Le Fata Morgana

Greetings,

My triple super secret painting was a success! My buddy Jason had a landmark birthday this year, and so I wanted to commemorate this with a painting of Morgan Le Fay. I’m happy to say he was very pleased with it.

Morgan le Fay by Frederick Sandys, 1864

Morgan le Fay by Frederick Sandys, 1864

Morgan has been interpreted by so many artists over the centuries, it was definitely challenging to come up with an image that was largely original. I tried mostly to stay true to my personal vision of her, as mutable as that happens to be.

 

Sushila Battagione (incase you haven't heard, she has great hair.)

Sushila Battagione (in case you haven’t heard, she has great hair.)

As I mentioned before, I was so fortunate to have the lovely Sushila Battagione model for this epic role, and she was absolutely perfect. Conducting this photo shoot reminded me how much I love photographing people for reference in my paintings, and I decided that I want to create a series of devotional paintings of Goddesses that I have found connections with over the years. I have already scheduled the photo shoot for my next painting, which will be of Isis. I will continue to post updates here as that process unfolds.

Fata Morgana, mixed media, ©Valerie Herron 2013

Fata Morgana, mixed media,                          © Valerie Herron 2013

 

O sweet illusions of song
That tempt me everywhere,
In the lonely fields, and the throng
Of the crowded thoroughfare!

I approach and ye vanish away,
I grasp you, and ye are gone;
But ever by night and by day,
The melody soundeth on.

As the weary traveler sees
In desert or prairie vast,
Blue lakes, overhung with trees
That a pleasant shadow cast;

Fair towns with turrets high,
And shining roofs of gold,
That vanish as he draws nigh,
Like mists together rolled —

So I wander and wander along,
And forever before me gleams
The shining city of song,
In the beautiful land of dreams.

But when I would enter the gate
Of that golden atmosphere,
It is gone, and I wonder and wait
For the vision to reappear.

Fata Morgana, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

P.S. If you love this Morgan Le Fay painting as much as I do, you can obtain a print of it from my website! Check them out here:

http://www.valerieherron.com/buy-prints.html

Recycling Myths

No, not as in the claims that recycling is bs. Think Joseph Campbell.

I finished the super secret painting. Unfortunately, I can not show you this piece until its great reveal, so stay tuned for next week: the return to aquarelle!

3 weeks ’til Faerieworlds! I am still enjoying my internship as the social media extraordinaire for Faerieworlds LLC. This weekend I will be at an exciting pre-event celebration for FW down in Eugene, OR doing live tweeting, facebooking, and enjoying myself. If you are in the area, or are within driving distance, you should come out. All the details are here on this lovely flier:

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Since I haven’t any of my own art that I can share with you at the moment, I thought I would share this beautiful piece of video art that I came across last week. Even though it is old news in the world of fine art theory and practice, I can never get over the many ways that mythology is recycled and manifests in the arts. I definitely subscribe to the Jungian and Campbell-ian theories about myth, in the sense that studying mythology is the path to understanding the human psyche and the human experience. This exercise is one of the biggest inspirations behind my work.

This video is a contemporary rendition of the Actaeon myth recreated in a Victorian setting. It was inspired by the painting Diana and Actaeon by baroque artist Titian. I would also like to point out his painting The Death of Actaeon for further context. The video was created by Tell No One for the National Gallery in London.

Secrets

Happy Wednesday, All. As promised, I am going to commit to updating this thing at least once a week. So what’s going on in Mystic Media studios today:

I CAN’T TELL YOU! Normally I would post about the process of my projects, but I’m in the process of working on a top secret painting. I will let you know this, however. It will be mixed wet media, much like my Crowley poem series, and I was fortunate enough to have the gorgeous and talented Sushila Battagione to model for this painting. I’m hoping to have it finished by the 1st of July. Stay tuned!

the lovely Sushila Battagione - photo © Scott Belding 2013

the lovely Sushila Battagione – photo © Scott Belding 2013

**NOTE: Does this lady look familiar? That’s because you probably know her either from her artistic excellence in producing Raqs Oubliettes or from her many services and workshops via her health spa Oracle Wellness. If you are unfamiliar with either of these enterprises, I insist that you check them out immediately!**

I was so pleased to receive so much positive feedback on my thesis post, I was even quoted in The Wild Hunt (WHAT?) Thank you guys for taking an interest in my art and taking the time to tell me what you think. And thank you all for being so forgiving about the offensive amount of typos in my mini dissertation! I basically sat down and typed it all out in an hour, so it was naturally rife with mistakes. Meh. Thankfully my actual 50 page thesis paper was coherent and beautifully copy-edited.

