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 had an amazing time doing Drawlloween. It helped me loosen up and be less self conscious about posting sketches and off the cuff drawings. As soon as I finish painting “Elstir” I have a couple of these to refine and paint. I found it deeply inspiring and over all so much fun. And, it looks like I’m not the only one mourning the end of Drawlloween. The wonderful Hoap put together an awesome Dravember list.
But first, my Drawlloween drawings~
“Haunted House” -Crimson Peak -I finally saw Crimson Peak. It’s basically a mash up of Fall of the House of Usher and Rebecca, which means I liked it. Nothing groundbreaking- but the costumes and sets are top notch. It’s definitely set in Del Toro’s universe and follows its rules, which is cool. I did find the story and characterization to be a little too slight. I thought that worked for Pacific Rim(one of my favorites) bc that’s essentially an amine that happened to be live action. But I would have liked more backstory on the Sharpes.
“Mask” – another old one from about 15 years ago. This is pretty much the genesis of me putting animal masks on people. The front is a cross between a noh mask and a kitsune, while the back is a storm spirit.
“Addams Family”- “Morticia and Ophelia” -I wanted to show Morticia and her little known older sister Ophelia as teens. This would be shortly before they met Gomez. Ophelia was initially betrothed to Gomez, but he fell in love with Morticia. Ophelia was decidedly NOT brokenhearted. I gave them vaguely late 60s Biba era dresses, with Morticia’s dress being a nod to how she dresses her daughter, Wednesday.
“Witch” – I ended up posting 2 for Witch- “Striga” and “The Great God Pancake”. I have more witch drawings than I know what to do with! “Black Cat” -I haven’t been since they changed it, but the original painting featured a beautiful woman who partially turns into a panther. I can still remember how beautiful her white dress was and how deeply thrilling it was to see her change. And finally, “Skull” – Like everyone else from my generation I discovered the Death’s Head Moth courtesy of “Silence of the Lambs”. But, fun fact, there are different varieties of the Death Head’s moth and one of them is Acherontia Atropos. Acheron is a river in the Greek underworld, and Atropos is the Fate that cuts the thread of life. I’d like to do a painting of this one once I work out the kinks in the drawing. Her right hand holding the stork shears needs to be moved and redrawn.
And now I’m on to Drawvember!
If you’re already following my Instagram these are old, but what I love about my blog is that I’m able to talk a little more about them.
I love drawing werewolves. The first two are from about 7 years ago, inspired by the Warren Zevon song, “Werewolves of London.” I had read a great story before that that I’m pretty sure is apocryphal about what inspired Zevon’s song. The story went that he’d gone to England and saw a bunch of punks, hence, “I saw a werewolf walking with the queen of England…” Unfortunately, that story is most likely false and the song was actually just a nonsense song written while he was coked up.
And this lady is their far more respectable aunt, Mrs. Norther. I created her for my Sketchbook Project. Her title is, “Dangerous Pleasures,” which is the flower meaning of the tuberoses she’s holding.
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!
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.
Thanksgiving was delightful and now we’re gearing up for Christmas. We keep things very low key and try to focus on enjoying just hanging out. It’s cold up here in Northern California- not Mid West cold, but when you can see your breath, it’s cold.
I’m mostly recovered from the “mini flu” and sinus infection and slowly getting back into working. I’ve reached a pretty good place with my dolls, pattern wise, and now I’m painting their little faces.
I’m really excited to start their tiny clothes! I’ve had their clothes sketched out for ages and it’ll be delightful to actually see them put together.
I have two modes dictated by the seasons: Magic (or Magick if that’s your thing) and Space.
Every Autumn and Winter I gravitate towards everything supernatural and every Spring I switch over to technology. Everything from the clothes I want to wear, the shows I want to watch, and the music I listen to. I even have two playlists on my ipod with these themes that I put on while working.
Ah Autumn! All I want to do is eat baked goods and watch shows about murder. All. Day. Long.
Here are some of my current Autumn inspirations~