Friday, October 10, 2014

Flight of The Birdman

'Flight of the Birdman' is the first painting I've done in over a year. I took a self imposed hiatus from painting to study color, form, and a more efficient way of creating. I also had to make sense of the geometric forms that have been coming through my sketches. I got to a point with my painting process in which it just didn't fit me anymore. My previous style involved painting randomly until a recognizable shape emerged. Then I would determine the color palette based of the underlying layers of color that randomly produced that recognizable shape. It was an extremely time consuming process that involved lots of mind power and multiple layers of color. My animation of the creation of  'Accretion del Corazon' best exemplifies this process.
Every piece in that old style of painting was a creative puzzle that took lots of studio time to solve. I decided that I'd rather use that mental power towards more efficient ends. Though I still paint from feeling, I've learned to channel those intuitive impressions into a more focused piece. I now decide on a color palette way before I pick up a brush. I've chosen to limit my colors so that it doesn't compete with the meaning and emotional impact of the piece. I've also discovered for myself how much time it saves when you work from a preliminary sketch. It's easier to solve creative problems on a smaller scale than working large. 'Flight of the Birdman' is the first in this new process of creating. The painting is based on a sketch from this past June.

In Ancient cultures around the world there are many references to the Birdman. Anthropologically speaking, it is the syncretism of the human and an animal towards supernatural ends. Birds have a freedom that we don't have; the gift of flight. From an indigenous point of view this makes them the closest to the sun with the ability to carry the prayers of the people to space and beyond. For me the birdman represents focused thought and feeling. My break from painting this past year lead to more than just a different approach to painting. There were lots of spiritual insights that came with it. With this being my third year as a full time Artist and DJ, I'm steadily learning how to manage my thoughts and emotions. It's hard to put into words the mental discipline it takes to maintain a creative mindset in a world of endless distractions. With the financially precarious nature of self employment, It's incredibly easy to be pessimistic about life when the financial flow is not where you'd like it to be. Despite all this I know I will succeed at what I'm doing. With focused thought and feeling we can all manifest what we need to move forward. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Meditation of Star Feather

What you see before you is the culmination of an intense creative self analysis. Since October of this past year I’ve been focused on refining my artistic style. For a long while I've felt that my artistic style was all over the place and needed to be simplified. My style up until now, although beautifully unpredictable, needed to be refined in a way to bring out the best of what I naturally do. I had to trim away unnecessary steps that just prolonged the process. The bottom line is that I wanted to become more efficient without sacrificing my artistic integrity. The first step was to look at all of my work objectively and study it. This piece is the first large scale drawing using my new practice. My new mode involves isolating the strongest shapes of the pre sketch, using an earth tone palette(limiting my color), and using a flat color background(deep space). In my personal research the trend I naturally follow involves using a figurative element, combined with a metaphysical & indigenous theme. I’ve always been fascinated with anything related to the cosmos and in many ways I see it as an ancestor. Our body is literally made of star dust. For me, incorporating stars and space creates a more accurate portrayal of the figure. It is a man among his star relatives and having a cosmic background helps to strengthen the shape,gesture and meaning of the figure and the deer. As for the meaning of the piece, I suppose it’s a statement about realizing our personal power. Deep in the American psyche there’s a knowing that indigenous people carry great wisdom. That wisdom is often so simple that it’s dismissed without any further introspection. A good example of this is, “As above, So below”. This simple statement bridges the macrocosm and the microcosm of life, and it is what I’m actively exploring in my life and work. I reference the deer in my art because it is a sort of totem. It relates to my spiritual heritage and masculinity. In my faith it’s also a sign of great love and healing. I truly believe that by realizing our personal power we also add to the forward expansion of life and our planet. As we progress on a deep level, so to does the whole: “As above, So below”.  

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Great Embrace

Every painting or drawing I create has a story. There are the life events that lead into it and then the narrative of the actual creation of the piece. For 'The Great Embrace', the story begins around 2005. At the time I was recovering from the loss of a relationship. In sharing with my Mother all that I went through, I was overcome with emotion and broke down. In that moment, my mother held me like a child and comforted me. It was a touching moment for multiple reasons, one being that even as adults we sometimes need to be held when our emotions paralyze us. It was enough to heal me at the time and that rare moment was captured in a sketch I did later on. 

