In Jungian thought, the shadow is what you hide, repress or deny. It’s elements about yourself that you may keep hidden or choose to not look at that are actually in the driver’s seat of your life; running the show.
In much of the men’s work and weekends that I have been a part of for the past twelve years wrestling that giant, or demon, or shadow is a big part of what’s involved. Developmentally, part of being an adult is a willingness to confront that “giants” in our life, to own those shadows, and get them out of the drivers seat. It’s a continual process mind you, and old habits die hard.
When I initially created the watercolor above five years ago my intent was to make a work conceptually about “conquering” that giant. The image was primarily focused upon axes going at a bean stalk surrounded by seraphim like creatures and trotting figures behind.
In the past five years I have realized much of the emotional work involves “befriending” the giant or shadow realizing that they are actually trying to do a good thing in a very dysfunctional manner. For example, an individual may have suicidal thoughts, but in reality those thoughts are there in hopes of making the pain go away, which would be a very good thing indeed. Killing yourself is not so good.
In addition God is about using our very weaknesses for His glory; in fact it is those very things that we are to have in the open for boasting rights. Can you imagine if communities of faith did that? Talk about a revolution.
So, back to the art… when looking at this watercolor this summer to give it some closure, I thought “Sometimes the giants are really your friends.” In gouache I painted a very large coyote figure over the initial image. Whether it has friendly or foe motives at heart, is for you to work out.