Earlier this spring, I received a prompting to paint a series of portraits for seven of the orishas: Oya, Oshun, Yemaya, Chango, Ogun, Ellegua, and Obatala. Oya was particularly strong in my head and received the first portrait. This was fortuitous because a friend of mine, who is a Santero with Oya as his head, purchased the portrait and I was again prompted to ask for a reading.
In my reading Oshun came through very clearly with her love and joy. I was directed to take sacred baths, anoint myself with sweet fragrance, make offerings to her at the river, and to call on her when I needed an infusion of joy in my life. I struggle with a low-grade depression, so it seems I am always calling out "Maferefun, Oshun!"
In the month following, I worked on this painting of her. Hidden by much of the paint is a layer of gold leaf that still shimmers in the right light. The background is the flow of the river on a sunny day and the ripples on the water in the rain. Five yellow roses in various states of blossoming, along with a honey bee collecting pollen to make one of Oshun's favorite offerings.
I read in some of my books that Oshun is often pictured as a lighter-skinned black woman. Around this same time, I was reading a lot of black women on Tumblr who were discussing standards of beauty and the crap that dark-skinned women hear about how they are not as beautiful as their light-skinned sisters. I was also looking at a lot of images of the Internet for photo references. Lupita Nyong'o's smile kept calling me and I asked Oshun if it would be OK with her to depict her as dark-skinned.
Every time I look upon her, I want to smile and dance and share the joy that flows from her through me with the world.
All praises to Oshun!
Blessings from a strong and open heart,
Artist, writer, ritualist, dreamer, wanderer, seeker, observer -- of the seen and unseen worlds.