Category: art history

Anna Fidler

Hello! I am back from a few weeks of birthday revelry interspersed with a billion projects. I hope the Summer has been as fun and productive for the rest of you. To kick off her newly renovated website, as well as her current exhibition down in Oakland, I wanted to write a bit about the awesome lady I’ve been an artist assistant for for the last few years.

Anna Fidler in the studio with daughter Willow
photo by Sabina Samiee

I first met Anna Fidler my freshman year at PNCA. She was one of my drawing instructors, and at the end of the semester she offered me an internship to work as an artist assistant for her. I have been working for her on and off ever since.

See all those lines? They took months to draw.

In my time assisting at Anna Fidler studios, I’ve helped work on a couple of different series. The first is comprised of several portraits of Victorian Oregonians, the second is centered around iconic women, but I can’t really reveal any more about it for the time being.

As an artist assistant I’ve done everything from research at the Oregon Historical Society, paint pours, transferring line work, applying color and texture with prismacolors, repair, prepping pieces for gallery display, and assisting in physically setting up gallery shows, and I’m sure a bunch of other things that I’m forgetting.

Anna’s style and process of creating these mixed media pieces is unique and fascinating, and I must admit it has definitely rubbed off on me in my own work.

Mister George, by Anna Fidler
20.25 x 15.25 inches Acrylic and colored pencil on paper 2012

Pieces from the 1st series, Vampires and Wolfmen, are currently exhibited at the Johansson Projects Gallery in Oakland, CA. The series will also be exhibited in Portland at the Charles Hartman Gallery later in the year, and in September the series will be exhibited at the Portland Art Museum. I will announce the dates as they come in. I urge everyone to go see the work in person. And once again, you can find out all of her background info and about her other work at her website:

I must now get back to watercolor studies and writing comics. Soon I’ll have something I can actually share 😉

Hymn to Pan, Dionysus, and Hymn to Lucifer

Project 3 in my Cultural Marketplace class was to illustrate 3 poems in a sequence or from the same source. I chose Hymn to Pan, Dionysus, and Hymn to Lucifer by Aleister Crowley.  While I truly love Crowley’s writing, and am fascinated with the man from a historical perspective, I chose these poems because A. I love to make my classmates roll their eyes for some reason and B. I never seem to illustrate men. I decided that I wanted the illustrations to be more devotional in nature than narrative, which is why they feel more like portraiture than an action panel. I had a very short amount of time to execute these paintings, so ultimately I do consider them to be works in progress. Here are the results:

Pan - aquarelle, Valerie Herron 2012
Dionysus - aquarelle, Valerie Herron 2012
Lucifer - aquarelle, Valerie Herron 2012

To put them into further context for the project, I designed a border to tie more Thelemic symbolism into the images, and applied it to the images in photoshop. All together, the images are presented as plate illustrations for an anthology of Crowley poetry:

Valerie Herron 2012

Hymn to Pan

Thrill with the lissome lust of the light,
O man! My man!
Come careering out of the night
Of Pan! Io Pan!
Io Pan! Io Pan! Come over the sea
From Sicily and from Arcady!
Roaming as Bacchus, with fauns and pards
And nymphs and satyrs for thy guards,
On a milk-white ass, come over the sea
To me, to me,
Come with Apollo in bridal dress
(Shepherdess and pythoness)
Come with Artemis, silken shod,
And wash thy white thigh, beautifal God,
In the moon of the woods, on the marble mount,
The dimpled dawn of the amber fount!
Dip the purple of passionate prayer
In the crimson shrine, the scarlet snare,
The soul that startles in eyes of blue
To watch thy wantonness weeping through
The tangled grove, the gnarled bole
Of the living tree that is spirit and soul
And body and brain – come over the sea,
(Io Pan! Io Pan!)
Devil or God, to me, to me,
My man! My man!
Come with trumpets sounding shrill
Over the hill!
Come with drums low muttering
From the spring!
Come with flute and come with pipe!
Am I not ripe?
I, who wait and writhe and wrestle
With air that hath no boughs to nestle
My body, weary of empty clasp,
Strong as a lion and sharp as an asp –
Come, O come!
I am numb
With the lonely lust of devildom.
Thrust the sword through the galling fetter,
All-devourer, all begetter;
Give me the sign of the Open Eye,
And the token erect of thorny thigh,
And the word of madness and mystery,
O Pan! Io Pan!
Io Pan! Io Pan Pan! Pan Pan! Pan,
I am a man:
Do as thou wilt, as a great god can,
O Pan! Io Pan!
Io Pan! Io Pan Pan! I am awake
In the grip of the snake.
The eagle slashes with beak and claw;
The Gods withdraw;
The great beasts come, Io Pan! I am borne
To death on the horn
Of the Unicorn.
I am Pan! Io Pan! Io Pan Pan! Pan!
I am thy mate, I am thy man,
Goat of thy flock, I am gold, I am god,
Flesh to thy bone, flower to thy rod.
With hoofs of steel I race on the rocks
Through solstice stubborn to equinox.
I rave; and I rape and I rip and I rend
Everlasting, world without end,
Mannikin, maiden, maenad, man,
In the might of Pan.
Io Pan! Io Pan Pan! Pan! Io Pan!

