By Eilfie Music
Most often when I do any of my paintings, I usually gain my insperation from a number of different places. Many come from music, movies, books, or even dreams. This painting called “Baron Samedi” came from a combination of sources. First I want to properly introduce you to Baron Samedi.
Baron Samedi is one the most well known loa or ghede (spirit of death) in both the voodoo culture and in the main stream. He has been portrayed in movies such as 007: live and let die, Marvel comics villain and son forth. In both main stream and in the voodoo culture he is often portrayed as a tall skeleton or skeletal looking man or African decent in a tux or undertaker like outfit and a top hat. One of the symbols used to identify Baron Samedi is a pair of sunglasses with one of the lenses popped out to represent him standing between life and death. Baron Samedi is a spirit of death and buriel, but is also a spirit of life and more particularly sex. Many articles mention that though he is married to the other head loa Mama Brigitta, Baron Samedi has been known to flirt with both females and males. Much like Papa Legba who is the gatekeeper for the cemetery and the crossroads, Baron Samedi also stands at the crossroads. The difference is that he is the one who will either bury you in your grave or help you out of it to live a bit longer. The Baron loves his rum and cigars, which are often what is placed as a gift at the alter, crossroads, or the graveyard. Baron Samedi shows people that life is short, and we all end up in the ground sooner or later so enjoy while you are still above it.
I had heard of Baron Samedi through out my studies, but never really focused on voodoo for any particular reason. This year, I started getting references through searches or when reading books at times when I wasn’t even looking into anything voodoo. Once the image of Baron Samedi would not go away, once it was obvious I needed to create a painting of the Baron, I decide to do things a little differently. Instead of getting some music or a movie to zone in on, I would create an alter to Baron Samedi. Gathering the items for the alter, I notice that I already had many of the items. The only things I needed were the rum, chilli peppers, candles, loose tobacco and something to keep it all safe. No, not strange at all. I set up the alter and canvas painting in a different location then usual since I needed more room to mark out the symbols and candles and try not to set myself on fire while painting. This turned out to be a quite an energizing method, and made me fell like I was really putting some of Baron Samedi into the painting.
With my paintings, I use an acrylic medium on canvas since it dries quickly unlike oil, but I can blend it very easily. I first start either with a thumbnail sketch or do a free hand drawing on the canvas. At this stage, the painting never looks very good since I am readjusting the image constantly until it flows right on the canvas. Once I am satisfied with the sketch, I will move onto the lining with black felt tip marker. This is a technique that I learned from my Father. The lining brings out the image away from the corrections I made along the way. Once I clean the canvas of any left over pencil marks and just have the marker lining of the painting, I then start working with the acrylic. With the Baron Samedi painting, the background kind of grew as I painted the focal which was the Baron. This can go either way with me since it depends on the painting and what technique I am using.
This painting took a bit longer then I had hope, but that was because I was not too sure with the Baron and how I wanted him to look. Once I did finish the painting, I went back over again with the black felt tip marker in order to get the painting to really pop out. The marker defines the lines and gives it a very interesting lared effect. After the arcrylic and marker has set up I then seal it in an acrylic gloss to contain the image and give the paint a wet look.
I have since done two paintings of Baron Samedi. The first one is actually with my Uncle who was really drawn to the image when I showed it to him, and the second one I auctioned off at a field trip. I will most likely do more Baron Samedi paintings in the future since now I know how he looks to me.
Items used for Baron Samedi:
The colors purple, white, and black
Cigars or ciggeretts
21 Hot peppers in a bottle of rum (Do not drink unless you want your mouth burned off..trust me)
Recommended books and sites on the voodoo culture:
-American Voudou by Rod Davis (1999)
-The Complete Book of Voodoo by Robert W Pelton (1972)
– Voudoun Fire: The Living Reality of Mystical Religion by Melita Denning & Osborne Phillips 1979
– Voodoo in Haiti by Alfred Metraux (1989)