Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Detail from "Mystery" by Cristina McAllister
I’m really excited to present this piece.  I feel like it’s taken my work to a new level. 
Interestingly, it took a trip through the dark to get there.

I don’t talk about it much, but I struggle with occasional depression.  It runs in the family, and fortunately, it’s never been severe.  There are just certain days when I can’t seem to get my thoughts turned the right way ‘round.    
All my doubts and fears are magnified, my motivation and enthusiasm seems to evaporate.  For whatever reason, even though I KNOW I’m not being rational, I can’t seem to find my way to the positive outlook I usually have.  I can’t seem to manifest ME.  It’s frustrating and…well, depressing.
By now, I’ve learned to recognize that it’s temporary, so it doesn’t worry me too much.  I just have to ride it out, and eventually the dark cloud will lift.
I have learned that on those days, it’s best to set aside creative endeavors (my Muse usually visits on brighter days) and keep busy with something basic, or find a distraction to maybe cheer me up. 

The other day was One of Those Days.
After spending the morning cranky, unfocussed and frustrated, unable to find a distraction to grab my attention, I decided to grab my sketchbook.

I didn’t want to feel the way I was feeling, so I thought about feelings I DO like to feel.
One of those feelings is a sense of Mystery.  That enchanting sense that wondrous things are possible, that the answers to all those deep questions are out there (or within, or both), and they are extraordinary and magnificent.  It’s a feeling of sacredness, of reverence; it’s the secret song that serenades the Soul.
This feeling is one of the reasons I’m drawn to studying sacred art and spirituality in its many forms, to explore the explorations of other minds that have delved deep into the Mystery and shared their insights.   It’s one of the reasons I’m fascinated with symbols – how they can convey secret messages to those who learn their language.

“Mystery” is the result of this escape into the refuge of my imagination and inspiration.

"Mystery" by Cristina McAllister
There are many symbols entwined in this elaborate mandala, many images that invite you to ponder their significance.  There is even a secret code – an idea I’ve been contemplating integrating into my work for awhile.

"Mystery" StarCode message.

The blue bands with the stars contain a message, encoded in a simple alphabet-substitution cryptogram.  The message in the art doesn’t contain enough information to crack it (though you’re welcome to try!), so I’ve provided a sample, below, for you to work with, if you are inclined to take a whack at solving the mystery.  Please let me know if you do!

A sample of my StarCode - can YOU decipher the secret message?

Future works will contain more starcode ciphers.

This piece is more elaborate than my previous work, and took a lot more time and effort to create.  I was striving to balance complexity with legibility, to create an overall impression of ineffable mystery that dissolves into comprehension as one wanders through the details.  I wanted to create a sense of exploration and discovery, to try to capture that sense of wonder and reverence I value so much.

To that end, I’m not going to explain all the symbols in this one.  I’ll leave that for you to discover.  Many of them I’ve used before, and have written about in art descriptions and blog posts.  The internet is a fantastic resource for finding answers.  And do not discount your own, intuitive interpretations – they are just as valid, and perhaps even more meaningful, than the established connotations.
What does the Mystery whisper to you?

So...I feel like this piece has raised the bar for me, and it taught me something; my Muse is willing to visit me on my bad days, if I invite her in  :)
Fine art prints of this piece are available from my print shop (you can also zoom in to get clear images of the details here):


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