Black Swan Editions Visionary Art Book
Books Drawn from the Well of Myth

BLACK SWAN EDITIONS
Visionary Art Books & Poetry in Santa Fe, NM

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Art BLOG - The FIVE Minute Art Salon

What Is The Price Of Tomorrow?

visionary art book, graphite drawing, Santa Fe NMart detail from BRIDGES, graphite drawingThe antique enchants not because it's old, but because it endures. These barrel vaults and ribs and pilasters bridging the gap between other worlds requires durability. Modernity is a car without a brake, a gun without a safety,  a tomorrow without a today. We need not worry about the future it is already past. Before tomorrow polishes our brasses and chromes our mind; rust yourself on dust, living water and stone. You can always return to the telemetry that drugs the soul. Go out and get a tonic of air before you get a blanket of earth.

 

 


detail from BRIDGES, graphite drawing from visionay art book titled
ILLUMINATIONS The Geography of the Imagination 

READ MORE:

What is Myth?
What is Symbology?
What is Visionary Art?





Can We Eat A Miracle?

visionary art book from Santa Fe NMart detail from RIPE, watercolor painting by Steven E. CounsellIf you really look at a strawberry, its vibrant color, its logarithmic dynamic of tiny seeds, the Archimedean cone shape of its form. How can you eat it? You simply turn off the miraculous switch, start the pedestrian knob, and hey PRESTO it’s ordinary food for ordinary hunger. We never have to look at it at all. Everything we eat is divine. Bon Appetite!

 

 

 

 

Art Detail from painting "RIPE" on page 32
from ILLUMINATIONS The Geography of the Imagination
Award winning visionary art book by Steven Edwin Counsell,
published by Black Swan Editions, Santa Fe New Mexico

 

Read More:
What is Myth?
What is Visionary Art?




How Do We Grow Into Ourselves?

visionary art book pencil drawing of an aging womandetail from TOYS No. 2, graphite drawing

The tragedy of age is that we grow into the skin we wear out. We don't have a choice but to earn every wrinkle our fading durability offers. This is my Great Grandmother Agnes, perhaps the finest pencil drawing I will ever do. Even though it is a small detail of a larger piece it shows the map of her life. I tried to honor every river and hill of her face. To me this was a devotional drawing, but then all real drawings are.

 

 



Detail from drawing "TOYS No. 2", page 116
from awardmwinning visionary art book ILLUMINATIONS The Geography of the Imagination
by Steven Edwin Counsell, Artist/Author
published by Black Swan Editions in Santa Fe NM

Read More:
Where Can Real Mystery Be Found?




Do You Remember How To Climb Battlements?

art blog visionary art Santa Fe New Mexicodetail from LIBRARY OF BABYLON, pastel paintingCastles in the air! And yet all castles are in the air. The day-dreaming and wool-gathering the gold-bricking and cat-napping all lead to the lithesome hum of childhood. This Schloss in the far corner of a world of books waits; its shutters are opening and yellow light is beckoning. In its halls and turrets, armories and dungeons there are textures and surfaces, nothing is homogenized; mud has black weight and rock walls are cool to the touch, landscapes green to the horizon. Things are as real as our involvement with them. Castles in the air become vague when you've given up on your sense of wonder.

 

 



Painting detail from LIBRARY OF BABYLON, page 49 of book
ILLUMINATIONS The Geography of the Imgination
by Steven Edwin Counsell, Artist/Author

Read More:
What is Myth?
What is Visionary Art?
What is Symbolism?
What is Surrealism?




what is SYMBOLISM?

ordinary devine painting detailTHE ORDINARY DEVINE, pastel painting detailOne thing representing another to induce perhaps a feeling – or a thought – or an action – and so forth. The ultimate symbol system is language itself, words as stand-ins for things or states of being. A flag is a country, a color is an emotion, a logo is a corporation. The list is almost endless – it is almost easier to say what symbolism is not than what it is.

