Damon Powell is an Artist and Theologian. His creations are based upon insights gained through his research of theological and philosophical texts which he gives visual expression through the use of color, line, and symbol.
Damon's Mission is to give divine light form through the manifestation of symbolic images that encourage reflection upon the myriad ways that Spirit reveals itself within our world.
Dr. Powell received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Kansas City Art Institute, his Master of Divinity from Payne Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Philosophy from the Graduate Theological Union. After obtaining his BFA, he began a career as a professional illustrator and free-lance artist. However, upon entering into ministry his theological studies helped him to view his visual artistry as an integral part of his vocation and ongoing spiritual practice. At present Damon considers himself a Fine Artist and Independent Scholar whose research is directed primarily toward theological aesthetics. He is available for commissions, speaking engagements, research collaborations, workshops, and writing projects.
This acrylic piece is the last of my acrylic works in the “Asana Series”. I began the painting at a live painting session about 6 months ago at Black to Yoga. You may remember the small 16 x 20 watercolors I have already completed of Quamay from my March newsletter (depicted at bottom).
I was able to get all of the basic tones into the background and the figure during the live painting session but was having some real problems figuring out how to accurately render the figure. The watercolor piece of this pose was completed from a side view. This worms-eye frontal view is much more dynamic. The body’s angles and lighting are dramatic and undulating, thus making the contours of the yogi’s figure more difficult to render accurately. Sorting through these technical difficulties kept me from completing the painting during the live session. With so many people watching it is sometimes difficult to find the confidence and sense of safety needed to forge ahead knowing that your efforts may lead to failure.
So, I brought the piece back to my studio, put it back up on the easel, and just kept periodically staring at it for two more months. It might not make sense to you, but any artist understands this behavior completely. Trust me, it’s one of the creepy, weirdo things we artists sometimes do! By then it was time for me to move to my new home with it’s own studio space so I just brought the incomplete painting along for the move. Once I set my studio up in the new place I placed the painting back on the easel and began the same staring match all over again!
Then I got sick with COVID and spent several weeks just trying to live let alone painting. By the time I felt well enough to try and paint I was so far behind on the whole series (which is actually just the watercolors) I thought it best to complete it before going back to staring at this one again. Once the series was complete (last month) I was determined to finish this one. I am bit OCD about my work and have trouble accepting creatively loose ends – so it had to be completed.
Chakrasana is a heart-opening pose so I placed the symbol for the heart chakra above the figure and repeated it in the headband for greater emphasis. Since the asana symbolizes a wheel, I purposely left the back edge of the mat open to give the pictorial plane a sense of infinity, or movement out beyond the figure’s feet. The majority of the colors used in this image’s palette (greens, blues, browns), are indicative of the earth and one’s connection to it through the asana.
The Asana Series is Now Complete!! The three images below are the final images in “Asana Series”. Asana is Sanskrit for “pose” or “posture” and is used in reference yoga. The model for these final images was the yogini Kirsten Rogers. Check her out on Instagram @kirstenrogersyoga Dancer’s Pose – Nataranjasana final images in the “Asana Series”
This pose is a heart-opening pose that requires extremely good balance. It is dedicated to the Hindu deity “Shiva” the founder of yoga and “Lord of the Dance”.
Splits – Hanumanasana final images the “Asana Series”
I would love to get into this pose one day! The Splits is a grounding pose that stimulates the digestive and reproductive organs in addition to stretching the thigh and groin areas.
Mermaid Pose – Eka Pada Rajakapotasana final images in the “Asana Series”
You may recall that I created a similar image of this pose in acrylic paints about six months ago. Although watercolor is a very different medium with its own character, I still wanted to create interest between the two depictions. In order to do so, I used a more dynamic point of perspective, a different color palette, and a more elaborate background.
Be on the Lookout! The Asana series is the largest series I have completed thus far. Now that the series is complete, I will be working closely with the founders of Black to Yoga (Maureen, Kirsten, and Zen) to get the series out into the public. We have big plans for this series so be on the lookout for further details regarding shows, talks, prints, swag, and other ways you can obtain the series.
