Blue Moon Fire Spiral (The Fire Snake)

Blue Moon Fire Spiral (The Fire Snake), watercolor pencil on distressed paper with burned edges, 17″ x 13 1/8″ ©2018 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved. First work in The Meditative Labyrinth Elemental Suite

Blue Moon Fire Spiral (The Fire Snake) is the first piece I completed in The Meditative Labyrinth Elemental Suite. This collection of watercolors is the second interactive experience that I developed for visitors, following The Wishing Tree Project. Now participatory experiences have become an important part of my practice.

Participants joined the initial creative stage of each of the four meditative artworks by tracing a labyrinth of smooth beach stones from Topsail Island, NC on paper. This offers the same meditative benefits as walking a full labyrinth; I was also inspired by two sacred sites in Ireland where, to mark the shift from the physical world to the spiritual, visitors ritually trace a cross with a small stone into another stone, having worn a deep groove into the larger stone over the years.

Since Blue Moon Fire Spiral (The Fire Snake) is the first work in this suite, the evolution of this piece set the direction for the remaining paintings. A participant’s use of red and yellow swirls within the spiral pointed me to the fire theme. In the first painting stage, hot coals took the place of the stone template. I then asked myself what would reside inside the vacant fiery coil. The clear answer was “a fire snake.”

When creating the additional paper layers, I singed the edges by “drawing” with a hot coal held by tongs, then I augmented the resulting burnt-brown edges with watercolor pencils to create the illusion that the paper was still lit. I created the trompe l’oeil effect in both upper corners of the paper using only watercolor.

Each of these watercolor paintings on layered, distressed paper is based on one of the four elements, and I am directly incorporating each element into its corresponding thematic piece.

In an earlier post, I commented that I needed to live with this work to determine if it was finished. If you look carefully in the detail image I included, you can see that there were originally additional flames around the spiral of stones. I thought that I had overdone it, but in watercolor, you can’t cover up a layer like you can with oil. I was mulling over that very difference in the two media when the idea came to me to cover up the additional flames and smoke with another layer of paper. At that moment, I conceived the concept to use layered paper and to singe the edges. I feel that the work is much more successful as a result — something I likely would not have thought to do had I not made the “mistake” of painting more flames than I originally intended!

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