However if you are talking about art and poetry, Symbolism is the penultimate state of the Romantic Movement. This started in the early nineteenth century in Germany and spread like a fever across Europe. It's easy to see how this evolution could take place, to whit — Romanticism equals Thought plus Feeling – then unified through Imagination. Push this to more intense and personal levels of visionary perception and you have the Symbolist Movement of the 1880's, which
also spread like a fever. This was an international movement and its artists ring like bells; Bocklin, Segantini, Khnopff, Hodler, Vrubel, Burne-Jones, and on and, oh dear you may not have heard of these extraordinary men. Have you heard of Degas, Monet, Renoir, and so forth, they were all exact contemporaries and they knew each other. So what happened? The school of Paris prevailed and made them all go away. The Impressionists won. And remember despite revisionist blather to the contrary the Impressionists were a Realist movement. The Symbolists were abstract both
visually, conceptually and narratively and not generally located in Paris hence art politics trumps art. Doesn't it always?

visionary art painting detailart detail from THE ORDINARY DEVINE, pastel paiting The Symbolists were involved in narrative structures, a tableaux sometimes predictable but often profound Mikhail Vrubel for instance painted angels terrifying in their power and not the least sentimental. At their best they tackled the nature of incarnation, aspects of the divine, death, ecstasy, and tried to make it live in a narrative field that transcended commonplace storytelling. What both Symbolists and Impressionists were reacting to was the academies of every country that pushed a stale form of boilerplate history painting, or dead allegory without conviction or originality; also there was an oiliness of style that was often without personality.

The Symbolists did not have a predictable style, they tended to be Mavericks. They were allegorists, metaphysicians, metaphorists, color theorists, myth makers and storytellers of every stripe. They painted as gesturally as Van Gogh or as resolved as Van Eyck, some of them were as intense as the Book of Kells. They resisted easy categorization; the only thing they were not, is what Emile Zola demanded all artists be — Realists. They were emotional, extravagant, alchemists, magicians and holy sinners. A Burne-Jones for instance is as wildly different from Gustav Klimt as a cathedral is from a mosque. And yet they all have something in common – their eyes are fixed on the extraordinary — indeed the SYMBOLIC.

 

Deail from painting THE ORDINARY DEVINE, page 188
visionary art book. ILLUMINATIONS The Geography Of The Imagination
Steven Edwin Counsell, Artist/Author

 

Read More:
What is Myth?
What is Visionary Art?
What is Surrealism? 




Can A Language Invent You?

visionary art BLOG Santa Fe NMdetail from RIDDLES OF WOOD, pastel paintingThis is the Celtic Alphabet Of The Trees (Beth-Luis-Nion) written on ribbons,in Old Norse. How wonderful it is to have created a syllabery built from the various tree types in Great Britton. Did these Celtic Druids speak of growth differently? Did they bud ideas? Did they grow in rings rather than years? This is one of the forgotten languages of the North.

   A language is not a system of communication alone, it is a way of structuring reality. The metaphors chosen in this language determine that reality. Here's to The Alphabet Of The Trees; where everything grows and returns.

 

Art detail from RIDDLES OF WOOD, page 13
From the visionary art book ILLUMINATIONS The Geography of the Imagination
by Steven Edwin Counsell, Artist/Author
published by Black Swan Edittions, Santa Fe NM

 

Read More:
What is Myth?
What is Symbolism?
What is Visionary Art?
What is Surrealism?  




What is SURREALISM?

 

 What is Surrealism ? Two Variations

 

visionary art blog, bookVariation No. I
Simply put, Surreal literally means – beyond Realism. What a wealth of perception,history and possibility live in that, simply. Simply it is the final flowering of the Romantic Movement. Recall, Romanticism is feeling and thought unified through imagination. And what a turn imagination took!

Andre Breton, the father of the movement saw it as primarily a literary movement. He wanted to move beyond the anarchy and despair of Dada. This was a Swiss movement of depressed intellectuals shattered by the WWI. They were without hope and tragically cynical. He thought what was needed was a new beginning.The first improbable patron saint of this reawakening was Sigmund Freud. His pioneering exploration of the unconscious and the power of dream gave Breton a way in.