It’s been a long time since I had the opportunity to create a piece just because. In late April of this year, I was asked to participate in the International AIDS Society’s Conference – AIDS2020 by creating a piece for their “Profiles in Resilience” series that would have been on display at the conference. The conference is held at different locales around the world and was to be hosted in Oakland, California this Jully. However, due to the arrival of Coivd-19 on the world scene, the conference will now be hosted virtually. My piece will now be included in a virtual gallery.
For those of you who may not know, I have spent the last 11 years working in the HIV/AIDS arena and have had the privilege of attending a few of the conferences (nationally and internationally) and am thankful for the opportunity.
The concept for the series was novel and exciting. Each artist was provided with a brief Bio and quote from a local HIV/AIDS activist and asked to conceptualize an image based upon the information provided. The particular activist I was paired with I also know personally which made the project even more exciting for me. The universe definitely knows how to navigate with serendipity and humor!
My conception for the project was based upon an image I have created previously, but with some additional changes and twists. I really enjoyed having the opportunity and the time to contribute to such a worthwhile cause. I enjoyed working with the IAS creative team and am honored to have been selected for inclusion.
The quote for the piece read, “Don’t grow weary in well doing. In due season we will reap if we don’t give up. We will find a cure for HIV and the world will be better for it.”
I wanted to depict the hope and faith I have encountered among many those whom I know and love that have been living with this virus on a daily basis. Their resilience, optimism, and determination have inspired me to be a better person and work harder to provide the needed services and support that helps them to survive and thrive- while we wait and work toward a cure. They are my friends and I am grateful to have been accepted into their community!
The ribbon is the symbolic AIDS ribbon that has been a longstanding symbol of the movement. The sun above the figure is indicative of hope in the dawning of a new day without HIV/AIDS. The flowers and tall grasses beneath the figure symbolize the growth and flourishing of this community despite, stigma, and discrimination. The figure stands with his arms outstretched, and head tilted up toward the sun as the breath of life blows over and through him.
All three of these images are the newest additions to my ongoing series on yoga, the “Asana Series”. Asana is Sanskrit for “pose” or “posture”. The model for these images was the yogini Maureen Mlller. Check her out on Instagram @mogayoga
Full Lotus – Padamasana from the “Asana Series”
You may recall that I created a similar image of this pose in acrylic paints about four months ago. Although watercolor is a very different medium with its own character, I still wanted to create interest between the two depictions. In order to do so, I used a more dynamic point of perspective, a slightly different color palette, and simplified the background.
Half Moon Ardha Chandrasana from the “Asana Series”
I find Half-Moon to be a very interesting and dynamic pose. I wanted to find a perspective point that would stress that dynamism while still giving one a good view of Maureen’s entire figure. The symbolic shape used in this image is a combination between a fractal pattern and a more biometric amoeba-like shape.
Goddess Pose Utkata Konasana from the “Asana Series”
In this image, I wanted to give a sense of Maureen’s nobility and power. She truly embodies the energy and wisdom of the Goddes and I really wanted to imbue the image with similar quaities.
OTHER NEWS As some of you may have heard via social media, I am in the process of recovering from Covid-19. I am still not sure how I contracted the virus and don’t know of anyone else in my networks of association who has contracted it. As of this post, I am in my tenth week of recovery and am still not completely well. It has been a long and frightful journey. I was blessed to not be ill enough to need hospitalization, but there were times when I was convinced that I might die alone in my new home. Thanks be to God that I am alive and on the mend!! At present, I am undergoing testing to ascertain if there has been any permanent damage to my brain or other internal organs. Please keep my recovery in your prayers.
Please take this virus seriously and do all you can to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy!
Full Wheel Pose Chakrasana from the “Asana Series”
All three of these images are the newest additions to my ongoing series on yoga, the “Asana Series”. Asana is Sanskrit for “pose” or “posture”. The model for these images was the yogi Quamay Sams. Check him out on Instagram @eye.three
The colors I chose for this series are based upon the asana’s connection to the heart chakra: All three of the poses are heart-opening poses that relate directly to the heart chakra (green).
