"It's a Rich Life" - Cross cultural Surreal oil painting to inspire gratitude when you meditate on much of good to be grateful for. From the story telling of 4 cultures
A rich life to be grateful for from the story telling of 4 cultures








It’s a Rich Life – Indigenous art oil painting with parabolic intent


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IT’S A RICH LIFE – Indigenous art oil painting to open our eyes and see the glory of it all.

Interested buyers, ask at this link for acquisition of the framed original or number 1 of 15 limited edition acrylic enhanced reproductions.


Rich beyond compare
Dreams in your heart
Discoveries in your hand
Good life in gratitude
Disciplined and planned

Glories to behold
Only for those
Brave and bold
Heaven to earth
Poverty to Riches
The wondrous story told

Your need
New birth
New wine
Come to the table
Learn how to dine
Drink deeply
Joy filled


Observing the beauty and wonder around me, I wondered how I could capture the riches of symbolism to express the gratitude toward God that I felt, and how I could challenge the feelings of ingratitude and envy in myself and others.

I recall memories of a Fijian village about a piece of indigenous art. The artwork depicted family life, togetherness, and happiness expressed in symbols. I saw a similar metaphor in Australian Aboriginal dream-time art, North American Indian, and New Zealand Maori art which gave birth to this painting concept.

My photographs include an image of spring, a loaf of bread, a crystal glass of red wine, Silver Eyes, and a Tui. I also have chosen NASA photos from the internet with my interpretation of indigenous storytelling.

These thoughts in this painting embellished my thinking “If I am not rich in my thoughts of gratitude, how can I share with others how to rise above “Poverty thinking” instead of only seeing what we don’t have as a cause to complain about and be critical of? Can I teach others to find gratitude in times of abundance and times of little? Do indigenous people have something to offer me? Can we be generous and share some of our daily bread, even to perceived enemies”?

In that context, this painting “It’s a Rich Life” is a small statement of the appreciation of the wonder of it all and helps them to show gratitude.

See this article “It’s a Rich Life” in Junction Magazine for insight into a part of Ian’s journey.

My reasons for Indigenous storytelling in art

The Indigenous art in this oil painting unfolded from the idea that all mankind has this common thread, “No matter what our culture we want our stories told”.

Intuitively something deeper is missing in all humans and the need to express our beliefs for recognition is at the core of all art. No matter what genre/style; the message conveyed needs knowledgeable interpretation beyond the painting’s visible appeal where it speaks to the heart.

I and my aboriginal companions came from the same seed and through time and separation, we created unique cultures with inherent belief structures. Good and bad philosophies, religions, and politics all trying to defend their positions against one another anchored on the back of stubborn cultural pride.

*  North American Indian Symbols

Through the generations, Native American Indians communicated their history, thoughts, ideas, and dreams with symbols as well as spoken words. They also used these to evoke help from the spirit world. They had a trained awareness of everything around them and strived to live in harmony with their known world and their universe.

Indian symbol logos are used decoratively and symbolically as a visual language. They use these to depict the language of life, nature, and the Indian spirit.

The American Indians view all things as having “a spirit”, whether animate or inanimate or could be touched and seen or not seen. They thought of the universe as being all-encompassing, IE: holding the powers and secrets of deeper meaning. There is partial truth in that thought but mystery prevails, unless a creator himself, (the manufacturer) is identified and believed.

–  Search for correct knowledge

I researched multiple sources to achieve the random choices I used in the painting. While researching the subject it became clear there are blurred lines as to why one symbol was used over another between different tribes.

The only common thread I found was that given the number of tribes, it is understandable that many symbols were used with different interpretations, however, they were all used while maintaining a similar belief in spirit and universe.

With that in mind, the symbols used conveyed profound beliefs and perceptions and we continue that tradition in western culture. For example, we only need to look at computer language symbols. Symbols are an inherent part of our human communication systems. Reference Coca-Cola, Mercedes Benz, and Apple computers.

–  Random choices and purpose

1. Star– Hope, and guidance
2. Rain cloud– Change, renewal & fertility
3. Eagle – Courage, wisdom, and strength
4. Horse – Purity, stamina, nobleness, courage, power, independence of spirit, freedom to roam, and pride.
5. Butterfly – Transformation, fertility, everlasting life
6. Dragonfly – Happiness, speed, and purity
7. Bear – Courage, physical strength, and leadership
8. Fish – Water and the flow of life from the Earth
9. Mountain range – Majesty, abundance

*  New Zealand Maori Art

In the Maori world, the Mangopare hammerhead shark symbolizes natural abundance, strength, agility, and determination. The predator respected qualities are symbolized in the Koru pattern. The Koru (Māori for “loop”) is a spiral shape based on the shape of the unfurling silver fern frond. This integral symbol in Māori art symbolizes new life, growth, strength, and peace.

Warriors sought to emulate these qualities on the battlefield and in life to meet their goals. Maori artists chose this representation to inspire in them the determination to meet their desired goals.

