“Olive Over Tallow” Original Painting
Olive Over Tallow, 11" x 14", oil and digital on board, 2017, framed.
For this particular painting, I knew I wanted to focus on the olive tree as a metaphor for two different kinds of enlightenment.
The cultivation of the olive was life-changing for bronze-age cultures. Oil burns more cleanly and with purer light than animal fat, or tallow, candles, which are smoky and dim. This first type of enlightenment is about surpassing our lower selves and bringing clearer light into our minds. Moving from the base of the figure up, the animal pelt, representing base nature, is clutched at, but then superseded by an anointing of oil across the third eye, a traditional act of ritual cleansing. The olive branches are a halo of peace, bearing fruit.
This painting also has a double reading. As olive oil became more widely available, people had more daylight hours, and were able to use their time to read and study in addition to working outdoors. This is the literal power of light achieving enlightenment through tangible study and human work. Moving up the figure as a totem once again, the pelt, worn as a garment, becomes dominance over animals, mastery of agriculture. The laurels denote both triumph and academic enlightenment.
This painting is a celebration of the enlightenment of the human spirit, and all the roads it comes by.
Originally created for the Modern Symbolists exhibition at Krab Jab Studio.