Monthly Archives: June 2019

Small Paintings

‘Isle of Iona’. (paintings are numbered 1 to 3 from left). Mixed media on 3.5×3 inches. Rose Strang 2019. (includes mini easel).

I’ll be painting more of these little artworks (in the photo above) over the coming months, which will be available for sale in art galleries in the landscapes painted.

If you’re interested in buying one of these, contact me at rose.strang@gmail.com and I’ll let you know where they’ll be available, or you can commission something similar if you prefer.

As they’re very small I think they’re a lovely way of acquiring one of my original paintings at a more affordable cost!

Iona Series

 

Venus

‘Venus. Planets Series’. Mixed media on 10×10″ wood. Rose Strang 2019

Today’s version of Venus – an update from the previous version which I wasn’t quite happy with. I think this is better – more Venusian I hope.

in the sea’s caverns,
In grass growing, and grain bursting,
Flower unfolding, and flesh longing,
And shower falling sharp in April.

(excerpt from the Venusian verses from C.S Lewis’s The Planets)

This completes the series of small Planets Series studies on wood, and the exhibition launches this weekend! All info here – Planets Series

This is a continuation of the Planets Series I’m creating this year, which takes inspiration from the planets as understood in Medieval cosmology, and the seven books of Narnia which were each inspired by the seven planets, as discovered by Michael Ward, author of ‘Planet Narnia’.

Venus corresponds to The Magician’s Nephew in the Narnia Chronicles. It was the last book in the series (also written last) and Lewis intended it as a prequel – a sort of ‘making of Narnia’.

Venus in the Medieval imagination and mythology was associated with new life, fecundity, all flowers and growing things, love, pleasure, desire, sensuality and the arts. It rules both Taurus and Libra. It’s very suited to this time of year since its associated colour is green, and June is the most beautifully verdant month (you might call on a venusian influence if you’re a keen gardener!)

Venus is also related to the myth of the garden of the Hesperides (from Wikipedia: ‘The name means originating from Hesperos (evening). Hesperos, or Vesper in Latin, is the origin of the name Hesperus the evening star (i.e. the planet Venus as well as having a shared root with the English word “west”.’ )

I’ve taken that association as inspiration for the painting above, including apples in the garden of the Hesperides, which feature in the top right of my painting. And also not least because one of the main themes of The Magician’s Nephew is Digory’s quest to bring back an apple from the tree of eternal life to his mother, who’s dying.

‘Venus, detail’ Rose Strang 2019

The apple doesn’t offer eternal life in our world, but it does make his mother well again. Digory then plants the apple core in the garden, which grows into a healthy, but apparently un-magical apple tree. In later years it’s blown down in a storm, Digory (or Professor Kirk) who’s now moved to a large house in the country, decides to have it made into a wardrobe –  the same wardrobe discovered of course by Lucy in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe – which leads her in to Narnia.

When I read the Magician’s Nephew as a kid, I was deeply affected by the story of Digory and his mother – it’s understated and all the more moving because of that. It’s no surprise to learn that C.S. Lewis’s own mother died when he was around nine years old.

It’s one aspect of Venusian love in the story, another completely different kind is the crush Digory’s Uncle Andrew has on Jadis – the former Empress of a corrupt and dying alien world called Charn. Although she’s described as having a ‘terrible’ sort of beauty, she’s also ruthless, violent and about seven foot tall, so the descriptions of the grovelling, inebriated Uncle Andrew preening himself in the mirror while fantasising about winning Jadis’s favour is a humorously incongruent image!

