84" x 48"
acrylic on canvas
Private Collection, Houston, Texas

Polaris was a commissioned portrait.  In many ways it was more difficult than the majority of portraits I have done in the past.  The subject is a friend and peer of mine.  It was commissioned by her boyfriend (now husband) as a surprise for her birthday.  Doing someone's portrait without them knowing, and not being able to have them sit for you creates its own set of challenges.

 You will notice that I do not keep this work categorized with the rest of my portraits. To me it is more of a singular work as opposed to a traditional portrait.  It is much more complicated and in depth. The subject is surrounded by an entire story of images that relate back to her.I was asked to translate the work for the owner and the subject, here is an excerpt from that explanation:

 The woman in lilac and blue at the top of the canvas you should know well.  What makes me smile about this particular image of her is that the smile and expression she wears is because she is looking at you. It was based on a photo taken after one of the openings when we went out to dinner.

She is surrounded by darkness punctuated by constellations and nebulae.  The map itself based from a Korean star chart, hence many of the combinations of stars will look unfamiliar.  The center point of the chart is anchored directly in the subject's gaze; the North Star, Polaris.

Floating in the stars are the nebula, which are fingerprints...  mine.

Attached to select stars you will see small formulas.   These are some of the formulations of spherical harmonics.  They relate to specific tones and their effect on a sphere of water in a vacuum.  originally these formulas were devised in the 1950's by a guru in India in conjunction with drum effects and mantra chanting on the body.  But their application has widened in recent years and is being studied much more closely.  Of course there are several correlations here about the "harmony of the spheres" and Buddhist ideologies.

In the center of the canvas is Leonardo DaVinci's Vitruvian Man.  He is illuminated from his core.

Surrounding him in his sphere is a rococo design representing the balance of fire and water.  At his feet are four imaginary hurricanes - Boreas, Notus, Eurus and Zephyrus - that are allegories of the four winds.

Springing up to the sides of Vitruvian Man are (on the right) a starflower, and (on the left) a bearberry (the star Polaris anchors Ursa Minor, the "little bear").

These plants float in a mix of tiny particles.  The tiny particles represent the idea of earth.

So...  fire, water, air, earth, and above them all, ether, the Greek fifth element in the stars.

The subject's role in all of this is that she is comprised of this ethereal material.  She particulates out of the star field with the same colors of the stars.   More than that, she flows from the opened mind of the Virtuvian Man.  But, lest we think that she is an angel, or a vision in heaven, look to the left above the bearberry and you will see that she is grounded in the earth as the particles transform to become part of her.  She is part earth, part heaven.