“Keep your Space Face close to Mine, Love…”

Hello! I’m back from an insane week of decompressing from FaerieCon West and catching up on my work. I have finished my Star Goddess illustration!

I mentioned in the last post that Christine Hoff Kraemer had commissioned this illustration from me. Christine is a religious studies scholar, specializing in Paganism, sexuality, theology, and popular culture. She is a teacher, a prolific author, and the managing editor of the Pagan channel at Patheos.com. I was absolutely thrilled and honored that she sought me out to create the cover illustration for her upcoming book Eros and Touch from the Pagan Perspective: Divided for Love’s Sake.

Christine wanted a depiction the Star Goddess from the Starhawk creation myth. Check my last blog post for details about the myth and my process up to this point.

Finished with the thumbnails, I proceeded to create a textural background that I could scan into the image. I created this with a mixture of wet media: gouache, acrylic ink, and liquid acrylic paint. I felt like I was back in Anna Fidler‘s studio! When I create these kinds of textural pieces, I really feel like I’m in communication with the animal part of my psyche, or maybe my subconscious, that part of me that doesn’t analyse but simply responds to stimuli. It is very meditative.

textual background, mixed wet media

textual background, mixed wet media

nebulous abandon

nebulous abandon

Then I moved on to the line work. I knew that the lines in this image would mainly be a scaffolding for the painting, and I was prepared to remove it all together. For this reason I tried to make it as simple as possible

Line work for Star Goddess Illustration

Line work for Star Goddess Illustration

This drawing was deceptively challenging. Because I was painting God Hirself here, my goal for the figures were for them to be feminine, but ultimately gender-neutral. I was also very concerned with being able to express the angles of the faces without much detail, which was difficult. This was was probably my fifth attempt at drawing this.

I then scanned everything in and started painting digitally. Here are screenshots to show you some of the process:

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And here is the final result:

Divided for Love's Saketraditional and digital media© Valerie Herron, 2013

Divided for Love’s Sake
traditional and digital media
© Valerie Herron, 2013

I’m happy with her, and Christine seems to be as well.

On another note, I wanted to say that working at FaerieCon West 2013 last weekend was an amazing experience. It was extremely high energy and chaotic for me as part of the staff, but it was exciting. When I got home I was apparently still reverberating with all of this insane fae energy, my boyfriend asked me what it was like and all I could say is “I feel like I just spent the last three days doing meth with my boss in a hotel filled with glitter.” It was magical!

I not only got to see my dear friend Maxine Miller completely pwn her presentation about her illustration career, but I got to meet and hang out with a number of luminaries and creative professionals that I’ve been really wanting to meet like Raven and Stephanie Grimassi, T. Thorn CoyleStephanie Pui-Mun Law, Charles De Lint, and Mariee Sioux. 

Faerieworlds LLC is such a wonderful creative enterprise. There is something very empowering about giving people permission to harness their creativity and step into fantasy roles which express something very real about their inner selves. I have had a few conversations with the producer of Portland’s annual Vampire Masquerade Ball who has expressed that that is the main reason she runs the ball every year. She loves to see people feel beautiful and empowered at her event.

I view these sorts of events as giant art instillations that implore the viewers to interact. In fact, the instillation is comprised mostly of the participants and their contributions. It was truly amazing to be part of such a gorgeous, giant, crazy piece of living art and I look forward to working with Faerieworlds LLC as long as I can get away with it.

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I’m Back! Get ready for consistency!

Hello! I am back from hibernation and I am now forced (via Advanced Illustration) to provide weekly updates here. Hooray! I’m actually glad I’ll be getting back into the habit of updating this blog, I love sharing the process of my various projects and keeping in touch with everyone.

Thesis update: I managed to create a solid thesis proposal, and I think I did a good job delivering the presentation. The amazing Annie Heisey agreed to be my thesis mentor, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

So that was last semester. So far this semester I have been doing a lot of ideation on my thesis, and I am just now starting to rework the visuals. The conceptual aspect of this project is in a major distillation period, and things are really starting to come together. Stay tuned for updates on the process of my thesis project.

As a follow up to my last post, I completed the cd cover illustration and the cd packaging design for the Hermetic Library’s 5th anthology album. John Bell (the Librarian) was really great to work for. He was very nice, knew specifically what he wanted, and has great design sensibilities. All of these things make a world of difference when trying to communicate with clients via email. I would love to do more work for The Hermetic Library in the future. Here’s the final cover piece:

Cover for Magick, Music, and Ritual 5 Anthology Album.Illustration and Design© Valerie Herron

Cover for Magick, Music, and Ritual 5 Anthology Album.
Illustration and Design
© Valerie Herron

“For the cover art of this anthology, I wanted to create something that was in the spirit of the Hermetic Library project, as well as something that honored this time of year. Autumn is the season of rot, and the process of death and decomposition is apparent in every direction. Leaves wither off the trees, the days grow darker, and the chill of encroaching winter begins to creep into our lungs. The veil between the worlds is receding, and the gaze of otherworldly things is palpable. I wanted to interpret this seasonal ambiance into a dark composition accompanied by the simplicity of line.

