Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dante and Me

Everybody who knows me well knows that one of my greatest artistic influences is the Romantic Movement with an emphasis on the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Not only that, but I am not alone in my admiration and adoration of this cast of real life historical characters and their art. I first heard about them not in art history class, but at a small fantasy convention in Minneapolis. Terry Windling was giving a talk on them, their creed and creativity sparked my imagination and embedded itself in my subconscious. I was hooked.

So off the the library I went, back in the day before the internet was alive. I sought out every book I could find about these artists, and I poured over every painting. As I learned about their lives and loves, their passion for art and literature, I became entranced with them all. But one artist stood out for me: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, oil painter, watercolorist, poet and one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

They all loved to paint redheads, and it became quite the fashion, picked up by other artists such as Waterhouse. Being a redhead myself, I saw myself in their paintings, part of an Arthurian Myth, or as a Goddess of old. The skillful renderings humble me, I can only hope to be that good someday. As I emerged from my pile of books, I encountered other artists, just like me who loved the PRB. My dear friend Denise Garner and I spent many an hour discussing these dreamers, and we dreamed our own dreams on the long drive to GenCon, and playing fun art games to pass the time.

It was after studying some traditional painting techniques that I was commissioned to create an oil version of a watercolor I did in art school paying homage to Rossetti. The result was La Bella Rosa, an Italian sounding name to honor Dante. Like the drawing of DGR pictured above, La Bella Rosa is a self portrait, me in 2001. The nature of art is to build upon the images you see with the images you imagine and discover yourself in the process. I am still discovering myself and my many faces as I create not only art, but a record of my inspirations here in this blog.

Writing this post put me in touch with a wonderful website: The Rossetti Archive, a treasure trove of everything a Rossetti lover could ever want. My own archive lives in my heart after years of reading and sharing with other artists my admiration for this artist and the movement he founded.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Return of the King...and Elves!

Last Friday night I attended The Lord of the Rings - Return of the King viewing party at a friend's house. Long ago, my sister and I played hostess to the first Lord of the Rings party. It too was held on a November night, but the movie had yet to be released in the theater, so we shared what we had downloaded from the official movie website and went from there. When we finally saw it in the theater, it was an incredibly magical event!

But before the film came out, we had the joy of reading the entire series aloud with wine and cheese at the ready. The wine was from Australia because we couldn't find any from New Zealand, where the movie was being made. I bought a copy of the sound track ahead of time and listened to it while painting Merry Meet, a portrait of an elf and fairy sprite meeting in a green wood.

When I look back on that time I remember so much that was wonderful, I loved where I lived at the time and all the memories we created for our friends. Today I still cherish this painting, though the original found a new home the first time I showed it. There are still a few prints left to complete the limited print run of just 100, and now they are available in a larger size than before. I hope the future brings many more wonderful memories of fantasy gatherings as well.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fools Gold

When I think of fairies, I often think of the old tales. One that comes to mind is a story I read long ago of a little girl who moved in down the road from what seemed to be a very poor family. The children of this family never went to school, and other people in town didn't talk about them much. The little girl decided to befriend these children so she went to play with them at their little run down cottage.

Their play turned into a real fairy tale, where the children were really a fairy prince and princess, and they were wealthy beyond measure. This was a secret that they asked the little girl to keep. As time went on and she played with them, they would give her treasures of jewels and gold for her to keep. Then one day she couldn't keep the secret any longer, she wanted to brag about her royal friends and their wealth, and all the gifts that they had given her.

When she went to show her treasures, she opened up her little bag she kept them in and found nothing but leaves. Her neighbors moved out and the shack fell into ruin a short time later, and she never saw the fairy prince and princess again.

As I look around our yard, covered in golden leaves from the maple tree, I think of it as covered in gold from faery. Today I'm featuring the Leaf Walker from my Wyrdhaven Gallery, and I must say that it's one of my favorites. It's a windy autumn day and the Leaf Walker is out and about doing what he does best, walking without a care in the world. Like the fool in the Tarot, he steps bravely off the leaf with the confidence that he will reach his destination. It's a painting about faith in yourself and hope for the future. A fitting tribute for our times.

Old Art + Old Books = Old Book Art

Just a quick little note because I'm already up a couple of hours past my bedtime. So it's time to pass on an interesting link I came across to a site featuring old book art, the kind you can really work with! This is what it's all about from their website:

The Mission of Old Book Art

To provide & facilitate access to free illustrations: pictures, drawings, maps and other images scanned from antiquarian, public-domain books and other old documents. We have over 2,800 images in our gallery with more added regularly, all at no cost and most available at very high resolution. Most of these we have scanned and edited ourselves. We will also screen and provide links to other high quality resources.

Here's a taste of what they have to offer:

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ebony the Black Unicorn

It's a beautiful and sunny Sunday today here in Minnesota. We are enjoying the warmer than normal temperatures, and I'm so greatful for this added warmth! I have another new image for my Wyrdhaven Gallery at Imagekind, this one is Ebony the Black Unicorn.

This was one of my favorite paintings to do, I really had fun painting it! It was back when my studio was in what is now the Sunset Room at Eye of Horus, before they had regular readers there. It was an exciting time in my career as well, as I was becoming more well known both locally through the local Science Fiction conventions and nationally via the web. So I'm thrilled to be able to offer this one at new larger print size of 16 x 20 inches, as that's the size the original was painted! This will be limited to 450 any-size prints through my Gallery on Imagekind.

It's really starting to get rounded out over there, and I have space for seven more pictures in the gallery which I plan to get uploaded over the next few weeks. I'll keep you posted. :)

In other news, Netflix delivered "The Other Boleyn Girl" so David and I will be watching that film together tonight. While it's technically not a fantasy movie, it is a renaissance period piece and I intend to write a review on it here in the blog once I've seen it.