Myth for Illustration Friday


Joseph Campbell’s books, the Power of Myth and The Hero With A Thousand Faces come to mind  from this weeks prompt from Illustration Friday.  I strongly believe we all follow the the path of the archetype hero.  We walk the stages of the myth story as described by Campbell. Whether it be the stage of leaving home to begin a quest or meeting the trickster that will divert us from our adventure, our life paths seem to be headed towards a goal. We illustrators draw these stages over and over again in hopes of helpings our viewers to get closer to their goals.

At the present I think I am at the end a conflict stage in my quest.  It’s been a year of struggles. Only now am I becoming more aware of the treasures I have gain from walking my path.

I began this piece last June when summer vacation began.  Freed from the responsibilities of teaching high school students, I had time to sit down and draw.  I started out doing the deletion technique on bristol board using ground graphite.  I attacked that sheet of bristol board. What started out as a giant scribble transformed into a jungle of vines entangling my hero; stopping him, holding him and not letting him move forward.  I think my subconscious was trying to work out my real life frustrations. I had been dealing with the death of my mother and the tasks of taking care of my 87 year old father. And like my hero, stuck and not moving forward, I had to learn to pause, breathe and just let go of trying to hold it all together. When I did, things began to settle down and I could handle things much better.

Isn’t it always that way with a tangle? You can’t fight it into order, you got to let go first.

Once the pencil drawing was done, I let it sit for a few months. Only last Friday when I learned that myth was the Illustration Friday prompt, did I look at it again. To finish it off, I scanned it into PhotoShop and with my new Wacom tablet started adding color. I’m still amazed at the fine quality of line and control the Wacom stylus gives me. I would have been fearful of trying to add color to the graphite drawing, but on the computer I stay tangle free. My quest is complete.

Myth for Illustration Friday

On the Edge of Coyote Hills

On the edge
Between here or there
Some where away from this or that
The mind opens to possibilities
That go beyond what’s right here in front of us
Away from musts and should
Away from have to and got to
They are out there waiting
Let them wait
This moment is real and yet
What can be seen or touched
Here in the wind
Here in the blade of grass
Here in the glistening sea
I know IT is here
Someday within my grasp

I could get lost out there on the edge the San Francisco Bay circling the Coyote Hills Regional Park trail; not physically lost, not soul lost either—maybe lost within the spiritual mind.

On the edge the trail surrounds the hills, you move away from a view of the cities of Fremont, Newark and Hayward.  Those cities seem so far away across the flat plane and abutted against the hills that encircle the Bay. The park isn’t covered with the trees like in these cities where immigrants to the area have planted to deceive themselves into believing this isn’t an arid environment. No, I can’t say that the park is as it was when Native Americans harvested the bounty of Bay, but the park is distinctive from the land around it.  It erupts from the shoreline a small mound surround by the flats.

The wind is always present there. It is always blowing the dried grasses. The grass and marsh reeds become an ocean of waves revealing the current of the wind.

Today the sun was so bright. As the trail moved away from the visitor center all the views of the East Bay fell away pushed further away making one separate, alone on the edge in the light. There was just the trail, the non-stop wind, the scurry of ground squirrels, gulls and the light.  And in that light, the water was brown except where the water dipped down between the chatter of waves.  There it reflected the blue of the sky. Amazingly it was different shades of blue; light blue, dark blue, almost cobalt, and fading into blue green as your skimmed the surface towards the Bay Bridge

The salt flats appeared around a curve of the trail radiating out from the shore the remains the salt farming that was an important industry in the East Bay for years.  Now the levees that divided the plots have been left to the wind and waves that erase them as the tide changes.  Man can’t leave a truly permanent mark here.

Off across the bay at another turn is San Mateo, and you can just about see the San Francisco International airport. Way off. Far off. Tiny and distant. Overcast with dark foreboding clouds, they don’t matter here.  They can be forgotten and ignored at this distance. They’re separate from this moment. Away from me, the wind that pushes or pulls depending on which side of curve I walk along the trail; pushing towards community and pulling into solitude.  The wind becomes a hand that guides me to and from. It’s a living thing.

I think about the mystics that leave the sites of man and move to the desert, away from the drama and the distractions. In an environment that is minimal, they engage with the Other, the Whole.  There’s something there in the desert like here away on the edge of the Bay. There is a presences you don’t feel when you’re distracted. Nature brings you closer, magnifies the connection— This is where I could become lost—quieting the mind—being in the moment—knowing that IT is just beyond.
In the wind.
In the sunshine.
In the grasses, the birds.
The life untouched or bothered by man.
It’s bigger than man.

Video of Coyote Hills on YouTube

Early Morning Walk at Coyote Hill via YouTube

On the Edge of Coyote Hills