I have a good friend who is a craniosacral therapist. And that is part of why she loves the day of the dead skulls. I have known for a few years I would eventually get around to making her a piece of art, and it took me awhile to decide on what it would look like. I was finally inspired by her birthday to make a multi -media art piece for her.
After a discussion one day, she shared with me some of the words she had been thinking about for the year- words like Trust, expand, compassion for self and others, acceptance instead of judgment. These words became the first layer on the canvas.
Now, just so you know, what I have in my mind doesn’t always end up looking the same way on the final product. Originally, I thought I would have rays moving out underneath the skull, and this is why the words are written in the way they are. Energetically, it is appropriate because we always start with a small idea and make it bigger, we wish to take what is inside to the outside world, etc. ( If I want to see peace in the world, I have to feel it in my own heart before I can take it to the world)
One of the reasons I love multi media art is because it is so process oriented and you really can’t go wrong. If you don’t like something, you can cover it up. Even if you do like something, you can still cover it up and allow the energy of its presence shine through the art. People don’t always know what is underneath the painting but they are attracted to it because of something. I believe the intention of my healing art shines through, regardless of what you can see.
The next layer was created with pieces that are important to my friend. Lots of skeletal pieces like feet and hands and hips were included in the design, as well as more words that resonated healing. The individual pieces are all glued down with matte medium, similar to modge podge but way better. I spaced out the colors to give depth to the next layer, which would be paint. As I am creating the background, I am also creating the background on the skull to make sure that the pieces meld in some way. I love the kneeling, praying skeleton and the hand coming down from above, as if anointing the person.( Check out the next picture of the skull to see this) I also added a foot, hand and pelvis to the mouth area because while on the skull, our mouth represents our communication with the world, we move with our hands, feet and pelvis as our way of interaction, and that was important for me to add.
Once I felt the collage was complete, I added a layer of white gesso followed by acrylic paints thinned with glazing medium, which makes the paint more transparent so the bottom layers can peak through. Various stencils and liquid high fluid acrylic drips create interest. Multiple layers were added until I felt the background was complete.
I love to experiment with color and I knew blue and greens would be the main attraction for this piece so I layered in multiple textures and colors that picked up the colors underneath the gesso. This is how I get the depth in a painting. If you look really close, you can see the word energy peeking out at the top.
Besides color and texture and words underneath the art, I put a lot of thought and intention into the final design. Just as I mentioned the pieces of the skeletal system that were placed on the skull for effect, I also use numbers because they resonate with me, and it is one way Divine Energy shows up in my life.
There are eleven pieces to the lotus flower on the top of the skull. First, the number 11 reminds me to wake up and listen to Divine guidance. Think positive thoughts and move in the direction of my life purpose or soul mission. When I open myself to the words and guidance of the Divine, I am better able to step into flow. The lotus flower symbolizes for me the opening into my purpose, and truly allowing myself to be guided. It requires meditation and quiet, letting go of ego so I can step into Divine work.
Healing is Divine work, and I wanted this piece to encourage my friend to continue to listen to her intuition and create the healing practice that will serve both her and the community.
There are many mandalas in this design with 12 petals. From my reading, this number can symbolize the need to release the old that no longer serves you, so you can move into new experiences with optimism. To me, this also means seeing with new eyes, or changing our perspective, which is why the 12 petaled mandalas are also used for the eyes. I didn’t notice right away that the eyes themselves are a bit different from each other. I think that was a happy synchronicity. See both sides of a story can help in relationships, and there is always a balance between day and night, life and death, ebb and flow, looking out and looking in, etc. Of course, because this is a day of the dead skull, we can also talk about the crossing of the veil, and the communication that moves back and forth from our ancestors We are never truly alone.
Have I lost you yet? There are only a few people who will still be reading this because you, like me, are fascinated with the hidden details of art. So I thank you for sticking with me. There is always so much more than the eye can see, but the heart can feel what is often hidden. Now it is your turn. When you look at this art piece, what meaning arises for you?
The art work is finished by using matte medium to mount the skull on the background, adding a border, and spraying the art with an acrylic finish to protect it.
It was a pleasure giving this piece to my friend, and knowing that part of my own healing energy is with her when she does her work.