I’ll be participating in the West End Indoor Art Market on this coming Saturday, May 2, in the Large Hall upstairs at Hillhead Library in Byres Road, Glasgow. There will be thirty-five artists and artists selling their wares, so there will be a wide variety of work on sale. We’ll be there from 12pm to 4:30pm for one afternoon only, but the event will be held once a month after that.
More Magic Mirrors
I’ve been busy this past few days with new mirrors, and here are the fruits of my labours. Mariposa is the Spanish word for butterfly and I thought it made a nice motif and name for this lady. As with Morwenna, this “magic mirror” is roughly 25 centimeters square (that’s ten inches, Americans) and made of wood with a small mirror in the centre. One of the joys of working with wooden surfaces is the way you can scumble layers of paint over the grain, and every time a new layer goes on, a bit of the previous colour shows through. I start with a dark base coat (in this case Prussian blue) and work lighter and lighter layers on top. The last stage is working gold wax gilt into the surface, giving the whole thing a rich glow, which I am sure this photo does not represent well.
In the mirror to the right, I had decided to work the design around the centre. Having this character holding a bird appealed to me for some reason. After having sketched a generic bird, I came across a reference to the nightingale, which apparently is a symbol of love’s sweetness and pain. Philomela, a character from Greek mythology, was turned into a nightingale by the gods, so it seemed appropriate to name this lady after her.
One of the themes I love working with is “enchantment”, both in my writing and artwork. One tends to feed the other. While I am painting something, bits of story ideas float around somewhere in my unconscious mind. Sometimes I just have to stop painting and write for a while to get it down on paper.
While the next novel’s plot ferments in my head, I am painting a series of acrylic paintings on paper and wood that have a fantasy feel to them. Six of these pieces are wooden frames with mirrors in them. I like to think of them as Magic Mirrors.
The first one I am posting here is called Morwenna. She’s a dark character I sketched while I was leading a workshop recently for Young, Gifted and Talented teenagers in Keswick, Cumbria. I thought she’d look interesting on a mirror.
I don’t know why she came to mind. Maybe it was because the students and I were chatting about how wildly popular vampire novels for teens are at the moment (Morwenna seems a bit vampiric, but I don’t think she is really).
Here’s the finished painting. Yes, in real life the mirror is square, but I had to photograph it obliquely so I wouldn’t catch my own face in the reflection!
I am working on the second and third mirrors now and I’ll post them when they’re ready.
In amongst all the emails I get suggesting I look at some wacky thing on YouTube, there is sometimes a link to something beautiful. This time it was a “book trailer” promoting Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Charles Vess. Neil’s rich reading voice gives the trailer a lullaby feel and the artwork harks back to the Golden Age of Illustration when artists like Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac and Kay Nielsen were published.
Listen, view and dream..
At last I am stepping out into the Blogosphere and embracing true interactivity. I ask myself what I would like to talk about and show. The top priorities will be to share my experiences of being an artist and a new writer. I would like to tell you about inspirations I have found in the physical world and in the virtual world. I hope also that this site can direct aspiring artists and writers to resources that will help them move their practice forward. Oh, and of course, I’ll share fun stuff, too.
All I have to do is walk in the countryside around Glasgow and I am convinced that we coexist with fairies. The Scottish landscape is full of magical corners, paths, trees and streams. These feed my imagination and fire up my drawing hand. You may already have heard of selkies and have seen them in the evocative film set in Ireland, The Secret of Roan Inish, but you may not have come across kelpies before.
I have been fascinated with kelpies ever since I found a Victorian travel gazette about Ireland from the 1840′s which described the Pooka, a type of kelpie, that apparently lived in a deserted island in the Kenmare River. Pookas, like kelpies, can assume different forms, including the “water horse”, a gigantic stallion that drags its victims down into lakes and streams. I have drawn and painted various versions of the pooka/kelpie and written a short story about it.
This image hangs over my desk as I type and transports me out of my studio and into a starry Highland night.