The story also describes the birth of Narnia, which is sung into life by Aslan, after which he instructs all the new creatures, trees and living things to ..awake. Love. Think. Speak…

As this is the last painting in this series, I’ll end with the full poem; The Planets, by C.S. Lewis …

“The Planets”

Lady LUNA, in light canoe,
By friths and shallows of fretted cloudland
Cruises monthly; with chrism of dews
And drench of dream, a drizzling glamour,
Enchants us–the cheat! changing sometime
A mind to madness, melancholy pale,
Bleached with gazing on her blank count’nance
Orb’d and ageless. In earth’s bosom
The shower of her rays, sharp-feathered light
Reaching downward, ripens silver,
Forming and fashioning female brightness,
–Metal maidenlike. Her moist circle
Is nearest earth. Next beyond her
MERCURY marches;–madcap rover,
Patron of pilf’rers. Pert quicksilver
His gaze begets, goblin mineral,
Merry multitude of meeting selves,
Same but sundered. From the soul’s darkness,
With wreathed wand, words he marshals,
Guides and gathers them–gay bellwether
Of flocking fancies. His flint has struck
The spark of speech from spirit’s tinder,
Lord of language! He leads forever
The spangle and splendour, sport that mingles
Sound with senses, in subtle pattern,
Words in wedlock, and wedding also
Of thing with thought. In the third region
VENUS voyages…but my voice falters;
Rude rime-making wrongs her beauty,
Whose breasts and brow, and her breath’s sweetness
Bewitch the worlds. Wide-spread the reign
Of her secret sceptre, in the sea’s caverns,
In grass growing, and grain bursting,
Flower unfolding, and flesh longing,
And shower falling sharp in April.
The metal copper in the mine reddens
With muffled brightness, like muted gold,
By her fingers form’d. Far beyond her
The heaven’s highway hums and trembles,
Drums and dindles, to the driv’n thunder
Of SOL’s chariot, whose sword of light
Hurts and humbles; beheld only
Of eagle’s eye. When his arrow glances
Through mortal mind, mists are parted
And mild as morning the mellow wisdom
Breathes o’er the breast, broadening eastward
Clear and cloudless. In a clos’d garden
(Unbound her burden) his beams foster
Soul in secret, where the soil puts forth
Paradisal palm, and pure fountains
Turn and re-temper, touching coolly
The uncomely common to cordial gold;
Whose ore also, in earth’s matrix,
Is print and pressure of his proud signet
On the wax of the world. He is the worshipp’d male,
The earth’s husband, all-beholding,
Arch-chemic eye. But other country
Dark with discord dins beyond him,
With noise of nakers, neighing of horses,
Hammering of harness. A haughty god
MARS mercenary, makes there his camp
And flies his flag; flaunts laughingly
The graceless beauty, grey-eyed and keen,
Blond insolence – of his blithe visage
Which is hard and happy. He hews the act,
The indifferent deed with dint of his mallet
And his chisel of choice; achievement comes not
Unhelped by him – hired gladiator
Of evil and good. All’s one to Mars,
The wrong righted, rescued meekness,
Or trouble in trenches, with trees splintered
And birds banished, banks fill’d with gold
And the liar made lord. Like handiwork
He offers to all – earns his wages
And whistles the while. White-feathered dread
Mars has mastered. His metal’s iron
That was hammered through hands into holy cross,
Cruel carpentry. He is cold and strong,
Necessity’s song. Soft breathes the air
Mild, and meadowy, as we mount further
Where rippled radiance rolls about us
Moved with music – measureless the waves’
Joy and jubilee. It is JOVE’s orbit,
Filled and festal, faster turning
With arc ampler. From the Isles of Tin
Tyrian traders, in trouble steering
Came with his cargoes; the Cornish treasure
That his ray ripens. Of wrath ended
And woes mended, of winter passed
And guilt forgiven, and good fortune
Jove is master; and of jocund revel,
Laughter of ladies. The lion-hearted,
The myriad-minded, men like the gods,
Helps and heroes, helms of nations
Just and gentle, are Jove’s children,
Work his wonders. On his white forehead
Calm and kingly, no care darkens
Nor wrath wrinkles: but righteous power
And leisure and largess their loose splendours
Have wrapped around him – a rich mantle
Of ease and empire. Up far beyond
Goes SATURN silent in the seventh region,
The skirts of the sky. Scant grows the light,
Sickly, uncertain (the Sun’s finger
Daunted with darkness). Distance hurts us,
And the vault severe of vast silence;
Where fancy fails us, and fair language,
And love leaves us, and light fails us
And Mars fails us, and the mirth of Jove
Is as tin tinkling. In tattered garment,
Weak with winters, he walks forever
A weary way, wide round the heav’n,
Stoop’d and stumbling, with staff groping,
The lord of lead. He is the last planet
Old and ugly. His eye fathers
Pale pestilence, pain of envy,
Remorse and murder. Melancholy drink
(For bane or blessing) of bitter wisdom
He pours out for his people, a perilous draught
That the lip loves not. We leave all things
To reach the rim of the round welkin,
Heaven’s heritage, high and lonely.

