Surreal Art – Primitive Art

Thumbnail Image of Bluebirds DreamingSurreal Art – Primitive ArtThumbnail Image of Gladeline and Joey

Surreal Primitive is how I describe my art. Surrealism was a twentieth century innovative idea behind an art and literature movement that sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind.* Primitive art—another style—deliberately rejected sophisticated artistic techniques. The surreal has always called to me and my work is a blending of the two.

Surrealism stresses the unconscious significance of imagery produced by automatism—or the use of chance effects—that avoid conscious intentions. I combine the two words, surreal and primitive, to let one know that what I produce is a novel union of both. It reflects my unconscious state and my conscious state at the same time, to reflect more of my total Self.

It is surreal in that I release the creative potential of my unconscious mind by drawing “open minded” images (not really thinking about drawing, while drawing) and then later consciously combining those spontaneously drawn pieces. Often times, they were drawn at different times, on different days. I arrange the pieces as they speak to me about where to place them, with aesthetics in mind. After the drawing is complete, I finish the piece by working it into a linoleum block print or an etching. The last thing I do is give it a title, one line of poetry that expresses the emotional response I usually have when viewing my spontaneously created art.

I see my art as primitive in that it is simple and innocent, with a bold directness like that of a child’s, with bright colors and forms that have a vibrant internal energy.

Unlike twentieth century surrealism which was influenced by Sigmund Freud, my art is influenced by Carl Jung and his writings on analytical psychology. To me, where Freud was linear, Jung was more expansive and spatial. At its base, my artwork is dedicated to the expression of imagination, free of the conscious control of reason and practiced convention, and in that sense, is heart and core surreal. As I stated earlier, I start with individual, spontaneously drawn pieces produced from my unconscious side, and then I consciously combine and work with them. By working with my unconsciousness and consciousness combined together, I become—as Jung put it—more whole, with a more complete finding of my true self. I am an individual becoming more whole through the process of Individuation. You’ll find a good explanation of Individuation here.

My personal beliefs revolve around the idea that my creative acts are co-creative at their point of origin. I believe that what I create comes from a union of my higher self with entities on the other side of life. For me, that would be Angels, Ascended Masters, and the Spiritual Hierarchy.

What you believe about the other side of life has much to do with how you experience higher consciousness and spiritual attunement.

* For more information on the conscious vs. unconscious/subconscious mind, click here to go to my “Insight” page.


There were a number of different techniques employed to create the artwork seen on these pages. The following is an overview or description of Printmaking: Linoleum Block Printing, Etching, Embossing; Metal Casting: Lost Wax Casting, Sand Molded Casting, Ceramic Shell Casting; Metal Fabrication; Marble Carving; Computer Vector Drawing; and scans of my surreal artwork printed as posters.

Linocut  – created through a printmaking technique sometimes called Linoleum Block Print. The material used is called battleship linoleum and is glued down to plywood. The linocut is a variant of the woodcut. A design is cut into the linoleum surface with chisels and gouges. The topmost surface that is left is inked with a rubber roller called a brayer. Paper is laid onto the inked surface and is transferred to the paper by hand or by a press. If done by hand, the paper is pressed into the inked surface with a burnisher, a tool that has a smoothed end for rubbing, or polishing. Colored prints are achieved by using different blocks for each color. Different colors can also be achieved another way. A single block is inked, printed, and then some of the surface is cut away. When dry, it is then re-inked and printed a second time with a different color. The paper used for the print is called rice paper.

Etching – a printmaking technique using metal plates, usually copper or zinc. In most of my etching, I used zinc. The plates are covered with a wax surface called a ground that is resistant to acid. There are soft and hard grounds. The hard ground is scratched with a pointed needle, exposing a line in the metal. The plate can then be put into an acid bath that etches or bites into the metal, leaving a groove in the plate. When the ground is removed from the plate (using mineral spirits and sawdust), the plate is inked all over and then the ink is wiped off leaving ink in the grooves. Next, the inked plate is put through a printing press with moistened paper on top of the plate. The inked grooves print as lines. The soft ground produces different effects, such as seen in my piece “Le Herd of Bird”. Soft ground is more conducive to a textured effect, than the distinct lines of hard ground etchings. The process is repeated many times to achieve the finished art print.

Embossing – a printmaking technique. Pieces of battleship linoleum, chipboard, or a similar material are glued down to plywood. The different pieces are then inked with brayers prepared with different colors. Moistened paper is laid down on the inked pieces and then it is run through a printing press, pushing the inked areas down into the non-inked areas of the printing paper, creating an embossed effect.

Metal Casting: The three techniques of metal casting are Lost Wax, Sand Mold and Ceramic Shell.
     In Lost Wax casting, a metal sculpture is created by carving wax which is then surrounded with a coating of plaster and sand. This composite structure is put into a kiln and the wax is removed by melting. The plaster-sand mold, which is left after the wax has melted away, is then buried in sand and molten metal is poured into the mold. Working with molten metal like this usually takes place in a foundry.
 The Sand Mold technique can be used with not only wax, but wood, foam, anything you can carve and/or shape. It is a process of using sand with a binder that is pressed around the carving. This technique is a two-step process at this point: working with halves or parts, rather than the piece as a whole. The material sets up on the first half of the sculpture, then the piece is turned over and the other part/s are done. Once all parts are finished, the halves or pieces are fitted back together and held with metal strapping for the last phase. Finishing it off is the same, molten metal is poured into the mold in a foundry.
     Ceramic Shell is another form of lost wax casting where the sculpture is first formed in wax, but it produces a much finer finish than that described above. The piece is then wet-dipped into a liquid ceramic slurry which coats the wax. The ceramic coated wax is put into the kiln to burn off the wax. The mold is then ready for the metal pour in a foundry.

In all three metal casting techniques, there is much work to be done once the piece cools and is out of the mold. Ceramic Shell produces the finest finish, being nearly perfect and identical to the original carving. Sand Mold casting requires grinding away of excess metal and Lost Wax requires the most work in the completion stage.

Computer Vector Drawings – graphics created using a computer and specialized software. The graphics produced can be enlarged without losing any of the image detail.

Metal Fabrication – a process of constructing metal structures by cutting, bending and welding.

Marble Carving – a process of removing material from a marble block usually using pneumatic tools to shape and finish the sculpture, until the finished form is created. In the marble work you see on this site, I used Georgia Marble.

Copyright © 1973 – 2018 Dward Greenbird for all images, text.  All rights reserved worldwide.