I finished 2 painting last week! Wolfsbane and Wolf’s Paw are available in my shop. They are gouache and gold paint on Canson 185 lb. Acrylic paper. They are each 8″x10″.
I’ve written before about how much I love werewolves. I’m also terrified of them. There’s nothing as frightening to me as losing control- although the intense phsical pain of most werewolf transformations comes in at a very close second.
I’m also fascinated by hair and what it means to us. World wide and throughout history hair signifies 2 things- masculinity and animalism. The first of these reasons is why women have usually waxed, plucked, and otherwise depilated themselves- to create (or to be expected to embody) a hyperfeminity. The 2nd reason is why both sexes have frequently shaved. The middle ages was obsessed with spirituality and a separation from the animal kingdom in order to think higher, more godly thoughts. There is a 3rd reason people have historically gotten rid of their hair- the heat (hello Ancient Egypt!).
I am not a hairy person. I have sparse eyebrows and short eyelashes which has no doubt fueled my obsession. I wanted to do a couple of paintings that explored some of my favorite themes: transformation, animal nature, and secrets.
Each painting shows a woman in an ambiguous state. Sitting placidly in their virginal white dresses and Mona Lisa smiles, we are unsure if they are about to transform or have already danced under the moon. Both wear gold embroidered dresses because silver is deadly to werewolves, and both have long rippling hair like ocean waves or fire.
Wolfsbane has a repeating motif of full and crescent moons- her eyebrows, her lace dress, her full face, and her pearl ring.
Wolf’s Paw has sharp edges- her diamond print dress, the diamond stars in her hair and her triangular palm sign. Yellow can mean sunlight, but it can also mean sickness and madness. For her palm symbol, in folktales werewolves often have hair on their palms, but the connection to masturbation would narrow and limit the interpretation of the painting. Similarly, the original symbol I chose was the “wolf’s mark,” but I recalled that the Nazis appropriated it for (big surprise) their werewolf soldiers. Long story, anyway I did a quick internet search and unfortunately the thing is still used by white power groups. Obviously I had to choose something else. I settled on an alchemical symbol for Silver, which I feel leaves the meaning of the painting fairly open.
With these two paintings I feel Winter has come to a close. I’ve already started on my Spring inspired work.
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.”
gouache, acrylic, and pencil on 185 lb paper
I love Russian fairytales, folktales, and Slavic mythology. The Russian Sirin is thought to be a descendant of the Greek Sirin. Said to reside near the Garden of Eden, they sang beautiful songs of joy. Some stories tell that only truly happy people could hear the Sirin.
The Sirin often has two similar companions; the Alkonost, who sang sorrowful songs that inspired forgetfulness and oblivion in the listener, and the Gamayun, who sang songs of knowledge. All three birds were considered prophetic.
In line with my New Year’s resolution, I had planned on putting her up for sale, so that she could sing joyful songs to whoever wanted her. I even asked around to figure out a good formula for pricing my work. The “by the hour” doesn’t work for me. My work is too detailed. I ended up going with the “linear inch” model, which multiplied by our minimum wage gave me a fair price, at least fair in my mind. So, 9 + 12 = 21 x $12.00 = $252. But my husband ended up asking me to please not sell her. He’s grown quite attached to her, which is unusual for him. So, she’s staying here.
A photo of the finished painting. Unfortunately neither the scan above nor the photo capture the creaminess of working with gouache, but I still thinks she’s lovely. If you’re not familiar with gouache, it dries to a matte, suede like finish. Not fuzzy, but incredibly soft looking. It’s quite unlike anything in its strange, subdued beauty. Two of my initial sketches (there were two more that may become different paintings later). I wasn’t sure if I wanted to show her feet as well, but I decided to focus on her face, so I went with the sketch on the right. I took a photo for reference and started drawing.
I finished the drawing and transfered it to paper. I use a heavy duty 185 lb Canson paper that’s actually made for acrylics.