 

 

Mars revisited

‘Mars. Planets Series’. Mixed media on 10×10 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2019

Today’s version of Mars. I attempted a crackle-glaze effect which didn’t work, but I like the immediacy and mad colours. It suggests a castle under attack perhaps.

I’m creating Planets series paintings for two exhibitions this year – a smaller series of studies for a June exhibition at my studio in Abbey hill, in preparation for an exhibition and talk to take place in Autumn this year.

This is a continuation of the Planets Series I’m creating this year, which takes inspiration from the planets as understood in Medieval cosmology, and the seven books of Narnia which were each inspired by the seven planets, as discovered by Michael Ward, author of ‘Planet Narnia’.

Info about June exhibition Here

(I’ll post more about the September exhibition and talk soon, once some more details are confirmed).

My previous version of Mars was far too tame I felt, but I wrote about the corresponding Narnia book, Prince Caspian in a previous post, which you can read on this link; Mars

And here is the corresponding excerpt on Mars from C.S. Lewis’s poem The Planets …

A haughty god
MARS mercenary, makes there his camp
And flies his flag; flaunts laughingly
The graceless beauty, grey-eyed and keen,
Blond insolence – of his blithe visage
Which is hard and happy. He hews the act,
The indifferent deed with dint of his mallet
And his chisel of choice; achievement comes not
Unhelped by him – hired gladiator
Of evil and good. All’s one to Mars,
The wrong righted, rescued meekness,
Or trouble in trenches, with trees splintered
And birds banished, banks fill’d with gold
And the liar made lord. Like handiwork
He offers to all – earns his wages
And whistles the while. White-feathered dread
Mars has mastered. His metal’s iron
That was hammered through hands into holy cross,
Cruel carpentry. He is cold and strong,
Necessity’s song.

Jupiter

‘Jupiter. Planets Series’. Mixed media on 10×10″ wood. Rose Strang 2019

Today’s small painting of Jupiter at 10 by 10 inches, which is very similar to the large one of 40×40 inches. Here’s the larger one, painted earlier this year . .

‘Planets Series. Jupiter’. Mixed media on 40×40″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m creating Planets series paintings for two exhibitions this year – a smaller series of studies for a June exhibition at my studio in Abbey hill, in preparation for an exhibition and talk to take place in Autumn this year.

This is a continuation of the Planets Series I’m creating this year, which takes inspiration from the planets as understood in Medieval cosmology, and the seven books of Narnia which were each inspired by the seven planets, as discovered by Michael Ward, author of ‘Planet Narnia’.

Info about June exhibition Here

(I’ll post more about the September exhibition and talk soon, once some more details are confirmed).

I now have just one of the small Planets Series paintings to finish, then they’re complete! I’m going to re-paint Mars, possibly Venus too, as I think they don’t quite capture the idea of Mars and Venus as yet.

This is the Jupiter excerpt from C.S. Lewis’s poem The Planets …

Soft breathes the air
Mild, and meadowy, as we mount further
Where rippled radiance rolls about us
Moved with music – measureless the waves’
Joy and jubilee. It is JOVE’s orbit,
Filled and festal, faster turning
With arc ampler. From the Isles of Tin
Tyrian traders, in trouble steering
Came with his cargoes; the Cornish treasure
That his ray ripens. Of wrath ended
And woes mended, of winter passed
And guilt forgiven, and good fortune
Jove is master; and of jocund revel,
Laughter of ladies. The lion-hearted,
The myriad-minded, men like the gods,
Helps and heroes, helms of nations
Just and gentle, are Jove’s children,
Work his wonders. On his white forehead
Calm and kingly, no care darkens
Nor wrath wrinkles: but righteous power
And leisure and largess their loose splendours
Have wrapped around him – a rich mantle
Of ease and empire.

