After being sick for the last few months- (kidney stone) I’m finally well again. I still have to be very careful with what I eat, no wheat, very few grains, and now low sodium, but as my large intestine has improved, my hands have improved considerably. They still burn every once in a while, but it’s incredibly minor. My labs are great.
But the forced inactivity made me think about what I’d like to do in the immediate future. I’d definitely like to illustrate a book, but in order to do that I’ll have to retool how I work in order to become faster. At the same time I’ve been growing restless with the limitations of gouache. You have to be very, very careful when you overpaint, because it becomes active when it comes in contact with water. I hate oil, so that’s out (not oil paintings, but using oils myself), but I have always LOVED egg tempera. A lot. And my painting style is essentially drawing with a brush which makes it a good fit. So, that’s on my immediate future list.
In the meantime I went back to one of my earliest inspirations, medieval manuscripts. They inspired “Air,” up above. I made a simple outline drawing. Filled her in with a gouache base. Drew on top of the paint. And then painted the details. It was incredibly satisfying. So satisfying that I ordered “Alchemy & Mysticism”. Sure I have books on symbolism, mythology, and magic symbols, but this book is gorgeous. It also keeps my on track, style wise. I don’t want to fall down the rabbit hole of spending 2 months on a small painting anymore. I think this will help me divide my work between projects that are smaller, on paper, in gouache and pencil- and projects that are medium sized, in egg tempera, on gessoed board.
This one is Gucci. I think she looks like she could have walked out of a modern Decameron.
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.”
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.” At 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.
Unfortunately 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”.)
(PS- This is not a Danzig logo)
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.
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.”
“Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you’re at!
Up above the world you fly,
Like a tea tray in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you’re at!”
As I mentioned before, Elstir is supposedly an Irish version of Esther, which means “star”. I like that she’s my dark star. I finally scanned her in and tried to color correct her so that she’s close to her real colors, at least on my mac. And to wrap this painting up, here is a collection of my Elstir wips that were originally on Instagram~
I finally finished Elstir. She started as a postcard for the Bat World Sanctuary charity. I liked the drawing so much that I really wanted to make it into a painting. I’ll eventually scan her in and add her to my portfolio, but until then I took some photos. The top picture is the closest to her actual color- at least it is on my mac screen. The middle one isn’t too far off, but the third one I had to angle a bit because I wanted to try and photograph the gold paint, which is no easy task. Now I know why some of Klimt’s paintings look marvelous and some look terrible. When I captured the gold, the rest of the picture bleached out, but when I got the rest of the picture, the gold disappeared. Oh well. She’s lovely in person. Well, as lovely as a monster can be, I suppose 🙂
gouache, acrylic, white charcoal, and gold paint
12″ x 16″
I wanted a name that meant “star” and stumbled upon an Irish version of “Esther,” which is “Elstir.” I already had decided that her bat ears would be wrapped like double hennins. She wears a thick medieval style crown with a bat cameo in the center. She has a shear white veil embroidered in gold stars and gold edging. Her eye makeup is actually a very deep blue.
Painting wise, I’m very satisfied with her. She hits that sweet spot that I was trying to express- my love of medieval illuminations, like “Tres Riches Heures,” Russian miniature lacquer box art, Andrew Wyeth’s lovely tempura paintings with their delicate hatching, Van Gogh’s beautiful movement, every Pre-Raphaelite ever, and obviously my beloved Klimt. Klimt with his long necked, long fingered women who are either beautiful or ugly, depending on who you ask.
I learned something very, very important from this painting, and that is, that I have to make smaller paintings. Elstir is 12″ x 16″ and she took a long time due to my meticulous painting style. My next paintings and drawings are all 9″ x 12″, like “Roxanne.” I do wish I could paint looser and in a smoother manner, but it doesn’t please me personally. Whenever I’ve painted in a smoother style things start to feel too soft and rubbery. I like all the hard little lines, imperfectly blending when you’re close. They give my eyes something to grab on to. It’s very much like the sensation I have when I watch the sea or a great mass of trees on a hill. I never get tired of looking at all the tiny colors.
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.
My sketchbook will be in Los Angeles, CA
Friday 6/26: 4:30pm – 8:30pm
Saturday 6/27: 3:30pm – 7:30pm
Sunday 6/28: 12pm – 4pm
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
One of the things I wanted to accomplish with my 2015 Sketchbook Project, “Princess Witch,” was to actually use it as a way to narrow down which ideas I wanted to paint. I started with “Roxanne,” which although simple, is one of my favorites from the series. I chose “Roxanne” as a name bc one of its meanings is “bright” and I like the idea of a how a hypercube looks like a diamond.
9″ x 12″
Gouache and Acrylic on 185 lb. Paper
I’ve been wearing my new dress non-stop lately. The weather here has been bonkers- HOT-COLD-HOT! I find this little cotton dress to work in whatever temperature. I’m so in love with its pretty gold geometric print.
And now, some of my other favorite “Roxanne”s~
Friday 6/5: 4pm – 8pm
Saturday 6/7: 12pm – 4pm
Sunday 6/7: 12pm – 4pm
Ponce City Market
My sketchbook project, “Princess Witch” is online over at the Sketchbook Project: https://sketchbookproject.com/library/16064
I have trouble expressing how happy this project made me. It provided me with final drawings for future paintings- one in the works right now- and crystalized my vision of this little world that I’ve been working on for the last 5 years. It’s a wonderful feeling to get to a place where you’re finally happy with something you’ve created (until you look at it the next day ;D ).
“Princess Witch” explores the 4th dimension intersecting with our own, time perception in animals, pictorial language, identity, and magick with a K- all wrapped up in a pop culture love letter to Twin Peaks and clothed in pretty 1970s Biba -esque dresses.
My book is currently on tour!