The Drawing Table: Tuareg Tribesman

I often change the style and subject matter that I work with to keep things fresh and to constantly challenge myself to evolve as an artist.  I've decided to take my work over the edge and step out of my "box" of artistic limitations once again.  The result is this acrylic painting on 11 x 14" canvas of a Tuareg Tribesman.  

I discovered this photograph by Jonas Karlsson in the July 2007 issue of Vanity Fair featuring articles and photos of Africa, of a Tuareg tribesman who had traveled two weeks by camel across the Sahara desert to attend  the Festival in the Desert, a music festival showcasing West African music.  This festival is held at an oasis in Mali near Timbuktu and is mostly attended by Tuareg who travel in caravans.
I painted using a more realistic style of a man (I have never painted a man before).  This painting poured from me in only a matter of hours, the most challenging part being the hand and camel (I've never painted a camel before).
I  painted the constellation of Orion in the background, or as the Tuareg call it "Amanar", the warrior of the desert.  The belt of Amanar points to Sirius, the "Dog Star" and the brightest star in all the sky, which rises around the Summer Solstice to signify the start of summer (or winter for the Polynesians).  In Ancient Egypt, the rise of Sirius signaled the beginning of the annual flooding of the Nile River.  
I was immediately drawn to this man's expression and demeanor, and I imagined his sense of accomplishment, peace, and connection to the earth after traveling so far under such challenging terrain.  Perhaps he traveled at night to avoid the heat of the day, following his starry map like the Arab astronomers of old. 
I am feeling inspired to paint more portraits and would like to commission portraits for people via my soon-to-open Etsy shop, which will allow customers to email photos of themselves and loved ones and receive a custom portrait within 1-2 weeks.  Until then, look up at the stars and remember how connected we all are.  Peace!



faerwillow said…
~unbelievable...and you say you have never painted this style is like looking at a mirror reflection of the magazine photo...remarkable little one you truly are...warm wishes and brightest blessings~

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