Another inspiring lesson in Unit 2 of Tracy Verdugo’s Abstract Mojo! This one is on Archetypal Symbols, an interesting exercise from which we developed some mini paintings. With six in total, I completed all recently and thought I’d share here my fourth one! And here comes some Harmony…

What are Archetypal Symbols?

To recap, Archetypal symbols represent a variety of objects, elements and emotions deriving from different cultures and societies. We have, for instance, the ancient hieroglyphics from the Egyptians, astrological signs, images in China which eventually developed into a writing system of today, and even secret codes used by homeless people! Tracy’s class called for doing some research on such archetypal symbols as a means of exploring our personal journey and eventually as a basis for creating our abstract artwork. By Googling on the internet, I did indeed find a number of interesting symbols including Zodiac signs, codes for homeless people, alchemy symbols and interestingly Adrinka symbols from Ghana! I collected them, screenshot them for own use and began taking some down on my sketchbook. Quite a lot I could always use again in the future!

Intuitive Painting

This exercise was definitely intuitive, based on our feelings and our train of thought. From a huge piece of mixed media paper (I used 360 gsm thickness), I cut up six equal rectangles each for a seperate painting. A limited selection of fluid acrylics (by Golden) and acrylic inks were used including Cardium Red, Payne’s Grey, Titanium White, Nickel Azo Yellow, Titan Green, Teal, Turquoise, Antelope Brown, etc. And how could I not include some fluorescent shades too! I stuck with Fluorescent Pink and Orange this time. And here we begin taking each sheet one after the other randomly painting on as our first layer whatever came to mind.

Let’s Have Some Harmony!

For this painting, I chose the one covered with a thin layer of Payne’s Grey (top one on the right in the above photo). Drops of purple ink were applied on the top of the paper and sprayed with some isopropyl alcohol and left to drip down whilst holding the paper up. Then some zigzags of teal followed by some blocks of yellow ink in the corners with the symbol of money in red. Letting the inks dry, I drew two triangles, one right side up and one upside down to represent fire and water, respectively. The ink was then spread out with a wet brush to give some negative space. With some gold gouache, I carefully painted the symbol of Adinkra symbol of Harmony which is reflected by the moon and star. I then incorporated the symbols of Spirituality and another Adinkra symbol, God’s Grace with some white Molotow ink marker. Some finishing touches with fluorescent red gouache in the corners, then I was good to go!

More than halfway done with the series using symbols and creating abstract art but enjoying it! Like the earlier ones, it gave me the chance to explore beyond my comfort zone which meant working intuitively and coming up with the unexpected. Worth mentioning here, though, is that the point of this exercise is about exploring one’s inner thoughts and emotions and should hence be seen as a personal journey rather than a perfect work of art. As such it is interesting that the Harmony symbol came to mind this time. Perhaps in view of all the uncertainties amid the pandemic and its economic and social consequences as well as the impact on health and well-being, I am praying that some good will come in the future for us.

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