Wednesday, April 18, 2012


acrylic on birch panel
16 x 20 inches, plus frame

For my August 11th solo show, Talisman at San Francisco's Modern Eden Gallery

call (415)956-3303 or email for inquiries
or corylou311(at)yahoo(dot)com 

I've been working on this painting for a while, and it's finally done!

It's called "Augurium", about the Ancient Roman practice of Augurs, whose main role was to interpret the will of the gods by studying the flight of the birds; whether they were flying in groups or alone, what noises they make as they fly, direction of flight and what kind of birds they were.  I found this and much more useful information on this subject on Wikipedia

Only some species of birds could yield valid signs, and the meanings would vary from species to species.  Among them were ravens, woodpeckers and owls, the ones I decided to picture here.

The curved object pictured here is the lituus, which was used as a symbol of office of the augurs to mark them out as a priestly group.

Auspicium would design the technical process of the operation, i.e. aves spicere (the Latin phrase included on the bottom frame of the painting), which means "looking at the birds".  His result would be the augurium, i.e. the determination , acknowledgement of the presence of the auges, the favour of the god(s), the intention and the final result of the whole operation.

I found this whole process to be utterly fascinating, and also added elements of floriography (the Victorian language of flowers) to the piece.  The irises represent "messages", the wild strawberries, "foresight" and "future promises" and the pear blossoms represent "hope, health, longevity" and "good government".

The talisman that the barn owl holds in it's mouth is the Fourth Pentacle of Mercury amulet which assists in acquiring knowledge of all things, including reading minds.

Here's the progress shots:

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