Camel Pose – Ustrasana from the “Asana Series”
Quamay is extremely athletic and flexible. He makes these very difficult poses look almost effortless. I really wanted to capture that connection between strength, effort, and stillness.
Standing Backbend – Anuvittasana from the “Asana Series”
I really did a lot of sketching to try and figure out how I could make this pose fit within a composition. The shape created by the figure makes it difficult to place the figure in way which doesn’t create blockages in the overall pictorial flow. I used the energy and from Quamay’s pose to create a loop that brings the eye down to the ground and back around to the figure.
OTHER NEWS As of March 15th, I have officially left Blank Page Studio. The parting is bittersweet but it was a necessary move. I have now moved into a new home that has enough room for me to maintain a studio space and my living quarters under the same roof.
I am now officially moved in and ready to begin the next stage of my creative journey in this new location. I am not necessarily worried but do need to be careful that I maintain the same level of discipline that I have over the past 6 years maintaining a studio outside of my home.
These new images are indicative of a solid, strong new start. I am now past the halfway mark with the completion of 9 images out of 15.
Wide-legged Forward Fold Prasarita Padottanasana from the Asana Series
All three of these images are the newest additions to my ongoing series on yoga, the “Asana Series”. Asana is Sanskrit for Pose or posture. The model for these images was the yogi Rondy of Rondyoga.com
The colors I chose for this series are based upon the asana’s connection to the lower chakras: the root chakra (red), the sacral chakra (orange), and the solar plexus chakra (yellow), and purple for the crown chakra. Rondy’s hands are in what is referred to as the reverse pray position.
One-Legged Crow – Eka Pada Badasana from the “Asana Series”
Rondy added a spicy and extra-hard adaptation to his one-legged Crow that I had never seen before. Usually, both hands are on the ground with the forearm in the air (as in the arm on the right), but Rondy placed the left forearm on the ground increasing the difficulty.
Garland Pose – Malasana from the “Asana Series”
This image is a watercolor reinterpretation of the acrylic painting that I completed in January. For this version, I changed the angle from the three-quarter view to a worm’s eye view.
UPCOMING SHOWS Art of the African Diaspora Show
Open Studios: Era Art Bar 19 Grand Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610 March 6 & 7, 2020 -First Friday, March 6th 6pm – 9pm -Open Viewing Saturday & Sunday, March 7th and 8th 12 – 5 -Artist Talks 1pm to 3pm Saturday, March 14th 12 – 5 -Open Viewing Sunday, March 15th 12 – 5 *doors open at 11 and close at 5
Enter my Giveaway to Win a Free Print! In celebration of my new website, I am giving away a free 16 x 20 pre-matted print of my watercolor “Addiction” (valued at $184). To enter use this link: Free print Giveaway
My new site has a completely new look and a variety of enhanced features that make it easier to navigate the site, and provide a variety of options for your orders My new site allows you to order paper and giclee prints, metal prints..choose your own frames, and have the whole order shipped ready to hang!
Garland pose is another addition to my ongoing series on yoga. The model for this image was the yogi Rondy of Rondyoga.com
The colors I chose for this image are based upon the asana’s connection to the lower chakras: the root chakra (red), the sacral chakra (orange), and the solar plexus chakra (yellow). Garland is a rooting pose which more deeply connects one to mother earth and her life-giving energies.
The unalome to the right of the figure is a Buddhist symbol which symbolizes the journey to enlightenment as symbolized in the geometric shape at the top of the symbol.
For those of you who don’t know, I began the series in July of last year in conjunction with the yogini’s and yogi who teach at the Black to Yoga here in Oakland.
My new website launches next month! I will have a new website platform that will be launching in the first week of February. There will be a completely new look and a variety of enhanced features that will make it easier to navigate the site and to place orders.
My new site will allow you to order paper and giclee prints, metal prints..choose your own frames, and have the whole order shipped and ready to hang!
*All of these features will necessitate a raise in my prices so if you want something at the lower price point place your order before February 1st!!
