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Chakrasana: Full Wheel

Full Wheel: Chakrasana

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.   
 

*To purchase prints click here

Full Wheel Watercolor Image from March 2020

Moga Yoga

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!

   

Asana Series: Heart Opening Poses

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. 

Forearm Stand

Forearm Stand: Pincha Mayurasana

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. 

**To purchase prints click here

The ‘Asana” Series: Zen Yoga Triple

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. 

Pincha Mayurasna – Forearm Stand

Salamba Shirshasana – Head Stand

Virabhadrasana II – Warrior II

**To purchase prints click here

There’s a lot going on!

This year opened with a bang and continues to keep me busy. I am joyous and grateful for the doors that Spirit has begun to open for me! In January I was able to move into my new studio space and begin getting myself settled in there.

February opened with my participation in The Art of Living Black 2019″ show and open studios, along with the completion of my first book When We Pray. I want to thank all who offered your support by placing a pre-order for When We Pray. Your patience during the order fulfillment process was greatly appreciated. I am a freshman author and I learned a great deal during the course of my publishing process. The insights have been a real blessing.

March began with a wonderful Grand opening celebration that was both a debut of my new studio space and my first book reading. Both portions of the event were well attended. The music was and refreshments were also outstanding.

April opened with the start of my 6-week workshop on a mind-body technique called Visual Journaling. The group is small but very committed. The participants are gaining clarity and wisdom from the technique and having a great time in the process! I also participated in the opening reception for my Solo show at the East Bay Church of Religious Science. The show will be up until April 30th – so feel free to stop by EBCR if you have time.

On April 28, I’ll be doing some live painting at the Oakhella Street Festival Season Opener! I have never done any live painting before so I am both nervous and excited to take advantage of this new opportunity. However, I am up for the challenge and grateful for another chance to expand my comfort zone. I plan to raffle off the painting I complete for the Oakhella Festival so make sure you come by painting space and pick up a few tickets ($5 each). You could be a winner! 

This May I would love to engage with you at my May 9th Workshop!
SEARCHING for BEAUTY: INSIGHTS on ART, AESTHETICS & PRACTICE
Thursday, May 9, 2019
6 pm to 8 pm

Abrams Claghorn Gallery
125 Solano Ave. Albany, CA

BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR MY NEW COLLABORATIVE PROJECT!

After 10 years of waiting, I will soon begin working on a new series of images on yoga. I have been talking about this project for 10 years and it has just not materialized. I applied for grant funding last year but my proposal was denied. However, Spirit has recently given me the go ahead and presented me with the perfect opportunity to work birth this series.

I will be creating a 12-piece series of watercolor images on yoga. The series will be in collaboration with the founders of Black to Yoga. Black to Yoga is a monthly yoga extravaganza created by people of color, for E-V-E-R-Y-B-O-D-Y! Their mission is to bring health and wellness to our community through the transformative power of yoga.

The founders of Black to yoga have graciously offered to pose as models for the series, and collaborate with me as sponsors of the series once it is completed. I am extremely excited about this opportunity and can’t wait to get started! 

Coming Events

SOLO SHOW OPENING 

East Bay Church of Religious Science
4130 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA
*The reception is free and open to the public 

Friday, April 5, 2019
7pm to 9pm

I will do some readings from my book When We Pray AND showing the images from the
When We Pray Series (along with some other works).

 

YOU CAN STILL REGISTER FOR MY APRIL 2ND WORKSHOP
If you are local, purchase your spot in my upcoming Visual Journaling Workshop.

VISUAL JOURNALING
The soul speaks in many forms. Visual Journaling helps us identify and name these messages so we can more easily identify which part of our soul is speaking. The manifestation of an image can often allow us to access and process experiences by deeply engaging both the body and mind in the effort. Visual journaling helps us hone our inner vision by expressing thoughts, feelings or emotional reactions as colors, shapes or images.

The Course
This 6-week course will explore the technique of Visual Journaling and the ways in which it promotes our own spiritual growth. Each week the facilitator will discuss aspects of the technique and then present an exercise focused upon a particular theme (love, joy, grief, pain…). Participants will be expected to complete additional exercises at home during the week and contribute to group discussions during the weekly meetings. The final meeting will be dedicated to the creation of a larger final piece that will explore the results of the process.