Beautiful. That line; Where rippled radiance rolls about us
Moved with music – measureless the waves’  is so redolent of the splendour of Jupiter as understood in Medieval imagination.

This part of the poem was also the first clue that t gave Michael Ward (author of Planet Narnia) the idea that the seven books of Narnia might correspond to the planets.

Jupiter relates to The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first and most popular or most read of the Narnia Chronicles, which first introduces to the four children, the witch and Aslan. ‘Guilt forgiven’ refers to Edmund’s transformation in the story, from blind, selfish resentment and greed, to love for his family and fellow human beings. He experiences deep regret at the pain caused by his selfishness, but he’s forgiven, then Narnia’s one hundred-year winter ends – ‘winter passed’- after Aslan’s sacrifice and rebirth (the most obviously Christian reference of the entire series).

As Michael Ward explains in Planet Narnia, Jupiter was associated with Christ’s sacrifice and rebirth, also the idea of kingship and joviality (Jove). Incidentally I was delighted that Michael Ward chose my larger Jupiter painting as a facebook cover photo on Easter Sunday earlier this year!

Very soon I’ll be announcing details of an upcoming Planets Series event to taker place this Autumn, I can’t yet reveal details until everything’s confirmed but it’s definitely on! My little exhibition in June is a precursor to the event, and a great way of experimenting with ideas for the larger Autumn Planets Series.

Info on the June exhibition here – Planets Series Exhibition

National Freelancer’s Day

Three small paintings of the Isle of Iona. Mixed media on 3.5 x 3 inch canvas. (Signed). Rose Strang June 2019. (£25 each).

Thursday June 20th is National Freelancer’s Day. I was delighted to be asked by Director of Mindstream, Liza Horan, to participate in her event in Edinburgh, which takes place on Thursday next week.

It’s for all folks who work as freelancers, it’s about the challenges and obstacles you encounter as a freelancer and how to overcome them.

All info and tickets here …

Facebook Event page https://www.facebook.com/events/2288065234749874/

Eventbrite (book tickets) National Freelancer’s Day

I’ll be taking part in a video where I chat to Liza about the experiences I’ve had as a freelance artist (I’ll share it in the next few days here) and I’m displaying the paintings above as part of the event as bijoux examples of my landscape paintings!

They will cost just £25 each (including easels), so if you like the look of them be sure to arrive early at the event. (I’ll also have 5×5″,signed/ limited edition giclee prints available at the event).

The event will be a live panel discussion with invited freelancers Adam Brewster, Claire Colston and David Thomas-Wright who’ll be discussing the challenges they’ve encountered as freelancers, followed by a Q+A and chance to meet folks.

The event will be held at the Black Ivy Hotel in leafy Bruntsfield, Edinburgh (map on links above).

 

 

 

If, like me, you tend to think such things veer towards corporate, or involve tense meetings with people you’d not normally spend your time of day with, fear not! I know this will be a warm, human and interesting event, which is why I was keen to take part.

It’s going to be an honest sharing of the experiences and challenges you encounter as a freelancer – whatever your area of expertise. I’ve known Liza Horan for some time and much appreciate her  warm, genuine personality as well as grounded, practical experience and advice.

Liza was a writer for the New York Times, then in recent years became a digital strategy consultant which, put simply, means she advises organisations on how to present themselves in the (increasingly overwhelming!) world of social media and presentation.

If you’re a freelancer yourself you probably know the challenges; what to charge, feeling a bit isolated, the fact that as an individual you don’t attract funding and must rely on your own efforts to promote your work, or the efforts of (in my case) art galleries, in a world that’s changing from real-life buying in actual places (shops, galleries etc) to online commerce. For me it’s become very much a collaborative process of mutual promotion with galleries.

