As soon as I finished this painting, I said to myself, “It’s a little forest nymph!” and instantly the title stuck in my mind. This prompted me to read up a bit on the fascinating mythology surrounding nymphs before committing to the title.
While I intend this to be a depiction of a human figure, not a literal goddess, I feel my impulsive title is quite fitting. “Different from other goddesses, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing…Nymphs are personifications of the creative and fostering activities of nature, most often identified with the life-giving outflow of springs.”
I knew I wanted to create an image of a woman joyously dancing in the forest. I used this photo I took last year as my (clearly, very loosely based) reference for this painting.
And as inspiration for the pose of my figure, I used this clip art image I found:
I cropped my photo to fit my 24″ x 36″ format, and after I got the image onto the canvas the way I wanted it, I placed the woman in the center of that glowing sunlight, so it’s almost like she’s on a lit stage.
And with many other small decisions along the way about color, form and artistic styling, I think the result is beautiful!
Like most of my recent paintings, I started this one by blocking in an under-painting of the basic forms very roughly and with tons of texture, using cold wax mixed thickly into my paint. Then I finished with brushes and oil mediums, the image becoming progressively more refined as I worked.
The result is thick texture throughout the whole surface. Some of the lines created by the thick strokes of the palette knife ended up determining the directions of the thick redwood tree bark, or became tree trunks or small branches in the distance.
Of course the nymph is me–I do believe that painters can’t help but do a bit of a self portrait in every painting, regardless of the subject or style.
This little dancing woman embodies what I am attempting to create in my life right now–the creative, life-giving, joyously dancing, self-made spirit: Making something beautiful out of whatever ingredients life has thrown at you.
Do you see something of yourself in her?