Primal Aesthesis

Paintings in this series are fundamentally inspired by my (and others’) aesthesis connection with nature, with the primal senses, and how they touch, inform, and color our human experience.

To inquire about pricing, shows, and availability for paintings, email me at:

“Hidden Wholeness” 24″x36″ oil on canvas with mixed media
Hidden Wholeness 24″x36″
In Flight 36″x36″ Oil on canvas
In Flight 36″x36″
Natural Alchemy 46″x46″ Oil on canvas with mixed media
Natural Alchemy 46″x46″ Oil on canvas with mixed media

Mythology Works on Paper

From the Sisyphean task, to Pandora’s box, the Midas touch and Achilles’ heel, characters from Greek, Roman, and indigenous cultures around the globe have an inescapable presence in everyday life and culture.

The stories of these gods, goddesses, heroes and anti-heroes have been continually retold and reinterpreted in novels, poems, plays, music and in every type of visual art throughout centuries, from ancient Greek mythology paintings and sculptures to contemporary art.

Following the work of Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell and other mythologists, I’ve created a series of works on paper (gauche and ink) that captures some of these myths.

Mythology Works / Pegasus

The Winged Horse or Pegasus symbolizes heightened power of the natural forces – the innate capacity for spiritualization and for inverting evil into good. 
Pegasus, whose name is possibly derived from ‘springs of the Ocean’ (pegai) or ‘of the wells,’ is a variant of the Greek word pege which means “spring” or “fountain” and the form is pre-Greek in origin, means “bridled horse” referring to the figurehead of a ship. Thus, Pegasus can literally mean “Fountain Horse.” 

Horses are a potent symbol from almost every world religion and mythology. Many of its myths express the horse’s innate clairvoyance and ability to perceive the magic within humans. Some view the horse as the symbol of strength, virility and lust. Also, it is a symbol for loyalty and devotion, such as the faith it has with it’s master. It also represents the warrior spirit, bravery and courage.

Wings are a symbol that denotes “flight” and often represent prayer and contemplation, especially in the sense of feathered bird-like wings. A spiritual or religious symbol they represent the soul’s ability to transcend the weight of earthly burdens and rise above such concerns into the air, even to Heaven itself, to the presence of God. 

The pegasus (flying horse) ultimately is a symbolism of power, freedom, innate talent, abilities or gifts, the gift of voice/communication, the gift of speech, and chance/opportunities. 

Sun God / Ra

Ra is the god of the sun and the king or father of all Egyptian gods. He’s often shown in human form with a hawk head, a golden disk with a serpent on top of his head as a crown, a scepter in his left hand, and an ankh in his right hand. The ankh was the ancient Egyptian symbol for life.

The symbol of the sun is an alchemy symbol. It is a symbol of origin that represents the completing of the Great Work. In the Hopi native tradition the sun god was the supreme ruler as it was master of the ability to help food grow, like corn. The sun represents life, influence, and strength. He will symbolize energy, will, being clear, and self.

Horse Symbolism and Meaning

Through all cultures the overall symbols and meanings of Horse includes:

  • Pride, Nobility, Transcendent freedom, Independence, Fertility, Powerful lust and sexuality, Travel across time and space, Epic power of mind, body and spirit, Trusting relationships, Service to others and self, Paths to and from the underworld plus the higher realms (Celtic & Greek Mythology)
  • As you read through the in-depth collection of Horse symbolism and meanings here on Building Beautiful Souls, take some time to meditate on how Horse energy speaks to your heart.

Consider what kind of spiritual gifts Horse has appeared to bestow on you and how you are meant to work with its energies.Because you’re compelled to seek out Horse Symbolism and Meaning, it is a sign that your soul (higher self) is racing its way to consummate freedom and the ability to travel the entire universe.

For it is only Horse who has the strength and stamina to ride up from the darkness of Middle Earth, traverse all the lands of our world and ascend to the heavens and beyond; racing with grace and sovereignty between the 5 ElementsEarthAirWater,Fireand Spirit or Aether.Horse is an amazing spirit guide representing your personal goals, ambitions, desires and overall liberation.

Winged Lion / Griffin

The Griffin was considered as a Christian symbol for the Church’s ideals on marriage. It was also used to symbolize Jesus.

The lion, considered as the king of the land, is one of the most widely known animal symbols. It has been used in paintings and carvings, finds a mention in literature, and has been depicted on flags.The lion is one of the most preferred symbols of leadership and emperors. Since many centuries, it has been used as a sign for all that is considered as majestic because of its noble character, alertness, courage, strength, and power. It is seen in the Asian, African, and European cultures. It is carved on or erected as a statue on buildings, and believed to safeguard castles, bridges, churches, and tombs. It is also symbolic of values like self-control, strength, courage, and power. At present, the animal is mostly used as a symbol of fearlessness as the roar of the animal is firm and strong. The lion has also been highlighted in fables of the 6th century.

