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Odysseus, the Painting

Odysseus, acrylic on canvas, 5ft x 4ft

Odysseus arrived as I got my new studio into shape. It was an intersection of a found scrap of lace fabric, large drawings from pin-hole light effects filtered through trees, and especially my first encounter with The Odyssey as I prepared to teach Homer’s epic in my Great Books class at Mercer University. The spark came while reading about Odysseus approaching his home after decades of adventures and wandering. The king returned as an unknown stranger to everyone but his dog, who promptly died. What went through his mind after so many years and hardships, armed only with stories of exploits among men and gods, returning now to a long abandoned role as father, husband, and son?

I read this on my own front porch as a father, husband, and son. As the kids say, that hit.

Just off my porch was an old chair in the shady corner of a flower bed where I seated a terra cotta pot with a Gerbera Daisy. It was thriving, putting out a couple glorious magenta blooms at the time.

Odysseus combines several approaches. I activated the canvas by painting a field of pin-hole effects (with no idea of what it would eventually become). I wove in sprayed and painted stenciling from a curtain and other similar material. I was consciously sidling up to Penelope at her loom, weaving and unweaving. When chair and daisy came into the picture things started to click. The ragged caning echoing more weaving, reminding me of Odysseus pulling at different threads in his stories. Here was this flower just off the porch, the Greek hero at the edge of home, subject and ground enmeshed. How this came together can be seen in this video, A Painting's Journey.

The physical comes first. My reaction to how something or scene is composed, a mark, colors, a glimpse from across the room or through a car window can set things in motion. Instinct is hard to nail down, but it knows. How? It’s complicated.

Odysseus will be on display at the 567 Center in #downtownmacon starting First Friday in August.

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