Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tatianas New Dress

I'm back to my blog now that the holidays have had their way with me! Everything was so busy I couldn't squeeze even an extra minute or two out of life, but now, breathe in...breathe out... I'm back!

As many of you know, I was recently added to the roster of fantasy/fairy artists involved in the ever growing Enchanted Visions Project. Check out my Nov. 17th blog entry for more details on the project. I finished my first contribution to the project and submitted it at the beginning of December. They usually have a theme that is a word or phrase to inspire the artists to come up with something based upon that theme, but this time they tried something new. We were given three stock photos from and could choose one (or more) to use as inspiration. When I looked through them, this one caught my eye. I thought,

"That model really likes that dress she's wearing!" How would I know that? Well, my daughter Brittany got married a couple of years ago, and I recall chatting with the sales lady while she was trying on dresses. She told me that you can always tell when it's "the" dress, because they look at themselves, and they smooth the dress down over and over with their hands, I watched the brides, and she was right, the dresses they didn't like, they didn't even touch with their hands hardly at all, the more they liked the dress, there would go the hands! So this photo made me think of that day. I decided that she would be a fairy in a really lovely dress, a new dress fit for a queen. So I thought, why not make her Queen Tatiana from Midsummer Night's Dream?!

I had never worked from a stock photo before, so that was kind of a fun new world for me. I usually take my own reference photos, but it really was neat seeing all of the wonderful photography lisajen had there for the plucking! She asks for the artist to give her a credit line (fair enough) and of course a link back to her deviant art site where her photography is posted. That's all I ask from people who want to use my artwork for their websites, so it seemed very fair to me.

I opted to reverse the image in Photoshop to begin, I gave her very platinum blonde hair, and imagined a dress and crown fit for a fairy queen. This was a really fun project, I really enjoyed it, and I'm happy with the outcome. I have her posted in my Etsy store as prints, and watch for her to be added to Crystal Art Pendants, compact mirrors, coffee mugs and more!

Glad to be back in the blog!

Blessings for a wonderful New Year, and watch for a new Magical Monday Movie Post, next Monday!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Steampunk Fairy is Done!

The Steampunk Fairy is done! This one was really a fun piece to create, she has a totally playful attitude sitting on her "paper moon" set, which I based on old Victorian designs of antique paper moon photos that were very popular from the turn of the century up into the 40's. although the Vernian looking rocket-ship was my own addition. I'll have her available in my Etsy store soon, both as prints and gifts!

I hope you enjoy my new fairy, more to come in the future.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I'm Now a Contributing Artist to the Enchanted Visions Project!

I got some exciting news today! I have just found out that I've been accepted to be a contributing artist to the Enchanted Visions Project! What's that? Well, it's a creative endevor that was originally concieved by legendary fantasy/fairy artists Jessica Galbreth and Amy Brown. The idea was that they would challenge each other every month by agreeing upon a thematic title for a piece of art, then both artists would create their own artistic interpretation of the theme. Artist Coriander Shea Detwiler was inspired by the project and joined as well. Coriander has since facilitated the project as something that select other artists can contribute to as well. It's really fun to look through the themes and see what different artists envision when given a theme. It's a great opportunity to be creative, and join in with other talented artists to create some very interesting galleries.

I felt very honored when I found out that I'm included as a new contributing artist. So I recieved my first theme, and hope to finish something before the deadline which is the end of the month to be posted for November. The idea is to create brand new pieces, not send in work that is already done that might fit in with the theme, so I don't have any art included yet, but plan to very soon.
I'll be sure to post my new contribution when it's finished. Watch for my new steampunk fairy later on today!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Freebee Holiday Gift Tags on My Etsy Store!

We have a really fun special in our Etsy store for the month of November! I created these designer gift tags, I'll be using them on all my gifts this year for sure! So I put them all together on a digital file that you can print as many as you need yourself on your choice of paper. With any purchase in the month of November, we'll email you this file and you can print all of the gift tags you need for your gift giving this holiday season!

Here are the ones I printed out myself last night, they turned out pretty nice!

I made a little holiday gift scene showing gifts, as you can see the tags are a good size, so there's plenty of room to write on, plus if you really need a smaller tag, you could easily re size them.

