‘Ancient warrior- African lion’
Pastel on Supertooth paper
Image size 64 x 84cm
I have a wonderful friend who is a neuropsychologist. She told me many, many years ago that every painting I do is a reflection of some deep inner part of my psyche at the time of creating it. At the time I went into my studio and carefully reviewed the male African lion portrait that stared down his nose at me in a slightly stand-offish and possibly arrogant manner. While her powerful message wasn't lost on me (since I was recovering from a massive nervous breakdown at the time) I never forgot her lesson and always review my paintings when complete to see what they are telling me about myself and about my concern for the natural world.
This Male is fresh off my easel and is speaking very clearly to me about many things after an epic week-long battle to complete him.
First off, he is not the same as many lions I have painted over my nearly 40-year career. He is not picture perfect. He is not beautiful in the way that a 4-year-old lion in its prime is beautiful. He is not unscathed by life and he carries many scars. He understands now that he has been superseded by younger and stronger males and he carries deep within his soul the lessons of a harsh life on the African plains. He understands he has seen maybe the best of life and has now reordered his priorities. He is at the shorter end of his journey and understands this.
As for me.....well I am certainly no lion but I do see many echoes of my life in his face. The inevitable scars and experiences that shape us as surely as the storm shapes an ageing tree.
Many, many years ago my dad said to me (in the arrogance of my youth) "When you have been in the world as long as I have son you will see things differently"!!………..Turns out he was right.
I stared at this lion for a long time this morning and looked deep into his soul and deep into the message I was giving myself.... then I wept. Not in sadness so much but in frustration that in spite of everything we humans do we have still not learned to live life with love and mindfulness …. for ourselves or for any other living species. We must understand that when we look at another being, we are seeing truly just an extension of our own selves. As the Buddhists say 'There is no other' …. we are all one. All an indivisible and interconnected fraction of this global biosphere we call Earth.