The Hávamál Project
Today I’m starting a new project. My goal for the rest of the month of December is to create a drawing every day (with breaks for the holidays) based on the Hávamál. What is the Hávamál you ask? It translates as “Sayings of Har.” Har is the High One, another name for Odin. So they are the “Sayings of the High One.”
These sayings are a collection of poetry, offering insights and wisdom to help one lead a good life. There is some amazing wisdom in this ancient text, and it’s been translated numerous times. I am going to use the Henry Adams Bellows translation because it’s old enough to be in the public domain. Modern scholars have done more accurate english translations, and I encourage you to seek them out if this topic interests you, but for my purpose Bellows will do nicely.
My approach for each drawing is quite different than my previous method of working. When I start there is no plan. Using watered down ink I create random shapes. I often do several of these at once and set them aside. Each day I select a passage from the Hávamál, print it out, and tack it above my work space. I read and re-read the verse. Then I light a candle, make an offering to the spirits who guide me, and meditate on the verse. When I feel ready I return to my studio.
I then look at the random shapes and use a pencil to find all the creatures and objects that will help bring the prose to life. Then I begin inking in black. Once finished I highlight a few areas in white.
So far my experience with working more intuitively and spiritually have helped me connect with my art in a completely new way. One strange side effect is that I don’t completely feel like the art I’m creating is my own, it feels somehow “other.” Having talked with other artists who embrace their spirituality and a bit of randomness this is not surprising, but it does feel chaotic. For now my goal is to embrace the chaos and let this project go where it wants to go.
I invite you to take this journey with me. You can find the Bellows translation of the Hávamál HERE. If you have a favorite passage share it with me either via e-mail or social media.
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