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Work Samples

The Hidden One

The Hidden One (c) Summer Blake 2018
The Hidden One (2018). Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 12x12".

Sunflower

Sunflower (c) Summer Blake 2017
Sunflower (2017). Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 9x9”.

Transcendence

Transcendence (c) Summer Blake 2019
Transcendence (2019). Pen and watercolor on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 18x18”.

Duality

Duality (c) Summer Blake 2018
Duality (2018). Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 9x12”.

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About Summer

Baltimore City

Summer Blake's picture
Summer Blake is a visionary artist living and creating in the Baltimore area. Creative since childhood, Summer's identity as an artist nevertheless did not begin to manifest until her early twenties as she struggled to transcend a series of traumatic experiences. Seeking a way to understand and express herself in a seemingly incomprehensible world, her creative process emerged as a cathartic act. The product of this is a visual manifestation of her own growth and transformation. Summer's work is... more

Transformation Amidst Transition

This series is a study in portraiture, depicting each subject as she or he moves through a transformative period. While it may feel as though loss and tragedy cause us to lose a part of ourselves, there exists an essential part of the self that is indestructible. Each of these portraits seeks to communicate the nature of this transcendent, essential self.

Life is a process of forgetting and remembering -- over and over and over again -- that the true self buried deep down within us struggling to emerge is glorious beyond belief. Even the darkest periods of despair open opportunities for us to come into full recognizance of our own radiance.

Worlds Within Her
Pen and watercolor on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 9x12"

Transcendence
Pen and watercolor on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 18x18"

Remembering
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 12x12"

  • Worlds Within Her

    Worlds Within Her (c) Summer Blake 2016
    This piece emerged during a time when the artist was struggling to regain her voice after a period of feeling largely powerless. Where once she had seen little value in herself, she began to awaken to the idea that she has many gifts and abilities. The mudras, or hand gestures, can be used during meditation to aid in manifesting one’s intention. The left hand displays the gyan mudra, which symbolizes self-expansion. The right hand displays the ahamkara mudra, which helps one overcome fear and gain self-assertion.
  • Worlds Within Her, detail

    Worlds Within Her (c) Summer Blake 2016
    Pen and watercolor on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 9x12"
  • Transcendence

    Transcendence (c) Summer Blake 2019
    This piece was completed for a client undergoing some major life shifts. A role that had been a defining part of his identity had unexpectedly come to an end, causing him great uncertainty about his path forward. The intention behind the piece was to offer a vision of the future. The central figure rises like a phoenix from the ashes of his former self against a backdrop of honeycomb, which symbolizes community support, as he is held aloft by a triumphant Mother Earth. On the outer layer, a multitude of winged beings symbolizing all possible future selves radiate outward in every direction.
  • Transcendence, detail

    Transcendence (c) Summer Blake 2019
    Pen and watercolor on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 18x18"
  • Remembering (2019)

    Remembering (c) Summer Blake 2019
    Originally intended as a backdrop for another piece, "Remembering" blossomed into an extraordinary work with a message entirely its own. Always coming up against her own expectations of who she ought and ought not to be, the artist struggled continually to mold herself into the person she believed she was meant to become. A sudden and profound realization that her greatest gift to the world is the act of simply being herself came into her life just as this piece was gaining momentum. That realization culminated visually in the creation of "Remembering."
  • Remembering, detail

    Remembering (c) Summer Blake 2019
    Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 12x12”

The Hidden One

The Hidden One
Pen and watercolor on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 12x12”

The Hidden One contains an array of Ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses centered around a central figure, Amaunet. Amaunet is a primordial goddess whose name is the feminine inverse of the sun god Amun and translates to “the female hidden one.” Her position at the center of the mandala symbolizes her role as creator and orchestrator of life. Between the fetus and the skeleton are eight spider legs weaving the earth into being. Above is Aten, monotheistic god of the sun, and below is Anubis, god of the underworld.

Belief in an unseen being who crafts our destinies is a pervasive one throughout many cultures and religions. The allegory of Amaunet is symbolic of a powerful truth: given that much of who we are exists in our subconscious, there are many moments where the decisions we make are shaped by forces outside of our conscious awareness. Who and what we are is infinitely more complex than we can conceive of in a single lifetime.

Inside the Eye of the Storm

This two-piece collection depicts the quest for balance in a seemingly chaotic world. Existing harmoniously with one’s environment can be an immense challenge. Life often feels like a series of difficult choices; we are presented with options that offer no perfect solutions. We are also continually besieged with so much raw information that it can feel quite overwhelming to try and sift through it all.