So it’s challenging for everyone – business owners and individual freelancers. I know that I want to continue showing my work with galleries I respect and trust, but I also know I have to promote, which doesn’t come entirely naturally to most people, including myself!

If you’re a freelancer, from any area of work, and are in Edinburgh or nearby next Thursday, book a ticket on the links below, and I hope to see you there!

Eventbrite (book tickets) National Freelancer’s Day

Sun

‘Sun. Planets Series’. Mixed media on 10×10″ wood. Rose Strang 2019

‘Saturn. Planets Series’. Mixed media on 10×10″ wood. Rose Strang 2019

Today’s small paintings, of Sun and Saturn in preparation for the larger Planets Series.

I’m creating Planets series paintings for two exhibitions this year – a smaller series of studies for a June exhibition at my studio in Abbey hill, in preparation for an exhibition and talk to take place in Autumn this year.

This is a continuation of the Planets Series I’m creating this year, which takes inspiration from the planets as understood in Medieval cosmology, and the seven books of Narnia which were each inspired by the seven planets, as discovered by Michael Ward, author of ‘Planet Narnia’.

Info about June exhibition Here

(I’ll post more about the September exhibition and talk soon, once some more details are confirmed).

I’ve already posted a lot about the associations and mythology of Saturn during winter when I tackled a larger version, so I won’t write much about that here. This smaller Saturn was a lot easier as it’s so much more easy to experiment on this smaller scale before I tackle the big paintings later this year.

The Sun corresponds to C.S. Lewis’s Voyage of the Dawn treader, which has possibly the most vivid, beautiful and mystical imagery of the entire series. It’s also hilariously funny, also moving, thanks to the character of Eustace Scrubb, who’s introduced in this book for the first time.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is mostly about Eustace when it comes to profound character development in the story – his metamorphosis into dragon, then back to human with Aslan’s intervention, being the pivotal part of his character development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s the final scenes though that are the most mind-meltingly beautiful and strange; white lilies stretching to the horizon on a deep green sea that becomes sweet and drinkable, ‘like drinkable light’, so that the characters are able to experience more light . You just have to stop reading the story at that point, to drink in, appreciate and experience the imagery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s classic Lewis –  layers of imagery, literary reference and spiritual connotations.

This is the ‘Sun’ excerpt from C.S. Lewis’s poem ‘The Planets’

The heaven’s highway hums and trembles,
Drums and dindles, to the driv’n thunder
Of SOL’s chariot, whose sword of light
Hurts and humbles; beheld only
Of eagle’s eye. When his arrow glances
Through mortal mind, mists are parted
And mild as morning the mellow wisdom
Breathes o’er the breast, broadening eastward
Clear and cloudless. In a clos’d garden
(Unbound her burden) his beams foster
Soul in secret, where the soil puts forth
Paradisal palm, and pure fountains
Turn and re-temper, touching coolly
The uncomely common to cordial gold;
Whose ore also, in earth’s matrix,
Is print and pressure of his proud signet
On the wax of the world. He is the worshipp’d male,
The earth’s husband, all-beholding,
Arch-chemic eye.

Arch-chemic eye might refer to the Alchemist’s dream of turning ordinary matter to gold (the sun’s associated metal) and this is referred to in the story when the characters arrive on an uninhabited island where they encounter a pool that turns everything that’s immersed in it to gold.

King Caspian and Edmund are affected by this. Imagining the unlimited wealth and power such a pool might bring, they argue about which of them has the highest status in order to own the island and its magic pool – Lucy brings them up short with a rebuke, then Aslan appears on the hill beyond the pool, appearing gold as if it lit by the sun, though the day is overcast. They come to their senses and decide to name the island ‘Death Water’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Ward’s Planet Narnia explores the most extensive and fascinating associations with the sun in the story and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I think his chapter on Sol is extraordinarily rich and profound in its interpretation, also in its myriad, meaningful associations – truly illuminating.

Put in my simple terms, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is about light and spiritual illumination gained through the challenge of truth. I don’t think my small painting anywhere near does justice to it really, but it’s good practice for the larger work later this year!