Friday, February 11, 2011

Voice of the Trees: Update!

Well, dear readers, I'm happy to report that shortly after I shipped off the black and white interior illustrations for my upcoming Voice of the Trees deck, I got an email from the head of
the art department at Llewellyn with an attachment of the cover art for me to approve! The art department has used the art from the Willow card and created a lovely decorative border, it's parchment looking gold tones with a delicate leafy pattern with jewel like adornments! The lettering couldn't be any more perfect, I really love the job they did on it! I'm sorry to say that I'm not allowed to show it to you yet, top secret stuff ya know! But you'll see it soon enough. As soon as it's officially ready to be seen, you'll be the first to see it right here!

The images here on this blog post are not the actual cover art, but they do remind me of it!

This is just my little Photoshop mock up of the cover, not the fabulous Llewellyn version, but this art from the willow card is used!
Well, over the weekend, my friends at the art department blew me away yet again, and I saw an example of what the cards themselves will look like. Again, they have placed my artwork in a beautiful border with beautiful text. The card borders were inspired by the cover design, so this will be a really nice presentation. I couldn't be happier! Seeing the lovely work they've done so far makes it all seem more "real."

Don't forget, Sept. 2011 it hits bookstore everywhere!

Lady of the Forest is Finished Amidst Technical Difficulties

Well, here she is, the Lady of the Forest, my latest addition for The Enchanted Visions Project! I finished this piece last night...

I went into the studio to scan it and discovered that the ancient HP computer that is hooked up to the scanner/printer and also to our dye sublimation printer had given up the ghost, bit the dust, gone the way of the dodo bird, kicked the bucket, oh yes, it was dead.

In all fairness, it really is old, and we knew it would have to be replaced, we were just holding out as long as we could, times being tight and all, they have this recession on you know! So I'm grateful that the ole gal made it through the holidays for us, and she gave us her best all these years. Luckily there is an electronics store nearby that's going out of business, she we'll go take a look tomorrow and see what they have. Dan is the computer guy and he has a good idea what he wants for the studio.

I have a check coming for the illustrations I just did for the Llewellyn Magical Almanac which should get us a good machine. Easy come, easy go, right? But I learned something from Raven Grimassi years ago, and it still holds true. You know how sometimes you get an extra $300.00 from out of the blue and you're all excited because you have extra money, and then your car breaks down and what does it cost to fix it? Yep, $300.00! So we can either get mad and say, "Oh, man the universe took my extra $300.00!" Or, we can say, "Thank goodness the universe provided the extra money I needed to fix my car!" Well, that's how I choose to look at it. The computer broke right at the same time I have money on the way, an electronics store is having a going out of business sale, and this year the government is allowing larger deductions for small businesses office equipment, all things considered, I feel pretty fortunate. Thanks Raven!

So all this being said, the Etsy shop is on vacation mode for a short time because while we do have some stock of prints and dye sublimation products made up, we often print items to order. We will re-open the shop shortly with a partial inventory, that is only what we actually have on hand. As soon as the computer is replaced, we have pulled our old files off the old hard drive and transferred them onto the new computer and all the programs re-installed, etc. We'll have everything up and running. This should be before the end of the month. So please bear with us as we sort out our technical difficulties!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday Night Magical Movie: The Secret Garden

Tomorrow's my birthday, and I am so tired of looking at snow and ice. My thoughts keep traveling to the buds on the trees and the plants in slumber beneath the snow and ice. The trees look dead, but we know they are "wick," alive inside!

So I wanted to share one of my favorite magical movies about growth in nature and in the human heart, I love to watch this one in my studio, it's beautiful, peaceful and full of magic! This 1993 film was directed by Agnieszka Holland and was based upon the children's book by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

"Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells, and pretty maids all in a row."

"The other children used to sing that at me, but I wasn't as contrary as they were."

Poor little Mary Lennox, (Kate Maberly, Wendy in Finding Neverland) a young English girl living in India with her parents who never had time for her, so she was raised by her Ayah, her nanny who enchanted her imagination with stories of Indian folklore and legend. He parents die in an earthquake and she's sent back to the English countryside to live with her uncle who she also finds is absent not only emotionally, but often physically from his grand manor. Mary is left in the overbearing care of Mrs. Medlock, played by Maggie Smith (Minerva McGonagall from the Harry Potter series.) Is it any wonder Mary has become outspoken, inquisitive and just a little cranky?

Mary, left to her own devices, ventures in the wintry cold gardens and discovers an overgrown and neglected secret garden behind a locked gate, and of course, she also finds the key. It turns out it was her aunts garden, the twin sister of her mother who has died which is the reason that her grieving uncle is never around. Despite Mary's contrary nature, she's befriended by Martha, one of the servants who finds her rather amusing, and Marthas' younger brother Dickon, an interesting young man who seems to talk to animals and knows the secrets of the natural world. Mary and Dickon work in the garden and through their care bring it back to life as the spring grows into summer.
Through her nosing around she also discovers her cousin Colin, a sickly child who isn't allowed out of his room due to his health. Mary decides that against the will of Medlock and the entire household, Colin will be going outside to see her garden.