Art of the African Diaspora Show This show has a main location and several satellite Open Studios so you will be able to see my work at several venues
This acrylic piece is the last of my works depicting the yogini Zen. I began the painting at a live painting session last month with the hosts of Black to Yoga. I had already completed the smaller watercolors depicted in my last newsletter and had them on display at the event.
I was able to get all of the basic tones into the background and the figure during the live painting session. The work flowed and I felt a sense of ease with the energy of the day which always makes everything easier. As an artist, these are the moments we live for.
It took another week and a half before I could complete the entire painting, and another week to get it properly scanned and ready for presentation.
The swirling shape to the right of the figure is called a unalome. Unalomes represent the spiritual path toward enlightenment in the Buddhist tradition. The spiraling shapes symbolize the inevitable twists and turns of life – while the straight lines remind us of the harmony one experiences during moments of enlightenment.
Fear is a funny thing. It can manifest itself in so many ways that we often mistake it for something completely different. Oftentimes, it uses other emotions or activities as a veneer in order to mask its true identity. Anger, procrastination, OCD, controlling behaviors, rigidity, constant pleasure-seeking…have all been veneers for various fears I was holding onto but afraid to face.
In this case, it was my seeming inability to sit down and begin the preparation work for these images. Initially, I had written it off as being too busy with other things. When that excuse was no longer working I then went into various machinations involving my using the time to gather more ideas and usher in a creative flow. One day I was sorting through some acrylic paints inventorying what I needed to replace and I accidentally picked up one of my watercolor vials and a rush of anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks. Beneath it was the palpable sensation of fear.
The fear was a wake=up call and a reminder. It let me know exactly “why” I hadn’t been working the sketches for this series because I was afraid to get started because I was afraid to fail. I was afraid to dive in because I haven’t used watercolors in over a year and I wasn’t sure if I could get back into the medium and produce anything value. As any artist will tell you, watercolor is an extremely difficult medium and most painters try their best to stay away from it. Although watercolor has been my preferred medium since college, it does take time and failures to really master and I had been focusing on developing my acrylic skills while trying to complete my “Chakra” series.
This sudden realization and the subsequent acknowledgment of my fear broke its power over me and allowed me to not only admit it, but more importantly to face-it and thereby release its energy from being. This was release was the catalyst for my steps to begin delving into the bread and butter of this new series. These 3 initial images are not as polished as some of my previous endeavors but they are powerful representatives of a return to watercolor. Stay tuned for my three in this series as you be privy to the transformations that will occur as the series progresses.
These three images feature the lovely and extremely athletic yogini Zen Forbes of “In with Zen” Yoga.
The second acrylic of my new “Asana” series has officially begun!
This is the second image in the acrylic images of the Asana series. It is a 30 x 30 – inch acrylic image that was begun live during my second attempt at live painting! The image was initiated at “Yoga After Dark” a monthly event conducted by Black to Yoga. I will be the resident “live painter” at these events so come check me out sometime soon.
This image depicts Maureen from Moga Yoga as she prepares for deep meditation in the Lotus pose. Maureen is depicted in the more challenging “full lotus” position as opposed to the less challenging “half- lotus” asana. The seri yantra depicted behind her is a symbolic meditation symbol. The triangles in the center portion represent the power of the divine to manifest creation,. The graphic shapes just outside the triangles are graphic interpretations of lotus flowers which symbolize birth, life, renewal, hope…while the four points at each end of out square-like shape are indicative of the four elements.
I have just begun the initial images for the watercolor portion of the series. Be on the lookout for a beautifully printed calendar you can purchase next year!
Presenting my Research
I had the pleasure of presenting my research on aesthetics and discussing “The Beautiful” and its relation to creativity theory with the members of the PInole Artisans group last week. It was a real pleasure to present my research to a group of artists rather than a theological conference. I did some expounding upon a powerpoint deck and read an excerpt from my book, “When We Pray: 8 Meditations on the Aesthetics of Prayer & the Spiritual Life” (Balboa Press Books 2019). My presentation was well-received and I was invited back next year.
*To purchase the original, click on the image above.
**To purchase a giclee limited edition print click here