My newest acrylic painting is based in the mythology of the Sami people of Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia, and is of a Goddess/spirit called Jabme-Akka. Jabme-Akka is associated with death and the Underworld, and with the practice of Shamanism in that culture. Anyone familiar with the Phillip Pullman series His Dark Materials, on which the film The Golden Compass was based, will recognize that the witches in that series worship Yambe-Akka, who is based on the actual mythical figure of Jabme-Akka.
I wanted my painting of Jabme-Akka to be both eerie and beautiful, as I imagine the Goddess herself to be. I also wanted to experiment with styles I have not used in previous work.
As always, I begin with a reference photo which I use for the basic pose: in some cases I may choose to make the features as close as possible to the photo; in this case I took some liberties with the face. I chose a photo of a model I like a lot, Jordan Bunniie, from her Deviant Art site:
I start with a sketch using vine charcoal. This one took some fussing. I had to erase and re-draw several times to get the sketch where I wanted it:
Next I painted small details, like eyes, lips, nipples, and then began shading. I began using Windsor Violet to shade the darkest areas:
As I painted I corrected my drawing: the right breast (viewer’s left) was too large, and the nipple not placed correctly, which I fixed later on as I added background. At this point I continued shading using the Windsor Violet, mixing it with white for lighter areas. I also began to create the background. For some reason I had the idea of making the background green:
I say ‘for some reason..’ When I paint Goddesses and other mythic figures, I open myself up to ‘listening’ to the Goddess I’m painting. In this case, I felt that Jabme-Akka herself was telling me she wanted a green background. I am not one to argue with a Goddess of witches.
I always use small brushes when I paint. Here are the brushes I primarily used in this painting. The makeup sponge was used to clean and blend the vine charcoal:
I knew I wanted this painting to be very different in style than some of my other works. I began experimenting with using small patches of color to get a feeling of motion. Also, a few nights ago I was out on the river calling to Jabme-Akka in preparation to painting Her, and a huge flaming object passed over my head. A meteor, perhaps? It was much larger than a shooting star, and I could clearly see the flames burning it in the atmosphere. So I decided to include it in the background. Again, who am I to argue?
Note that the right breast is now proper size… Now I added the color of the hair (Titanium White), and kept working the background and skin tones:
Something I like very much about acrylic paints is their response to water. One can use acrylics the way you might use oils, as a paste, which is how I did the underpainting; but one can also use them like watercolors, making a wash. In watercolor painting, some effects are achieved by applying a series of washes. I did that here, especially with the background. I also allowed watery washes to run and drip wherever they wanted.
As I have with my other paintings of the Akkas and other Sami deities, I included symbols found in rock paintings and on Shamanic drums. In this case, the symbol simply floats in the air beside Jabme-Akka.
And here is the finished piece (also seen a bit larger above):
As always, you can see more of my art and photography on my Deviant Art site, http://kennyfiddler.deviantart.com/. Thank you for taking a look at my work!