The winged lion symbolism appeared in Prophet Ezekiel’s vision where four winged creatures represent the four evangelists; Matthew as a human, Mark as a lion, Luke as a bull, and John as an eagle. An open book is seen lying below the front legs of the lion. It contains the text, ‘Pax tibi, Marce, Evangelista meus.’ The book is believed to symbolize the state’s sovereignty. Some depictions show a halo about the lion’s head, the book with the words abbreviated to their initials, and the lion.

The symbol of St. Mark’s lion can be seen throughout Venice. One of the spots to find the winged lion is the Piazzetta di San Marco in Venice, Italy where the bronze-winged lion sculpture stands atop two large granite columns in the Square. Another one is at Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy.This symbol was known as lamassu to the Assyrians. It is depicted as a winged lion (or a bull) with the wings of an eagle and the head of a human. The eagle is usually associated with the Sun god, which controls and strengthens the lion, and the human head symbolizes intelligence.

Figure Work, by Steven Morris

Certainly, beauty and sensuality play roles in my figurative work—not through sexual objectification, but rather the emotional grace that the figure uniquely expresses. By exploring the human figure, especially the female figure, I am working to express the power and grace of the living condition filled with paradoxes: strength, fragility, beauty, imperfection, and aliveness.

– Steven Morris

Figure work—in live study, sketch and painting—has been central to my work as an artist for many years.

The basis of figurative art is often realism (or realistic), a recreation of a person or thing by an artist expressing their view. For the most part, my art isn’t looking to be representative or capture realism, rather an expression of a form, a moment or a mood that comes through the figure. Much of my figurative work are studies that inform my abstract figurative work and my themed series works.

In Athenian Greece, Protagoras coined the phrase “Man is the measure of all things” and was one of the leading thinkers of the time, a group called the Sophists, whose ranks included Cicero, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Although they were more focused on the individual’s place in society, protecting the rights and freedoms of the individual, they are considered the “Future of Figurative Art” when artists in the 1400’s and 1500’s were inspired by Sophist Greece, their culture and social philosophies.

But when one considers the birth of figurative art as a style and not by its name, it seems to be the most basic form of artistic expression, the truest way for humans to honor their cultures, their beliefs, and their experiences. When we consider a more philosophical approach, we attempt to explain why memorializing and remembering details of a civilization, a political or religious event, or the existence of a person or group of people is paramount to the evolution of the human experience. But it is truly human nature.

Works here represent various pieces from the spring/summer of 2020.

Artwork amidst COVID-19

A crisis like no other.
As the world sequestered itself, it was a time to inward: Literally and figuratively. I found myself in Mexico for a scheduled writing retreat for my book in the works called, “The Beautiful Business.” This was right before the world shut down. China was just then being ravaged by the pandemic, and our borders in the US had not yet shut down.
During breaks from writing I looked out across the vast Pacific toward China and the unseen, I contemplated our relationship to the natural world; to our primal connection with all that nature offers: creation, destruction, rejuvenation, seasonality, growth, perpetual change, primal instincts.
The series of pieces are part of a series of pieces that explore the human connection to nature, all created amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
With an eye to the various brokenness of the world, past, and present, Toni Morrison instructs:
“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.
I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art.”
Each piece here is 12×9″ oil on wood panel.
“Song of Trees”
“Song of Trees” is an exploration of our primal connection with the rejuvenating power of nature. Its title is derived from the book by naturalist author, David George Haskill.
“On Second Thought”
“On Second Thought” explores the creation-destruction cycle of all things in the natural world, including the seasonality and temporal nature of life.
“Home Range”
“Home Range” is a painting that examines our anchored paradoxical connection to close loved ones, such as spouses, family and close friends, that create a sense of belonging—and our singular stance in the world as an individual.
“Headful of Treats”
The constant abundance of nature offers us an abundance of “Headful of Treats.” This piece explores how nature is constantly providing nourishment and rejuvenation.

“Song of Innocence” (after Velázquez)

Song of Innocence” — 72”x60” oil on canvas, with mixed media

In Diego Velázquez seminal painting (the most critiqued painting in all of art history) “Las Meninas,” there is a pose and gesture of the artist in a state of pause—a wondering tilt of the head which acts as an invitation from the artist to stop and consider from a place of unknowing. This “Song of Innocence” is a stripping of our preconceived perceptions of whatever reality the viewer is facing. It the make-up of our complex and enigmatic life-making composition, we raise questions about reality and illusion, which creates an uncertain relationship between the viewer and the figure represented.


“Seer” — 60”x40” oil on canvas, with mixed media

The “Seer” speaks to the accessibility and reachability of humans and mystery. The imaginative act is a core defining attribute of our humanity. Mystery and transcendence can be redefined in our human accessibility, as they hint at illusory things beyond human reach. The “Seer” is the adventurer, discoverer, and experiencer of the mysteries of human-spirit—the living foundation of humanity. Standing on the shoulders of William Blake and his predecessors, the “seer” is a creator, definer and defender of the human perspective of the seen and unseen worlds.

“Dance of Albion”

“Dance of Albion” – 72”x60” oil on canvas, with mixed media, 2019

“Man is All Imagination,” William Blake wrote, “God is Man & exists in us & we in him.” The “Dance of Albion” is a nod to Blake’s color print litho from 1794. “Albion” is Blake’s universal God-Man and carries an attitude of exaltation and crucifixion, a rebirth in the creation/destruction cycle. “Albion” also references Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” whose outspread limbs touch the rim of the circle of reality, and (wo)man as the measure of all things.

