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
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
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.
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.
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.
Belle and Sebastian
Cigarettes After Sex
First Aid Kit
Florence and the Machine
Lana Del Rey
Over the Rhine
Twenty One Pilots
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.