Whimsical Wisdom

The Duendes Series and ‘Juggling Three Suns’

I’ve been working on a series of folk art pieces I call “Duendes,” which is Spanish for Spirits. Some of the pieces are small, like this one, which is only 6×6, but I have also indulged myself with a few that are larger at 11×14 or even 12×16.

Playful or sad, each one represents a different, simple idea, and the creature or spirit depicted is a little mutable symbol or emblem for that idea.

For instance, the simple yet powerful forms in “Juggling Three Suns,” is about the simple idea of having a little too much going on and all while trying to stay sunny and upbeat.

I try to keep the colors very rudimentary, to go along with the playful melancholy of the spirit.

Here’s a little background on the idea of the duendes. The term “Duendes” originates from Spanish folklore and refers to magical creatures or spirits, often associated with the natural world. While not a specific term commonly used in broader art history, depictions of mythical creatures, spirits, and supernatural beings are prevalent in various cultures and periods. Here’s a look at how duendes have been depicted in art:

  • Spanish Folk Art:
    • In traditional Spanish and Latin American folk art, you’ll find depictions of Duendes in various forms. These artworks portray them as mischievous, small humanoid figures with a connection to nature or the household.
  • Medieval European Art:
    • In medieval European art, mythical creatures and spirits were often depicted in illuminated manuscripts, church carvings, and tapestries. These include creatures similar to Duendes, embodying both benevolent and mischievous qualities.
  • Renaissance and Baroque Art:
    • During the Renaissance and Baroque periods, artists often incorporated mythological and fantastical elements into their works. While specific depictions of Duendes might be rare, the broader theme of magical and supernatural beings was prevalent.
  • Folk Art Traditions:
    • Folk art from various cultures often features depictions of local spirits, sprites, or mythical creatures. Artists in these traditions use a variety of materials and styles to convey the essence and character of these beings.
  • Contemporary and Modern Art:
    • In contemporary and modern art, artists continue to explore mythological and folkloric themes. I draw my inspiration from traditional depictions of spirits, but I adapt them to contemporary styles and contexts.

The term “Duendes” itself is specific to Spanish folklore, and depictions are varied based on regional folklore and cultural interpretations. 

I’m going to create a “Duende” category for this particular kind of painting, so I can easily add to the collection of paintings I am devoting to this idea. If you’d like to look at all of the duendes as I add them, just search for that category.