Cakes and Ale

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 last one! And here comes some Cakes and Ale…

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.

Enjoying Cakes and Ale

For this painting, I chose the one with the Cobalt Teal background with the Hobo symbol of “tell a pitiful story” drawn in Payne’s grey (middle one on the right in the above photo). Rather than let nature take course, I was this time determined to make the painting about the Cakes and Ale symbol. It’s because I simply liked the look of it especially with the pair of upside down cups. It was cute! First I filled in two of the triangles with some fluorescent pink then daringly painted on some red across the paper, followed by shapes of violet on two opposing corners. Then in the middle of the paper I introduced the symbol of peace in yellow and spread the paint out with a wet brush and a symbol of spirituality in antelope brown. Random layers of ink and gouache were then added before finishing off with a bold drawing of the Cakes and Ale symbol in white. And now!

And so concludes this mini painting series of Archetypal symbols. I have to say that as the series progressed, the paintings looked better and more expressive with bolder colors. Obviously, I was getting more accustomed as well as more confident. And what fun that was! Symbols like these will definitely be incorporated in my abstract paintings especially when I fall in a rut. And now, seeing that I merely liked the look of the cakes and ale symbol, I was curious about what exactly is behind this expression, and wow! Its origins come from William Shakespeare in his play Twelfth Night: “Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?” hence implying pleasure and enjoyment of the good life. Well there you go!

Click here for more about Tracy Verdugo and her wonderful classes!

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