I love drawing hands. And here is the finished drawing on acrylic paper, ready for paint. I left out a lot of the details because I knew they would be filled in later by paint. I scanned her in and created a color key. The color key helps me to make sure my colors have some contrast and that I don’t end up with some random color in there which would stick out like a sore thumb. I also created a color map (not shown), which is where I took these colors and rough colored the drawing in photoshop to get an idea of where they would go. In that way I balanced the deep red of her crown with the deep red of her sleeves. After laying in the background color in gouache, I used burnt sienna acrylic to paint the outlines with a tiny brush. Next I did the coloring book colors. This part is always very hard for me because it looks like such a disaster. I felt much better once I had a chance to work on the background. The long process of creating the wings starts. I was inspired by iridescent raven feathers to use green to contrast with the red-orange.Sirins typically have bird bodies, but I wanted it to blur the line between whether she’s wearing a dress or whether those are her feathers growing out of her body.
Hanging out with Van Eyck’s Mary for inspiration. My photo reference is up so I can get the pink on her hands right.
I added gold paint to a few places. And some gold on her sunflower.Fin~
Despite what the calendar says, September is the beginning of Autumn! The days are hot, but the afternoons already show the long shadows typical of my favorite season. Fall also means I’m feeling invigorated. My table is full of projects that I feel great about. The work of the past year is finally coming together. It’s so nice to create something and be satisfied with it.
A few things I’m working on-
Clothed in her retro 70s Biba style dress, Kora is busy adjusting her black gloves in a grove of abstracted, shimmering Art deco trees…
Here’s a work in progress shot that I posted on Instagram a few weeks ago-
Generally, my work flow is something along the lines of first getting visual inspiration. I watch my favorite movies or shows (like Twin Peaks), browse books and magazines (my favorite drawing books, Rackham, or Pinterest), &/or listen to music (Of Monsters and Men has been on perma play). Then I make a quick sketch in a small notebook (upper left). I take photo reference & print it out (upper right). And then I make a sketch in my large sketchbook. Sometimes that gets scanned into Photoshop, tweaked, and printed. But even then it may not still be right, so I’ll cut up the print and move things around, taping them until they finally look right. After that I transfer the drawing to thick Acrylic paper or canvas.
The color process involves going back to my sketch in Photoshop & slapping some color on there for a general idea before I actually put paint on the paper or canvas.
Some more wips (works in progress) in this same series-
As well as the dolls that are part of the same series-
Sigh, I have been dreaming of Pumpkin Spice Lattes! I’ve already had 4 so far. My husband thinks I’m crazy, but I explained to him that they’re seasonal and so they’re gone after Thanksgiving. He was tempted, but decided to stick with his ice coffee.
If you’re in St. Louis, MO please check out The Bees Knees Show at the Alexi Era Gallery.
“Public Opening Reception : July 19th 7-9PM
The Bees Knees is an awareness and fundraising exhibition for Honey Love, urban bee keepers and activists trying to help our honey bee population. The Exhibition will feature 100 artworks on postcards from artists all around the world. All postcards will be priced $5-$50, and available to take home right away showing your support along with a honey tasting feature local harvested honey. On the back of each postcard is a special message about how you can help the bees. 100% of all sales go to HoneyLove and their commitment to save the bees! We aim to raise awareness, bring hope and also create a dialogue about the importance of bees.“
I contributed a postcard to the show~
4″ x 6″
It depicts two of my ladies communicating a message in the language of flowers.
In retrospect, I wish I’d made the background something other than blue. I feel it clashes with the purple. The background should have been cream or lilac. I’m thinking of doing a larger version with greater detail for myself, so we’ll see how that pans out.
I was ready to start making doll clothes before I’d even finished my doll. I’ve been drawing their clothes for the last couple of years and going to fabric stores & picking out fabrics & trims. Basically endlessly geeking out.
Concept art of Posy Rabbit’s clothing. She wears a Biba inspired outfit. As you know from this post- I love Biba.
Working on the slopers in Photosop. If you haven’t seen “Moon” starring Sam Rockwell and directed by Duncan Jones (David Bowie’s son), then you need to.
Posy is a patient model during the fitting
Drafted & sewn tiny shoe prototype along with a sketch of Posy’s teddy or camiknickers
Well, tomorrow I have to get the apartment ready for out Wednesday night get together. I have a full day of cleaning, grocery shopping, & baking peanut butter cookies scheduled. Then, Mikael’s parents are coming up for a visit. They’ll be here Thursday which means I won’t have any time to work on the final versions of her dress, teddy, and shoes. She has a caplet too, but the drafting on that is obviously very, very fast and easy.