Maximum number of participants: 12 
     
Registration deadline: April 1, 2019 (10am)

Dates: April 2, 2019 to May 2, 2019  Tuesday nights (4.2, 4.9, 4.16, 4.23, 4.30 & 5.7) 

Time: 6:45pm to 8:15pm   

Cost: *$225 
Payment includes 6 workshops sessions, supplies for 5 of the sessions, and healthy snacks.

*1x payment that must be completed prior to 10am. April 1, 2019)

2 Scholarships are available.
To apply for a scholarship, or ask a question please submit a confidential email to: info@damonpowell.com

OTHER EVENTS

Preaching
7 Last Words Service
Corinthian Baptist Church
(550 24th St. Oakland, CA)
April 19, 2019
7pm to 9:30pm

May Workshop
Workshop on artistic practice & aesthetics
Abrams Claghorn Gallery
(1251 Solano Ave. Albany, CA)
May 9, 2019

YOU CAN STILL PURCHASE

WHEN WE PRAY: 8 Meditations on the Aesthetics of Prayer & the Spiritual Life

Content

The overarching aim of When We Pray is to explore the connections between prayer, meditation, art, and aesthetic experience in ways that are both insightful and practical. Each of the eight essays takes the reader on an exploration of topics such as the role of imagination in prayer and manifestation, the aesthetic aspects of enlightenment, the role of signs and symbols in the spiritual life, and more. As you explore these topics you are also invited to feast your eyes upon professional illustrations created by the author himself. When We Pray is a total package experience that features insightful, thought-provoking essays that are accompanied by beautiful, well-crafted imagery that supports the topics covered in the prose.  

Features
-When We Pray is printed in an 8.5 x 11, soft-cover format. The prose and the accompanying illustrations are printed with black ink on opaque white paper. Your copy will be autographed!  

-The cover illustration is a 7×10 limited edition, full-color illustration printed using archival inks and paper. Each print will be numbered and signed by Dr. Powell.     

TOTAL COST $25

Price includes the price of the book, the limited edition print, applicable taxes, along with shipping and handling.
To place your order, click here:  WHEN WE PRAY

**Please send this link to others who might be interested in this offer**

 

Coda: There is Only Love


FINAL CHAPTER EXCERPT   

The publishing process for my book is moving along much faster than anticipated. The editing phase is almost complete. The final phase, publication should be well underway by mid-January. Look out for opportunities to place your order very soon. Below are a few selected excerpts from the concluding chapter, Coda: There is Only Love.

When We Pray VIII: There is only Love

 

When I began to download the initial inspiration for “When We Pray,” I had no idea that a series would follow. The initial inspiration came forth just as many others have during my daily practice of prayer and meditation.  I was sitting quietly, peacefully, feeling the warm and then cool pattern of my breath when I became of aware of a very distinct sense of presence all around me. It was not a sudden awareness but a slow, steady, building which seemed to reveal itself progressively as it became increasingly more distinct all around me. I’m not sure how long the process took, but it was a slow and deliberate revelation that became increasingly more palpable. I felt no fear, only an evermore confident sense of comfort, ease, and genuine care and concern for the issues I was offering up for divine assistance. I somehow instinctively knew that my inner voice was heard, that spirit was listening and was also compassionately concerned. As I poured forth my concerns, there was a gentle but firm sense of being held, or of being wrapped by divine hands and arms. That I was being stroked and soothed as a mother would her slumbering child. At the same time, I felt as if I was also shielded and supported. Then it suddenly dawned upon me that I was in God’s hands and that this was the place I had occupied every time I prayed, but I had only now become aware of it. This realization of being in enveloped within the hands of the divine resulted in the initial image of the series…

…As we are lifted-up by love we also lift and are lifted by others. This active web of relations lies at the heart of love and forces us to confront humanity’s dominant conceptualization of love. We conceptualize love as a noun, but love is and ever shall be a verb. Because love, like creativity, requires manifestation. Love must be made visible, or it is not authentic love. All our conceptualizing and imaginings about love are simply much ado about nothing unless they become expressed in the form of concrete actions expressed in daily life. These expressions undergird our need to “make” love, “fall in” love, “give” love, “welcome” love and actively experience it in all the myriad ways it can be given and received…

…From a metaphysical perspective love never ends. But it is often born, dies, and is resurrected within the context of our material human experience. If we would simply take the time to look within, listen to our souls, and set free the love already within us, we would surprisingly find more of it everywhere we look. But we often travel through life crippled and completely lacking the very thing we crave so desperately. Love is free for the taking if we would just open ourselves to receive it. So, let love flow to you and through you. Love has no beginning or end because love is all there is.

