Victoria Pendragon, BFA, DD
Much of my art can be seen at Artspan.com, but I am currently in the process of ‘moving house’ and the rest of it – and all my latest work – can be found at Saatchi Gallery online. You can learn a little more about each of my series: The Lovers, Yogis & Yoginis, The Goddesses, Wordscapesthe She Who… series, my abstract, mixed media work and Witness, right here on this site.
“… all of the creations that come from deep within us, from our ovarian wisdom – whether they are babies, books or works of art – have a life of their own that we have a responsibility to initiate and allow but ultimately not to control.” Christiane Northrup, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom
Here are the salient descriptive facts about me as I can wrap my head around them: I am a vivid and voluminous dreamer; I write; I paint… no… I make art; I transmit energy; I ‘read’ energy; I am a receiver and transmitter of information; I am an ecstatic dancer; I thrive on inspiration. I am passionate about life. This is who I am.
Most of my work is on the small side, so that the viewer can experience intimately, as one might experience one’s own self in contemplation or experience a lover in the act of love, the depth and complexities of attachments, attraction and energy in the physical world. People, where they appear in my work, represent all people of all kinds, my couples, any kind of couple. My work is about our One-ness, our same-ness, and, perhaps ironically, our marvelous diversity and uniqueness. I see women as Goddesses, men as Gods and all of us as co-creators of our realities…personally and passionately empowered if we desire to be. I see the earth as nothing short of a wonderland and stand in constant awe of every aspect. I create because that is what I was made to do.
When you purchase one of my works you are with me on that part of my journey, an excursion in consciousness which may resonate with your own foray. You are not buying one of a hundred paintings of images or houses or people that carry a sameness that ties them together; you are taking into your care the record of a unique period of time, a time that may have lasted for only a few months…. or for a year… or more. You have captured a butterfly.
I cannot guarantee you consistency of style or of subject matter; I will always and ever bring to you the outpourings of a heart and soul as it draws what it needs from the flowers life offers up to it. As it happens, I have involved myself with a painting project that has – if it maintains the kind of momentum it began with – last for the rest of my life. It carries the potential for that as it has taken me 50 years just to comprehend the book that I have based the work on: The I Ching. I am in love with this work as I have been with no other because it has forced me into a depth of involvement I have never before experienced. It has called upon me to use Sleep Magic to create the work, something I have never done. To say that I am pleased would be an understatement.
And, yes, this is what passes for an artist statement for me, because it has to, because I am a contiguous whole, and everything that I am is wholly integrated with everything else that I am; my words have penetrated my art; my dreams – hypnogogic and hypnopompic states – penetrate everything. It has been a struggle coming to this place of insisting on being All That I Am because of the whole people wanting to put other people in boxes thing.
I’m done with it. NO BOX. I can’t do it.
I would, from the standpoint of a person who produces a prodigious amount of art, like to be able to classify myself just because that would make everything so much more simple. “I am a landscape painter.” No, I am not, but I do paint the occasional landscape. I don’t paint them exceptionally well but I paint landscapes the way some people jump out of planes; I have to get it out of my system. I love nature. Love it. Perhaps I should leave it to the landscape painters but I do not seem to be able to. My landscape work is naïve, sometimes childlike; it may always be thus. It is something that simply has to happen from time to time. Period. Other interests stay longer. I’m assuming that everything is teaching me something.
A visual timeline follows.
I ‘drew’ The Moon Bounces one late summer night in a small sketchbook that I was using when I had scleroderma. At this point, I had not yet been diagnosed but my hands were so swollen and painful that I could barely hold any kind of implement. Still, I felt compelled to record that night when the moon appeared to be bouncing in the sky. It would be the first of many small but miraculous events that happened during the three years I shared my life with scleroderma.
Here sits a 20 year gap representing the period of time during my second marriage when my second husband – with whom I was creating collaborative art works – refused to let me put my art out under my own name because it would undermine our collaborative work. I created art – the pieces above, for instance – but it was never seen by the general public.
This was the first painting I completed after my second divorce. I retrospect, sitting here in my home in the hills, it seems uncanny, as if I had been – unintentionally – creating my own future.
When the time came that I knew I would be moving to the mountains, to a place well outside of what passes for a good sized town down here, I knew that I would need – NEED – to have supplies for making art. I’d been working mostly on collages throughout 2008 and 2009 and wanted something that felt more free. I decided upon dyes and silk, a medium I’d used with my second husband to make art. I liked the way that the dye was unpredictable yet felt the need for some kind of structure.
