I originally wrote this blog post in January 2019. Moved to here after deciding not to renew the domain name. In 2021, I published my first novel, Pet Purpose: Your Unspoken Voice.
I painted this symbolic painting yesterday which I've called Pawn Queen (and yes there's a pun).
I don't usually tell people what my paintings mean. But I'm going to tell you a little of what this one means to me. Of course, it's open to interpretation. That's one thing I like about abstracts - can mean so many things. This painting has less intensity and more depth than some of my other paintings.
I had done three sketches of a queen chess piece as a lighthouse in mania intending to paint it one day. I was intending to try and do something very 'polished' using digital but then after observing a recent cluster of synchronicities, I decided to go with acrylics on canvas, because it's more raw and captures much of my subconscious mind. I did some quick sketches in biro and felt tip pens in my journal and processed emotion while I did this - also wrote associated themes that came to mind. This is different from most of my paintings, as I usually do the processing on the canvas. How it turns out is still different to the sketches.
What Does Pawn Queen Mean?
On the left, I have painted mostly in Payne's grey, representing the pain from the past. A little pawn in Payne's grey fought to survive and made it to the end of the chess board where she had dreams of becoming a queen, so she could go in any direction she chooses. She was promoted to queen, but lost the game then crashed off the rocks because her wings weren't strong enough.
Her wings, which also look like flags have symbolism in their colours. The one on the left is Payne's grey and titanium white - pain and strength. The bass clef is for the low times and there is a colon on it representing her story isn't over yet. The purple is a colour representing the little pawn's pain. It is a quaver because she trembled. The quaver is in 'B natural' (be natural) and is in the key of C (see). The right wing is in bright primary colours plus green (for growth). It represents more the bright intense colours of mania. The colours also have other symbolism to me which I won't explain here. The treble clef represents the highs and is in the key of A symbolising excellence and achievement.
The queen chess piece is also a queen of hearts and a lighthouse and a tower. The base is jade with healing leaves. A golden staircase which also looks like rings goes up to the hearts. The red ruby heart is also locked. It is her mouth and has secrets she keeps about the pawn, which was a about her trauma as a child. But she is having the courage to speak out. Her eyes are paua shell. A heart on her head is topaz - half blue for ice and half orange for topaz. Fire and ice. Fire as mania and ice depression and frozen/shut down from trauma.
The original sketches had the queen made from crystal with gems. Transparent and fragile. But I painted the body in metal - reflective and resilient. Even though she can fly, the queen is stable on the rocks and able to help others.
A golden/yellow heart in her core radiates light. To the boats in the ocean to try stop them from crashing on the rocks. The wooden boat and canoe are also her ancestors. She also shines a light on colourful 'pawns' not stuck in a chess game with more powerful pieces. They were also inspired from the shape and colours of counter pieces in board games. They represent children playing. The right side represents hope for the future. Where children can be safe to be children.
The waterfall/river is a healing release which also makes the grass and leaves grow. The pets died but are alive and well watching the children play. I intended the black one to be a dog but it also looks like a cat - but that's how my subconscious works when I paint. The gold heart face is representing another dear pet who died yet lives - a dog. Snowball the cat (another painting) is the white cat who looks like she is both facing forward as well as looking at the children play.
Those are some of the meanings to me, but other people might have their own interpretations based on their own observations and their own stories. The painting is metaphor for my story and so is Pet Purpose, which I am still writing and rewriting.
Some people who have commented on the painting said they see both the pets as cats, they see keyholes (which could represent opportunities), uncertainty and storms of the left and more positive and reflective on the right. Treble clef and bass clef as highs and lows. Spinning around (the rings/staircase).
Xanthe finds creative expression including writing and painting to be therapeutic and helps her to manage her diagnoses of bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).