MY NEW COURSE
I have now begun the initial preparations for the creation of an online course that will expand upon and supplement the material presented in When We Pray. The course should be completed and ready for enrollment by the 2nd week of January. 

MY NEW STUDIO SPACE
On January 4, 2019, I will become one of the resident artists at Blank Page Studio. Blank Page Studio is a non-profit corporation dedicated to providing low-cost studio space for visual artists and supporting the visual arts in Oakland public schools. It is an honor and a privilege to share in the work of an organization that supports the youth of Oakland.  Be on the lookout for your invitation to my Grand Opening celebration!

PAINT PARTIES ANYONE!
As of January 1st, I will be working with Wine and Design – Oakland as a painting party instructor. Wine and Design is located in downtown Oakland at Jack London Square.  If you want to try something different, celebrate an occasion, or raise funds for your favorite non-profit we are the ones to call. Don’t forget to request yours truly as your party artist.

FINE ART INSTRUCTOR
My contract as a Fine Art instructor for 6-8 graders who participate in the Higher Ground After School Program has been renewed. Higher Ground is a non-profit corporation dedicated to serving youth in the Oakland public school system. 

Gravity: The Manifestation of Form

INTERPRETATION

The Root Chakra is key to all physical manifestation. Not just the form and shape of our body but the form and shape of the life and life experiences we manifest while within our body. The root chakra brings about existence or the manifestation of being and form into existence. As the first chakra, it is singular, whole, and complete unto itself.  Just like the number one, it is the beginning of all beginnings. This emphasis upon manifestation is one of the reasons why the charkas move from the lower to the higher vibrations. Although the 5th (throat) chakra may inspire creativity and the 6th (skull) chakra opens us to receive the vision, creation always necessitates form. Without form, our inspirations and visions have no hope of being grounded in physical reality. These higher vibrations must slow down, congeal, and condense before they can enter the material realm. That process of grounding and manifestation is the domain of the root chakra.  

In my previous post on the 6th chakra, I spoke about the process of purification and envisioning I was lead to undergo at the beginning of the year. But once you have seen the vision, manifestation is always the next step in the process. Moses went up the mountain to meet with God and receive the vision, but if he hadn’t come back down the mountain to manifest that vision his entire trip would have ultimately meant nothing. The results of my sojourn led to the manifestation of “Gravity.” The shape and feel of our lives is always a result of the manifestation of our consciousness in form. For me, this meant going back to my own singularity. Going back to my own roots psycho-spiritually and re-examining the mental and spiritual thought forms manifested there in order to decide if the events, people, places, and things in my life were accurate manifestations of “who” and “how” I wanted to be in the world. I was not very happy with what I was seeing. 

The root chakra is not only singular and whole but is also about grounding and connection. This grounding and connection occurs as we manifest things into form, and from our ability to maintain the stability needed for further nourishment and growth. This ability to “anchor in” and find stability is the basis for the development of individual growth and personal power. Gravity is a force of attraction. It encourages in-gathering and the marshaling of one’s inner forces. It is from this stable core that we are then able to attract or draw forth the power needed for acts of concrete manifestation. This is why the energies of the root chakra ground us into the earth so that we may develop the stable roots needed to grow and exercise our power through acts of manifestation.

Spirit was reminding me of this and letting me know that it was time to re-ground myself through a re-examination of what I had manifested thus far. I needed to make some long overdue changes. It was time for me to take a deep look at my beliefs and values in order to ascertain if they were still reflective of who I wanted to be. It was now time to ground down, find myself, and make serious efforts to change, jettison, or adjust any values and ways of being that no longer served me, or reflected who I “am” and want to be. In my case, this meant addressing my own issues concerning guilt, shame, and self-worth. Everything in my life, and the life I live is firmly grounded in my ability to: affirm what I do have, to believe that I deserve more, and my willingness to allow myself to have more. As within, so without. And so it is!

Gravity The Manifestation of Form

Gravity: The Manifestation of Form

SYMBOLISM

The graphic symbol above the figure represents the four leaves of the root chakra and the Sanskrit character for that particular chakra. The red hues throughout the composition are all associated with the chakra’s red color. Red, the color of blood, fire, and life. You will notice that some areas of the background are much softer and more diffuse than others. This was an intentional decision to symbolize the idea of form coming into and out of various stages of development and manifestation as it slows, congeals, and hardens into the shapes and sizes of physical matter.

