"Lilies and the Hare". Oil on canvas, 24x48"
The vision of “hare in repose” first came to me on the steps of a little hotel in Greece, as I was doodling and playing with a neighborhood dog one summer night in 2018. Although this lounging, calm hare was the original idea for the painting, what actually came out on the canvas, was quite the opposite: a bolting mad hare wreaking chaos and havoc. You can see and read the story behind “Excuse me there is a hare on my plate”on my website. I suppose sometimes you need to work backwards!
I started “Lilies and the Hare” in December of 2019, but quickly pushed it into the “unfinished works” pile. Curiously, as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, I found myself drawn back to it and eagerly plucked it out of the “unfinished” stack. Most of my narrative pieces start with an emotion, a feeling. What does feeling of dignity and power feel like? What does feeling lost look like? Who are the characters? It simmers inside, sometimes a few minutes, sometimes weeks, until an image comes through. Although I envisioned the story for this painting long before it’s initial sketch on canvas, I suppose it just wasn’t complete without the pandemic, as it brought a whole different level of emotion and understanding. To me all works created during times of hardships end up being “portraits” of the time, even if I am not depicting these events literally.
“Lilies and the Hare” is about choosing the good. It is about soaking in the sweetness of life, indulging in it’s joys - eating that delicious cake, if you will! It’s about cherishing the depths of our friendships, love and intimacy; it is about soul searching, introspection and internal balance, embracing and celebrating self, all while navigating life’s chaos and accepting the inevitability and unpredictability of death. “Indulgence”, in its positive aspect has become one of the most picked apart concepts last year: everything I did that brought me pure joy - being an artist, for example-appeared to be self indulgent, therefore shameful or even guilt-inducing. So in many ways, this painting is about savoring, embracing and cultivating beautiful gifts we are given by the Universe.
So, why the hare? The hare emerged as a “spirit animal” when I was going through radical and intense changes in my life, thus becoming a symbol of life, courage, chances, creativity, vitality, and, of course, those big, life altering leaps. (If curious, read about “Excuse me, there is a hare on my plate!”). In this painting, though, the Hare embraces chaos and uncertainty as it lays strong, dignified and at peace atop a pile of lilies-flowers often associated with death. I am sure we all felt a bit more vulnerable, more helpless, a bit more ...mortal during this pandemic. Perhaps that is why I was instinctively drawn to start working on this painting again when the whole World changed in one short instance.
Death gives life value. So I want to remind the viewer that despite all hardships and chaos, our lives are still ours to live, to feel, to explore and to enjoy. The bright colors of the painting represent vitality and vibrancy of life: what are the chances of being born and how blessed are we to experience this gift! The two tea cups symbolize the beauty and depth of human connections: vulnerability, history and that special intimacy with our friends, family or lovers that can only develop from honesty and time, (so often with a soulful conversation over a cup of tea!). I know for many of us reconnecting with people we left behind, perhaps even saying our peace or getting closure has been a big part of coping with these uncertain times. And lastly, these teacups are a testament to sobriety and clarity.
The quiet times of isolation brought about many opportunities for self reflection: that is how “Matryoshkas” (Russian nesting dolls) ended up in this painting! These wooden dolls became a personal symbol of introspection and peeling away layers of conditioning and various belief systems. Often we are scared to look inside because we are convinced our insides are ugly and unworthy! By digging deeper I realized there is gold inside of me, inside every each and one of us! - and there is even more waiting to be discovered! And, perhaps more obviously, Matryoshkas are a way of celebrating my Russian heritage! Balloons represent the passing of time, like color-coded markers on our timelines: birthdays, weddings, graduations, anniversaries, recoveries and so many more important events that fill our lives with meaning and worth!
“Lilies and the Hare” ended up being full of symbols, and the more I painted, the more stories it told. Sometimes I would come to the studio and ask the Hare: “So, what is it that you want me to paint today?”. This painting absorbed in itself loss, fear, gratitude, discoveries, pure joy and connection! And I am happy to share it with you now.
Both "Lilies and the Hare" and "Excuse me, there is a hare on my plate!" are available, and If you want to come check them out in person, or philosophize about life, or just stop by for a safe "hello", I would love to see you! :))
Really hope you and your loved ones are well and healthy! ....and despite these hard times you are still able to find beauty! Lots of love and hugs,