*  Australian Aboriginal Art

I particularly love the vibrancy and symbolism of Native art and Aboriginal dot painting.

Recognized globally, the language in Dot painting is unique and integral to Australian Aboriginal art. On the surface, the dot is simply a style of Aboriginal painting, similar to cross-hatching, stencil art, or pointillism in Western art. but exploring deeper into the history of Aboriginal dot painting you will find a world of camouflage, secrecy, and ritual thinking.

What the Aboriginals depicted in their want to worship from the culture I now use to explore the visual medium from my culture. I tell the stories of what I see. I am indebted to God for Aboriginal hunger and storytelling skills by simply using what they have at hand. The search for the invisible supernatural world narrative is clear in Aboriginal art stories.

The above information I gleaned from many sources. I can’t vouch for perfect accuracy.

*   Western World Art

As a “western thinking capitalist” with good intent, I come from the mindset of reconciliation to our manufacturer’s good advice.

I have often wondered how those of my fellow species express their knowledge and gratitude through their cultural traditions. In light of it all, I marvel at the art produced as a meager offering of contemplation!

How do others use their own visible language in the arts and modern hieroglyphics to express what they think? Their spirituality, Dreamtime, is wanting to link with a supernatural reason. Wondering where we have come from and where we are going is natural.

Spirituality is deeply ingrained in humans. We express our thoughts through culture. My culture and my “Dreamtime” is to touch a small part of our joint vulnerabilities, through the expression of art while on this planet.

We need keys to reach beyond the barriers of translation and ignorance. There are approximately 6500-6900 languages spoken in the world and one key is having an empathetic passion for truth in each culture.

This painting is a small statement to all cultures to look for things to be grateful for and to not be pointing out the junk we all so easily see.

Fashion products from the painting

I have created a women’s fashion series “Indigenous Dreaming” in collaboration with Vida America from “It’s a Rich Life.” Go to this link to buy sheer wraps, scarves, modern tees, essential tops, accent pillows, jewelry, tote bags, and more.

My La Festa”  fashion label is created as an art gallery runway for the streets of the world. I wanted to take my art into the public arena with “positive educational statements” combining visual beauty with allegory and metaphor.

Alongside La Festa I have created a brand called “Yeast” which carries up-building typography word art and poetry on clothing.

The indigenous influence art disclaimer

My attempt to paint, study and replicate indigenous art is very naive.

In the best way, I know how there is no way I would knowingly disrespect a people group who I dearly love. I study, at my own pace and these studies unmask a deeper honor toward these dear marginalized people. That sentiment is embedded in my borrowing of their creative intelligence to partner with my western cultured photorealism painting.

As an Australian and citizen of this world, I am honored they have given me so much pleasure with their wonderful storytelling interpretation with design, and dot painting colors, alongside the rhythmic sounds of their music in didgeridoos, knocking sticks, dance, and song unique to aboriginal culture.

I have a lot to learn as I embed what I learn crossing the bridge of understanding from my culture into the indigenous cultures of the world.

I call this my Godly inheritance and I look forward to experiencing their offerings in heaven where there is no fear, hatred, prejudice or offense to darken what God created to be good.



Oil painted on fine-weave, gesso primed long-life linen canvas with dammar varnish protection. The work is stretch-mounted proudly and framed on New Zealand pine.
* Originals are supplied with Provenance, coded Authentication of Sale Certificate, and maintenance/care information.

Please ask about the price and sizes – Replicating the original size, (1000 x 1000) starting from $3,500 on stretch-mounted archival canvas.

Unframed sizes | 960 x short side – $960  |  650 x short side – $650
Printed on long-life archival canvas. Protected with two coats of UV archival spray.
* Stretch-mounted reproductions will incur added charges for mounting and freight.

Unframed sizes | 594 x short side – $120
* Posters printed on fine art papers and treated with two coats of UV archival protection spray.


Images from this series are exhibited on multiple product lines at Fine Art America

  • Includes insurance and package/handling fees.
  • The Original and Limited Edition reproductions ship with the Provenance coded Authentication of the Sale Certificate and maintenance information.
  • Poster art prints ship in insured tubes.

  • 2019 – 1st prize (Professional), Great Summer Art Exhibition, Snells Beach Tennis Club, Auckland, New Zealand.

    Judges comments –This painting invited me into its many layers and showed maturity in the artist’s oil brush skills.
    It gave me glimpses through serene portals of time and seasons with finely painted motifs that the artist chose to represent some of the richness of life.

    The work is layered celebrating the present and the fleeting in the foreground but the underlying base of the painting is what gives us a sense of things eternal and spiritual that is the backdrop for life. The cultural symbolism speaks of virtues’ importance essential to our harmony and the well-being of mankind.
    The beautifully executed aboriginal design cleverly harmonizes and marries the artist’s personal cultural past with his adopted NZ home which is part of his identity. I felt the painting was calmly thought-provoking and uplifting. Ivan Clarke

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