Thursday, March 10, 2011

"Oracle" appears in American Artist's Drawing Magazine, Winter 2011!

(On the cover, "Eight Falling on Thirty" by Ian Ingram)

My drawing is included in an article titled Forming the Figure.

"Whether traditional or contemporary, realistic or abstract, an artist's choices concerning the model, pose, and form of a figure are guided by expressive purposes." 

by Ken Proctor

“Oracle” 22x30  Charcoal and Pastel 

Here is an excerpt:

"In our mythologized and ordinary era, how is it possible to revive a myth? To engage the modern viewer, Terry Strickland follows a proven strategy: Artist's as far back as the Renaissance, set historical and biblical scenes in present-day concepts, with the figures wearing contemporary clothing. Defying stereotypes about gypsyish fortunetellers, Strickland’s Oracle appears to be an ordinary, modern woman.

Clothing is a powerful symbol for an artist to characterize a figure.  A suit speaks of facts, a gown of glamor. But hidden or forbidden truths, as an oracle might deliver, come not from the exterior but from inspiration within, beyond everyday experience. To peel away the the outer, workaday world, Strickland posed her model stripped to a slip.  Symbolically stripping enables revelation. Like her slip, the oracle's skin is light and clear. Dark hair, stark shadows, and a dramatic lighting heighten her fair skin. The combined effect, rendered in a straightforward, realistic style, transforms an ordinary woman into an archetypal virgin-priestess.

Although it stretches the bounds of a contemporary setting, the oil lamp is plausible, familiar. Light is a powerful symbol-light shining out of darkness suggests mystical revelation. And who would seek the truth with a light bulb?  Fire is primal.  It's flickering fragility of fire suggests the tenuous nature of fortune and fate. Glass, the impossibly mysterious product of fire-hard as a rock yet transparent, with it's inscrutable lens effect. No wonder fortunes manifest in crystal balls. 

Whereas layers of meaning in collage depend on overlapping real materials, Strickland created a double meaning through conventional realism and a pose carefully constructed to occupy two layers of space. In a dramatically Baroque gesture, the oracle thrusts out her lamp. She appears to hold it with smoke to her nose and flame to her heart, calling to mind the legend of the Oracle of Delphi, which postulates that priestesses breathed intoxicating vapors to induce a trance. The lamp seems to project beyond the picture plane; the mesmerizing flame--the light of mystical truth--hovers right before our eyes."

Pretty cool, huh? The article in it's entirety is very thought provoking, siting Ingre, Degas, Chagall, Kokoschika, Modigliani, Diebenkorn, de Kooning, and Therese Bauer.

He put into words how I felt about the piece so well, concepts that for me were not so much conscious thoughts but feelings, and to know those ideas were experienced by a thoughtful and receptive viewer is wonderful for me!

The magazine is available at book stores now and through the website.

Here are other posts I've done about "Oracle".


  1. Wonderful drawing! Very mystical and expressive!

  2. Thank you Eric and Kathrin. It is really fun to see someone else's thoughts about a work :)

  3. Lovely piece ... very atmospheric ... you must be pleased!



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