This series illustrates that it isn’t by hiding from the world that we can achieve serenity. We won’t find peace in isolation, at least not permanently. It is by remaining present with the experience of life and allowing ourselves to feel what we are going through fully that we can let in what needs to come in, and let go of what needs to be let go of. Allowing life to flow in the way that it will, instead of than continually meeting change with resistance, brings us to a greater state of harmony inside and out.

Find Your Center
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 11x14”

Duality
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 9x12”

  • Find Your Center

    Find Your Center (c) Summer Blake 2019
    The artist began work on this piece during a visit to the West Coast. Although she had tried to remain open to the unpredictability of travel, a number of elements to the trip were difficult and stressful and did not live up to her expectations. Of course, the more she tried to control the situation, the more she found herself in a state of disarray. It was only by surrendering to the unknowable that she began to experience unexpectedly joyous happenings. When we accept ourselves and our situation just as it is, we begin to open our eyes to the beauty that has always been present all along.
  • Find Your Center, detail

    Find Your Center (c) Summer Blake 2019
    Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 11x14”
  • Duality

    Duality (c) Summer Blake 2018
    The way we experience life tends to be largely discriminatory. We tend to define something by making a decision about what it is and what it isn’t. This is the realm of black-and-white thinking: it’s one thing, so it can’t be the other, not even a little bit. “Duality” illustrates that we exist on both sides of the same coin, that our identity is fuller than being one thing or the other. We are both individuals and part of a collective. We are both living and dying. We are both perfect and imperfect.
  • Duality, detail

    Duality (c) Summer Blake 2018
    Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 9x12”

Where There Is No End and No Beginning

Sometimes we become so fixated on achieving our goals that we fail to be present with what is happening along the way. Focusing only on reaching our destination, we lose track of why we are trying to get there in the first place. For example, we may work long hours at a job we hate because it pays well, but because we work so much, we never have time to enjoy its spoils. Or we may decide to learn a particular skill, but we are so impatient to master it that we end up deriving no enjoyment from the learning process itself.

This series focuses on the significance of the journey itself, not the destination. That is not to say that goal setting lacks intrinsic value, but it's important to be mindful that the future is always a moving target. If we can be fully present with our experiences, we can find fulfillment regardless of whether our ultimate objective comes to fruition. Our journey through life from moment to moment can serve as a source of endless fascination as its mysteries continually unfold and deepen.

Thousand-Petal Lotus Being
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 10x13”

The Journey Within
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 9x9”

The Prophecy
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 12x12”

  • Thousand-Petal Lotus Being

    Thousand-Petal Lotus Being (c) Summer Blake 2019
    This piece explores the bridge between the conscious and subconscious mind. Inspired by a passage in Autobiography of a Yogi, in which the author relates a conversation he had with his guru about the multidimensional nature of reality, “Thousand-Petal” was created spontaneously. The artist simply allowed the piece to take the direction it needed to. Rather than trying to engineer the structure of the piece from start to finish, the form emerged organically from moment to moment. The artist truly enjoyed staying present with this piece as it came into being.
  • Thousand-Petal Lotus Being, detail

    Thousand-Petal Lotus Being (c) Summer Blake 2019
    Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 10x13"
  • The Journey Within

    The Journey Within (c) Summer Blake 2018
    Life is a continual unfolding of who we are. Perhaps the greatest source of curiosity is how deep we really go. What constitutes you and I is much more than the selves we present to the world, and we’re also constantly surprising ourselves by thinking and acting in novel ways that demonstrate the tendency of the self to evolve beyond its current identity. “The Journey Within,” with its multitudes of layers and labyrinths, alludes to the endless journey toward self-discovery. There is always another layer; there is always something hidden.
  • The Journey Within, detail

    The Journey Within (c) Summer Blake 2018
    Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 9x9"
  • The Prophecy

    The Prophecy (c) Summer Blake 2016
    “The Prophecy” takes a sobering look at Earth in the present moment. As humans bear witness to the grim effects of our tendency toward conflict and excess, many are hopeful that we can “turn things around” in time to prevent the destruction of our planet. Although we can’t be certain of the outcome, what we can do is use this time of immense upheaval as a source of momentum. There is never a better time than a crisis to push forward important realizations, and their seeming futility does not bar their meaningfulness in the present moment.
  • The Prophecy, detail

    The Prophecy (c) Summer Blake 2016
    Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 12x12"

Structural Explorations into Interbeing

This series explores the marvelous ways in which symmetry and mathematical structure manifest within living organisms, and within the context of the larger systems of which they are a part. Many of us have been amazed by the geometrical wonder of snowflakes, but few pause to consider how symmetry and order also manifest in leaves, flowers, fungi, and animals, and as we expand our view even further, entire ecosystems, worlds, and galaxies. As we observe the complexity and diversity of the natural world, we witness how all forms of life evolve and adapt in extraordinarily clever ways. It’s easy to draw inspiration as we move through periods of growth in our own lives.

