Total Art Soul - for artists

" Please listen carefully and try to hear what I am not saying. "
Charles C. Finn
Tags >> sketch

If you’ve ever been in Africa on a hot afternoon when the smouldering sun is intent on roasting anything which is stupid enough to be found exposed on the dry cracked hot plate of soil, then you will know what the intense heat of such an afternoon can do to an artist’s imagination. One of my favourite things to do on days when all sane individuals have retired to the cool shade of veranda’s and trees, is to brave the scorching heat and to walk into the veld.  Once alone I locate a small hill which will afford me an open view of a valley. From such a vantage point I can see miles across the swimming and dancing landscapes as the afternoon heat brings mirages and illusions of cool water flowing across the thirsty scene.

Once out of the stinging view of the sun, the hot shade of a Mimosa tree allows me to relax and enjoy the silence of the African bush.  It is a silence like no other and at first one could be excused for thinking that you have lost your hearing in the thick silence. It is like having a pillow over your head and just as you are about to click your fingers to reassure yourself that you have not lost your hearing suddenly some flying insect races past. Its sound passes, in stereo, first from one ear, then past your face and onto the next, punctuating the silence with its buzz. As you sit and wait, slowly your ears become accustomed to the soundtrack which accompanies the scene and you begin to hear the bush as if for the first time, the scene ushered in on an overture of sound from screeching cicada beetles.

To those who are familiar with the bush this will not be a new experience and will be one which is almost taken for granted.  For me who has had his ears anaesthetised by the white noise of the city however this is like regaining consciousness after surgery. The sounds of the hot afternoon begin to penetrate my memory banks of sounds deposited from the years I was raised in Africa.

I have never found it easy to paint in the outdoors; perhaps it’s the uncertain and disorderly nature of painting away from the familiar and ordered character of my studio that I find hard. Painting with watercolour under these conditions is difficult as the heat dries out the paper and pigment very fast, adding another layer of complexity to the process. On these occasions I rely on my camera, lenses and an ability to compile a scene which I will enjoy painting on my return to my little studio. During the long cold and damp months of an English winter, painting scenes like these will bring with them the warm memories and sounds of a hot afternoon in the veld. The contrast of colours are inspiring; from the vermillion orange of the aloe flowers to the duck-egg blue of the sky and from the rich browns and khaki shades of the grass to the deep greens of the mimosa trees.


The memory of this view and the small outcrop of iron stone boulders and shady mimosa trees will serve as the canvas on which I will paint the narrative of an afternoon spent in the company of these five lovely ladies the “red heads” of Harrison Farm.

Although I have many photographs of similar scenes I have used this lovely photo taken by my good friend and owner of Harriosn Farm & Harrison Hope Wine Estate, Ronnie Vehorn The Traveling Writer

My time at Dorland Mountain Arts Colony is coming to an end.

It is also my last of the three residencies I’ve received this winter. It has been an amazing journey. Weir Farm National Historic Site brought my work to a new level and I experienced many a break through there. Brush Creek in Wyoming was so good for my soul with its humbling majestic beauty. My work strengthened there as well.

Dorland is a truly magical place. ( I will be coming back for two additional weeks sometime this year! ). To wake each morning and look at the vista out my back porch is just an inspiring moment. Here my work in a very short time took a new turn as well. I am lucky enough to return to California and Arizona at the end of next week and I look forward to taking what I learned from the landscape around Dorland into my new work.

I'm not sure how to describe it but there's just an atmosphere here that pushes you to create...and you just can't ask for anything more. Thank you to the wonderful people who make this such an amazing place.

Here are the rest of my paintings completed at Dorland. If you're interested in seeing works completed at Weir Farm please visit my website I will post my work from Brush Creek next week. It is currently hanging at The Studio at Gulf and Pine in Anna Maria Florida.

Thanks for stopping by!
















Posted by: donnafaber8


The Queen of Swords © February 10, 2012 by Donna L. Faber.  This original at approximately 33" x 25" is significantly larger than most of my work.  I used the very comfortable Prismacolor Premiere markers.  Each paper component, including all pieces of the earring, are separate pieces of Bristol Strathmore brought together like a puzzle.  Each piece of hair is a separate piece, as well.  I began using this technique because it gives me the ability to make changes.  Coincidentally, it gives my work depth.

The Queen of Swords is the third in my series of tarot Queens.  Like the Queen of Pentacles and the Queen of Wands before her, she is one of four minor arcana queens in a typically 72 card tarot deck.  I began this piece long before the holidays last year.  While I got caught up in holiday sales, she waited patiently to be completed.  Now she is finished, and she’s been entered in a juried competition here in Northern California. 

Like a coin, each royal arcana queen has two sides, such as light and dark, or evolved and un-evolved.  Generally, The Queen of Swords is a beautiful woman who has a very sharp tongue, and this is symbolized by the rose and thorns in my illustration.  Swords are indicative of air or thought.  The dragon, rather than a bird, is twirled around her earing, which is a sword itself.  The dragon’s wings are in full display, indicating this queen is at the height of her gifted abilities.

Who is the Queen of Swords?

The un-evolved or younger Queen of Swords is very much like Miranda Priestly from “The Devil Wears Prada”.  She is an aloof, beautiful, and capable woman who is the acknowledged expert in her field.  A real ice queen.  Her success is reliant on the ability to see what the consumer wants before he knows he wants it. This uncanny sight is the nature of her gift. She uses her gifts for selfish reasons, and she does so at the expense of those “subjects” or staff around her, driving them, as she does herself, ruthlessly in pursuit of perfection.  As a result, her life balance is sacrificed to an intense drive to succeed.

Unlike her royal sister, the Queen of Pentacles, whose success is due to personal efforts, or the work she performs, the Queen of Swords experiences success that is due to who she is, rather than what she does.  What she does has a lot to do with it, but truth to tell, no one can do it like she does.  No one.

The Evolved Queen of Swords: She Watches, She Sees

The evolved Queen of Swords is a mature woman of resplendent beauty. She reminds us that youth and beauty are not eternally synonymous, as youth is fleeting and true beauty can endure forever.  This Queen has earned the wisdom of her age.  Her gift is the uncanny ability to see through an individual’s mask directly to the fault line. It carries a huge responsibility, and having once used this gift for personal ends, she now uses it only when necessary and in the capacities of counseling or consultation.
Like her sister the Queen of Pentacles, she is a master of the rational mind.  Yet while her royal sister uses this gift to solve practical problems, this Queen uses hers to solve people problems. There is no point in trying to fool this queen. She can see all your secrets and will cut through your defenses with the razor sharp edge of her intellectual sword. In return, she demands personal authenticity and complete sincerity.

The Queen of Swords in a Reading

When a querent pulls the Queen of Swords, it may indicate a desire to cut through the superficial to reveal the clear truth.  It may also indicate the presence of a mature woman who is in a position to offer guidance or advice.  At the very least, it indicates a need to use clear thinking in problem solving.










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