Symbols and Music in my abstracts

I've developed various visual symbols as well as occasional written phrases that I use within my abstract pieces. I sometimes include musical lyrics that deeply impacted me during the creative process. Below is a list of many of these visual symbols along with their meanings. 

Architectural ruins: places that used to be home, ruined dreams

Birds flying: hope

Bridges and tunnels: life pathways
Broken glass: brittleness, brokenness, shattering

Butterfly: innocence

Dead tree: atrophy, stagnation, death

Disembodied eyes: knowledge, wisdom

Faraway landscapes: idealized future(s)

Flowers: fragile beauty

Fog: uncertainty, the unknown

Folds of fabric: luxury, beauty

Geometric patterns: life rituals, especially how they change and grow

Heartrate monitor graph: being fully present to the moment

Living tree: growth

Melting objects or environment: pain, change

Nudity: vulnerability

Phrases: I often resonate with phrases or questions used in common parlance and incorporate them into my work.* 

Smoke and flames: active crisis

Spiders: ominous premonition, dark omen

Stars and moon: eternal constants, spirit guides

Swimming fish: navigating murky situations

Walls (brick or stone): barriers, obstacles

Water: fluidity, lack of structure

Zippers unzipped: things falling apart

*See the next paragraph for more details on phrases and questions

I'm All the Days. Cloaked figures release stars into a dark sky against a distant waterscape. One hand reaches actively for another creating a spark. Ivy vines cling to a brick wall shaped vaguely like a woman's torso. "Noli Timere" Latin phrase, dogwood flowers, a mandala of coffins, and melting objects. Lyrics from Radiohead.

I'm All the Days. Cloaked figures release stars into a dark sky against a distant waterscape. One hand reaches actively for another creating a spark. Ivy vines cling to a brick wall shaped vaguely like a woman's torso. "Noli Timere" Latin phrase, dogwood flowers, a mandala of coffins, and melting objects. Lyrics from Radiohead.

Sorrow. This abstract uses "Kyrie Eleison" borrowed from the liturgy.  The poem written backwards in the woman's hair is by the artist. Lyrics from The National hover in the shadows.

Sorrow. This abstract uses "Kyrie Eleison" borrowed from the liturgy.  The poem written backwards in the woman's hair is by the artist. Lyrics from The National hover in the shadows.

Phrases and Questions

Certain abstracts have odd phrases in them that I borrowed from friends,  books, or came up with myself. Good examples are Commonly Agreed Upon Hallucinations (Thanks, Vera Pash!), Ashes to Ashes, Home of the Most Vapid Humans, and So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (I wish Douglas Adams was still with us).

 

Some phrases used in my abstracts are in other languages; Noli Timere is Latin. I chose it because Seamus Heaney, one of my very favorite poets, said this Latin phrase to his wife when he was dying. It means "Do not be afraid." Another favorite is the Latin phrase Kyrie Eleison, which roughly translates to "Lord have mercy on us." That one I borrowed from the Anglican liturgy.

Questions like How am I doing? and One more can't hurt, right? are good examples of common usage questions that resonated with the theme of a piece. 

Stay in the Shadows. Water and fish imagery. This is a great example of changing geometric patterns. Lyrics are based on a Radiohead song.

Stay in the Shadows. Water and fish imagery. This is a great example of changing geometric patterns. Lyrics are based on a Radiohead song.

Believer. Lyrics from Imagine Dragons and Hozier songs follow the branches of a dead tree.

Believer. Lyrics from Imagine Dragons and Hozier songs follow the branches of a dead tree.

MUSIC

Music is my closest companion in creating art, so I often borrow lyrics from songs that inspired me in my work. Listening to these songs adds a whole different dimension to enjoying my art. 

Below are a few of my favorite musical artists.

Agnes Obel

Asgeir

Belle and Sebastian

Billie Eilish

Chvrches

Cigarettes After Sex

Dua Lipa

Feist

First Aid Kit

Florence and the Machine

Freya Ridings

Hozier

Imagine Dragons

Lana Del Rey

London Grammar

Lorde

Madonna

Over the Rhine

Radiohead

RY X

Sigur Rós

St Vincent

Sufjan Stevens

SYML

Taylor Swift

The National

Tove Lo

Twenty One Pilots

U2

XX

I never thought about Home. A butterfly hovers amongst melting patterns. The ruin of a house projects its craggy roofline below an eerie moon. Birds fly away from the song lyric and turn into barbed wire. Dead trees morph into shards of glass and the ground under the ruined house becomes an undone zipper. Lyrics from The National.

I never thought about Home. A butterfly hovers amongst melting patterns. The ruin of a house projects its craggy roofline below an eerie moon. Birds fly away from the song lyric and turn into barbed wire. Dead trees morph into shards of glass and the ground under the ruined house becomes an undone zipper. Lyrics from The National.