Sunflower
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 9x9”

Seed Spectrum
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 9x9”

Passionflower
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 5x5”

Collective Consciousness
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 9x12”

  • Sunflower

    Sunflower (c) Summer Blake 2017
    During a workshop on herbalism, the artist was asked to contemplate how a flower might experience life. This piece came into being shortly after the artist engaged in a meditation on the sunflower. Prevalent throughout her meditation was a feeling of empathy with the sunflower’s abiding love for the sun. Although rooted to the earth, it raises itself ever higher, growing as tall as it can to be closer to the sun’s warmth and radiance. “Sunflower” is representative of how love can be the impetus for extraordinary growth.
  • Sunflower, detail

    Sunflower (c) Summer Blake 2017
    Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 9x9”
  • Seed Spectrum

    Seed Spectrum (c) Summer Blake 2017
    Inevitably, coming into contact with another person will leave an indelible impression on us. In our everyday interactions with others, we may feel as though one person filled us with joy, another caused us anxiety, and a third provoked anger. Likewise, the minutiae of our environment all leave their own individual imprint. “Seed Spectrum” depicts the unique and compelling energy that radiates from each thing we come into contact with.
  • Seed Spectrum, detail

    Seed Spectrum (c) Summer Blake 2017
    Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 9x9”
  • Passionflower

    Passionflower (c) Summer Blake 2018
    As the artist began work on this piece, her intention was not to replicate the physiology of the passionflower, but rather to convey the energy she sensed emanating from this particular organism. Color explodes outward as a multitude of petals stretch wide in exultation. “Passionflower” is an encouragement to consider the dynamism that underlies our physical form. Our limitless potential blazes bright even during our darkest days; the only thing that constrains us is our unwillingness to believe in our ability to become.
  • Collective Consciousness

    Collective Consciousness (c) Summer Blake 2019
    Most humans identify as individuals, but we are also innately social beings. Our ability to interconnect makes us capable of working collaboratively; we exhibit shared behaviors, beliefs, and traditions within cultures, geographical areas, and other means of association. “Collective Consciousness” is borne of the observation that individual units often join to form something even greater. When they do, the collective is capable of achieving much more than its individual units could. As we increase our conscious awareness on an individual basis, humanity as a whole will also begin to evolve.
  • Collective Consciousness, detail

    Collective Consciousness (c) Summer Blake 2019
    Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 9x12"

One and All, Root to Crown

This seven-piece series symbolically navigates the metaphysical journey from a limited state of awareness, in which the individual is only focused on him- or herself, to an expanded state of compassionate awareness, in which one attains a state of harmony and oneness with all.

The artist’s interest in learning more about the chakra system served as the initial impetus for the series. In a number of Eastern philosophical traditions, the chakras, which loosely translate to spinning wheels, represent energy centers which are situated vertically along the spine and located within the subtle body.

Each chakra relates to a different level or state of awareness. When energy moves unhindered all the way upwards through the chakras, a person can attain higher states of consciousness, ultimately resulting in an experience of being in perfect union with All. On the other hand, experiences of pain cause us to contract. The energy within the chakras stagnate and become trapped, furthering the illusion of otherness and separation from the rest of the world. Exploration of the symbolism of each chakra served as a basis for self-examination and yielded unique visual renditions of the traditional seven-chakra system.

The Root Chakra
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 5x5"

The Sacral Chakra
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 5x5"

The Solar Plexus Chakra
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 5x5"

The Heart Chakra
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 5x5"

The Throat Chakra
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 5x5"

The Third Eye Chakra
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 5x5"

The Crown Chakra
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 5x5"

  • The Root Chakra

    The Root Chakra (c) Summer Blake 2016
    The “rootedness” of the chakra refers both to its energetic position as the bottommost of the chakras and its connection to the earth. It represents the foundational, unconscious mind. This chakra serves as the basis for our personality, as the mind, intellect, and consciousness originate in this chakra. It is connected to the individual's need for physical survival and safety, so if one exists in a state of perpetual fear, one cannot ascend beyond this chakra.
  • The Sacral Chakra

    The Sacral Chakra (c) Summer Blake 2016
    The sacral chakra pertains to the second stage in the evolution of our consciousness. As energy moves upwards through this chakra, if there is no blockage, it provides for development of the conscious, or awakened, mind, and healthy psychological growth. Within this chakra resides the potential to ascend to joy, self-confidence, and boundless energy, as it is symbolically located in the womb-space where new life is created.
  • The Solar Plexus Chakra