Of course, as soon as I started setting this little photo shoot up, Willow the cat had to get right in the middle of everything!
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Steampunk Fairy: A Work in Progress

I had an opportunity to work on this one some more last night, in fact I was looking forward to it all day. Once I got into it, I was having so much fun, I didn't want to stop, I was working on it past midnight. Still a lot to do, the skirt has a pattern with lots of detail, so that will take a lot of time. Anyway, here it is so far, I thought you might enjoy seeing where she's taking me, she's really developing a life of her own. In case you missed the first post with the sketch and the inspiration behind this piece it's two posts below this one or, click here!



Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday (aaak! Tuesday) Night Magical Movie: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Since I'm working on my Steampunk Fairy, it seemed only appropriate to give a nod to a way fun Steampunk movie, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. For those who may wonder what that means, Steampunk is a sub genre of science fiction and alternate history in which the late 19th century is re-imagined featuring fantastical gadgets and inventions that didn't actually exist during that time period. Think Victorian science fiction.
On a side note, I missed posting on Monday, due to a relatively unusual event, I actually had homework from my day job, and nothing to do with steampunk. In addition to my fantasy art career, I'm also a graphic designer for a display company, if you ever been to a grocery store or movie theater, chances are you've seen a cardboard display made by the company I work for. In the office we have only a few people so we wear many hats which means that "Graphic Designer" also encompasses less creative duties such as entering orders onto spreadsheets, answering the phone, and sending out samples, it's a pretty glamourous gig, I tell you! So we had major orders on Monday, and had to bring some work home...but I digress...

Lets get on with the movie! The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a 2003 offering from director Stephen Norrington. (Blade, Aliens) In true Steampunk tradition, this is an alternative Victorian era in which several great fictional characters join forces and talents on a top secret mission. It's a fantastic re-imagining of Victorian times where magic and science collide.

Who is the League? Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery..mmmm) is a classic adventurer and crack shot who has been magically protected by the spell of an African witch doctor. The legendary Captain Nemo is played by Naseeruddin Shah in full Indian regalia and the most amazing version of the Nautilus I've ever seen, and a totally cool car to match! Peta Wilson colors her blond tresses dark as Mina Harker, the survivor of the "Dracula Incident" is a tough, unflappable vampiress. I'll never forget how delighted I was to see Tom Sawyer had grown up and joined the CIA! Rodney Skinner AKA The Invisible Man joins the troup with his useful skills, and of course the clever Dr. Jekyll brings along his angry inner self, Mr. Edward Hyde, who is simply a colossus. The invincible and immortal Dorian Gray is played by Stewart Townsend, (rawr!) though his magical portrait doesn't look nearly as good.

So what brought these interesting characters together to join forces? The Fantom, of course. He is a mysterious and clever madman bent on turning several rival countries against each other and starting a world war. So the mysterious "M" called upon these extraordinary beings to pitt their courage, strength, wit and various unusual talents to stop him.

I just love this movie, it's totally fun, it has great gadgets, fun characters, and some great lines too! You'll be on the edge of your seat! This was based on a graphic novel, and apparently there were many changes made, as often are for the film version. I haven't read the graphic novel yet, but it is on my wish list as I'm a fan of comics and comic art.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Steampunk Fairy Sketches

During the turn of the century, "paper moon" photos became very popular. The moon was cut out so that people could sit on the moon to have their photo taken, ladies, couples, even whole families would get their photos taken posing on these celestial sets. I think they're charming!
I wanted to draw a Steampunk Fairy, and I decided to take the inspiration for my new piece from these whimsical old photos. Sunday we turned our clocks back, and I used that extra hour to go back in time, and revisit not only and old photography tradition, but also a time that never was and created this sketch for my new Steampunk Fairy! I hope you like her so far.

Below is a detail shot of the Steampunk Fairy Sketch

Join me later for my pick for Magical Monday Night Movie!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Midnight Ice Fairy: A Redoux

I had an old piece of art on the wooden art table this weekend that I wanted to share with you! Back in 2004 I did this piece I called The Ice Fairy, I really liked the pose, she's enchanting sitting up there on her snowy branch blowing ice across the land on a winters day. There were a couple of problems with the Ice Fairy though. One was that there was simply not very much contrast, with so much white from the fairy herself, the overcast sky, and the snow on the branches, she just never really "popped." The other problem was that my vision for her wings, and how they turned out really never really pleased me. At the time, I just left it as is and never really fiddled with it. In my head I visualised her with wings that looked like frost on the window, but what I ended up with looked kind of chunky and really didn't have much grace. But at the time, I just went on to the next and left her as is.

