a snake with Rams horns in his left. He is flaccid, not for impotence, but to symbolize this being after the great fertilization of spring. He is surrounded by a rat, rabbit, deer, bull, and wolf. All in them selves symbols of nature, strength and fertility.

Cernunnos Resting

The drawing was done with fine-liners and colored with markers. More important than the art itself in this case is that we don’t lose this symbolism (which anyone familiar with Celtic history/ruins will recognize from cave art and ancient European artifacts).

It is a reminder that Europe too had nature based religions that kept us in touch with the cycles of the earth before Rome and the Catholic Church eradicated them just like every other culture touched by them.

I don’t pretend to know the truth about what Gods there are, and how they rank and whatnot, but I have no doubt that humans and their relationship with the planet earth (and each other) will dramatically improve if we get back into rhythm with its life cycles and patterns.

Divine Mercy

Todays posting is fresh off the drawing desk.

“Divine Mercy” is a pen a ink drawing done with a good old fashioned fine liner sharpie, well two of them, on a 12×18 piece of 300 lb watercolor paper.

Divine Mercy
Divine Mercy

The inspiration and original planning for this image stemmed from some digital based art practice where I was playing with shadows from fire. That practice drawing never got finished.

Then in recent history, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe V Wade and my home state (Indiana) really stretched to become the Capital of Gilead by being first to enact (as a new law-not a trigger law) a near total ban on abortion.

So I ended up putting ink to paper to call ducks, ducks.

Early String Theory

This is a drawing I did a couple years ago with brush pens and fine points.

The title “Early String Theory” is a play on the modern movement in physics with the much older theory that three seamstress goddesses controlled the fate of man.

For those not familiar with these ladies, they are Clotho (“spinner”), Lachesis (“allotter”) and Atropos (“the unturnable”) and collectively they are known as the Three Fates (aka the Moirai). Clotho spinning your life, Lachesis measuring it, and Atropos cutting it off.

Early String Theory
Early String Theory

Visual Koans

One of the things I like to draw, is a focus on another. That other being world religions. The focus being Buddhist art, more specifically Zen Buddhist art. It is especially true when I can do pieces based on Japanese Zen Buddhist art. Doing it in a Ukiyo-E drawing style just makes a well iced cake.

The image I am sharing today is all of that.

It is also an entirely stolen concept.

I did do Josetsu the honor of not attempting to redo his painting the way he did it. Further more, I didn’t do it in the same style.

I merely stole his Koan.

For the uninitiated, a Koan is a form of riddle in Zen Buddhism that is supposed to stimulate the potential for enlightenment when meditated upon.

This one in particular is called “Catching catfish with a gourd”, and was Josetsu’s original  suiboku  (basically Sumi) Painting was done C. 1415 .

The painting depicts a man standing by a creek and attempting to cat a catfish with a gourd (as the title suggests).

I won’t post the original image, as I do not wish to be shamed by the comparison. However, here is my original painting.

Catching a Catfish with a Gourd

In the 18×24 gouache painting the gourd represents our mind and the catfish represents enlightenment. The gourd being used for something it is clearly not suitable for. The clear implication being that our minds are not suitable for attaining enlightenment, and that it is not something that can be gained through thought.

It is certainly an idea worth tossing around in your head while trying not to think too much on anything in particular… at least until you figure out to just let go and breathe.

If you would like to own a print of this piece, it is available HERE. The original is not currently available for sale, but it will be once I complete the larger project it is part of. If you would like to be considered when it is, send me a message.

“Catching a Catfish with a Gourd” print.

Jesus Malverde

As I mentioned before I am fascinated by religion and other cultures.

The tee shirt design I am going to talk about today is legendary on both those fronts.

Jesus Malverde is a historical figure from Sinaloa Mexico born Jan 15, 1870. He was a bit of a Robin Hood character, that literally stole from the rich to give to the poor. That said, like most historical Robin Hoods, there is no evidence he ever lived, and was more likely an amalgamation of a couple other outlaws from the period and locale.

Mexico being very Catholic, very superstitious, and just as prone to making Saints of their heroes of course made him the patron saint of outlaws.

Because he was from Sinaloa, which of course is famous for its drug smuggling cartels, Mr. Malverde (also known as Jesús Juarez Mazo, Cjuba Lord, or the Angel of the Poor) was soon adopted by the smugglers and is widely regarded as the Narco-Saint.

That image is what drove the creation of my design…

Jesus Malverde TShirt.

On this shirt, Jesus Malverde is surrounded by a saints halo that is decorated with opium poppies, a laurel of marijuana flowers and leaves, and crossed sprigs of the coca bush.

You definitely want to go to my Tee Public store (Madman Designs) to buy it.

Please don’t wear at border crossings, on planes, or when travelling along what the police think are drug corridors unless you just want to be harassed by the authorities. Then again, do what you want… but be aware of the risks.

A Bacchanalia

The drawing I am posting about today is a true pen and ink, done as a full on black and white.

This is a style that I struggle with, but have always wanted to improve at (more than I was willing to work at it or I would have haha).

It also harkens back to my love of comic strips and especially the drawings of R Crumb whom I was trying really hard to channel while drawing this.

This drawing also dives head first into my exploration of old religions (a constant theme in my art), paganism, and everyone’s favorite, Pan.

It doesn’t matter if you call him Pan, Cernunnos, the Green Man, the Horned God, or Lord of the Wilds; he was of great importance to European culture before the Rise of Rome and then Christianity which of course destroyed and rooted out that culture like it has every other one it has encountered.

At any rate historical geopolitics and religious wars aside, Pan makes an interesting subject, especially when drawing in a woodland bacchanalia with a bunch of naked nymphs dancing around him.

Pans Dance

The original of this piece belongs to a dear friend of mine and is not for sale.

You can get a high quality print of this work HERE

Pan’s Dance print in 5×7 or 8×10