One of my favorite scenes in this movie (and there are many) is one evening the children build a bonfire with help from the old gardener and suddenly go into an impromptu magic spell in which Colin calls, "Oh great magic, please come to me, bring me my father here, set his spirit free!" and the rest of the kids join in chanting. It's an excellent example of how children naturally know instinctively how to make magic happen, how to raise and send energy, it's positively inspired!

I can't watch this movie without snickering when Mary tells her cousin Colin that he's sour all the time, and he responds my saying, "I'm...not...sour!" as he glowers and pulls the most sour face you've ever seen on the face of a child!

I also love the scene when he tells the household staff that he intends to venture out (in his wheelchair) and makes a grand speech about how they will leave him and his cousin and friend alone in the gardens of the manor. "He whispers to Mary asking her, "What does Raja say when he want everyone to leave?" On her instruction he waves a hand and announces in a royal tone, "I have spoken, all depart!" The kids in this movie are all very talented actors!
This movie is about the magic of nature, and love, and family, and how the heart of one person can save the hearts of many.

"The secret garden is always open now. Open, awake, and alive. If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden."

Monday Movie Featured Item:

Mary isn't the only one with a magical secret garden, you can decorate yours with this beautiful garden flag
from our Etsy shop


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Lady of the Forest: A Work in Progress

So here's what's on my old wooden art table right now. The Enchanted Visions Projects theme for the month of January was Lady of the Forest, but of course January had me dealing with glasses and deadlines, so I didn't get to begin on it until the bitter end of the month, and was it ever bitter. We were snowed in most of last week, which had me working spreadsheets from home for my day job, and catching up on as much other things as I could "after hours." Near the end of last week, I decided that a new color piece was just what I needed to get my spirit soaring again. I decided to make an attempt on the Enchanted Visions theme which was actually due on the 4th of Feb. I loved the theme as soon as I saw it, and really hoped to get to it.

The reference photo is actually one of my oldest daughter Brittany's senior portraits that I took years ago. I did both of my daughters senior portraits and some of their friends as well, why spend the money on a photographer if you are a capable photographer yourself? I immediately thought of that photo shoot when I received this theme, Brittany had made a lovely green dress that was based on one that Arwen wore in Fellowship of the Ring and we had taken all these lovely dramatic photos of her in it. I loved her expression in this pic, and decided it was perfect for Lady of the Forest.

I didn't make the deadline for submission to Enchanted Visions, but I will end up submitting it anyway at a later date, I would rather make it perfect than rush through it. Anyway, I have the dress to finish, and then pick at, and lots of detail needs to be added to the background. I hope you like seeing this work in progress!
I'm clearing this off my art table shortly, as I have two Voice of the Trees oracle readings to do today. I won't be posting card readings on the Etsy store for about a month or so, as I just got reference photos for another book illustration project for Llewellyn, and that will have priority on the old wooden art table for the next month or so.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

An Imbolc/Candlemas Tour through My Icy Garden

Fire and Ice is the theme this time of year.
One third of the U.S. was hit with severe winter storms for Imbolc this year, Bridgets festival Feb. 2 is often a cold and icy event here in Missouri, and this year will be no exception. The branches of my pin oak tree in the yard are covered in heavy ice as they bow towards the ground. Though the oak may seem frozen under the ice, on closer inspection tiny buds can be seen on every branch preparing to burst forth with new life after the last of the ice has melted.

This is the magical lesson that nature has to offer us during the season of Imbolc; when all seems at a stand still in life, there are always little miracles working behind the scenes, we just need to look a little closer.

As I walked around the garden, my feet crunched through the layer of ice to the snow beneath, the crunchy coating seemed like a thin layer of glass covering everything. I was moved to take off a glove and run my fingers over the smooth cold ice, facinated by the transparent glossy covering on the cockleburs.

Everything man-made seemed in a hush, as the world around had come to a standstill, but mother nature replaced the sounds of cars traveling by with the everlasting clicks and ticks of sleet tapping every surface around me as it fell. The occasional breeze brought an unusual creaking sound from the branches of all the trees around me as the wind pushed them slightly cracking the coating of ice surrounding them as the chinked together like gigantic rattling wind chimes.

A solar light coated in ice.

This is the time of the year that we can work towards removing obstacles in our lives, using Bridgets power of inspiration to melt away whatever is keeping us from achieving our dreams. She is the Celtic patron Goddess of hearth and home, poets, blacksmiths, fire, childbirth and healing.
Meanwhile, inside my suburban cottage art studio, candles burn brightly in the base of my Bridget statue that I designed for Sacred Source. The candle light ushers in the impending return of spring, bread and milk as an offering, a crystal cup full of snow bears a single white candle, may it melt away obstacles in my path and swift forth blooms of spring!

Bright Blessings and stay warm!