Enough with the face-saving. There isn’t much else new and exciting going on around here. I did get to visit with my dear friend Sean who blew in from the midwest this week. We went to The Lovecraft and caught up a little bit. I brought my sketchbook and drew in the dark. C’mon, that isn’t nearly as pathetic as reading a book in the club. Is it?…

OH YEAH, it was my birthday on Sunday. I had a wealth of birthday wishes, my best friend Kelli took me out for dinner, my boyfriend organized a surprise goth pool party for me (for realz) I received 2 birthday readings and my dear friend Maxine Miller gave me this AMAZING cimaruta. Maxine is the artist that designed this cimaruta for Raven Grimassi‘s line of witchy products. I was stoked to get it from the artist herself ❤

My Cimaruta by the amazing Maxine Miller

My Cimaruta by the amazing Maxine Miller

 

Midterm Review and Thesis Progress

I made it through Midterm!

The midterm review was a little intense. I had to present my thesis concept to a panel of professionals (my panel consisted of art directors from the design, comics and gaming industries, and one freelance artist.) I also showed them my process and my work in progress. Here is a glance of the process behind my Brutality piece, the first image in the series. These are just a few of the items that I presented:

The panel thought my project was very strong conceptually, and they really responded to the work itself. I was thrilled. I also presented my current portfolio. Why yes, that is gold leaf!

The panel seemed excited about my work. They were all very nice, and gave extremely thoughtful feedback. This was definitely the help and encouragement I needed to push forward into the rest of my studio work over the next 6 weeks. And I must thank my amazing thesis mentor Annie Heisey once again. She knows exactly when to push me and when to not freak out! It’s a crucial balance that I think I need from all the people in my life, but she has been especially helpful this semester and I’m sure I’ll gush about her awesomeness a few more times before all of this insanity is over. Thanks, Annie.

“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.

Thesis Plans Finally Revealed!

So now that it has been approved, and I have sorted out some of the details, I will finally divulge the premise for my thesis project.

The back story is this: when I was first considering giving up smoking a few years ago, I was discussing the difficulty of addiction with a friend and fellow occultist. He said to me “you just have to see it as it is. Your addiction to smoking is an elemental, and it has you.” I had never thought of addiction in those terms before, and this concept helped me grapple with, and eventually vanquish, that caustic demon. Around that time I also recalled a conversation I had with another dear friend about my issues with anxiety. She referred to it as a monster that I needed to name and conquer. I loved this idea equally, and informed her that someday I would paint my monster so that I may own it.

I stowed both of these concepts in my head, and over the years I have thought of many ways in which I could utilize them in my art. Everything from illustration series to serious apotropaic paintings. I finally decided that these are the basic concepts that would inform my thesis work here at PNCA.

My thesis will be a series of six, mixed media paintings depicting the metaphorical demons that enslave humanity. The work will utilize both traditional and digital media. The images will be tenebrous, figurative and allegorical in nature. I will take abstract concepts such as “disease” and “brutality” and personify them each within their own painting.

Here is a slide from the presentation where I pitched this idea for the first time, last week. It contains past work of mine that represent some of the ways I plan to approach the work visually, as well as some thoughts on research:

slide from 1st thesis pitch

The title for the project is “The Allegories of Subjugation.” I must admit, I really like the title. Good job, me. This weekend I narrowed down the number of pieces I will have in the series and what allegories I am going to create. The current step in this whole process is to create a mood board for the basic aesthetic of the project:

mood board for thesis
all images plundered from tumblr and google

So now that I’ve set this all up, I have to actually live up to the insanity of my own expectations. I will be scheduling photo shoots for photo reference in the next few weeks. For those of you in the PDX area who actually know me, let me know if you are interested in modeling for me. You could be immortalized as a demon!

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!