Inktober 2017 days 21 to 25

After all those portraits, I needed something a bit more random, so these pictures were inspired by a range of things; happy feelings, the uncertainly I’ve been living through with my business, and experiences of meditating.

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Day 21: Playing with bubbles

Day 22: Living with uncertainty

Day 23: Breathe freely

Day 24: Purpose

Day 25: Field of flowers

The Inktober exhibition at Assemblage opens on Thursday the 9th November at 6pm at 7th Floor Nedbank Corner Building, 96 Jorrisen Street, Braamfontein. Do come and see all the results of Inktober 2017.

 

Face No.2: Mischievous

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Face No.2: Mischievous by Judy Backhouse (copyright)

This portrait is based on a picture of a worker in an Italian monastery, published in an old edition of Du.

I love this man’s pronounced smile lines and there is something open and trusting about his large dark eyes. But at the same time he seems a little apprehensive, with his head bent a little forward and some hesitation about his smile. I called him mischievous because I think he has a naughty streak. Behind the innocent look I can imagine him planning a practical joke.

The original picture was black and white, so I had fun inventing the skin tones using shades of ochre and sienna with touches of a dark phthalo green.

This portrait is painted in acrylics on a 50cm x 50cm stretched canvas. It is finished with gloss acrylic varnish. It would need to be framed for display.

Mandala No.19: Safe

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Mandala No.19: Safe by Judy Backhouse (copyright)

Safe is a mandala that I have been mulling over for some months. My first sketches for it were made in around June. The original idea was to explore using trees in place of the traditional four gates or doors in the mandala. I thought the idea of trees moving through the gates would be interesting.

It was only once I had finished it that the title Safe occurred to me. Those trees just seemed to embrace me in a happy space.

In the centre of Safe is the Yin-Yang symbol, the symbol of dual life forces. Feeling safe is not about living in a world that is all good and no bad. It is about being able to embrace that life has aspects of both. We feel safe only when we can embrace this duality.

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The centre is embraced by the chocolatey-brown roots of the four trees.

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The inner square is a paved area, a human space where nature is tamed and the world is shaped to our human needs. Outside is the grass and beyond the sky. The four corners of Safe represent the four elements Fire, Water, Earth and Wind, acknowledging that our safe human spaces are contained by and depend on the planet. Earth is a safe haven in the wildness of the universe.

Safe is bigger than my other mandalas, at 75cm x 75cm. It’s painted in acrylic paint on a gallery-wrapped canvas, finished with a matt acrylic varnish, and is ready to hang. The painting goes around the sides of the canvas as shown below.

Safe was completed back in November, before my exhibition, but I’m only now finding the time to write about it.

Mandala No.18: Satisfied

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Mandala No.18: Satisfied by Judy Backhouse (copyright)

There is nothing quite so satisfying as glorious, rampant symmetry. The repetition and pattern are just so good. Here is a pure indulgence in pretty symmetry.

The pattern consists of 16 segments of circles, all meeting in the middle. It creates a large yellow flower with 16 petals at the outer level, but the intersections reveal a series of similar flowers, getting smaller and smaller towards the centre.

Following the pattern from the outside in, the colours shift from the lightest yellow through orange and red to the deepest almost-black violet in the centre. The petals are emphasised with gold, adding to the exuberant excess.

Satisfied is painted in acrylic on a 50cm x 50cm gallery-wrapped canvas and finished in gloss acrylic varnish. The image continues over the edge as shown below. It is signed on the back and can be hung in any direction.

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Mandala No.12: Content

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Mandala No.12: Content by Judy Backhouse (copyright)

Content is a state of not wanting, of being satisfied with what you have, of feeling that the world is right, just as it is. For me, these feelings of not wanting are most common at home, so Content is about homeliness: simple white flowers, a red and white checked table cloth, four chairs set out for friends or family. These are the simple pleasures that make life feel right. The tiled circular dias frames and contains. Whole.

The centre of this mandala is a round bowl of white flowers, surrounded by the red and white checks of the tablecloth. I like the simplicity of red complementing green, set off against white. The georgeous tiles on the dias echo the red and green in muddier shades. Beyond is bright green grass with dancing vines and more white flowers to add some movement.

I love the symmetries of the central composition, vertical, horizontal and rotational, with only the flowers being out of line. Compare these two views of Content, showing contrasting directions of the squares. Yes, you could hang it diagonally, if you wanted to.

Content is painted in acrylic paint on a 50cm x 50cm gallery-wrapped canvas and finished in matt acrylic varnish. The delicate vines spill over the edge of the canvas.

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Content is signed on the back and is ready to hang.

Mandala No.6: Exuberant

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Mandala No.6: Exuberant by Judy Backhouse (copyright)

Exuberant is very much like happy, but with a quality of excess, of wildness, of liveliness. According to the Oxford dictionary, exuberant means “lively and cheerful” or “growing profusely” and derives from words meaning “overflowing” and “abundantly fruitful”.

In this mandala, the traditional four doors are replaced with a bursting out of green, not only beyond the containing circle, but out beyond the frame of the picture. The vines have gone wild, looping, curling and squiggling with playful life, off the edge of the canvas and back again. Whoosh! Whee!

Exuberant makes use of my happy colours – yellows and oranges, sky blues and fresh green. In the centre is a cheerful orange and yellow flower surrounded by growing green. The blue surround gives an impression of water supporting all that growth.

Exuberant is painted on a 50cm x 50cm gallery wrapped canvas and the exuberant vines go over the edge and back on three sides. It is finished in gloss acrylic varnish.

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Mandala No.2: Happy

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Mandala No.2: Happy by Judy Backhouse (copyright)

Happy is an uncomplicated feeling, without nuance or ambiguity. It’s an open, accepting and outward-looking state. The clean lines and solid colours of this mandala reflect the simplicity of happiness.

Clear, sunny yellow, pure sky blue and bright green are, for me, the ultimate happy colours. And there is nothing happier than simple flowers.

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Happy is a traditionally structured mandala with a circle containing a square with the central circle represented by a happy yellow and orange flower. The four traditional gates have been replaced by sunflowers.

Happy is painted on a 50cm x 50cm gallery wrapped canvas and the solid yellow background continues onto the sides of the canvas. The picture is finished with a matt acrylic varnish.

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