from the jazz age to the space age

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Most of my inspiration for my painting “Sirin” came from my general love of Russian Fairytales and Medieval painting. I spent a lot of time looking at 3 books I have on Russian Lacquer Miniatures. The art is usually on a black background with strong red and orange colors, with some lovely blue and green accents. This one in particular was very inspiring- “Sleeping Beauty.”
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But I also used a few Pinterest pictures for reference and keeping me on track. With children about, I’ve found it easier to have a board rather than my usual pile of books. I still work with books of course, but I’m able to cut down on how high the stack gets by having my board up on the computer. –I made a separate board called, “Sirin.” Screen shot 2016-01-16 at 10.23.42 AMAt the top you have the “Maiden Tsar” from the Russian animated film, “The Magic Pony.” When I was a child, they used to show this movie all the time on KTLA’s Sunday Family Film Festival. In what seemed like a sea of wide eyed blonde princesses, she was a lonely island. Between her brown hair and her long, dark eyes with heavy eyeliner, she hit every mark on my childhood “pretty” target. Everything in this film is gorgeous. Don’t even get me started on the horses! Below, the two Ivan Bilibin pictures, as well as the image between them were helpful in my process of narrowing down my colors. I briefly considered a cream background. You’ll notice the Sirin on the left is holding a flower. She is proably a Gamayun, which were more likely to be shown with arms in addition to wings. I found this picture after I’d made my final sketch, but I still feel quite indebted to it. I gave my Sirin a sunflower to tie her to the Slavic solar god, (Dazbod or Belobog) as well as possible slavic solar symbols embroidered on her headdress.
Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 1.21.33 PMUnfortunately Slavic mythology is still much of a mystery. A few beliefs which used to be taken for granted, like the Belobog/Chernobog dualism, are now questioned. (You may remember Chernobog from Fantasia’s amazing “Night on Bald mountain”.)
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The Sirin in the center, with the red sun stayed with me, because for many decades I’ve had a reoccurring dream of a world lit by a black sun, black, not red like this picture- a sun that looks like an eclipse. The last time I started having the dream again was when I first got sick in the Fall of 2015. I made a few drawings and took some reference photos, but they’re somewhat sad and make me uncomfortable. It’s still there sometimes, that world lit by a black sun.
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Russian headdresses, often called kokoshniks, vary from region to region. I have a little notebook with all the ones I’ve collected so far which I’d love, time permitting to turn into little paintings. Headdresses from the north usually feature freshwater pearls, while those from the south are more likely to have copious amounts of gold embroidery. I chose the more crown-like one on the upper right as my main inspiration. I loved the contrast of the blue ribbon and gold embroidery on the bottom left, which I incorporated, changing the blue to pale green. The totally bonkers beautiful bird woman in “Sadko” makes me want to track that movie down. The colors in the center picture made me change the background from black to a softer grey. The “Last Unicorn” has been on my perma watch list this winter. Amalthea has the best hair in animation, along with Aurora. The bottom center picture is a favorite of mine- midcentury art is the last time we saw art with small, dark eyes on a regular basis. Not soon after this, the adorable Dollybird’s with their saucer eyes began their beauty domination. And finally the amazing iridescence of raven wings. It helped me to be brave and add blue and green to the wings.

I have plans and sketches for more, but next I’d like to finish and paint my wolf girl sketches from November. Then, perhaps I’ll return to the “Land Beyond the Blue Mountains.”


Before Pinterest I used to have stacks of paper all over. I’ve written before about how Pinterest’s feed change made it useless, but it’s still very useful if you actually need a place to store images.

The idea, drawing, and color palette for Elstir came first. But afterwards I went through some of my favorite boards, like Magick and Princess Witch Palette so I would have a concise (for me) set of images to keep me on track through painting. Even though I painted her in September and October, I feel like Elstir is more of a Winter painting than and Autumn painting. Now that we are back from a ridiculously terrible family Thanksgiving trip, I can finally look through my sketches to see what to do next. Ideally I’d like to finish a couple of drawings before I start another paintings, but we’ll see ;D

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The top left image is from the Halloween Tarot by Bajema. Even though I don’t collect tarot, I fell in love with this project and ordered them. Screen shot 2015-10-03 at 10.01.10 AM The golden film stills are from Fritz Lang’s two part epic, “Die Nibelungen.” Everyone is far more familiar with Wagner’s version, but the plot here is different. It’s based on a medieval varient. I’m going to post about this some more but if you can’t wait, it’s in the public domain and on youtube. Watch the golden one instead of the silvery black and white for the full beauty effect. It’s so incredibly beautiful. The first photo is of Kriemhild, the second is Siegfried in the forest. Screen shot 2015-10-03 at 9.59.32 AM


I am so in love with that first pin. I found it here: Sweet Leigh. The whole editorial is from Italian Vogue and it is just bonkers good. Total Game of Thrones, but better. If I wrote, I’d totally write a fantasy GOT rip off with a gorgeous black princess version of Daenerys Targaryen. Not that I don’t love albino Daenerys, but this would be awesome too.
At the bottom there’s a photo of Jean Harlow and Anita Loos. If you’ve never read Loos, I highly recommend her. She’s absolutely ruthless and hilarious.
We are having the most gruesome Indian Summer here. All I want to do is wear my Fall clothes and I’m still stuck in Summer wear.
Knock on wood, my health seems to be slowly improving and I’m back to work on art! I’ve had to make more changes to my diet. I had no idea so many things contain gluten. It’s ridiculous.

I know these Pinterest posts may seem redundant, but I actually do use them for inspiration 😀
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Late August, September, and October are Indian Summer here. It’s humid with no breeze, esp at night. As much as I hate the heat I do love the pale blue sky with the golden green leaves. There’s so much to look at. I just want to paint it all.Screen shot 2015-08-30 at 10.53.34 AM Screen shot 2015-08-30 at 10.53.18 AM


All I can think about the last two days is cool weather. It’s finally shown up, at least for the moment. I’ve already had hot cocoa twice. Screen shot 2015-08-20 at 4.12.04 PM Screen shot 2015-08-20 at 4.12.19 PM

Pinterest stopped working a while ago, maybe a year ago, when they changed their algorithm. But it was one of two platforms I actually like (the other being Instagram) and I’ve hung on hoping they would change it again. It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, but I recently figured out how to make it kind of work. Basically you can either bookmark your favorite follows “pins” page and visit them individually or you can do the same through Pinterest, though that’s several more steps. I haven’t looked at my Pinterest feed in ages and now that I’ve found a way around it, I can’t imagine I ever will again.
It’s a crappy fix, but it’ll do while I spend 20 minutes downing 3 cups of coffee, bleary eyed in the morning and trying to turn into a human being, while my kids play on the floor.