I think I am beginning to develop some fluency after many, many years of struggling to manifest my ideas in visual form. I feel a greater trust in the process now.
This new painting developed out of a spontaneous drawing I did one afternoon, and then refined into a symmetrical design (symmetry seems to be essential to me at the moment). At first I thought she was a river spirit, flowing as she does. But as I explored further, the word fluency came to me and took on significance.
The word dates from the early 17th century, when it meant ‘abundance’, and then ‘smooth and easy flow’; originally from Latin fluentia, from fluere, meaning ‘to flow’.
The influence of water, and therefore fluidity, has been with me since the inception of this blog, seeing as its symbolism is so tied up with the drip/surge of creativity, with the offerings that I am attempting to draw up from my own imaginative wellspring to share with the world.
Thoughts of language and the way we use words and story have also been important, surfacing in poems like ‘A New Language’ and paintings like Necklace of Mouths and Mothertongue. It’s clear that we need to change the way we speak (and write), and I believe that poetry is a crucial part of this—and poetic art—along with listening to the voices of the ancestors, and the earth herself.
Meaningful words are still scarce for me, though some flow is beginning to return, which makes me very happy indeed. And the symbolic connections that I am finding in my images is also pleasing me greatly.
This image of Aphrodite seated on a swan (or goose?) throne from 6th century BCE Greece was a core influence, with her hooded, columnar form.
This I combined with that quintessential Goddess number—three—in the triangles, and the tri-lines emerging from the mouth (already seen in Rainmaker and The Broad One). I was also thinking of the chin tattoos of three or more lines (or more elaborate designs) that appear in numerous cultures, often on women, whether to represent something in particular, or merely for the purpose of beautifying the face.
The three lines of Fluency—language, nourishment, creativity—flow down the length of the (seed-like or cocoon-shaped?) body, the two outer lines snaking dynamically—because Snake is never far away—while the central line travels straight. Perhaps this represents the stillness at the centre, flanked by the double motion of life and death, ebb and flow. Also, the movement is downwards, as that is my preferred trajectory, back to earth- and body-knowledge, rooted in matter.
Forget outer space, I say. Go within!
The carved orthostats of the Neolithic, with their repetitive curves and spirals, which I have always found mysteriously evocative, were also on my mind. It was only later that I remembered the painted or engraved figurines so common to Old Europe, their bodies covered in lines and symbols, and thought: Of course! How could I have forgotten?
Not all connections are immediately apparent. They emerge as my thoughts twist and turn and tread over old ground, and I am pleasantly surprised.
The leaf- or flame-like shapes that sprout from the surface of the figure are perhaps the part that comes most from myself. These are lines of connection, or emanations of energy—little jewels of life and sensation.
I am so happy with this painting. She is serene, yet holds dynamism within. She speaks with and through her body, which sparks with aliveness. She is her own wellspring.