Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Faeries, Goddesses and Warrior Women

When in doubt, I always say, paint a faerie picture. Or a goddess. Or a warrior woman.

Before I do some posts about me and comics, I thought I'd share some more paintings I've done of Mythical Ladies...
Artemis, 1999. Gouache and blackboard chalk.

First, we'll start with a goddess. This was a portrait of  a friend of mine and fellow bookstore employee who wanted to pose as Artemis. (I took a reference photo of her in the breakroom of the bookstore holding a yardstick and a dowel rod as her bow and arrow. )

(Note the use again of blackboard chalk for the clouds and mist.)

Since posting this picture a few years ago online, I had a request for it to be used  as an illustration in a British pagan magazine for an article about Artemis.

I didn't get paid for it, but I got a year's subscription! Sweet.

Leaf Faery, 1998. Gouache.
You may have already seen some of my other faerie paintings from my previous posts. For awhile in the mid to late '90's, I was doing quite a lot of them...  I had more than enough ideas because of all the sketchbooks I'd compiled over the years.

This is my ubiquitous Leaf Faery. (Yes, I know, she probably combs her hair with a rake...)

She showed up in an earlier watercolor painting I did about autumn, standing in a wheat field and holding a basket of produce.

Her next appearance will be in the painting I started of the poet John Keats and his poem , "Ode to Autumn."

Here's the original rough drawing from my sketchbook that I transferred onto bristol paper (vellum surface) to also be painted in gouache.

Snow Faery, 2003. Gouache and colored pencils.
Green Faery, 1999. Gouache and colored pencils.

What you can't see very well in this photo of the Snow Faery is that the background is painted in silver metallic gouache which makes the snowflakes easier to see.

Photos never do gold or silver paint justice...

I purposefully put sprigs of wormwood in this faery's hair---one of the key ingredients in absinthe.

And that is quite an elusive shade of lipstick she's wearing...

She and the Snow Faery must buy makeup at the same goth shop.

                           Pine Faery, 2001. Gouache.

The Pine Faery I actually started on a canvas. In oils.  Well, water-soluble oils to be exact. I've always been impatient with oils--not only do they take forever to dry, they take forever to clean up, smell funny and I don't like the greasiness on my hands.
Being a true Water Sign, I thought maybe water-soluble oils would be the solution to my oil painting annoyances...

Nope. For me, at least, water and oil still don't mix and I grumpily started this painting all over again in good ol' reliable gouache.

Kitsune, 2004. Gouache and colored pencils.

Now onto a different type of  faery altogether...

This is a kitsune, a Japanese fox spirit.
They are supernatural foxes who can shapeshift, usually into the form of a desirable man or woman. Some live to cause havoc; some are benign and actually marry humans.

As the fox ages and grows in power and wisdom over the centuries, it grows additional tails. Eventually a one- thousand-year old fox will become completely white and have nine tails.

I have a fondness for foxes and love kitsune myths. I have many books about their Japanese and Chinese variations.

Samurai, 2002. Gouache,acrylic medium, colored pencils.
In staying with the Japanese theme, my local comic book store, Samurai Comics, had a wall of samurai artwork done by customers and some professionals.

I thought they needed a little Girl Power up there so I did this samurai woman.

This is one of the first pictures that I experimented with putting small drops of  acrylic medium in the gouache to make it waterproof. What was much better was my discovery that they actually make acrylic gouache in tubes and now I do a sort of  "underpainting" in the acrylic gouache (I use Holbein Acryla Gouache) and then paint and blend on top with my good ol' Windsor & Newton "regular" gouache.

But what led to my trying this out was actually painting the designs on her kimono!
By the way, the large kanji to her right means "samurai" and the smaller one beneath is "rain." (Or "Raine...")
Siren of Warsaw, 1998. Gouache.

The above mermaid, known as the Siren of Warsaw, guards the Vistula River in Poland and is sort of a Slavic Lady of the Lake. She's the emblem of the city of Warsaw, which my dad assures me is where my ancestors came from. (As well as Slovakia and what was once known as Prussia.)
The rim of the circle in this picture is painted in metallic gold (you can actually tell it's metallic in this picture as opposed to the Snow Faery's silver paint.)

I'm sure the guy to the right is probably waiting for just the right gust of wind...

(Oh, another note. People have asked me about this: If you've noticed I sign my name "Szramska"  rather than "Szramski", it's just that "Szramska" is the feminine version of my last name in Polish, as opposed to the masculine "Szramski" which is what I grew up with. Most Polish-Americans usually just use the masculine form, but I actually am more fond of the feminine version, which is what my grandmother grew up with.)

Owl Watch, 2009. Gouache, colored pencils.

I have about a dozen sketchbooks filled with fantasy pictures like this for "future paintings." Unfortunately, I'm not as fast a painter as I'd like to be (although I've been known to become quite energetic when someone promises me money if I can get it done in a weekend... Then I start making endless pots of coffee...)

But this one wasn't one of those, and infact was one in a stack of drawings I've had for years waiting to be painted. This one I finally got around to, and is bigger than most pictures I do (the average size I work is about 16"x 20"). I used the acrylic gouache "underpainting" I just talked about, with blended gouache and light colored pencil "glazing" on top.

Basically, I just wanted an excuse to paint a barn owl, my favorite type of owl. They have heart-shaped faces, sort of "toasted marshmallow" coloring and their eyes are dark, which is unlike the yellow eyes most other owls have. The woman in the picture, however, does have yellow eyes.

And finally our last picture for this post is one I did for my friend Kristin as a wedding present:

This idea was suggested by my sister, Victoria, because of Kris' love of dragons.

I don't think the dragon in this picture is meant to be her husband, but I could be wrong...

Coming up next: I will talk about some pictures I did of another kind of mythical people...