“Harmony” at TEDx and Group Show

Harmony seems to be a potent and recurring theme for me as I step into early 2019. Defined as elements that are in accord, alignement and agreement with one another, harmony is a necessary entity in much of my work and life.

When we are in harmony with our purpose, our vocation, our work, our relationships, our voice, and our artistry, we are harmony with all of existence. When we live in harmony we live within our own center of creative, artistic, imaginative expression. Here we are energized through all seen and unseen elements of the universe conspiring in our favor.

In my recent TEDx talk, entitled The Beautiful Business I also identify harmony as a key ingredient to the Japanese aesthetic definition of beauty, and the second element to what I consider a beautiful busienss. You can watch my TEDx talk here.

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Sparks Gallery / Harmony Group Show

From the Sparks Website:

“To kick off the new year, Sparks Gallery is pleased to present a selection of artworks that are inspired by music. Entitled “Harmony”, this exhibition will explore both the traditional movement of the body in motion, as well as abstract works with bursts of colors and shapes. Each artist will interpret music and dance through their unique vision and craft.

Artists on view include:
Anna Van Fleet, Cheryl Tall, Daniel Ketelhut, Duke Windsor, Evgeniya Golik, Irina Negulescu, Jeremy Sicile-Kira, Julia Rasor, Julia San Román, Khalid Alkaaby, Larry Caveney, Lenore Simon, Matthew Snyder, Michael Carini, Michele Benzamin-Miki, Michelle D. Ferrera, Ry Beloin, Steven Morris

“Connection” Juried Show Award

The San Diego Museum of Art Artists Guild
Open Juried Exhibition


at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts, Poway, California
June 1 – June 30, 2018

Congratulations to our 
First Place Award of Excellence Winner:  STEVEN MORRIS

for his oil painting on wood panel The Infinite Self.

Reposted from the San Diego Museum of Art, Artists Guild site.

Steven is an artist/advisor/author.  He describes his vision and art career as follows:

My interest, study, and practices in art have been a life-long journey. From my earliest childhood memories through my current work in the world of arts, I have found art and the artistry process to be cathartic, expressive, and connective. Art, to me and in my process, is a threshold that can move people profoundly and to connect with people in deep and meaningful ways. Done well, it should shake both the artist and the viewer from their current state of experiencing the world to a new state.

It is cathartic because as I create art, I can’t help but create it as a reflection of my journey through life. While this is a personal journey it is also a universal journey, one that we’re all experiencing. Much of my artwork examines the mutuality of our humanness and the duality of our human experience, both physical and non-physical. I suppose, in its essence, my work is always exploring the universal questions of ‘who am I’ and ‘what is my place in the world.’ The cathartic foundation that is born from this exploration is ultimately about discovering ourselves and trusting ourselves.

Much of my work is guided by intuition and, essentially, feeling my way through my work. While each of my pieces has an intention, beit an idea, motif, concept or feeling, at its onset, I find myself in conversation with each piece and that conversation goes into unforeseen places. One of the hardest and most essential things to do as artists is to move beyond all of our knowing and learnings—knowing the masters, knowing the craft, knowing the medium—and forge our own artistic expression. The process of both creating and experiencing art is a way of setting aside the already-forged and strategic approaches to experiencing the world and, instead intuiting or feeling your own unique way through it and with it. Here we find our own artistic voice, discover our own unique way of expressing, experience our own version of grace, and apprehend our own grand array.

I believe artwork is a feeling, not a knowing, a believing or a thinking. My hope for people experiencing my art, or any art, is that they immerse themselves into it and allow themselves to be moved by it—momentarily allowing themselves to be swept away and taken by the art. Both joyous and serious art, when it works, engages a connection between the artist, the viewer and their greater common union.

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“The Infinite Self” 

When I set out to create this piece, I wanted the viewer to imagine themselves as the work; inviting them to “be” the painting and immerse themselves into the strength of the central figure. This figure is intended to represent the universal “I” with a strength and confidence of presence in character. There’s an intentional heroic feel to the piece, creating a subtle reference to the common hero’s journey archetypes and myths that Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell delved into.

This piece explores an iconic motif of the self-examining itself and the world around it. The brushed figure is looking out and within simultaneously. It is set on a passionate field of reds with the subtle interplay of other figures and relationships, as the figure is offset in black. The natural birch wood panel frames the painted and imagined world creating a connection between all worlds—the inner landscape, the natural world, the spiritual, mystical or unseen world, and the imagined world.

Important Juried Exhibitions:

While I’ve been actively painting for the past 30 years, I’ve been primarily showing and selling my work privately to collectors.  The “Connections” exhibition is the first juried show I have entered my work into in the last 3 years.

Previous juried exhibitions include:
Japan Invitational Exhibition / Osaka, Japan
Contacto / Baja Mexico, Bi-National Exhibit
Tyler Invitational Exhibition / Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia


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