Self-portrait after an Alchemical dream. ©Brenda Clews 2021. 20"x26", charcoal on Yupo paper.
[Adding the original dream & something on the process of what's appeared in this preparatory sketch for a possible painting, if you'd like to know what it's about.]
…red spots develop under my cheeks, and as I powder them, they become raised wheels, one on each side, which the thick powder whitens, six spokes, a central hub and an outer wheel, a relief sculpture perhaps, like something from myth, an archetypal symbol, which the attempt to hide with powder only accentuates. I feel no horror, or pain, but awe as I brush the powder on skin become wheels and spokes. Sculpted like Medieval cosmological wheels, alchemical wheels of transmutation, the configurations are mysterious, almost reverential, an embodied reference the Wheels of Ezekiel, but also to the powdered faces of highly-stylized Oriental performance, and somehow the magnificent coiled antlers of Bighorn sheep… (2008)
Process of charcoal sketch:
Friday, I decided to try a charcoal drawing to see how my dream of the alchemical wheels appearing in my face, rising in my cheeks, might appear. In the dream, I powdered them as they rose sculpturally. But here I hoped to let my 'unconscious' take over and I did go into a light trance and even worked with my eyes shut at times. At the beginning, I used a sponge and charcoal powder that I then sprayed with a fixative, and kept working. There are distinct shadow and light sides. The wheels are dark - to me, the one in shadow looks floral; the one in light, ocular. The hair fed snake-like into the wheels, which seem almost to be whirring and that is unlike the dream. And I see four eyes!
I find the drawing a bit scary, actually. There's psychic progress for sure. Self-portrait after an alchemical dream. 20"x26", charcoal on Yupo paper.
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