Again, in retrospect, this seems a bit like me staring real artistic freedom in the face but afraid to just let go, afraid to produce something that was pure color, something without ‘meaning.’ (Mrs. Sprague, speaking from my past…)
Well, I got sick of structure within about a year and was inspired to merge the collage work I’d been doing with the silk dying, first creating a collage, then using that as an underlying structure for the flowing colors of the dye on silk overlaid, allowing that which lay beneath to appear only partially visible, dream-like, memory-like.
Both the chakra flags and this mixed media work drew heavily on the strong influences both of my own healing and of working as a hands-on healer for about 15 years.
In March of 2013, six months after my mothers death, I became ill with something that simply would not leave. It centered in my lungs, (a vulnerable spot for me, having almost died from TB as a child, then coming down with pneumonia in my senior year of high school), and despite my being a very compliant patient, the cough, fever and exhaustion seemed determined to stay. I spent much of the time that I was not sleeping watching documentaries on art and artists. Then, one day, still weak but seemingly on the mend, I saw, in my minds eye, a painting. I got up and got to work producing a small acrylic that was entirely composed of letters. It said “What might art look like if the meaning were right there, spelled out?”
Something else happened too, while I was bed-ridden… I had just completed the collage base for a mixed-media piece that I was going to call “The Triple Goddess of Unshed Tears and Her Lost Children,” and, as if out of nowhere, I realized how the abuse I’d endured in childhood had robbed me of the joy and challenge of raising my children till they were grown. I realized that Goddess was me. So in addition to shifting gears, painting words, I began producing a series of pure collage works which ended up becoming Witness.
This piece -In The Oneness There Are No Words – a part of the Wordscapes series (much of which was in creation at the same time as the work for Witness) – was trying to tell me something I finally heard. I’m slow… but I’m not stupid. The Wordscapes had gotten off to a rocky if energetic start and over time developed a crisp clarity that I loved, like the above piece, but which I became quickly dissatisfied with and what was crisp and clear began to want to become almost indistinguishable from the background. Words that had so much wanted to be seen now wanted to hide, teasing, then wanted to almost disappear.
The Fire That Burns Within My Heart Burns All Around the World is the last of the Wordscapes, the letters themselves almost burned away, trying to make clear with words what I’d actually have to experience upon coming face to face with what it looks like when pure energy is transferred from artist to canvas… and that’s where I am now. Making a mess of my husband’s beautiful house with his blessing and having the most satisfying experiences of my life.
My abstract period appeared just long enough, I suppose to loosen me up and usher me into the work I began early in 2015, then it disappeared and is now back again, having merged with my exploration of the themes of the ancient book of divination, the I Ching.
Bodies by Victoria, pure color and composition hiding in the disguise of bodies, appeared after the first foray into abstract work, then it, too, faded away… from boredom. Usually done in three colors, often in two, and never more than four, the bodies are painted in what I call ‘flat, simple’ style, not unlike silhouettes.
Other work, which had been going on simultaneously, was inspired by a source that is about as unpleasant as you could imagine: the mistreatment, enslaving, mutilation and enforced marriages of women around this world. My work – the She Who… series, created mostly in 2015, is my attempt to icon-ize the beauty, power and gifts of the female energy in the world, to perform the function of ancient artists who created amulets, small sacred sculptures, and magical objects that were empowered with everything the female body has to offer, to remind the world that the female of the species is a sacred being.
The I Ching series has come as a complete surprise. It began with Sleep Magic opening me up to something I had been struggling with since 1966: the I Ching. We’ve had a kind of love/hate relationship for all that time until I unwittingly gave my body permission to integrate some information I received about myself from a series of Human Design charts prepared by Dr. Eleanor Haspel-Porter. I awoke the following morning suddenly in complete resonance with the I Ching. I began ‘translating’ my understanding into paintings and that is what I am currently in process of doing, though that, too, is in a state of unfolding and seems to be becoming more and more abstract.
The painting above, Innermost Sincerity, was the first of the I Ching paintings to be what I thought they should be, the first guided completely by Sleep Magic. All of the I Ching paintings can be seen at the Saatchi Gallery site and prints of various sizes are available of all works.
I am a member of Very Special Arts, The Coalition of Visionary Resources, the Women’s Coalition for Art, and the Hampshire County Arts Council.
College Days photo by Steven Yarnall
“The most powerful factor is that the very best talent is drawn to doing some-thing disruptive to the legacy, something new and fresh.” Scott Dietzen, chief executive of Pure Storage
Photo by Julia Lehman-McTigue of Jewellea Photography.