 Eventually I would translate this sketch to a painting. To save on costs I will sometimes use an older painting and paint on top of it (check out the video). That's how I started 'The Great Embrace'. I started it in 2006 and worked on it off and on until 2010. That was the year I started Grad school. Unfortunately I would have to sacrifice social as well as studio time to be a good student. So this painting as well as others would be put on hold until after I graduated. It's been a little over a year that I've been a full time artist and I'm steadily finishing pieces I've had since before I was a schoolteacher in 2003. 'The Great Embrace' was something I was avoiding for a long while. This may be an artist thing or perhaps it's just one of the barriers of self-doubt that we as human beings go through. This piece was very complicated and I had no idea how I would be able to finish it. Don't be fooled by the ease and flow of the video animation of how this painting was made. There were many moments of utter frustration and self-threats to put this piece back in the closet. There is a common misconception that being a full time artist is easy. I once thought this same thing observing from the perspective of a full time employee working a job I didn't enjoy. What you don't know about artists is that we spend a great deal of time by ourselves. Just imagine all of the distractions of your life that dominated your thoughts for years and then all of a sudden the bulk of that distraction is gone. What you then face is your true self and ALL of the emotional blocks that prevent you from moving forward. Once there is a space free of distractions, you'll notice certain things that bubble to the surface. The stinging words that someone(s) said to you years ago, the unforgiving feeling of past mistakes you've made, "Am I good enough? "Am I beautiful enough?", the hopes and dreams that make you wonder if you'll ever attain them, etc. etc. You could call that your "soul work". When you have properly managed those "bubbles" you'll then feel the flow of creativity. I have experienced this flow and have also been "in the zone" of total focus. It's a wonderful feeling and I believe we can feel that flow at will. What blocks it is the feeling of worry, stress, doubt, and fear. Part of my responsibility as an artist is to address those unbalanced emotions as they come. If I choose to overlook them or distract myself with something else, the result is that the flow of creativity is blocked. Now that my profession revolves around art; my emotional, physical, and spiritual well being are of the utmost priority. From the equilibrium between them, comes the artwork and the abundant creativity that inspires me to move forward. Some may question, "Why don't you just make art out of your frustrations?". My response to that is that sometimes there are emotions we feel that no words can adequately describe, no color can fully address, and no movement can capture. Your only option is to go within.
   The finished painting of 'The Great Embrace' is the result of handling the stresses of life in a healthy manner, long enough for the abundant and creative flow to move through me and give me the creative solutions for a complicated painting.
   The meaning of the painting has changed for me. It evolved from a painful recollection of a hard life lesson and moved towards a greater message of trust in the infinite. I do believe in a Creator of the Universe and I believe that it comforts us during our soul work in ways that are invisible to distracted minds.  For me this being is both male and female and is nothing but pure energy and consciousness. Since every physical form(matter) is made of energy, then that can only mean that we have been and always will be embraced by something greater than ourselves.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Creation of "Accretion Del Corazon"

I must admit that it was a relief to complete this piece. It stands as the most complicated piece I done to date. What made it complicated? Shit where do I begin? First off it's a recycled drawing of mine from my undergrad days at Stephen F. Austin State University. If my memory serves me correct, it's from 2002. The only color/shape remaining from the original is in the upper middle. It's so small that it's almost insignificant. I'll have you know that I keep most everything I've created since then. To save money I will often paint and draw on top of existing art I have. There are a lot of layers on this piece. I would say between six and ten. My art these days incorporates some transparencies from the layers underneath. Although this does complicate the composition, the end result is an image I couldn't of conceived of in a pre-sketch. This process does lengthen the creation process three fold but again the end justifies the means. 
It's hard to define what exactly this piece means to me. The definition is multi-layered just as the piece itself. When I start a piece I work randomly until I see a shape to bring out. It's a very subjective and emotional process. What I see can change from day to day. I've learned that each piece is like a puzzle. You work with the shapes and colors you project on to the image. It requires a lot of trust and patience; trust in the process and patience regarding it's completion. An elder once told me that ,"It will take as long as it needs to". I heard this in reference to a native ceremony and it applies to making art as well. Little by little the image takes place and one shape/color will lead to another. The heart only came about towards the end of creating the piece. At the time I had a flash idea of having everything emanate from the heart. Of course the idea of it sounds better than the application. My initial thought was ,"how the hell am I going to incorporate red into into an already color saturated composition?". In those moments of doubt you have to trust that it's the right thing to do. It's very similar to life in general; something in us heeds us to listen and follow our intuition even if it makes no logical sense in that specific moment. To compensate for the application of red, I spread the color in both subtle and overt ways through out the image to help balance the color. The same goes for the orange, purple, and blue. Accretion is the cosmic process through which planets and other phenomenon form in space. It's the gradual coming together of matter whereby heavier elements attract other elements. It's how our planet formed. I use this analogy for my piece because most all of my work is a record of my spiritual development. I believe that within the universe there is a field of energy that responds to our intention, our thoughts, and our beliefs. The shapes around the figure in the piece represent the ether which in turn responds to the vibration of the heart. If you look at all of the angles in the piece, including the horizon line, they all come from or direct the eye towards the heart. Normally I shy away from center heavy imagery, but for this piece I took a chance and it worked out. This reinforces my trust in the process but also to ALL of the subtle intuitions that come while making art. 
I use the deer as a motif in my work to represent my masculinity as well as my spiritual beliefs. I'm on what is called, "The Red Road". It's what we natives call the spiritual path to the Creator of the Universe. In my culture the deer is a healing animal. It is both gentle and fierce. Much of life can be described as a gradual healing of the self. As far what that healing is, it depends on the person asking and what their experiences are. Being self employed gives me a lot time to think. I realize now that most of my life has been a series of distractions from what my real work on Earth is; which in my opinion is to mend and heal the connections between myself and the Creator. As I create more work I'll post more on this subject. I'm only mentioning it because I've been asked many times why I use the deer in my art. All forms of expression are ways of putting yourself out there. If you're honest with yourself, it makes what you create that much more powerful.
While making this piece I took photos of each stage of development. You can see the piece develop from beginning to end right here. Enjoy! Castillo Out