There are two major areas when working on metamorphosis and transformation. One is the development of a form, and the other is the condition in which that form finds itself. A prominent example is the phoenix. We all know the saying “like a phoenix from the ashes” – something that you think is lost, but that then appears in new glory, or when you’ve suffered a defeat, get up and continue with newfound strength.

The phoenix is an animal of metamorphosis from fire. The fire is already a transformation. Because fire needs nourishment, namely wood or another flammable material, in addition to air and heat, to burn, and then actually nothing remains. Through this act of transformation, the energy of the fire is lost according to our everyday logic and observation. In mythology, something new emerges from the fire and that is the phoenix. This is incredibly exciting because naturally the phoenix unlocks an incredible range of imagination and becomes an important symbol.

The phoenix has its origins in ancient Egyptian culture, where it is called “Benu,” which means “the reborn” or “the newborn.” In different cultures it stands either for a long life or for rebirth. In the Christian sense, it’s a symbol of resurrection. On the outer wall of the basilica in Millstatt in Carinthia, for example, there is a phoenix from the 8th century, which stands for the resurrection of Christ.

Later this myth came to Greece. The Greek poet Herodotus talked about a sacred bird called Phoenix, which returns to Egypt every 500 years. This bird looks like an eagle in size and shape. It brings an egg of myrrh, very large, which it can just so carry. In this egg he put the body of his deceased father, the god Osiris. Then the egg burns with the scent of myrrh, cinnamon and cloves and causes the resurrection of the next phoenix, which in turn lives for another 500 years.

These religious worldviews are strongly inscribed in our culture, even today. There are various companies bearing the name phoenix or logos depicting a phoenix. You may know the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, which burned down, was rebuilt and since then is called “La Fenice” – the phoenix. We know many stories from mythology, but also from fantasy novels, from movies, such as Star Trek and Star Wars, from Japanese manga drawings, from video games, there is a great demand for the phoenix.
We are even familiar with it from pop culture, when in 2014 Conchita Wurst won the song contest in Copenhagen with the song “Rise like a Phoenix.” Of course, to all children the phoenix is a well-known companion from Harry Potter, because there the principal Dumbledore has a wonder bird, that is precisely a phoenix. The term “fire bird” also refers to the phoenix, this bird is found in Persian mythology, in China, in Japan. The phoenix is known across the whole world.

The powers of the phoenix above all have to do with light. Christianity and many other cultures understand light as the basis for life. In the biblical story of creation, life derives from the fact that God created light when he separated the day from the night. We are surrounded by this phenomenon every day, this transformation from dark to light in the morning, at dawn and from light to dark in the evening, at dusk. Every day we can observe this, we are enveloped in this transformation of light.

So in this impulse, I’d like you to create an area of dark into light. If you’d like, you can place a shape of your imagination in it. This is highly concentrated work. You can create excitement by choosing shapes that you develop from observing flames and forming them with iridescent lines, creating something that signifies fire.

The wonderful mythical creatures, hybrids and new creations are an expression of human imagination, which can take on incredible forms. In these kinds of beings there’s an underlying power or atmosphere that we try to express in our drawings.

If you have trouble finding a shape, or if you only ever think of the same one, you can try using newsprint. Cut out some shapes, put them on a white drawing sheet one by one and look at them. You can play with the shape: you can expand it, you can add a second shape. You can play with the lines. It’s often easier to develop a shape by cutting it out, because the hand enters a certain distance with the scissors and so is much more guided by chance. Of course, you can also close your eyes or work with your left hand. That’s something that helps you a lot with all these dangers that come with repetition.

Stay simple! Tune into those forces that we long for and that we express through a different element. Keep going with that energy. Keep experimenting. Let your imagination flow freely, let it sprout. I wish you a very joyful drawing period. Stay with yourself, always breathe into yourself. Trust the power and energy of your aesthetic creation in awareness of the line and stay beautifully simple!