    The Solar Plexus Chakra (c) Summer Blake 2016
    The solar plexus chakra is located at the belly button and is connected to the element of fire. This is where vitality resides and where we draw strength to regain or integrate our overall physical health. It is magnetic, energetically powerful, and provides for balance and inner strength where it is needed.
  • The Heart Chakra

    The Heart Chakra (c) Summer Blake 2016
    The heart chakra symbolizes our boundless capacity for love. It is located at the emotional center of the body, the heart. Here, we can alternately be overwhelmed by our emotions -- hate, jealousy, despair, desire -- or become transformed through a deep pull toward compassion, forgiveness, and peace.
  • The Throat Chakra

    The Throat Chakra (c) Summer Blake 2017
    The throat chakra corresponds to our ability to communicate, and so is appropriately located at the source of our physical voice. Symbolically, visuddha relates to creative expression, and to pure freedom of expression in general. If blocked, one may experience difficulty speaking up for oneself or telling the truth. If we have repressed or shut away certain experiences, and so dimmed our ability to live fully, this chakra is where we may find the means to release what we have been holding on to.
  • The Third Eye Chakra

    The Third Eye Chakra (c) Summer Blake 2017
    The third eye chakra is positioned just above the eyes in the center of the forehead. This is the site of clarity and wisdom. As the eye of wisdom or knowledge, it is representative of the seat of one’s higher Self, connected on both sides to the human/individual and divine/unity.
  • The Crown Chakra

    The Crown Chakra (c) Summer Blake 2017
    The crown chakra is pure light -- it contains all colors, is all things, in perfect unity. This is the site of liberation from samsara (in Buddhism, the cycle of rebirth and death) and where the mind resides at last in peace. Here, ignorance fades away as full awakening blossoms into realization.

Union

Yab Yum
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 16x20"

Yab Yum is a Tibetan phrase which literally translates to "father-mother." This piece draws inspiration from a multitude of Buddhist traditions that depict the coupling of the feminine and masculine as a sacred act of union. In Tibetan Buddhism, Yab (father) represents compassion, and Yum (mother) represents wisdom. The union of these two aspects results in an overcoming of the illusion of separation which is believed to be the root cause of suffering.

The artist’s decision to create her own rendition of this traditional pose was borne of a desire to take a deeper look into the symbolism of the masculine and the feminine. Here, Yab-yum represents the convergence of the masculine and the feminine as complementary forces within the individual. Each person embodies a unique proportion of masculine and feminine qualities. Qualities of the divine masculine might include groundedness, rationality, firmness, and protectiveness. Qualities of the divine feminine might include skilfulness with nurturing and healing, adaptability, expressiveness, and intuition. These qualities give rise to our personality and innate talents.

The idea of coming into sacred union with both poles of our being is a way of reconciling a dualistic view of identity, where we are expected to exhibit only the qualities associated with our physical gender. By contrast, when we embrace all aspects of our being, we come into full realization of our fullest selves.

  • Yab Yum

    Yab Yum (c) Summer Blake 2019
    Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 16x20"
  • Yab Yum, detail

    Yab Yum (c) Summer Blake 2019
    Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 16x20"

The Artist's Ongoing Process

These images are meant to serve as a behind-the-scenes look at Summer's process by providing a snapshot of an unfinished work. Summer begins by measuring out and gridding areas of watercolor paper using a variety of drafting tools. She then pencils in various design elements. Once she is satisfied with the design, she inks over it and begins to add color. Lastly, she cuts out the design and places it on black glitter paper, a striking background which is symbolic of the womb-like fertility of the cosmos, and serves as a holding space for her creation.

All of Summer's art is done by hand. It generally takes weeks or months to complete a single piece. The methodical nature by which she creates is deeply meditative. Bit by bit, the art comes into being. Concept sketches and some degree of planning are necessary for her largest works, but often, the process is more of an unconscious process than an intentional one. Even so, there is a skillful weaving of logic with intuition that is eternally at play in her work.

  • Untitled/Unfinished work

    Untitled/Unfinished Work (c) Summer Blake 2019
    This piece depicts the never-ending process of growth that we experience throughout our lives. The lunar cycle set against shifting waves and the colors of the leaves cycling from season to season symbolize the energy of continuous change in the natural world. In the center, a figure is emerging triumphantly against an alchemical cauldron of transformation, lit by the luminous rays of the rising sun. An enigmatic figure embraces the centerpiece, watching its spectacle unfold with compassion and love.
  • Untitled/Unfinished work

    Untitled/Unfinished Work (c) Summer Blake 2019
    Pen on watercolor paper, current dimensions approx. 12x12"
  • Video of the Artist's Process

    This video depicts the artist as she works on an as-yet-unfinished piece, which can be seen in fuller detail in the previous two images.

Summer's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.