My recent visit with astrology luminary Cathy Coleman, inspired this article. You’ll have to be an astrology nerd to actually read it all, but the essential point is to stay tuned. It seems my time has come to shine some light.
Embracing the Artist: Pivotal Moments in the Lives of Two Painters
By Cathy Coleman, Ph.D.
Pissaro was born on the Island of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, the tenth of eleven children. Sensitive and extraordinary, he was his mother’s favorite. Pissaro came from a family of merchants, but had no interest in that path. He drew and painted from an early age. At age twelve, PIssaro went to boarding school near Paris. He developed an appreciation of French artists as his own artistic production advanced. When Pissaro returned to St. Thomas at age seventeen, he began to draw his inspiration from nature. This article will illuminate the astrological similarities of pivotal moments in the lives of two painters embracing their identities as artists. When one of my astrology clients was on the doorstep of her own identity evolution as an artist recently, I was also reading Alice Hoffman’s new historical novel, The Marriage of Opposites. Hoffman’s novel centers on French Impressionist Camille Pissaro (1830-1903).
In his early twenties, Pissaro moved to Venezuela, following a mentor he had met on St. Thomas, Danish artist Fritz Melbye. Pissaro lived in Venezuela for two years, painting village scenes and landscapes alongside Melbye. It would be several more years before Pissaro could embrace his art as a profession. He returned briefly to St. Thomas to try to fit into the family business, but Pissaro’s mother realized the futility of her son becoming a merchant. She bought him a ticket for a passage back to Paris in 1855, when he was twenty-five.
Pissaro was born July 10, 1830 in St Thomas, Virgin Islands. We do not have a birth time for Pissaro, so his horoscope is examined with a noon birth time. Pissaro’s natal artist shows up through the natal Moon in Pisces, symbolizing art, conjunct the South Node, along with Mars and Juno. His natal Sun in sensitive cardinal water sign Cancer is opposite Jupiter and Neptune, exactly opposite the midpoint of those two planets. Pallas Athena, goddess of the Arts, is conjunct Ceres, and trine Mercury in air signs. Pissaro was inspired to paint in the open air, known as plein air painting. He also painted many seascapes, starting at his home on St. Thomas. This is symbolized by his three planets and South Node in Picses.
Three pivotal times emerge as important in Pissaro’s life to affirm his gift as an artist. The first was at age twelve, when he was sent to boarding school and began studying art. His Sun progressed into Leo within the year after he arrived, so creativity and artistic expression blossomed. This was also the year of his first Jupiter return, highlighting the Jupiter/Neptune conjunction opposing his natal Sun. An expansive, visionary identity was the core of Pissaro’s being. Within a few months after his arrival in Paris, transiting Saturn also came to conjunct Jupiter/Neptune and oppose his natal Sun. This Saturn transit corresponded with the beginning of his serious study of drawing and painting. Also, Solar Arc Pluto was square Neptune.
The second pivotal event was Pissaro’s journey to Venezuela with Melbye at age twenty-one. Progressed Mercury was exactly conjunct his natal Sun, and opposite Jupiter and Neptune at their exact Midpoint. Mercury symbolizes travel, and Jupiter symbolizes long journeys; this was an adventure in pursuit of his dreams as an artist. Pissaro’s progressed Sun was opposite natal Uranus at that time, an indicator of a break for independence. During these two years, he drew and painted all that surrounded him in Venezuela. Melbye encouraged Pissaro to take on painting as a full-time profession during this period.
Finally, the third and most pivotal event in which Pissaro affirmed his life as an artist was his move to Paris at age twenty-five. Transiting Neptune was exactly conjunct his natal Moon in Pisces, symbolizing the embrace of his life as an artist. His progressed Sun and Mercury were at 12 degrees of Leo, making a yod, exactly inconjunct to his natal Jupiter and South Node, flanked by Juno and the Moon. The progressed Moon in Aquarius was opposite natal Saturn in Leo. Progressed Jupiter exactly squared natal Pluto, symbolizing transformation through a powerful journey. Natal Uranus was tied in as well, as natal Uranus and Pluto were exactly sextile. Transiting Uranus was trine the natal Jupiter/Neptune conjunction: This underlied Pissaro’s ongoing financial support from his family, which freed him to follow his dreams and fully engage. Transiting Saturn was exactly conjunct his natal Mercury, drawing him into the serious study of art.
Camille Pissaro lived on and developed as a painter and a teacher, becoming one of Paris’ fathers of Impressionism, along with Cezanne, Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, and Mary Cassatt. They held their first Impressionist Exhibit in 1874. At that time Saturn and Uranus were in opposition, aspecting Pissaro’s natal Saturn-Uranus opposition. In 1874, transiting Uranus was approaching Pissaro’s Saturn, and opposite his natal Uranus. Transiting Saturn was conjunct his natal Uranus, and opposite his natal Saturn. The Uranus opposition is one of the most important transits of one’s life. This can be a climax of the direction of one’s life, as it was for Pissaro.
As a comparative exploration, we’ll juxtapose the horoscope of a modern painter, Andrea Wedell (Birth Data August 28, 1962; 6:30 AM, Greenbrae, CA). My recent astrological consultation with Wedell revealed that now is the time to embrace her inner, essential artist. Wedell’s natal horoscope has a loaded 12th house, with the Moon conjunct Uranus, North Node, and also the asteroids Ceres, Vesta, and Juno. The asteroids, North Node, and the Moon are in Leo, the sign symbolizing creativity. The 12th house is the house of vision and inspiration. There is nothing that Wedell loves more than to paint from her inspiration. Wedell’s natal Venus is in Libra, another signature of the artist, with Venus strong in its own sign. Venus rules Wedell’s Midheaven, suggesting a career as an artist. Pallas Athena, goddess of the arts, is in her 10th house symbolizing career, in Gemini, suggesting more than one career path. Wedell is also a coach. Her semi-abstract paintings are soft and ethereal–though brightly colored–symbolizing the combined energy of the watery 12th house, and the bold, fixed fire sign Leo.
