THE BLOG
09/30/2014 05:39 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Sex & Nature: Evocative Paintings by Mark Henson

Sex arouses the body, nature enriches the soul, and art inspires the mind. Artist Mark Henson makes love visible with a paintbrush. It's not porn, and it's not exactly what you were thinking but it might just turn you on in ways that you have never imagined.

Sunset Sacrement, Oil on Canvas, 60" X 60"

These visions show us something that Darwin spoke of which has been forgotten... that nature thrives on cooperation equally as it does on competition. Waterfalls make love to the rocks they splash upon and the interdependence between all living things brings a deep sense of connection to anyone who ponders the idea. In a society fixated on competition, survival of the fittest, and oppression, these paintings are refreshing on all levels. Of course the most explicit ones can be seen at his online gallery.


Ravine Rapture, Oil on Canvas 86" X 48 "

Riverine Reverie, Oil on Canvas, 66" X 42"

Henson is 62 years old, grew up in Sacramento and spent his formative years in The San Francisco Bay area. Influenced by the art and social movements of the 60's he painted backdrops for theater productions like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and musical acts like Jimi Hendrix. Mark attributes meditation as a source of much of his inspiration. He first learned about it at a talk given in San Francisco by the founder of Integral Yoga, Satchidananda Saraswati.

Sylvan Serenity, Oil on Canvas, 66" X 48"

Double Helix, Oil on Canvas 52" X 32"

His meditation practice might be why he has the ability to embrace the spiritual, political, and paradoxical nature of our society simultaneously in his art. Even Darwin refuted Social Darwinism which says that humans are here to compete, winner takes all, and society should be ruled by that model. As is so well depicted in Sharing the Wealth below and in the news everywhere, there are some real downsides to living in a society ruled by this belief alone.

Cooperation of species may well be the missing story to resolving much of our planets problems, and art might be the most powerful way to convey this idea. Humanity's capacity for destruction and discord is equally matched by it's ability to create beautiful inspiration. Sex, or better yet, making love is not limited to naked bodies but includes the concept of procreation with a paintbrush, a musical instrument, a dance, or the exchange of mutual respect within the larger community of life. The painting below is aptly titled Paintbrush Warrior.

We know that each person is faced with a choice about the kind of future we'd like to build on this planet, but a masterful painting puts you in the middle of the picture. New Pioneers (below) took almost a year to paint. You can see the influence of Paolo Soleris' vision for urban centers that work with the flow of the land on the right side of the painting. I'm not quite sure who to credit for the war and destruction on the left side of the painting but we all know that it is a very lucrative business for a few people...

In the mid 90's Mark racked up a bunch of library fines taking out books and learning how to paint the animals in March of Progress below. If we choose to fight against nature we might all lose that battle in the end but seeing it on canvas (or in a blog) somehow bypasses the usual mental filters. The word "progress" in this painting and in our world seems to be defined in the context of the Social Darwinian nightmare. I can't help but wonder what "progress" would look like if it were applied to the ideology of a cooperation of species rather than a conquering of species... I think the word commonly used in that paradigm is "permaculture."

Perhaps we could all learn something  from the paintings and vision of Mark Henson. Maybe a little quiet reflection and meditation somewhere in nature would help us conceptualize how the polarities of our human nature might flow into one stream of connected consciousness.

Healing Waters, Oil on Canvas, 16" X 20"

Whether it's sex in nature, making love, or appreciating great art, we have many reasons to ponder this great gift called life and reflect on our role within this larger web of existence. Mark Henson has continued to be an inspiration to many other artists in the Visionary Art world. You can also read more in Visionary Art, You're Painted into the Picture and other articles on Culture Collective. It is apparent in Mark's work that stories rule our world and what we believe to be true is often what we create. How might we re-consider the stories that rule our world and what might the world look like if we did? That concept is actually quite sexy...

**Article originally appeared on Culture Collective**