When the visual arm of the movement began to assert itself it was clear this was the grandchild of the Symbolist Movement. Narrative, craft, the morphology of the world however transformed. De Chirico the first prophet of a new kind of melancholy space led the way and was quickly followed by the names we know Dali, Ernst, Magritte, Man Ray, Escher and many largely forgotten: Dominguez, Matta, Tanning, Carrington and so on into a considerable and distinguished distance. Like Symbolism there was not a uniform sense of style or content. So what did it offer that was uniquely different? Stream of consciousness in the form of automatic writing, private phobias and monsters, less literature and more personal biography, random juxtapositions of improbable elements for poetic purposes, and boundless imagination.

The glue that held them together was Breton, and when the Surrealist Movement lost his adhesive power all of these extravagant butterflies went their own way. The modern, fantastic, surreal, symbolic, mythic, fanciful, and so forth are practitioners in an amalgam of all of these living traditions.

Of course the dangers here are obvious. Any movement or style has the seeds of its own destruction. The dangers in Surreal or visionary work can be painful to behold. Sentimentality rather than sentiment –
To much thought and not enough feeling, or its reverse which results in sterility on the one hand and self-indulgence on the other – Boilerplate far outness without poetic control – Generic and insincere juxtaposition (a teacup turning into a lake and so forth) without the struggle for balance. The craftsman's fallacy, "it is so well done it must be good."


In my view a Surreal, Mythic, or Symbolic work must have the properties of a proper weaving. One thread skill, another thread feeling, another deep mind, another narrative ingenuity (or if lucky, inevitability), another psychological balance, as well as the integrated meaning of color, the ruthless aptness of line, and metaphors that run all the way down to archetype. The myth has legs to stand on going back, all the way back, as far back as back can go. When all of these threads are woven tightly the work will be fully realized.

visionary art blog, bookVariation No. 2

Realism is a kind of myth we pretend we understand, but Surrealism (beyond realism) is a realm we spend a third of our lifetime in when we sleep. We conscientiously forget most of this world when we waken. But the Aborigines believe waking is the fantasy – Dream Time is where they truly live.

When you waken to the fact that real and surreal are metaphoric bubbles floating in the infinite deep, you are left with a fundamental choice. Where is the most interesting place to reside – a world of constantly changing wonder – or a place of gray and alas, necessary routine. Don't panic! Yes gravity works and bills must be paid, but with a small flip of the switch the dull becomes dramatic with new light. The great Carl Gustav Jung knew what every child knows, everything is miraculous. Dali poeticized his fetishes and saved his life. Magritte found visual analogues for his verbal conundrums. Bosch made his nightmares sing with contrapuntal invention.

The second you step behind the curtain, cross the Fairylands forbidden wall, stop reducing magic to fiction or to a sterile coffin to put your fearful conventionalized corpse into, your eyes will be New Washed. Surrealism is not merely a period of European art history in the thirties – it is a way out of the illusion – the illusion that even ordinary life is ordinary.

 

Art details of painting "ANGEL OF BEING", page 56 
from visonary art book ILLUMINATIONS The Geography of the Imagination
by Steven Edwin Counsell, Artist/Author 
published by Black Swan Editions in Santa Fe, New
Mexico.

  

More to Read:
What is Myth?
What is Visionary Art?
What is symbolism?

 

what is VISIONARY ART?

What is Visionary Art?

visionary art blogFirst and foremost it is Vision, to pay full attention to any object or visual relationship – to stop generalizing sight. To see the universal through the particular is to see in a Visionary way. When we see the face of our beloved in all its breathtaking and heartbreaking precision, and know with biblical certainty the absurdly obvious truth, that this luminous being will never exist in quite the same way in the universe again – we are in the realm of the Visionary. Any work of Art that honors the particularity of even a single grain of sand knows that everything is eminent and sips at the fountain of eternity.

The age of the machine has made us generalists, abstractionists, fully phallocentric right down to our toenails – machines fitted us with hard angles, speed, and the reduction of spirit to binary numbers. But the visionary gene is in rhythms. The eternal feminine plays in the tides, the play of the seasons salt our oh-so-perishable flesh. Our machines play us like an angler plays a fish. But real play is in the drama of full presence. To see beyond our stolen birthright back to the eagle that lives behind our eyes.

