Monday, February 8, 2021

Native Feathers

When I saw the February 2021 StencilClub set, designed by Gwen Lafluer, I was immediately drawn to the medium-size stencil--the feathers! Combined with the symbol designs on the small club set stencil, they brought Native American images to mind. I thought of dream catchers, pow-wows, circle dances, drums, ribbon shirts, and sacred rituals. 

However, I was concerned about cultural appropriation--as a person whose ancestors were European, I didn't want create an image that was inappropriate and whitewashed, and I did my best to work from a position of cultural respect.

Before beginning the painting, I did a quick black and white design in my art journal.

I started by stenciling the feathers and symbols on deli paper, cutting them, and arranging them in my sketchbook until I got an arrangement I liked.

I found a strong piece of chipboard, and began the background. I chose earthtones, and applied the paints in a drybrush technique learned in a Seth Apter workshop.

Starting with a piece of chipboard (recycled from the back of a watercolor paper pad) I painted earthtone colors with a drybrush technique.

 My idea was to stencil horses (I used Norman and Running Horse by Lanie Frick) on the background to give an idea of ancient cave wall paintings.

White horses were gently stenciled on the painted background, then softened with sepia ink to give an aged look.

To create the face of the woman, I used a stencil called The One by Karen Johnson. I drew in the lines of her shoulders and clothing.

Black Archival ink was used to stencil the face and feathers.

After all the stencils were in place, I added paint accents with red and turquoise, darkened some of the horses with sepia ink, and added paints to the face. 

The top of the painting looked a little empty, so I added circles from Gwen's stencil and stamp.

The final accent was the circles: circle is an important element of Native American culture. I used three circles as accents in the painting: one from the small club stencil, and another from Gwen's PaperArtsy stamp set. I stenciled and stamped them on tissue paper so that I could play with their arrangement. Once I decided on the circle placement, I gently tore the paper and glued them in place, using heavy gloss gel under and over the paper.

Many people envision Native people living a life that looks like a Ralph Lauren ad: rooms full of beautiful rugs and wall hangings, handmade furniture, and people decked out in stunning turquoise jewelry and suede blouses. The reality is that the US has a shameful history of hundreds of years of mistreatment of Native people, a trail of broken treaties, and that many are among the poorest and sickest people in the country.

I hope this painting communicates my deep respect for Native culture, and my hope that others can begin to embrace their ancient teachings and practice of living in harmony with Mother Earth and at the same time, work to alleviate poverty and illness rampant on reservations.


morgansilk said...

Wonderful way to learn! Plus, feathers.

Kim Collister Studio said...

Fabulous post! Enjoyed it and your process♥️