I have a couple of blog posts I’d like to work on about my favorite illustrated books that remind me of summer, as well as a post about Biba fashion. Hopefully I’ll get to them along with the Sherlock t-shirt I’m working on.
If you want to see my wip in a more timely manner, I’m on Instagram.
I finished “Brooksie.” She’s gouache on 10″ x 10″ canvas. Unfortunately, this painting took me forever to complete despite its small size. I spent all of March with hives because I suddenly developed an allergy to rye bread. So, so weird. I’m not allergic to anything- or at least, I used to not be.
Anyway, I’m pretty happy with the progress from “Zelda.” This is much closer to what I had in my head. Now I wish I’d been bolder and more committed to outlines with “Zelda” but I’m not going back to rework it. I already have the next canvas for a new painting prepped.
As a teen, I discovered Louise Brooks in a book about silent stars and fell in love. She was so mischievous, passionate, and intelligent. I hunted for any of her films in the local video shops, but there weren’t any. I wouldn’t see her most famous movie, “Pandora’s Box” until decades later. If you’d like to know more about Louise, I suggest you read her memoir, “Lulu in Hollywood.” Peter Cowie put together an impressive and beautiful photo book about her, “Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever,” that is incredible. It’s expensive, so it may be a good idea to check the nearest library.
This is the photo by Eugene Robert Richee that inspired my painting.
Work in progress pictures:
I’m very excited that my Sketchbook Project: “Here Be Dragons,” was chosen to go on the 2014 national tour. It was originally part of a small tour last year called, “The Mysterious Maps.”
I’ve pasted the tour info below so if you’re interested in seeing my book in person, please check it out when it comes to a city near you!
3/29 – 3/30
The Goat Farm Arts Center
Church Street Entertainment District
The Contemporary Austin
Fort Worth, TX
Amon Carter Museum of American Art
Norman Arts Council
San Diego, CA
San Diego Museum of Art
5/30 – 5/31
Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
6/6 – 6/7
1st Friday Art Murmur / Saturday Stroll
San Francisco, CA
SF Center for the Book
Portland Art Museum
Emily Carr University
Madison Public Library
Fergus Falls, MN
9/18 – 9/21
The Distillery Historic District
Maine College of Art
“Zelda was very beautiful and was tanned a lovely gold colour and her hair was a beautiful dark gold and she was very friendly. Her hawk’s eyes were clear and calm. I knew everything was all right and was going to turn out well in the end when she leaned forward and said to me, telling me her great secret, ‘Ernest, don’t you think Al Jolson is greater than Jesus?’
Nobody thought anything of it at the time. It was only Zelda’s secret that she shared with me, as a hawk might share something with a man. But hawks do not share.”
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been working on this and others like it for over 4 years. My early 30s were a time of feeling incredibly uninspired. I had focused on learning 3d which left me no time to express any ideas in the time consuming medium of painting. And my usual medium- india ink and watercolor on watercolor paper just wasn’t cutting it for me. I wanted to both eliminate the india ink outlines I’d been working on to give my watercolors a greater softness and also make the jump to canvas and explore texture. Back in my late teens, when I first started painting large pictures in watercolor, I couldn’t get those really big, smooth flat areas of color that I wanted, so I began stippling the color in and fell in love with it. So artistically, I milled about in my early 30s but all that changed when I got pregnant with Karl. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with ideas- must have been the hormones- and worked toward trying to uncover a cohesive theme. Finally I realized my overriding obsession wasn’t just quirky surrealism, nature, and maladjusted ladies, but our connection to nature and how our world constantly attempts to sever us from it. Not in an eco- “let’s recycle” way, but in pretending that we’re not animals and that our marvelous brains should allow us to overcome our evolution through sheer willpower. It’s a message we’re constantly bombarded with- from the way we eat to who we have sex with- and if we don’t conform it’s regarded as a moral failure. I’ve always been more comfortable with being an animal than fitting in with humanity, so my chimeras make me feel right at home.
My Mail Me Art piece, “Power Animal” will be exhibited at The Framers Gallery from July 30th to August 3rd. It’s available for pre-sale now at Mail Me Art. All the proceeds from the sales of the original mail is being donated and shared between these charities: Animal Aid, The Teenage Cancer Trust and WaterAid.