“Sometimes my hands remind me of two snakes in love!”

I took advantage of my most recent illustration assignment to work with an idea I was kicking around in my brain for some time now.

The ram-horned serpent is a creature which has lived in my collection of personal symbols for several years. Horned serpents in ancient, Northern European art are thought to have been a storm symbol (snakes are shaped like lightening, ram-horns clap like thunder.) At least according to the speculation of art historians. Some Celtic scholars, like Miranda Green, suggest that they were a regenerative symbol as well.

detail of the Gundestrup cauldron

I’ve always appreciated this interpretation, looking at what happens after lightening or a fire obliterates a chunk of forest. The nutrients in the ground get recycled, the sun reaches stuff that was beneath the canopy, plant growth increases and spreads providing more food for animals, etc. As someone who has dealt with more than one trial by fire, I know the rush of creativity that follows personal transformation. I am nothing if not resilient.

The official Herron family crede is “Nil Desperandum.” Seriously.

With all of that in mind, I decided that my current assignment in Advanced Illustration would be a great opportunity to finally create something with this symbolism. The assignment was to create an icon or an iconic image with a symbol or animal of your choice. I decided that there needed to be two serpents for a few reasons. Visually, I was most interested in designing beautiful shapes with the subject matter. This is easy enough with one snake, but I think that snakes make some of the most impressive shapes in their mating rituals. This idea certainly fit the theme of regeneration that I wanted to capture, and I wanted an element of connection and sweetness in the image that lead the viewer away from their potential ophidiophobia.

I finally decided upon a composition I liked, spent a looooooooooong time hand drawing the line work, scanned it in, scanned in some watercolor texture, and finished it all in photoshop.

endurfæða, digital media
Valerie Herron, 2012

The resolution on the image that I’m posting here doesn’t do it much justice, it was created to be blown up BIG! My professor mentioned something about this piece getting displayed in a gallery show, I will definitely post details as soon as I find them out.

Endurfæða (pronounced: in-dur-fy-thuh) is the Icelandic word for “regenerate.” The image is a symbol and an affirmation. It’s appropriate that I finished this on Mabon, not only for the horned serpent – harvest connection, but for personal reasons too. If I can take anything away from the transformations that have happened to me this year, it is the overwhelming amount of raw inspiration I have garnered from my experiences. This piece is an act of thanks.

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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 🙂