Dan and I were pulling together all of my winter pieces to press onto these sweet little porcelain ornaments that we got to dye sub on when we looked at The Ice Fairy. "Yea, I was never really happy with how that one turned out." I explained. So Dan suggested, "Can you change it, what would you do differently?" When I told him there just isn't enough contrast, so she doesn't stand out, he said, "What if the scene was at night and the sky dark and full of stars?" Epiphany!
So I mocked it up in Photoshop to see how it would look and we both agreed, it was a huge improvement. So I got to work with the pencils and paint this weekend! I really had fun with it, I changed her hair, ears, added more contrast to the entire figure, and added a starry night sky, changed to sun behind the clouds to a moon with a ring around it. I also did away with her old strange chunky ice wings and gave her delicate graceful iced wings that fit in with my original vision. Who says you can never go back? Sometimes you can. I hope you enjoy the before and after pictures of what I'm now calling Midnight Ice Fairy! She'll be available in my etsy store as prints, cards, and ornaments very soon!


Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday Night Magical Movie: The Nightmare Before Christmas

Another Halloween has come and gone, blustering in like a mad swirl of cheesecloth, cupcakes, pumpkins and chocolate, and now lurking quietly like the styrofoam headstones and ghouls left powerless in the daylight as they await their plastic tub tombs until next year. What's that tug? It's my heart, and something else...ah, the last bit of spirit gum stuck to my ear...

Every Oct. 1 when those plastic tubs are opened up and the magic comes bursting out, my kids and I begin the traditional cacophony of singing, "This is Halloween, this is Halloween, Halloween, Halloween...Halloween..." they are adults and teens now, but they know all the words and sing it with feeling! I couldn't pack it all up again without sharing Tim Burton's classic that encompasses the current offerings at most retail stores, "The Nightmare Before Christmas!"

This weirdly wonderful musical stop animation film came out in 1993, and when it did, we hadn't seen anything quite like it! In this strange land of Halloween Town, lanky skull-faced Jack Skellington (voice of Chris Sarandon) is the dapper Pumpkin King, and he delights in the organising of a good scary Halloween. But lately, he's become bored, and feels like he's looking for something more out of life. (or death, as the case may be) He ends up wandering, and discovers a magical grove of trees, each tree with a door to a different holiday. Jack steps through the door to Christmas Town and becomes enchanted, he feels this is for him! Upon his return to Halloween Town, he gathers the denizens together and tells them tales of Christmas and Sandy Claws!

The well-meaning yet misguided Jack is certain he could do this Christmas thing, and even improve it. He enlists all of the citizens of Halloween Town to get to work of their version of Christmas which includes heads in boxes, hideously stuffed stockings and kidnapping Santa! All along Sally, (voice of Catherine O'Hara) the sweet rag doll assistant to the mad scientist warns Jack of the folly of trying to take over Christmas while she pines for him secretly.

Tim Burton came up with the idea back when he was an animator for Disney taking his inspiration from those old stop animation holiday classics we grew up on. Michael McDowell wrote the adaptation and Henry Selick directed. The music of Danny Elfman sets the mood, as he frequently does for Burton's films, and a team of 10 sculptors created the characters and sets, a whopping 227 puppets and Jack Skellington had about 400 heads himself! The time consuming process of stop animation is unbelievable, and the creativity, attention to detail and dedication really shows in this film.

It's hard to watch this movie without singing along, it has everything, horror, fantasy, romance, action, singing, dancing, and a snake that can swallow an entire Christmas Tree. What more could you want in a film, really.

Momma always said, "If Mickie could have anything she wanted for Christmas, it would be Halloween!"

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Remarque Prints for St. Louis Witches Ball and Masque

Hi All,

Well I go super swamped here and missed our Monday Night Magical Movie date! I'll have a new one for you next Monday, so no worries. But here's one of the many things that kept me away from the popcorn this week.

Every year there is a really fun event here in St. Louis, the St. Louis Witches Ball and Masque, which Dan and I usually attend. It's a nice time, dinner, dancing, upscale attire and masks, very fancy. This year we are unable to attend, but I wanted to send donations along for the silent auction which raises money for the next years ball and also for the St. Louis Pagan Picnic, basically to help keep these great community events happening. Dan and I love the St. Louis community, so we decided that we should send something special.

I recently saw artist Stephanie Pui-Mun Law's "artist's remarques" that she was adding to some of her matted art for a show, and I loved the idea. A remarque is a small, personalized drawing or symbol that an artist adds to a print, the presence of a remarque increases the prints value. They come from the old days when printing was done with printing plates, the artist would add a small sketch to mark the stages of the process. Of course now many of us artist print digitally, but it's nice to revisit this idea and make a print or set of prints extra special.