The figure is standing in a form of the yogic prayer pose which is also a variation of the popular mountain pose. This pose is a grounding pose which allows one to stand in firm stability as the feet and root chakra energies ground down into the earth. Her feet are grounded deeply within the heart of the lotus she stands upon, as the minor chakras in her feet and knees transmit sensation from the lotus up into her root chakra. Her head is bowed and her hands are positioned in prayer over her heart. Her concentration is both meditation, prayer, and in-gathering as she places her focus upon the work of manifestation.

To Purchase the Original or a Print email me: Info@damonpowell.com

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Polarity: The Balancing Of Desire

INSPIRATION

Most people think the second chakra is all about sex and sensuality, but to limit this chakra’s energies to such a narrow bandwidth is literally majoring in the minors. Sex and sensuality are one the many by-products resulting from the actions of the 2nd chakra’s core responsibility: the balancing of polarity. Polarity is the action or power that connects two opposing forces. In this case, the old adage “opposites attract” is right on target. An easy example lies in the action and attraction of yin and yang both intermingling and interpenetrating one another. Polarity is the energy which binds the power of dualistic forces. As beings of Spirit and matter our very existence is an exercise in the balancing of dualistic forces in polarity.

The 2nd chakra is also associated with the moon, water, emotion, and the gift of clairsentience (the ability to receive information through feelings). This emphasis on motion and change compliments the dynamic movement of forces needed to maintain polarity among opposing dualistic forces. Likewise, the age-old association of the moon and water with feeling and emotion matches the mercurial nature of emotions themselves – as we can be happy one moment and sad the next. Humans can experience the depths of emotion and then enter a complete state of shock that renders us incapable of feeling. These are the mysteries of the sacral chakra. Upon close examination, you will find that the binding agent between these forces, the glue which acts as the substance of polarity is human desire. It is my contention that it is this connection to desire which links the sacral chakra so closely with sex and sensuality.

Each and every moment of each and every day we are desirous of any number of things. To be human is to experience desire. Desire itself is decidedly neutral – for without it none of us would be able to accomplish anything. But if left unchecked or untempered, our desires can so easily become an enemy from within. A trojan horse that is capable of undermining and destroying all our hopes and dreams. If we repress our desires we dam the flow and our manifestations become dull and lifeless. However, if we allow our desires and passions to overshadow everything they will eventually consume us. Therefore, we strive to maintain an equilibrium among our various desires through the action of polarity. Just like water, our emotions, energies, needs, and desires must flow. Shifting and re-forming as needed to fit the multi-form contours of our desires as they expand, contract and intermingle according to the demands of daily life. One of the most easily identifiable areas for observing this need for polarity lies within the realm of sex and sensuality.

Polarity- The Balancing of Desire

Polarity: The Balancing of Desire

SYMBOLISM

The predominant color representation for this chakra is orange. For each chakra, I use a minimum of three variations of that particular color ranging from warm to kool. All other variations in tone are created by mixing a particular hue with white. For this image, I used the orange found in the lotus as the primary tone of the entire image. This tone colors the lotus, serves as the base tone for the background and was painted as a lighter layer on the flower beneath the seated figure.

The 2nd, or sacral chakra is symbolized by the six-petalled lotus with its accompanying  Sanskrit character (Savadhisthana). This same decorative flattened Lotus motif is found at the top and a more realistically rendered lotus is found underneath the seated figure.

The seated figure is meditating in the full lotus position with his hands pointing downward in the shape of a triangle. The triangular mudra has its opening in the location of the sacral chakra. I opted not to place a small graphic image of the chakra within the space for two reasons: I wanted to keep the imagery consistent with the remainder of the series, and I felt that a bright graphic image there would draw the viewer’s eye directly to that location where it would remain stuck – thus sapping energy and movement from the overall composition.

In many ways, this particular piece has been the most difficult one to create thus far in the series. The choice of which chakra to work on next has been Spirit-led and intuitive. This exercise has also meant that a major portion of my focus for this series has been an exercise in tuning in for guidance. Not only tuning in but more significantly, exercising the courage and discipline to trust and follow that guidance once it has been received. In “learning to trust my gut” as the old folks used to say. Learning to balance my inner feelings and hunches with the knowledge and skills I have acquired along the way has been a source of tremendous growth for me. I look forward to the coming year with courage and wonder.  I have finally begun to realize that the process is as important as the outcome. Balance is the key. Namaste’

Look out for a discussion of the 6th chakra next month!

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Damon’s Originals

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Prints by Damon

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