Wedell’s artist’s statement is:
My paintings are inspired by watching nature’s cyclical, fleeting and permanent rhythms. I work with luminous layers of paint, both transparent and heavily textured, to create a sense of atmospheric, semi recognizable form that offers the essence of remembered beauty…Inspired by nature, the places and spaces I paint are intentionally non-specific. They aim to capture the essence of fleeting moments in nature and offer the viewer the space to dream.
Wedell told me about several pivotal times that emerge as important in her life to affirm her gift as an artist. Like Pissaro, the first was her move to Paris at age 23. Wedell’s grandfather’s sculpture had just been acquired by the American Embassy in Paris, and she had gone for the inaugural event at the embassy. While sitting in front of the Pompidou Center in Paris, she had an epiphany to leave California and move to Paris. Wedell was exposed to great art and culture, and haunted museums and galleries in Paris for the next 28 years. At the time of the Paris move, Wedell’s progressed Sun was conjunct her natal Mercury, and her progressed Moon was conjunct natal Pallas Athena, patroness of the arts. Transiting Uranus trined her natal Moon, symbolizing independence and an unexpected move.
The second pivotal moment was when her grandfather, Alexander Stoller, a formally trained sculptor, died in 1994. Until his death, Wedell had been encouraged to express her artistry through performing arts. When her grandfather died she was liberated to pursue her path in the visual arts. Wedell felt that she had been passed the visual arts baton by her grandfather. Uranus was trine natal Mercury and square to natal Venus. Wedell’s view of herself as an artist suddenly changed. Transiting Saturn was opposite conjunct natal Chiron/Jupiter and opposite her natal Uranus/Sun/Pluto. She became serious about her art and started to work a lot more.
A third pivotal moment was when Wedell sold her first painting in Paris in 2002, followed by finding her teacher, Michelle Massiou, in Paris, marking the beginning of a serious eight-year study of beaux art. Transiting Pluto was trine her Moon, and Jupiter was sweeping over her Moon, Sun, and Ascendant. Jupiter and Pluto, the planetary combination symbolizing wealth, were in a benefic trine. In 2010 she held her first solo show at Galerie BE Espace in Paris of paintings of the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot. The idea for Le Tarot Essentiel emerged when Wedell met astrologer Françoise Bitton. Bitton interpreted them and wrote a guide to the Tarot cards. The timing coincided with a Jupiter Return, and transiting Uranus was opposite her natal Mercury. However, the greatest significance was transiting Pluto in benefic trine to the Sun. The show was an empowering experience.
Now in December 2016 and January 2017 Jupiter will conjunct her natal Venus, and transiting Uranus will oppose natal Venus. That same Jupiter-Uranus opposition makes benefic aspects to her Moon, another signature encouraging her expansion and living into her true self. Since Venus rules the Midheaven, this timing will signal the release of the artist. Wedell already has several galleries following her. There could be a big boost of energy, and money to be made. Her progressed Moon at this writing is within 4 degrees of her natal Moon. In four months she opens up to a Progressed New Moon cycle. February 2017 will then be time for her to blossom as an artist. A year later her Progressed Moon will conjunct her natal Uranus, and then her Sun and Ascendant. She will then be in her element, shining her light in the world. Transiting Saturn is trine her natal Moon, giving her the discipline to paint, put her work out in the world, and earn money from her painting. Her Solar Arc Neptune is exactly trine her natal Sun, a big indicator that now is the time to embrace the artist that she is. Her Solar Arc Jupiter is exactly trine her natal Uranus. The day that she came for a reading the Sun was exactly conjunct her natal Neptune. The fact that the Sun’s light was on her planet of art and inspiration was an omen that showed the way; it showed what was being revealed in the consultation that day. We looked at her Astro*Carto*Graphy to see where she has good energy to place her art for sale. She has a Venus Midheaven line running through Stockholm and Budapest and several countries in Central Europe. Here she should do well, and she said that there was a gallery in Stockholm that had been following her on Instagram. (See Andrea’s art at her website at andreawedell.com
Paris—and nature– inspired both artists’ work. Pissaro painted realistic scenes. Wedell’s abstract work is inspired by nature, but allows the viewer to dream. Features in these horoscopes that indicate the life of an artist are personal planets in Pisces, symbolizing vision and inspiration (Pissaro), and personal planets in Leo, symbolizing creativity (Wedell). We do not know which houses are highlighted for Pissaro because we do not have a birth time. The twelfth house of vision and inspiration is highlighted for Wedell. Libra, the sign symbolizing art and beauty is the ruler of Wedell’s Midheaven. Jupiter and Neptune–planets symbolizing expansive visions–connect with the luminaries, Sun or Moon. Wedell’s Jupiter is opposite her Sun, and Neptune sextiles the Moon. A Jupiter/Neptune conjunction opposes Pissaro’s Sun. Pivotal moments in both their lives activated or are presently activating the enegies of all these planets.
Cathy Coleman has been a practicing astrologer for some 35 years, and is passionate about diverse systems of astrological thought. She has achieved NCGR-PAA Level IV Certification, ACVA Level I Certification, and is a certified Astro*Carto*Grapher. She serves as education director and president of the San Francisco Chapter of NCGR, and writes a free weekly astrological blog (www.cathycoleman.co). Living in Sonoma, California, with her husband, Ralph Metzner, Cathy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.