A grim icon that truly seems to resonate with people right now is the deer skull. I have seen it in numerous places lately, appearing to have surfaced from the collective unconscious with great purpose. I felt it was an appropriate memento mori for this image. The bind rune is a glyph that is representative of the mythical Wild Hunt: a phantasmal cavalcade, tracking and claiming the lives of mortals. Lastly, the leather book texture is a nod to the Hermetic Library itself.” – My statement about the cover art, from hermetic.com

I was happy to end the semester with one of my favorite illustrations that I have ever made. I created it for my Advanced Illustration class, it’s and homage to American Gothic literature, which I was inundated with at the time:

American Gothic, digital media© Valerie Herron

American Gothic, digital media
© Valerie Herron

If you are on tumblr and Pinterest, I have new accounts on both! This is the tumblr page for my art, and here is my Pinterest page. Follow me on both!

I’m happy to announce that I will be having a solo gallery show this summer! I will announce the details closer to the date, so stay tuned. Second, I am working on my first book cover commission. Also, I am honored to be creating an jacket illustration for Christine Hoff Kraemer‘s newest book. I don’t think she’s promoted it yet, so I’ll keep the title under wraps. I will post the developments of these projects as they unfold.

Last, my internship for Faerieworlds LLC continues as we are gearing up for FaerieCon West. If you are in the Pacific Northwest the weekend of February 22nd and you are interested in a giant fantasy convention complete with two Masquerade Balls, a slew of vendors, talks/workshops by a ton of rad people, you should check it out. I will be there all weekend doing media stuff. Here’s the official website for details: http://faeriecon.com/west/

That’s all I have for now. I’ll be back next week 🙂

Thesis Progresses and other New Developments

Hello friends and fans of my art! I have surfaced once more from the insanity of thesis and other projects to give you some updates.

Endurfæða after some finishing touches
Valerie Herron, 2012

My Endurfæða piece is in a studio show which opened yesterday for Portlands official Design Week. I was honored to take place in this show with selected PNCA illustration students, the most talented people I know!

Second, I am so excited to announce that I have been hired into a new internship: I am now the social media intern for Faerieworlds LLC! This is an enterprise that I have followed for years. They produce gigantic events on the east and west coasts that coalesce art and artist, musicians, vendors, and workshops and a multitude of other romantic expressions fantasy. I’ve participated in their events for years now, and I’ve even vended at a few. I can’t say enough good things about these folks, and I urge you to check out and follow their various outlets on facebook, tumblr, and pinterst.

Be sure to check out FaerieCon East! It’s coming up next month 🙂

I am very excited to start an artistic collaboration with The Hermetic Library. The enigmatic “Librarian” describes the Hermetic library simply as an endeavor for “Archiving, Engaging and Encouraging the living Western Esoteric Tradition.”  The Hermetic Library releases quarterly music anthologies, songs are submitted by musicians who are inspired by the occult. I am in the beginning stages of working with the Librarian on illustrating and designing anthology covers. I will keep you posted throughout that process, in the meantime, be sure to check out The Hermetic Library at their official blog, tumblr, and facebook.

Thesis marches on! As I mentioned previously, my idea for my senior thesis project was accepted. I am now in the process of creating preliminary sketches and mood boards to nail down the visual language of this project. I also am starting the process of writing my thesis proposal, which I will be presenting to school in 8 weeks.

two of my moodboards in process

Ok, back to work! I want to thank everybody who has helped me out, as well as everyone who has taken an interest in my art over the years. I would not be able to keep up this volume of work if it wasn’t for all of the encouragement I receive from loved ones and even random people online who simply like my drawrings! Thanks 🙂

I leave you with this classic song to commemorate the birthday of the Megatherion himself. Herron Out!

Classes, Thesis, and Faeries

Hello, everyone! I think I’m finally warmed up and ready to face thesis year. Here are a few updates as to what I am doing myself:

Both of my literature seminars are extremely captivating. I’m currently reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy for my american gothic lit class – I’ve been listening to a lot of Nick Cave while doing so for the full Western Bloodbath effect. I just finished episode 10 of The Wire. I knew I wouldn’t escape that show emotionally unscathed. The 1st season isn’t even over!

