Today I printed the first collage elements for painting 3 of the Handless Maiden series. At first glance it might seem that the turn this work is now taking is unrelated to my thoughts when I wrote the post The Synchronistic Path of the Handless Maiden. In fact it almost seems that way to me but let me retrace the thread…
In my intermediary ‘dark’ period of contemplation I found myself feeling overwhelmed by the amount of different aspects to the story as well as too divorced from the elements that I had been playing around with (the goddess, the hand, the yin yang circle etc.). To stop my mind from worrying about it all too much I spent some time with my altered book – which I am basing around quotes I have gathered to help me make sense of the creative process – and, although I had switched to a different project, I quickly discovered I was still thinking about the Handless Maiden. My subconscious began playing with that eternally enlightening question, “What can I get rid of?” and embracing Richard Diekenborn’s illuminating quote once again:
“The pretty, initial position which falls short of completeness is not to be valued – except as a stimulus for further moves.“
This tangent approach helped me find a way through the mire of complexity I had bogged myself down in. The antidote to the complexity seemed to lie in simplicity; the feeling of being overwhelmed by the amount of characters in this part of the story, counteracted by concentrating on only the ones that seemed to produce a strong response in me; the answer to how to make the two paintings related but not two halves of a single image, to begin with the colours and forms I instinctively felt I wanted to use.
With the help of a little prompt from my friend, J, I returned to the feelings I had been resisting: My attraction to watery imagery although at first sight it didn’t seem to have much to do with the pear orchard where this part of the story is set. J reminded me that in her interpretation of the story, C.P. Estés says,
“Unlike trees with needles or leaves, the fruit tree is a tree of bountiful food–and not just food, for a tree stores water in its fruit. Water, the primal fluid of growth and continuance, is soaked up by the roots, which feed the tree by capillary action…and water arrives in the fruit and plumps it out into a beauteous thing….Women who are fed by the fruit and water and seed of the work in the underground forests are plumped out psychologically accordingly.“
I threw out all the imagery I had begun with and literally dived in with the image of a girl diving into water. I saw her as diving into her subconscious, the place that is ‘not of this world’ where she must find the wisdom she seeks. I saw her as a fish-woman (as I am) and plucking the moon-wisdom from the bottom of the sea. My synchronistic path via the work of Viktor Vasnetso soon had me finding fish-woman’s equal and opposite (the yang to her yin, the dark to her light, the second painting of the pair) as a bird woman with black plumes reaching for the sun.
The diving fish figure seems to suggest to me one half of the yin yang and the emerging opening bird figure the other. Since I can’t make the two square boards interlock like a yin-yang, the moon on 3 is the light circle which is traditionally contained within the black form on 4 and vice, versa, the sun on the 4 is really the dark inner circle pertaining to the light form on 3.
The figure in white at the top left of 3 is the spirit guide and the devil makes a reappearance at the bottom of 4 – to indicate that although the Maiden is on her way up, all is not yet resolved. I still don’t know whether I’m going to include any of the other characters or not…That’s part of the journey of discovery I will be making!