So Dan printed one 5 x 7 of each of my four Celtic Tree Fairy prints, we added a mat and frame, and I hand drew with pen and ink artist remarques on the mats. It was a fun project and for a really good cause too. I packed them off this morning, but not before snapping off a few pictures so that you could see them! So anyone out there with tickets to the St. Louis Witches Ball and Masque, you will have the opportunity to bid on these unique pretties.


Friday, October 22, 2010

The Celtic Full Ivy Moon

The moon is full tonight, and according to the Celtic Tree Calendar devised by Robert Graves, it's the Ivy Moon. The Celtic Tree Calendar is a lunar calendar based upon the first 13 Celtic Ogham letters and their tree correspondences. Poet Robert Graves studied the Ogham and in his book The White Goddess published in 1948, he put forth the idea of a calendar that corresponded with the Celtic Trees. There are several versions of this, I like to work with the Graves version. According to Graves, "I noticed almost at once that the consonants of this alphabet (Ogham) form a calendar of seasonal magic, and that all the trees figure prominently in European folklore."

The Celtic month of Ivy/Gort falls between Sept. 30-October 27. During this month, the harvest is coming to an end, everywhere I look here in the Midwest, I see fields that are bare now, just stumps of corn, wheat or other crops, and the crows are out picking up whatever is left. The Ogham letter Ivy/Gort brings the promise of the inner self and the spiral of life.

This is the Ivy card from my upcoming Voice of the Trees deck, Sept. 2011.

The Ivy plant produces spiral shapes reflecting the spiraling patterns of DNA, the gifts given to us by our ancestors. This is the time to remember the spiraling life within you, where it came from and meditate on where it can take you in life. As you look up at the full Ivy Moon, remember that you ancestors looked at that same moon and be reminded of your ties to them. Think of the positive attributes that you have, family traits that serve you well. Can you imagine how far the genes you carry within you have traveled through the ages to form the person that you are?

English Ivy is evergreen reminding that even as the world beds down to take it's rest, life still remains. Ivy also represents tenacity of spirit, Ivy is a plant that can grow through stone, even when faced with the rocky barrier of a wall, it perseveres, hangs on, and thrives. It looks delicate and lovely, but this description would be a
underestimation of this tough tenacious plant that is a true survivor.

Photograph: The Ivy Wall Copyright Mickie Mueller 2004

Draw upon the power of the Ivy Moon to connect to your ancestors, as well as looking deep within and communing with the self. Cooperation with others, protection and banishing negativity are also facilitated under the Celtic Ivy Moon.

This beautiful Ivy Pendant from lovebellajewels on Etsy!

For anyone interested, I also wrote 13 Celtic Tree Calendar magic additions to Llewellyns 2010 Witches' Datebook, and although 2010 is on the waning end of things now, (it's on sale!) all the magic and much of the other info in the datebook can be used in years to come as well.



Thursday, October 21, 2010

Aziza Fairy Queen, Mostly Done!

I've been working slowly on this one, but now she's almost finished, really just a few tweeks here and there and she'll be officially done!

I worked on it last night for awhile, and took a photo this morning so that you could see, of course Willow my art kitty had to get in the photo! I'm at work, and I would bet money that she's sitting right in the middle of Aziza looking out the window!

Believe it or not, I did some of the details in her skirt with my left hand! I'm having a little hand problem currently, the back of my hand between my thumb and forefinger is swollen slightly, but things like turning my car key, opening doors, etc. really hurts and makes me exclaim, "oooohh! It may be a tendon thing, I'll be seeing my doc soon to have him check it out.

When I was a kid I broke my right elbow and discovered that I can use my left hand with a certain amount of accuracy, albeit a bit more slowly. I told Dan last night that I was drawing with my left hand, and he said, "Oh, that's not good." He looks after me and take great interest in my work as my husband, marketing manager and logistics wizard. So I grabbed a little scrap of paper and wrote, "Lets see how well I can write with my left hand."

...with my left hand. When I handed it to him, his eyebrows went up, and he muttered a sound of approval. It wasn't perfect, but my penmanship isn't great anyway. I have many tricks in my hat!

So I hope you enjoy this noble looking African fairy, I had so much fun working on her. Her wings are that of the African Monarch butterfly, I just love the warm rich colors!



