THE FOX SPIRIT (kitsune) ACRYLICS ON CEDAR W/RED OAK FRAME FALL 2022
When we would go to visit Leigh’s mother in Memphis, we always enjoyed watching the foxes that would visit her back yard during “feeding time”. Leigh’s mom loved to feed the racoons day-old bread, and the foxes would come up and patiently wait their turn to feed. They are beautiful and graceful animals, very dog-like but possessing traits very similar to cats as well. Foxes take on special meaning in Japan and are readily found both in folk legends as well as in ancient Shinto beliefs. Inari are magical, pure white foxes and are one of the main kami (or deities) of Shintoism. Related to them are kitsune, a type of supernatural fox spirit possessing great intelligence and magical powers. You can tell them from regular foxes by their multiple tails (with nine-tailed foxes being the most powerful). Kitsune are shape-shifters and often transform themselves into beautiful women. The kitsune in my painting has just three tails so far. The style of this particular painting was inspired by a pair of painted cedar fusuma (sliding doors) by Rinpa artist Watanabe Shiko. Shiko simply painted directly on the wooden sliding doors at Daikaku-ji in Kyoto, and so I have painted my fox in a similar fashion, isolated but in harmony with the beauty of the wood grain. The design for the fox was inspired by both Northwest Coast Native and Celtic art traditions. The frame was made out of red oak using pegged, hand-joined, mortise-and-tenon construction methods. The Japanese technique (shou-sugi-ban) of charring and oiling the oak was used to finish the frame.