(Art) Painting Taera, Goddess of the Earth By Elaine Drew

Taera in the form of an historiated initial offers an apple (awareness) to humanity. She is surrounded by symbols of life, includinding plants and DNA
Taera in the form of an historiated initial offers an apple (awareness) to humanity. She is surrounded by symbols of life, includinding plants and DNA
a holy figure, Taera, standing on a stylized mountain in the ocean, tosses a strand of DNA
a holy figure, Taera, standing on a stylized mountain in the ocean, tosses a strand of DNA
egg tempera painting of large central figure dancing surrounded by smaller figures; two are humanlike animals
egg tempera painting of large central figure dancing surrounded by smaller figures; two are humanlike animals

In the late 90s, when my husband began talking about creating his own mythology, he came up with its core concepts. This would be an earth-centered mythology, and its principal goddess would be called Taera. She would represent the earth and its life. As the mythology’s illuminator, my first task was to depict this deity. In today’s post I would like to show you how the images of this goddess started to develop. In a future post I’ll show how they matured.

My first attempt, T for Taera, was inspired by illuminated manuscripts. The figure of the goddess is arranged so that her outstretched arms form the top of the initial T; her body forms its vertical stroke before spiraling into the universe that gave birth to the earth.  She offers an an apple symbolizing awareness to a woman representing humanity. Surrounding the goddess are images representing life: flowers, eggs, fallopian tubes, DNA, and humans. The image was painted in watercolor and gouache, with the gold background behind Taera built up with gesso and pastiglia covered in gold leaf.

In the second image, Taera Seeds the Ocean, I am attempting to illustrate one of our goals with the Taeran mythology, which is to incorporate scientific fact. This image represents our creation myth:  Taera tosses DNA into the primordial ocean, seeding the planet with life. The painting’s border incorporates the spirals of DNA, and the gold scribbles around its edges are meant to evoke the characters of an ancient, unknown language. The image was painted in egg tempera on a gessoed panel, with embellishments of gold leaf.

The third image, Dancing the Dance of Life, shows an exuberant Taera surrounded by her creatures, who dance with the joy of life. The frame around the dancers represents the forest; the sun a life-giving force. This image was painted with egg tempera on gessoed plywood.

As we worked to develop our mythology, I worked to find ways to express its meaning and values. This is an on-going process. In a future post I’ll show other iterations of this important goddess.