"Indeed, we must never forget that for us outer reality exists only in so far as we perceive it consciously, and that we cannot prove that it exists 'in and by itself.'"
- Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols
I wrote a blog post back in March--wow, it doesn't feel that long ago--about an illustration I was working on inspired by the above quote and Carl Jung's concept of the Self and Cosmic Man. I've been interested in psychology for many years now, and that fascination expanded into consciousness studies and theories as well as quantum mechanics. I'm intrigued by the concept of reality: what is, what isn't, and how do we know exactly? Perception, and more specifically conscious perception, is key to our reality. Observation and subjective experience make up our own individual understanding of reality, but I've also been interested in theories of collective unconsciousness; Jung's Cosmic Man being one symbol of "the total oneness of all human existence."
So, I wanted to create an illustration expressing this "oneness", this collective unconsciousness, while keeping in mind perceptions of reality. I did a fair amount of research; I had already read Man and His Symbols (which is how I became inspired), but I re-read certain chapters and analyzed the various interpretations.
I made notes and started thumbnailing.
I decided to go the nature and shrine/cave-inspired route. I wanted to show a connection to nature and a oneness achieved by exploring the world. Many of the various interpretations of the Cosmic Man related back to nature--P'an Ku (Chinese symbol) and Gayomart (ancient Persian symbol) were covered by leaves as a plant. Gayomart was a huge figure omitting light. I didn't want to directly depict them specifically, but rather reference these details.
final version, watercolor, inkwash, and digital
I decided to edit the size to format it more to be a book cover for my thesis, as well as omit the figure since I found it distracting. Without the figure, it feels more like the viewer becomes the figure, standing in the space.
since I was thinking of this as a book cover, I decided to layout some type to give an example of how it could look
I really enjoyed painting this and will be doing more psychology/consciousness theory inspired illustrations in the future. There are really fun explorations of many different unknowns and that is super inspiring to me.