I’m at the halfway point on my icon assignment for my Advanced Illustration class. I finished inking the line work and scanned it in so I can create some digital magic with it. Here is the line work I finished this weekend:

linework for icon piece
Valerie Herron 2012

I’m not sure, but I think my professor mentioned something about this piece being in a gallery show once it’s finished? Stay tuned!

I somehow managed to keep up on all this work on top of rehearsing and performing in my dear friend’s wedding ceremony. Congratulations Chris and Terry Hartgrove!

I pitched my basic thesis idea yesterday, and it was approved! So I will be spending the next several months researching allegories, demonology, and the Romantic & Symbolist painters. Woot! I will reveal my thesis idea when it is a little more realized.

The Nightmare
John Henry Fuseli 1781

Last but not least, for fans of the Faerieworlds/FaerieCon events: it was announced today that a new feature has been added to the upcoming FaerieCon East, The FaerieCon Book Club! The FaerieCon Book Club will give people a chance to join a discussion with fellow FaerieCon participants, hosts, and fantasy authors at the next FaerieCon East. You can find out more details about the book club at the FaerieCon East website, and you can join the discussion early at the FaerieCon Book Club Facebook page.

That’s all I have for now. I will continue to keep you all posted as thesis and the rest of these projects unfold 🙂

A quick review of Dead Can Dance at Marymoor Park

I discovered Dead Can Dance when I was 14, and shortly thereafter discovered that they had disbanded. They’ve since had a few reunion tours that I managed to miss, so I didn’t have high hopes for seeing them in concert, let alone a new album. Naturally, I was excited to find out about their plans for touring this summer to promote their new album, Anastasis. After months of waiting, I finally got to see Dead Can Dance on Friday, August 10th at the Marymoor amphitheater.

The Marymoor is a natural amphitheater just outside of Seattle, WA. Despite the outdoor setting, they managed to make the show feel more like a formal, orchestral event and not a hippy festival. This was accomplished by hugging the stage with several rows of seating for priority concertgoers. Meanwhile, the folks that bought GA tickets were stationed on the knolls (which felt like a mile away from the stage). People dancing were corralled to the back corner of the venue. This all made for less of an immersive concert experience than I would have liked, but that was my only complaint about the show.

The sound in the amphitheater was phenomenal. The set list mainly consisted of new songs, but they played some old favorites such as Sanvean and The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove. Their new music was not a huge departure from their previous work. It is all very Greek and Middle Eastern combined with the familiar vocal elements of Lisa Gerrard’s wailing glossolalia and Brendan Perry’s reverberance. I don’t believe I am qualified to review the new music, but I can say that I loved it instantly, and I couldn’t have had a better introduction to it.

The concert was absolutely beautiful, and I was elated to see Dead Can Dance in person, finally. I highly recommend going to see this show, the remaining tour dates and ticket information can be found here at their website: http://www.deadcandance.com/ 

Faerieworlds, Dead Can Dance, and Portraits

Heh, it’s been about a month, so I suppose it’s time for an update…

Faerieworlds 2012 Summer Festival was amazing, hands down. I drove down to Eugene with my dear friend, Tina, on Friday and Saturday. I ran into so many good friends and danced more in 2 days than I have all year. So necessary. Sadly, I had to come back from Arcadia.

Buddies at Faerieworlds. Clockwise from the bottom: Michael, Tina, Jason, and me.

Back to work. I just completed a portrait sketch for friend and local musician Kenneth Barton. His band Petal Songs is based in Portland and has been together for over a decade. He commissioned this another portrait, and we are talking about album cover design and illustration work coming up in the fall. I’ll continue to post all the work I do for Ken.

A sketch of Kenneth Barton.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a tentative painter. I hate the process of creating a painting when the piece is very important to me. For over a year I have been trying to start this portrait of my dear friend, Eleanor. Over a year ago I conducted a photo-shoot at her house in Seattle to capture the composition and have reference for the piece. Then I did a digital mock-up painting for a study, and then moved on to the actual painting. I restarted it twice. Then I put it aside. Then I did countless tiny studies, scared to death to start working on the actual piece. I finally started working on the final piece this week. I must finish this damn painting before school starts. Here are some pictures of the process so far:

On Friday I will be driving to Seattle to see Dead Can Dance in concert. This has not quite sunk in yet. DCD is largely responsible for most of the music I love. This may be the only concert I’ve ever attended where I get a little star-struck and manic. As manic as one can be while listening to droning incantations and folk dirges. If I can dissociate from my inner 14-year-old enough to notice various details of the concert, I’m hoping I can write a review of it on The Movement of Sound.

There, I’m that is enough update to make up for a month of silence!

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: http://annafidler.com/

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