About Kokopelli

The KOKOPELLI series

The Flute Player is a well-known figure to Native Americans in theFour Cornersarea of the U.S. Southwest.  Kokopelli is a prankster, a storyteller, a life-giver, the spirit of music. The Anasazi, the Hopi, the Zuni, all the ancient ones had heard of Kokopelli.

The genesis of this show was a class called “Watercolor Beyond the Obvious” taught by Mike Bailey.  Students were expected to produce two full-sheet watercolor paintings (mixing media was okay) per week.  During the ten weeks we also learned about the seven elements of design (Line, Size, Shape, Direction, Color, Value, Texture) and their eight relationships (Unity, Harmony, Dominance, Conflict, Repetition, Variation, Gradation, and Balance) and were to explore these in our works.  For example, the painting “Wallpaper” is an attempt to show texture.

The first week we discussed the importance of line.  I originally chose Kokopelli because he himself has curved lines and his ladder has straight lines.  So at least for the next session, I had an idea of how to proceed.  We painted individually at our own studios or homes, often working late into the night.  Then, the art was critiqued at the next class.

Oh, the discipline of doing a series!  The first paintings tend to be rather realistic, but after a short time, realism runs out.  What else is there?  Use a sketchbook.  Discover. . . .

Of course, these paintings have been reworked, polished from those first versions which had just one quick layer of paint.  Sometimes fixing a piece of art takes more effort than creating it.  That was certainly the case here.

What did I personally want to take away from the class, the series?  I wanted to learn to paint larger and faster.  That, at least, was accomplished.  Has my style been altered?  You be the judge.

Kokopelli has taken me on a trip!

Patricia Nojima