Author Archives: rosestrang

About rosestrang

Artist, Painter

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!

Moon

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

Today’s small painting of the Moon 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).

These small paintings are proving an excellent way to explore ideas on an easier scale before tackling the large paintings for the Planets Series. I think my Moon-influenced painting (above) is suitably amorphous, watery and undefined, though I’d want to add more of the moon’s moonliness to the larger painting.

Yesterday I posted the Mercury part of C.S. Lewis’s wonderful poem ‘The Planets’, so here’s the moon excerpt from his poem …

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.

The Moon corresponds to The Silver Chair in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles. Its Moon-like or Lunar qualities as imagined by C.S. Lewis and explained by Michael Ward are to do with enchantment, wandering lost, changeability, melancholy, moodiness or lunacy, also the metal silver.

I’ve heard, in person, from police, and hospital staff in A+E that people do indeed act out stranger and more impulsive behaviours on a full moon. The moon affects the tides of the sea of course, and therefore must have an effect on anything that contains water, including ourselves. And of course the moon is associated with women and menstruation since the moon’s cycles loosely correspond to that, and the sight of the moon swelling up then disappearing each month reminds us of pregnancy. And so it’s very much seen as a female influence across all cultures; Lady Luna.

Gazing at the moon is pretty wondrous when out in the countryside unpolluted by city lights, but I think the most entrancing moon-view I ever had was when I arrived in Venice for the first time back in 2001. I was there for the Venice Bienalle with Richard Demarco and company and we arrived at night, then entered Canal Grando in a water boat. It was an enormous silvery full moon, the sky was velvety black and also slightly misty. The domes, Byzantine palaces and waterways of Venice looked enchantingly beautiful. Unreal. It was so utterly stunning that my heart was actually palpitating rapidly!

La Serenissima as Venice is called – an appropriate and feminine title, inspired by its many hundreds of years in the past, enjoying peaceful trade between all nations.

Farmers have planted or harvested crops according to moon cycles since pre-history, with the idea being that a waxing (growing) moon draws water into things, and a waning one takes water away. Not being a farmer or even gardener, beyond caring for the odd pot plant, I can’t attest to that and I assume that thousands of generations of farmers and planters can’t be wrong.

So the moon has a clear influence on our world. To the Medievalists, the Moon distorted the influence of the other planets and the divine realm of God, and anything beneath the moon was termed sub-lunar.

Lewis’s The Silver Chair launches immediately into moon-influenced territory of wetness and melancholy; Jill Pole has been bullied at school and is crying on a dreich, overcast Autumn day, then Eustace enters (transformed by his experience on the Dawn Treader when he was de-dragonified by Aslan, personifying the Sun’s light). Eustace offers a possible way out to the land of Narnia.

They escape, not to Narnia as yet, but to a land above the moon’s sub-lunar influence – a peaceful mountain-top forest glade filled with birds of paradise. Eustace falls off a cliff into the clouds below during an argument with Jill, who is subsequently wracked with guilt, also thirst, but the only stream is guarded by an enormous lion (Aslan of course). She plucks up courage to drink and is challenged by Aslan to be truthful about why Eustace fell off the cliff. She admits it was because she was showing off her lack of fear of heights (or depths).

Aslan explains that due to her mistakes, their task will be more difficult. They must find King Rillan who has been enchanted and lost for many years. He warns Jill that thoughts will become vague in the land below, he then transports her down to Narnia where she encounters Eustace. They then embark on their adventure with the wonderful Puddleglum – a somewhat pessimistic creature called a Marshwiggle who lives in the wet marshes of Narnia.

Together they all journey across the far north of Narnia in winter. They become lost – forgetting the signs and instructions given by Aslan, but end up in a deep underground world where they travel across the subterranean seas, and eventually encounter King Rillian, who has been enchanted by ‘the Lady of the Green Kirtle’, and the silver chair to which he’s bound each evening to keep him imprisoned while he remembers the truth. One of the signs given by Aslan is that they must pay attention to anyone who speaks in the name of Aslan, and while King Rillian raves and shouts in the chair, apparently mad, they find him frightening but when he asks them to free him in the name of Aslan they realise they have to obey the sign.

Releasing him from the spell entails waking up from dreaming to awareness. They have by this time been enchanted to believe that the world above the subterranean caverns doesn’t exist. It’s Puddleglum who cuts through the enchantment and remembers that there is a real sun and moon, and lion called Aslan. Eventually they emerge from the subterranean world into Narnia again, where King Rillian is restored to the throne.

The first thing they see when they emerge from the underworld  though, is the creatures of Narnia dancing a complex dance at night, that relies on everyone interacting closely, and with awareness, for it to work as a dance.

I’d recognised the echoes of Plato, and the myth of Hades in the story, before reading Michael Ward’s Planet Narnia, but the understanding of planetary influence on the Narniad as discovered by Michael Ward gives an entirely different dimension. These stories are infinitely richer and more profoundly inspiring when understood from this new perspective. I’m currently re-reading The Magician’s Nephew for example, and I’m amazed by the complexity and depth of ideas when it’s understood as Venus-influenced.