Monday, October 18, 2010

Magical Movie Monday: Penelope

My daughter (Brittany of Va-Voom Vintage blog) was over during the week and recorded this charming 2006 movie for me on the DVR. I'd never seen it, but I knew that she's planning on being Penelope for Halloween this year, so I thought, "fun, let's watch this." So I plopped down to work on drawing African Monarch butterfly wings for my Aziza Fairy piece and watched a modern fairy tale, Penelope.

This was a totally cute movie. Like so many fairy tales, this one starts out with a witches curse. "Ugh," I thought, "that tired old chestnut." Witches often get relegated to the magical thug in so many fairy tales, even the modern ones they are seldom portrayed in a positive light, which is a shame. But, let's face it, I can't really blame this witch for being so upset. The witches daughter, a servant girl, got pregnant by the wealthy young aristocratic son of the Wilhern family. His family ridiculed him for thinking of wedding a servant, so he spurned her. She was so distraught that she tossed herself off a cliff. So the witch put a curse on the family that the next girl born to the family would be born with the nose of a pig. Pretty mild really, considering the loss that the witch had just suffered. As we find out in the end, there's more to the witch than meets the eye. Like all good fairy tale curses, the witch gave her an "out." The curse would only be broken when one of her own kind loves her faithfully just as she is. After 5 generations of only boys being born in the Wilhern family, Penelope was born, with a pigs nose.

Stalked by paparazzi and reporters, the family faked her death and kept her hidden from the public, but once she was old enough to marry, her mother began working with a dating service, bringing in all the blue blooded young men they could find making them sign a gag agreement promising not to talk about meeting Penelope (Christina Ricci.) Once they saw her however, they all end up diving out of the window including Edward Vanderman who does blab, and as a result was accused of being a little off his rocker.

He teamed up with a small statured reporter (Peter Dinklage who I loved in Death at a Funeral and Elf) with an eye patch who has a grudge against Penelopes mom for the loss of his eye while trying to take Penelope's photo as an infant. They both wanted to "out" Penelope for their own reasons and enlisted the help of another bachelor whom they were told is a down and out aristocrat with gambling debts and agrees to help them, until he falls for Penelope, and then things get even more interesting.

I think I'm not the only one who thought Christina Ricci looked totally cute with her pig nose, hardly bad enough to send suitors shooting out the window. She's got those big soulful eyes, so it really worked. James McAvoy plays her slightly scruffy hat wearing love interest with lots of sex appeal and a kind of modern James Dean like charm that makes him very easy to watch. Reese Witherspoon surprised me with her performance as Annie, the street tough courier that rides a winged Vespa and befriends Penelope. Catherine O'Hara was spot-on as Penelope's overbearing mom, reminding me of her role as Delia in Beetlejuice. Though he had a small role, I must also give a nod to Burn Gorman who played the late, resurrected, and then finally dead again Owen in one of my fave series' BBC's Torchwood. I really loved Penelope's bedroom, it looked positively enchanting, any little girl would love that room! They decorated it to look like the outdoors, she even had a swing!

This movie has several really great themes in common with classic fairy tale story lines, of course the most obvious being that what some might think of as a big flaw, might also be considered quite cool by others, case in point: Cindy Crawfords mole, which became her trademark. She was once told she could never be a model with it and she should have it removed. We must all value ourselves sometimes in the face of someone else's less than good opinion of us. Also, the theme of loving your family no matter what is very prominent. As I try not to give any spoilers, I still must mention the theme of learning to be comfortable in your own skin and accepting yourself "flaws" and all is one of my favorite messages of this movie. The butterfly theme appeared throughout the movie and the advertising too, pointing to the theme of perceived beauty as well as inner and outer transformation. It made me glad I was drawing butterfly wings while watching it.

We all have cards that life deals us, and perhaps find that we all have a curse or two either literally or figuratively. It's how we deal with those that's important, life's challenges are tests that we all must face. My favorite quote and the very most important lesson from this movie came from the wisdom of a child, "It's not the power of the curse, it's the power you give the curse." That is a great lesson that we all can take to heart.

If you're looking for a magical movie with heart, give Penelope a try, I bet you'll fall for her too.

Monday Movie Featured Item:

The Lady of the Forest, while she has no pigs nose, she does have very long faun ears and horns, and it would take a really big hat to cover them up.  She's beautiful just the same!  She adorns this compact mirror so that you can see how lovely you are! Available in our Etsy shop
Bright Blessings,