Subatomic particles fly through us without resistance. We careen through space on this blue-green world at absurd speed, without resistance. Our vision is boundless without resistance. How can we resist a world that gives us infinite forms? What is Visionary Art, open your eyes and as the poet Blake advised: " . . see the world newly minted."

 

Detail from painting "Riddles of Wood", page 13
from Award Winning visionary art book
titled ILLUMINATIONS The Geography of the Imagination
by Steven Edwin Counsell, Artist/Author
published by Black swan Editions, Santa Fe NM

 

Read More:
What is MYTH?
What is SURREALISM?
What is SYMBOLISM?

 

 

Where Can Real Mystery Be Found?

mythological study detail from Toys No. 2 from the visionary art book titled ILLUMINATIONS The Geography of the Imagination by Steven E. Counsell"TOYS No. 2", graphite drawing detail from visionary art book "ILLUMINATIONS The Geography of the Imagination" pgs 116 Where Can Real Mystery Be Found?

Your eyes are as old as this, whether you know it or not. Your age doesn't matter, what you know or don't know certainly does not. The complete mystery of the universe stares at you every time you look in the mirror. Do all eyes view God?

Read More:
What is Surrealism?
What is Visionary Art?
What is Symbology?
What is Myth?

 

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http://www.blackswaneditions.com/visionary-art-blog

 

What is Myth ?

 

What is Myth?

visionary art blog         In its simplest construction myth is merely the stories culture tells about itself, or we tell in recalling our own memories. Just because we call it realism doesn't alter its status as myth. The Trojan War happened three thousand years ago, what we have is the Iliad. Our childhood happened about as long ago, and what we remember will be a fragment, no more complete than the Iliad, in short — Myth.

         History, archeology, biography are all the crumbs from a full meal. If we had access to the whole (sic) truth — Myth would vanish — and so, in all probability would art.

         Fairies, Ogres, Trolls, Stalin, Plato, Us. We are not fabrications or lies or even artful dissembling but merely the inexhaustible realm of story — Myth. Imagination fills the gaping holes that memory and time erase. So really, it’s how good an artist you are that’s crucial. And remember Myth evolves, say from Cowboys and Indians, all the way to Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee.

         I choose to dispense with the rationalizations that make truth and fiction kingdoms separated by an abyss, and instead embrace my Mythic inheritance, in all likelihood the very thing that makes me fully human. The problem then, as I see it -- is not Myth -- but what kind we allow into our life. Are they life enhancing and joyous or cruel and murderous? We are after all the metaphor of our own life. What are the stories we will tell about ourselves? The leap of faith we make into our own Mythology will determine the poetry, sovereignty,and beauty of our existence.
                                                              

Art details from painting "ETERNAL LONGING No. 2", page 182 
from  award winning visionary art book ILLUMINATIONS The Geography of the Imagination
by Steven Edwin Counsell, Artist/Author
published by Black Swan Editions, Santa Fe NM

MORE to READ:
What is Visionary Art?
What is Surrealism?
What is Symbology?
What is Myth?

 

Can Angels Fly?

The FIVE Minute Art Salon
by Steven E. Counsell, Artist & Author


detail from painting in visionary art book titled ILLUMINATIOS The Geography of the ImaginatioRIPE, painting detail from visionary art book titled
"ILLUMINATIONS The Geography of the Imagination", pgs 32-35
Can Angels Fly?

Objects without gravity live in space, or the dream of space in the mind. Haven't we all wanted to float free of limits. Move through a medium like fish or finches? In art I havetried not to let gravity interfere with my perception. Simone Weil wrote a book called GRAVITY AND GRACE. Gravity holds us down. Grace is buoyant. Angels can fly because, they take themselves lightly.

Art Detail from painting "RIPE" on page 32 fromAward winning visionary art book by Steven Edwin Counsell titled  ILLUMINATIONS The Geography of the Imagination
published by Black Swan Editions, Santa Fe New Mexico

Black Swan Editions websitehttp://www.blackswaneditions.com
Black Swan Editions email
art@blackswaneditions.com

 

More to Read:

What is SURREALISM?

What is MYTH?