Aleister Crowley, 1929

Valerie Herron 2012


I bring ye wine from above,
From the vats of the storied sun;
For every one of yer love,
And life for every one.
Ye shall dance on hill and level;
Ye shall sing in hollow and height
In the festal mystical revel,
The rapurous Bacchanal rite!
The rocks and trees are yours,
And the waters under the hill,
By the might of that which endures,
The holy heaven of will!
I kindle a flame like a torrent
To rush from star to star;
Your hair as a comet’s horrent,
Ye shall see things as they are!
I lift the mask of matter;
I open the heart of man;
For I am of force to shatter
The cast that hideth -Pan!
Your loves shall lap up slaughter,
And dabbled with roses of blood
Each desperate darling daughter
Shall swim in the fervid flood.
I bring ye laughter and tears,
The kisses that foam and bleed,
The joys of a million years,
The flowers that bear no seed.
My life is bitter and sterile,
Its flame is a wandering star.
Ye shall pass in pleasure and peril
Across the mystic bar
That is set for wrath and weeping
Against the children of earth;
But ye in singing and sleeping
Shall pass in measure and mirth!
I lift my wand and wave you
Through hill to hill of delight :
My rosy rivers lave you
In innermost lustral light..
I lead you, lord of the maze,
In the darkness free of the sun;
In spite of the spite that is day’s
We are wed, we are wild, we are one.

At Shigar Baltistan.

Aleister Crowley (date?)

Valerie Herron 2012

 Hymn to Lucifer

Ware, nor of good nor ill, what aim hath act?
Without its climax, death, what savour hath
Life?  an impeccable machine, exact
He paces an inane and pointless path
To glut brute appetites, his sole content
How tedious were he fit to comprehend
Himself!  More,  this our noble element
Of fire in nature, love in spirit, unkenned
Life hath no spring, no axle, and no end.

His body a bloody-ruby radiant
With noble passion, sun-souled Lucifer
Swept through the dawn colossal, swift aslant
On Eden’s imbecile perimeter.
He blessed nonentity with every curse
And spiced with sorrow the dull soul of sense,
Breathed life into the sterile universe,
With Love and Knowledge drove out innocence
The Key of Joy is disobedience.

Aleister Crowley (date?)

Alright, well considering the Illustration department at PNCA are not big fans of pathos, nor pretention, that should be enough material to keep them patting me on the head for the rest of the semester. May all artists that have not revelled in pretention cast the first stone 😉

Happy Spring Equinox, everyone!

Heraldic Alchemy

I wanted to create sort of my personal homage to the art of Alchemy. It is an art that I am in awe of on all levels: the building blocks of modern chemistry, as well as a timeless means (or metaphor) for spiritual/personal transformation. I also love the idea that magicians and scientists were once almost one in the same. The persecution of scientists and magicians during the Spanish Inquisition is perhaps something relevant to re-examine during this present time of religious vitriol. Pardon the pun.

Alchemic symbolism a beautiful visual language. I’m not a fluent speaker, but hopefully my broken alchemic imagery will not make my Hermeticist friends cringe too much. So much of my work comes from my incessant need to romanticize the things I experience everyday. I have a love for the realm of Alchemy because I feel like an alchemist every time I turn on the coffee-maker and every time I combine mixed media into an art piece. Anyway, you get the point. Here is my Heraldic Alchemy series:

Putrification - traditional and digital media, Valerie Herron 2012
Reverberation - traditional & digital media, Valerie Herron, 2012
Distillation - traditional & digital media, Valerie Herron, 2012
Quinta Essentia - traditional & digital media, Valerie Herron, 2012
Revivification - traditional & digital media, Valerie Herron, 2012

In the next week I will be starting my Aleister Crowley inspired triptych. Stay tuned!

