Co-existing with the "other": hummingbirds, doves and twins

Some people have dogs, others have cats, I have hummingbirds. Two of them mostly. I give them nectar, they roam free- and I'm happy with that. Sometimes they'll sit on a wire at a certain distance from each other, totally aloof, then one will plunge and less than a second later the other one will charge behind, playfully.

Occasionally they'll feed together but most of the time they fight for access to the nectar. Observing them makes me think about how we humans also can fight for resources- though admittedly it's much cuter in hummingbirds.


A few years ago my hummingbirds were models in a symbolic drawing I had done as a self-portrait. When my sister saw it the first thing she said was "well that's you and me and the ocean in between".

That sister is my twin, and she lives in Europe- and evidently she knows me better than myself. We happen to be identical twins, not only that but the kind of twin that had the twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), meaning that blood flooded between us in the womb and we shared the placenta unequally (so my sister ended up smaller than me at birth).


Talk about unconscious stuff. To me my drawing was like an equation (as a reference to my background in mathematics), being left brain/right brain, the layering of variables, yadi yadi yada. In reality it was more like biological history!

But math and art were still useful because both helped "resolve the equation": two doves peacefully sharing the same house (or womb) and united through the collective unconscious. My twin and I had 80 to 90 percent chance of dying but somehow we made it (and our mom too! she also nearly died).

Yes we shared the placenta unequally but perhaps through the overlaying transfusion we also helped each other even things out enough to both survive? Other than rivals we might have been allies.

I bring up these old drawings again because I'm in the process of redrawing and rethinking the series they're part of in full color and turn that into an original tarot set- maybe call it something like "the tarot of relationships".

Even if each one of these started out as personal stories I believe they represent universal patterns that exists in all of us. It took a few years of  introspection to get to that level of understanding but I'm starting to notice similarities with the main archetypes of the traditional tarot (as well as those within our current society).

I see the hummingbirds as similar to "The Lovers", which coincidentally happens to be associated with the astrological sign of Gemini or "The Twins". And the doves drawing seems closest to "The World", which represents completeness- the union of male and female, cosmic consciousness, and giving back to the world.

In today's society this can translates besides relationships as having to compete for jobs, trade wars between countries, or on the other hand friends we can count on and alliances we hope to maintain.

These two pieces above have a different subject but strangely- and unconsciously- they contain essentially the same ideas as the hummingbirds and doves. The lilies are like me and my twin, both planted in the same placenta with the leaves touching like our connected blood vessels.

The two birds bathing in the fountain - a quick sketch from inside my living room, but on a closer look the door is like the house enclosure with the birds being outside, quite literally in "the world".  And as there are more and more people and competition in that world, isn't it important to make art that shows we're all in it this together (humans, animals, and plants)?


Cactuses and desert dwellers

It seems every city in the US have started to use their gray utility boxes as canvases for public art. Since being asked to paint one I've been noticing them at almost every street corner! Some corners are more inspiring than others but I've been lucky- mine is right by the Hollywood Palladium.

What you see below is a pretty gouache version of my design on paper (and cleaned up digitally) - the real thing will be painted with house paint on metal.


Part of the inspiration for my design was serendipity- I was developing cactus patterns when transitioning into the project, part was aesthetic -the green and tan colors of the Palladium easily lend themselves to a desert scene, plus the cactus shapes appear to match the streamline moderne/art deco style of the building.

 this is a mock-up, not the real thing!

this is a mock-up, not the real thing!

I was also intrigued by the name, Palladium, which came from the Greek goddess of the arts Pallas Athena, and inspired astronomers in the naming of the asteroid Pallas that's part of a whole belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, stylistically pictured on one side of the box. Just below is a snake and on the other side an owl, both major symbols associated with Athena - and also very likely dwellers to be found in the California desert.


Because Hollywood started out as a cactus desert with a single adobe hut, and despite the big city it is now- thanks to water and the electricity inside the box, let's not forget (as temperatures are about to hit 100F in the next couple days!) we're still very much desert dwellers.

And now for more cactuses on things, check out my latest patterns on Society6 - notice their new products - serving trays and cutting boards! Now's a good time to take advantage of the holiday sale (up to 40% with code HAPPY4TH)- happy 4th of July!

Portraits of Frida Kahlo

Over the past few weeks I've been working on my people skills. Drawing people skills that is ;-). Faces mainly - eyes, hair, expressions, whatever makes a person unique.


With Lilla Rogers and her class "Drawing Faces" I learned, among other things, to better examine the placement and proportions of features by studying photos of current celebrities. And wanting to explore this further I decided to research the life and work of inspirational artists, starting with the fascinating Frida Kahlo. There she is surrounded by cactus and succulent plants in front of her Mexican blue house.


Looking at a number of Frida's paintings (her many self-portraits, The Two Fridas, My Grandparents, my Parents, and Me, Roots, Moses, etc.) it seems clear that an important theme of her work was her identity, both as a self and in relation to another person or encompassing group such as her family and country.

This inspired me to revisit my animal archetypes, which I would love to turn into a deck of tarot-like cards eventually, and where Frida would be an example of both the estranged heron and the swan who fits in.


And why not also consider the actual tarot, because with how she survived her major accident and handled her difficult marriage to Diego Rivera she easily fits as an archetype of the Strength card, flowers in the hair and all!