I wanted to create a masculine complement to the feminine Madam Butterfly series, something consistent with the Spirits of Transformation archetype that influences my art.

As you may know, Icarus and his father Daedalus attempted to escape from Crete (and King Minos) by means of wings that Daedalus constructed from feathers and wax. Icarus ignored his father’s warnings, that he “fly neither too low nor too high.” Icarus, totally digging the power of flight, gets too close to the sun, the heat melts the wax in his wings and he falls to the sea and drowns.

Like Madam Butterfly, things didn’t end well for either of them.

I relate to this story in a few ways. First you have an earth-bound man able to transform his life from a captive of gravity to being able to reach into the exhilarating dominion of birds.

Then there is wisdom – for me and all artists – conveyed in the father’s warning about complacency (telling Icarus not to fly too low where the dampness of the sea will clog his wings). I hate complacency and avoid boredom like a plague. This motivates me to push myself through resistance, to make each subsequent piece not just better but different and to not settle for “an easy perfection quickly realized by many.”

I cannot … settle. It’s not in me.

The second part of the warning was to be cautious of hubris and to not fly too high, lest the sun’s heat melt the wings. This reminds me to be humble: any success is only temporary, all accolades merely the perception of others.

I have learned that developing your artistic voice, your story is a marathon. It will be neither quick or easy. Continue the work, master your craft. The only finish line you’ll come to is when you quit.

Stopping is one thing: that happens all the time. Quitting is different. Don’t quit.

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