When a new discovery was made in a Bronze Age archaeological site of a thin gold “Sun Disc” there was a general excitement among friends. At the Summer Solstice this year, the Wiltshire Museum added this penny-sized disc to their collection found in 1947 at Monkton Farleigh, some 24 miles northeast of Stonehenge. My suggestion was that it and all other grave goods should, once examined in detail, be returned to the site!
It was then suggested I try to recreate the idea in contemporary terms. At first, I was considering several ways to emboss the design in metal, but found myself going into an entirely different direction.
I have done a lot with pyrography in the past. But I didn’t have the sense of drawing with fire until I invested in some professional gear. Then I began an entirely new body of work that started with a series of sketches on wood. The pen can be very finely adjusted for temperature, produces heat almost entirely at the tip of the pen, and a variety of pen tip shapes are available for different purposes.
As I began to gain a certain confidence with the tool I began to think almost immediately about color and its application to these wood surfaces.
So when I began to work on larger pieces, there was plenty of open space and the detail was also much simpler to do.
I then embarked on a group of five 6.5″ discs that left much of the “Sun Disc” iconography strictly in the background, and the lines to stand on their own. These little discs are somewhat related to a series of large canvases I completed in 2010, three of which can be seen at the Blue Cross/Blue Shield collection in Dallas.
The first piece convinced me that the pencil lines were important, too. I left them, and used color pencils to create yet another kind of linear element.
A sense of the enigmatic is important, I suggest, to keep the viewer returning, to see again if something was missed.
Still maintains a suggestion of quadrants and the presentation of Light. The gesso areas accentuate the quality of the Birch surfaces.
This piece incorporates Taoist talismanic inscription that suggests the movement of incense spirals, or a wreath of energetic flotations.
This disc has, more than the others, more if the suggestion of wood grain, so it became the ground for a more coloristic approach. The Solar quadrants still exist, but bloom outwardly and are then bound up by the painted edge.
There is still a great deal to be explored by burnt lines. Perhaps in the next series, some broad areas may be filled with fired areas to determine a kind of relief for painted areas. So far, the pyrographic lines seem a unique way of drawing.