I did this image during a Subtooning session in Queensland Australia, participating were two artists who were employed by my Australian company. The artists had hit a stylistic rut. They were very good at what they did, but discovered that they were repeating themselves. Frustrated, they asked me how to break through and gain access to new artistic depths. My answer was a Subtooning session: we began with a guided meditation, the goal of which was to clear our heads of the day, and protect ourselves so that we could safely open up to higher inspiration, then an hour of working on our own drawings. My result is below. During the meditation I saw a key, as we drew I explained to them that "the key is to call upon the living art to teach you". Over the following decade, this image summed up the aspirations I had for our American company, Artopia. Pure creative outpouring and inspiration. Although this goal was never achieved to my satisfaction, I have begun to realize that the TV shows we worked on had inspired generations of kids growing up through those years. Today all that remains of Artopia is this image and the hope of continuing to inspire others through my art.
Subtoons often prompt me to write some accompanying verse...
"Shadowed in the womb of the Subconscious, the Bodytree forms itself. Growing in knotted twists as it wrestles within itself until it unfurls it's petaled leaves, saturated with the blue waters of the Lifestream, radiating fragrant inspiration, Life has expression. All the while, the Bodytree's roots lie linked under the Golden Cathedral of Consciousness, who's light of awareness illuminates the far bank. After the meticulous ages of preparation, the Cathedral's intricate structure was built, crowned with a chimney emitting the labors of it's devotion. The soil of the holy complex bridging back to join the mass of the Bodytree, both are one, encircling the Lifestream."
Interpreting a Subtoon is the same as interpreting a dream, the key is realizing that everything is an aspect of ourselves. For example should you see a dog in a dream, obviously it isn't a real dog, but a symbol of how we view dogs. One person may see loyalty, another a guide and someone else may see it as fear incarnate. It's all subjective. Likewise everything we draw in a Subtoon is an aspect of our inner workings laid out in image form. Subtoons are the study of what we are. While our consciousness preoccupies itself with comparisons to others; smarter, prettier, richer, older, our subconscious is unable to judge us and unable to lie, it is pure truth. So when studying a Subtoon we are gazing into a true reflection of our very being.
Subtoons also show us how the subconscious operates. Imagery is it's primary language. As a result, amounts of things are important, so when something catches my attention I start counting.
If you'd like to have a go at analyzing, look at the image and think about 2, go ahead, I'll wait....
Did you notice there are 2 banks facing each other across a river, one gold, one purple. The cathedral is in the light of the day, the tree is in the shadow of night. I see the two banks as representing my conscious and subconscious (awake, asleep). They almost look like they are forming into the Taijitu, the yin and yang symbol, with the cathedral spire and the tree mound representing the dots if viewed from above. A third factor is preventing them from joining, a body of water. What does the water represent? It enters the picture from a cave on the right, suggesting that it has come from somewhere else. I used the term "body of water" deliberately, the human body is mostly water, a bit of I leap I know, but consider that we are talking about the conscious and unconscious of a human being, however in the image the meatiest looking things are the cathedral and tree. The water seems to be contained by them, they are the vessel that holds this amorphous stream and in the process shape it. The thing that inhabits the vessel of our body can only be life. Which is why I called it the Lifestream. It has entered the body where the conscious and subconscious influence and mold it. Taken that way it is possible to look at the entire landscape as a sack of skin, the cave as a mouth with the head mound over it, with eyes sockets and a skull. It's arms protruding upwards, right arm the cathedral, left arm the tree waving around like a glove puppet. The Lifestream pooling around the belly of this flesh sack. The big question is, where did the stream come from?
If you'd like to keep analyzing, look at the image again and think about 3, I'll still be here when you get back....
To me the most obvious three are the 3 branches of the Bodytree. The Bodytree had made it's appearance in an earlier Subtoon which is where I coined it's name, however this time it is plumed and appears to be coming to fruition. Why 3 branches? Why do I call it the Bodytree? Simple, two arms and a head. It is me as a tree, why a tree? I have an affinity for plants having grown vegetables most of my adult life, I seek to learn from our vegetable friends and an important lesson they have shown me comes to mind. That nature and the human world are at odds, in our world we tend take more than we need and store what we treasure, but nature is the opposite, one seed planted will grow a plant that will multiply into more seeds. Giving is the normal state of the plant kingdom, whether it be oxygen, fragrance, nectar, fruit or it's flowering beauty. It will always multiply the gift of one seed into many. As an artist I see myself as an infinite resource, ideas flow through me freely and they are a gift to those who appreciate my work. However I have often find that even though I give my work as a gift, greedy people will act like they have stolen it from me and run off thinking they have the prize, never realizing that it is only one fruit and I can make more. Such is the artist's lot in our current age.
Another point to mention about the flowering petals, notice that the blue on them is the same color as Lifestream. The gift is life. As I see Art as alive perhaps the gift is living art. Art that feeds the soul with it's own beauty and fragrance.
Moving on to the cathedral, of the 6 main windows around the middle spire, 3 are prominent. For me the 3 windows echo the 3 leaves of the Bodytree, so I counted the smaller window holes which totaled 12, one for each year since I drew the image (to the month). It may be just an interesting coincidence, but 12 is a very important number to me, and for that matter, time keeping in the human world, 12 hours, 12 months, 12 houses of the western zodiac, 12 signs of the Chinese Zodiac which fits because it is the year of the rabbit. Which is my birth sign. I drew the image in the year of the rabbit in 1999 (I never knew that it was a rabbit year back then), and twelve years later I offer it here to you (a gift from a rabbit in the year of the rabbit, originally drawn in the year of the rabbit). If you look at the spiky crowned area above the windows, the lighter section looks a little like bunny ears, but as is usual with Subtoons, one image carries many meanings. The ears also look somewhat like a bishops hat, but more strongly to me, like a metal pen nib which I used for years in my comics. Meaning: the city is more like a temple and creating art is my religion. I identify completely with the act of making art.
But is this a perfect state? Does it look like there is a purple screaming face in profile on the right side of the tree trunk? It might be that constantly being taken advantage of for the fruits of my labors doesn't always sit well with me. Because it doesn't. Unlike a tree I'd appreciate some sharing once in a while, some reciprocation. When I look at the cave, the face looks tired and old. Does this have any significance, it's bugging me and that usually means that it does. I'd like to link this in to a personal experience now.
A few months ago we were concluding a collaborative meditation and a member of the group, who can see auras, noticed that my face was almost obscured by a purple haze, I was really feeling buzzy so her observation didn't surprise me. Someone else identified purple as an inspirational color, suggesting that I give out so much that I might be depleting my reserves which is reflected in my health issues around the kidney and liver area. They recommended that before embarking on any inspirational endeavor it might be wise to charge up my solar plexus with yellow/golden light. Interestingly enough, the 2 dominant colors in the image are yellow and purple. I can also make the case for the Cathedral's spire looking like an umbilical chord taking sustenance from the heavens, and the belly is where the solar plexus is. So perhaps this is a key to not becoming creatively drained.
The thing to remember is that there is no right and conclusive answer with the subconscious, we could come back to this image at some later date and have entirely new observations. It is subjective and that drives most people nuts in our preferred world of definitives and conclusives. The most important thing is that one piece of art that was done unconsciously has a language and we have learned to read it's message.
Lastly read the verse again and see if it has more meaning now.