I haven’t been posting about my progress with Azoetia because I haven’t been making any progress with it. Not because it’s difficult, which it is, but because I have been so absorbed with other things.
For the first time in many years, I didn’t start a garden this year. In the past few years, I’ve really cut down on my gardening. I’ve been gardening since the mid eighties, and I got to the point where it was a LOT of work and expense. I enjoyed it for the most part and learned a lot about plant spirits, but I began to spend more and more time painting instead of weeding and checking for Colorado potato beetles. And I wanted to spend my money on art supplies instead of flats and peat pellets. My art has improved with practice, and I expect it to continue to do so, but more, it has become more and more the focus of my spiritual work.
I was surprised to learn that I’m in good company in terms of combining the art and the spiritual. I’m not talking about artists who painted pictures of Christian saints or whatnot either. Lots of the founders of Abstract art were trying to combine painting and the spiritual–their own version of spirituality, not that of a religion. There’s a pretty good book about it, although it’s heavy duty in terms of the writing: The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985. The dates aren’t quite right. Most of the paintings are from before WWII. But it was surprising to me to read how many Abstract painters were into things like theosophy.
Then I stumbled across an American landscape painter, George Innes, whose late paintings I really love. He could make his landscapes really glow, which is what attracted me to his paintings in the first place. Plus his best works are not about any famous, “big” places like Niagara Falls or the Rocky Mountains, but instead about the area around his home in New Jersey. I read about him and once again was surprised to learn how he combined his interest in spirituality with his painting. He was influenced by Swedenborg and tried to illustrate the Swedenborgian idea of the influx of the divine into mundane things. In his later paintings, nothing is ever very clear, and it is as if what he is painting is not the thing itself but its spiritual form.
These artists gave me encouragement to try the same in my own art, and since then, art has become more and more the focus of my spirituality and my magic. I’ve been working on combining my interests in abstract and landscape painting also. I want my painting to help people recognize the mysterious in the mundane, the living web that connects all. You can see my progress at my art website. Right now I’m doing a lot of work on images of water and clouds.
I’ll still be writing here about my work with plants, including my book. I’m in the middle of working on the recommended edits for that this week and creating an illustration of a cimaruta for the chapter on rue. The book will be published by Weiser in the first half of 2017. I’m looking forward to getting all the edits done and having my part of it finished.