What I take from The Silver Chair at the end, is the notion of the riches that we can discover when we delve deep into the darkness of our difficult emotions, our memories, mind, subconscious or experience of life – uncovering a deeper truth from below the layers of obscurity – real, living jewels of Bism. The Moon is a less harsh teacher than authoritarian Saturn – but you have to voluntarily delve deep to acquire wisdom. The last paragraph of The Silver Chair …

The opening in the hillside was left open, and often in hot summer days the Narnians go in there with ships and lanterns and down to the water and sail to and fro, singing, on the cool, dark underground sea, telling each other stories of the cities that lie fathoms deep below. If ever you have the luck to go to Narnia yourself, do not forget to have a look at those caves.

Mercury

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

Today’s small painting of Mercury 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).

Mercury corresponds to The Horse and his Boy in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles – a book that grew on me more and more each time I read it. Its Mercurial qualities, as imagined by C.S. Lewis and explained by Michael Ward are to do with messengers, communication, speed and twins among many other things, reflecting the God Mercury (also known as Hermes) the winged messenger, the fact that Mercury rules the constellation sign of Gemini (the twins) and of course the quicksilver nature of mercury itself as a metal.

I haven’t yet posted C.S. Lewis’s ‘The Planets’ poem, which was remiss of me since it was reading this poem which led Michael Ward to the discovery that each of the Narnia Chronicles corresponds to the Medieval planets.

It’s a beautiful poem, but for today, I’ll just post the part of the poem that corresponds to Mercury …

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.

It’s difficult to say why I enjoy the Horse and his Boy so much out of the series, it’s richly imagined, as always, with atmospheric contrast between the lush decadence of Tashban, the brutally hot desert and the cool green woodlands and hills of Archenland. Descriptively it’s testimony yet again to Lewis’s genius for relating atmosphere, but I think the characters are equally compelling, possibly because of the journey and character development they experience.

The two main characters, Shasta and Aravis, both undergo a change in consciousness – Shasta experiences acceptance for the first time in his life since being abandoned as an infant. Aravis also experiences acceptance, and learns compassion and consideration for others, having been treated if anything even more cruelly than Shasta.

In the book, Aravis tells her story (in a style the horse Bree describes as ‘high Calormen’ , stylistically the equivalent of the Arabian Nights). She describes how, after her mother died, her father re-married and arranged to have Aravis married off to a man decades older, who she has never met, although she’s only 12 years old.

Aravis decides that suicide is the only route to escape, and sets herself to this grim task in a forest clearing, but  her mare, Hwin (a talking horse from Narnia who’s been captured in slavery) intervenes and pleads with Aravis to live and attempt escape to Narnia.

Harrowing stuff for a ‘children’s story’, but as always Lewis deals with these more brutal realities using a distanced or lighter touch; in this case ‘High Calormen style’, yet it’s still one of the most moving passages in the Narnia Chronicles. And it demonstrates several Mercurial qualities:

Commerce – com-merce. Merchants. The idea of Mercury  the messenger- trading and exchange. Aravis is being sold by her own family. Shasta’s adoptive father also tries to sell him to a rich merchant.

Communication – verbosity, writing, speech. Aravis has a fine, articulate grasp of language thanks to a privileged, though cruel, up-bringing.

Shasta then becomes an involuntary messenger who has to deliver important news with haste – he discovers that Archenland, ruled by King Lune, and then the castle of Cair Paravel in Narnia will be attacked by Calormen.

Shasta, Aravis, and the horses Bree and Hwin must speed across the desert from Tashban to Archenland to warn King Lune before they’re attacked, and in the final rush to warn the king, Shasta has to run across land for miles to deliver the message before it’s too late. All very Mercurial! Lastly, he discovers that he is in fact the twin of King Lune’s son – bringing in the Mercury and Geminian theme of twins.

When painting my view of a castle under the influence of Mercury, I tried to get the sense of quicksilver through paint dripping and merging representing the sea that surrounds the castle at high tide – Same but sundered – the idea of twos in birds flying above the castle (winged messengers), and two very small boats which might meet in the waterways. The last idea was a reference to words and communication (a bit clunky maybe as a reference!) in the fine blue lines drawn horizontally suggesting writing paper. Mercury is a bright star, and represents bright ideas too, so I gave the castle a halo of light, which doesn’t show up quite so well in the photo (at the top of this post). I think it works quite well as an image.

And here’s a quick sketch I did earlier ..

‘Mercury, sketch’. Mixed media on paper. Rose Strang 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow I’ll post my Moon painting, which still needs a bit of work…

Sanna Bay – Paintings and Video

Paintings on exhibition at the Resipole Gallery in Ardnamurchan

I mentioned a while ago that my friend, musician Donald Ferguson, might compose a piece for guitar to accompany my recent paintings of Sanna Bay in Ardnamurchan, and here it is! (links to paintings below video) …

The atmosphere and mood Donald creates here is entrancing – from the impetus of traveling through beautiful scenery from Glencoe to the Ardnamurchan peninsula, to the peace of arriving at Sanna Bay on the farthest west coast of Scotland.

Here are the links to the two galleries exhibiting these new works – you can contact them there with any queries …

Resipole Gallery: https://www.resipolestudios.co.uk/rose-strang

Morningside Gallery – http://www.morningsidegallery.co.uk/4_artists/strang/index.htm