1 Hour Snake Goddess Drawing

Cretan Snake Goddess. Black and white charcoal. Drawn in 48 minutes 🙂

Like ya do.

This was this weekend’s sketchbook homework for the advanced drawing class that I’m in. I’m enjoying the class so far, but I still hate working with charcoal. There is something about having chalky hands that drives me nuts. I didn’t even like playing in gravel as a kid. Neurosis is part of my charm, right?

Digital Painting

I am not super skilled at digital painting, but after taking a digital painting class I am way more comfortable with it. I will be utilizing the digital medium way more often. Here are my two favorite I made in class and my final (the last two images):

Portrait of Josh Burd (classmate)

photoshop, 2011

Illustrator, 2011

photoshop and illustrator, 2011


photoshop,illustrator 2011

Constructing the Sea Witch

I love reading about the processes of other artists. Most of the time I don’t have the foresight to document my process as I work on a piece, but I actually took the time to do it this time. Here are some photos of the process behind my newest painting, Circe:


watercolor on arches

Valerie Herron 2011

Cimaruta, the original Lucky Charms

YES, that entendre was doublé ! Anyway, Cimarutas, or Cima di Ruta (sprig of rue) are traditional Italian folk-charms which possibly originate all the way back to the Etruscans. They are pendants, usually silver, and the folk tradition is to place them where one would want protection (baby’s cradle, hung in a doorway, worn as a necklace etc.) They are always a sprig of rue with charms/symbols hung from the branches. The symbols are often a mixture of Pagan and Catholic motifs.

I just discovered these things and thought they were neat, so I drew one.

Chee-ma-roo-ta, doesn’t it sounds like children’s programming?

Master’s Study

We all did one Master’s Study in my Illustration Painting class, in other words, choosing a painting by an artist we admire and recreating it with goauche. I chose Morganna Le Fay by Brian Froud. Brian Froud is definitely an artist who I want to emanate in my paintings.

Master’s Study, goauche
Illustration Painting II Spring 2010
I think I did a really good job rendering the painting while throwing in my own style (even though I didn’t get to finish)
This bird looks so mad!

Drawing II Final Project

The Three Allegories of Beauty, graphite and charcoal
Drawing II Spring 2010

For the our final in Drawing II, each student had to create some giant project that related to the human figure. Their were 3 general themes to choose from: the human body as a machine, the human body relating to a grander concept, or using parts of the body to create the drawing final. For my project I created “The Three Allegories of Beauty.”
For reference, I took photos of my friends Courtney and Erin, and I modeled for the 3rd allegory. I sketched out the infrastructure of each piece with graphite. I enhanced the shadows of the compositions with charcoal. The modeling in the drawings consists of blended graphite and charcoal, as well as stippling and crosshatching to create different texture throughout the composition. These were all drawn on 3 sheets of  white 22×30 drawing paper.

There are a number of artists, traditional and contemporary, that have influenced the artistic decisions I made with this project. Throughout history, in the middle-ages especially, people used allegories as a solution to visually represent abstract concepts. I decided to use allegories because they are traditionally female figures, and this works perfectly as the project is about female body-issues. Another artist that inspired me during this project (and in general) is Caravaggio. I am inspired by Caravaggio’s intense use of subject matter, but also his use of tenebrism. The last artist that inspires me (in general as well as in context of this project) is Kiki Smith. Kiki Smith is a sculptor whose work is all about the human figure. She works in themes of women’s issues and makes several references to mythology and folklore to further contextualize her sculptures.  

Because this piece had so many medieval elements, I wanted to make it a traditional triptych. Because I felt like these figures were on display, almost like a freak-show, I gave them a more Victorian appearance and the typography followed suit.

Maid, the melancholy Woman-Child. This allegory is my favorite aesthetically as well as conceptually, as it disturbs me the most. Courtney was so perfect for this.

Matrona, the proverbial Xanax Soccer-Mom. It was hard to make Erin looked fucked up at all, as she is so beautiful.
Matriarch, the discarded Hag. Our biology tells us that women are no longer needed when they are no longer fertile.
I actually modeled for this one. I drew a bunch of lines on my face, and I looked like Yoda when I was done. Yoda in a severe corset.