artist · icon painter · teacher
Description by Sean for Alchemy:
This is a painting symbolizing the evolution of the macrocosm (universe) and microcosm (human, the small universe).
I started by mixing-up some plasters with sand and marble dust for texture, and applying them to a wood panel. Then I made distemper paint (pigment with natural glue as binder) and tinted the plaster with different colors. On the border I put metal leaf, which I patinated with chemicals. I mixed lac (an excretion of insects) with alcohol and coated the whole surface, which allows oil paint to go over it. I made oil paints which I used to paint the figures.
The bull represents the material realm and the angel the spiritual. The world evolves through the influence of the angels on the material world—each of the steps forward in evolution comes from an influence of the angels. The spiral figure in the womb of the angel is the universe, unwinding and evolving through the nurturing of the spiritual beings on the material. The head of the spiral is the human, which is the material world becoming conscious of itself.
Around the border are the symbols of the ‘microcosmic orbit’ from Taoist inner alchemy. The symbols correspond to areas in our body that themselves correspond to the parts of the universe. In Taoism the lower parts of our bodies correspond to the earth, our head corresponds to the heavens, and our chest and heart correspond to the human dimension. The microcosmic orbit is an energy practice that transforms the bodily-earth energy (jing) into chi and then into shen (spirit energy).
So the painting portrays both the evolution of the human person and of the whole universe and how they correspond to each other.
In the painting, the plaster represents the material world, the paints (which are made by mixing earthy pigments with more fiery/heavenly oils and glues) represent humans, and the metals represent the planets and heavens.