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STORIES

A collection of the stories behind the beloved beings in my art world, chronologically from newest to oldest (you can see the way my stories became more detailed and my process thoughts more in-depth.) The folklore of these beings, some story of bringing them to life, and a bit of my own tale at the time. Some are written in a field guide-esque manner, others like old storybooks. Can be referenced to better understand the corresponding shop items or just read through like fairytales!

little whispers

Little Whispers

With the head of a beautiful woman and the body of a garden spider - albeit with eight eyes and a lace-patterned abdomen - I suppose this lady can be categorized under the wide umbrella term of Fae. Solitary and silent - as spiders tend to be - I don't know a whole lot about her... except that she spins a very special kind of web, silvery-blue gossamer that possesses the ability to capture more than just the average insects and morning dew. Encapsulated in the crystalline droplets that gather on her shimmering web are a variety of stories and things to know: people's dreams and confessions that are shared as they unknowingly walk past her, gossip between fairies and woodland animals, ancient wisdom from the trees her glistening threads connect to. In the way a spider uses their web for sounds and vibrations, these stories and bits of knowledge mostly come to her through voices, yet occasionally she does catch glimpses of scenes in the glassy, watery orbs. "Little whispers," she calls them, and I completely understand what she means as her story came to me in a similar way, too.

Little Whispers is a creation that was a surprise every step of the way, from subject matter to medium. This entire project began with a little paper doily I saved from a diner (that accompanied a delicious hot chocolate). I had been pondering what to do with the doily for over a month and finally a character and story randomly and suddenly popped into my head while out for a walk, so I let spontaneous inspiration take hold and set to working on her immediately. She was completely unexpected but also completely welcome, despite the fact that I am a bit scared of spiders (but I still respect and revere them!) Honestly, I originally thought I might draw a vampire onto the doily since I could see that imagery going nicely with the lacy paper, but when this spider's story popped in my head, it just felt too right to dismiss. In fact, I distinctly remember my thoughts going something like, "Really? A spider? *sigh*, okay then..." because I just knew I couldn't say no to a vision and being that caught my attention in such a strong and sure way. Thus began a mystical period of allowing equal parts outside inspiration and inner intuition to flow and remembering that, more often than not, I really don't know how to explain where my ideas and stories come from aside from what I would equate to being struck by sudden visions that seem like I really am somehow in contact with the characters in my art.

(Now queue the shivers as I looked at lots of close up photos of spiders throughout the drawing process.) For her face/head, I was very inspired by the 20s and art nouveau periods. I was originally going to put large flowers in her hair, similar to those in art nouveau illustrations, but butterfly wings just seemed more fitting (just don't ask where she got them...) I wanted to combine some distinctive spider features with her human features, hence her eight eyes. As you can see, they are in similar formation to an actual spider and start as completely human before fading to human-shaped-but-spider-colored to finally completely spider-like. She also has tiny fangs peeking out from her lips. I actually started off drawing her with a more serious, almost fierce expression, facing you head-on and looking you straight in the eye - maybe because of my own wariness towards spiders, I assumed she would appear a bit imposing or intimidating? But as I refined her, she kept taking on a contemplative and slightly distant gaze, much softer and more thoughtful which ultimately makes so much more sense for her story. I always love when the beings in my art world show me their own expressions, similar to how I first envisioned but more true to themselves.

Her body was inspired by a garden orb weaver because they are a common spider for me to see and I always prefer to pay homage to Nature that is local and familiar. I combined the abdomen pattern of an orb weaver with that of a lacy appearance to convey a realistic yet slightly whimsical characteristic. The decision to embroider her web rather than also just drawing it came about suddenly and shortly after the image of Her floated into my mind; I've discovered I really enjoy embroidery but am still fairly new to it and I certainly have never embroidered paper or incorporated it into an artwork before. To capture her web's organic yet magical appearance (easy enough since spider's webs always look beautifully sparkly and ethereal) I combined three different shimmery embroidery flosses: white, silver, and light blue. The dewdrops were conveyed through four different types of beads: smaller clear ones, larger rainbow-sheened, and some scattered light blue and amber ones. I really didn't have any rhyme or reason to choosing those beads, they were merely the colors I saw when her story entered my mind, so I'm wondering if perhaps they could indicate the mood or subject of each "whisper" that the dewdrops hold? I did settle on her holding and particularly focusing on an amber "dewdrop", though. This was also my first time beading anything and suffice it to say I am thoroughly obsessed with both the look and the process!

Seeing this unusual combination of mediums come together to illustrate this unique character was such a lovely journey of inspiration, intuition, and physical exploration. So many things about this project were certainly firsts for me and I learned a lot while crafting this artwork. She was simply a pleasant surprise, a friend on dark days and darker nights. We spent evenings together at the drawing (kitchen) table, neither of us interacting but still sharing a space - as I suppose a spider in the corner of an artist’s studio would sit with the artist - and I’m sure some of my own stories and "whispers"are caught in the dewdrops on her web. And, I must admit, she has inspired me to approach spiders with a gentler mentality than before, regardless of my fears.

through the veil.jpeg

Through the Veil

Samhain is a night of great festivity for witches, faeries, spirits of all kinds, and humans alike, albeit each for different - yet overlapping - reasons. One of the most prevalent marks of this celebration is the thinning of the Veil, that separation between our world and the Other made of equal parts dense fog and swirling smoke from candles and incense lit for the deceased. Beginning when the wheel turns to Autumn and reaching peak transparency on Halloween night, this occasion allows ghosts, spirits, and shadowbeings to walk amongst our world with ease. Though supernatural occurrences certainly aren't limited to one time of the year, if you've ever wondered why October feels darker and more mysterious yet undeniably magical, you now know that there is a deeper reason besides the falling of leaves, descent into cooler weather, and spooky Halloween decorations.

Here on Halloween night, when the start of the hour seems to stretch on infinitely longer than its twelve chimes on a clock, we see three ghosts journeying through the Veil, each as pale and shimmering as the Moon: the woman who was a witch in life as well as death, the maiden loved by many but her years too few, and the matriarch who left behind a legacy of wealth both materially and spiritually. Led by a raven who has taken on a large, otherworldly form, indigo night and moonlight glinting off of his sleek feathers, he flies overhead with steadfast purpose, the light of his jack-o-lantern meant to guide any wandering spirits. For tonight they are all headed home, to visit loved ones who have left offerings for them in the form of past belongings and dumb suppers - ritualistic feasts of the deceased's favorite foods laid out and enjoyed by both the living and the dead. Now that they are on this side of the Veil, a small breath of life returns to them, bringing back color and solid form to special items that they were buried with: the witch's cloak, hand-crafted by her nimble fingers, an emerald necklace - for eternal love - and a simple wedding band given by the man the maiden loved in life and who still loves her, and a veil both elegant and serious, matching the matriarch's demeanor. They also carry the offerings that have been set out for them: a hag's taper - made from mullein stalks dipped in beeswax and rolled in herbs - ceremonially crafted by the witch's daughter to whom she taught everything she knows, a dried out flower crown worn by the maiden from a night of dancing with family and friends, and an heirloom chalice of indulgent wine for the matriarch from her family's own vineyard. Their time here may be brief, but as witches dance around bonfires, faeries make mischief, and humans in costumes go door to door asking for tricks-or-treats, these spirits will also indulge in the festivities of the night - to issue wisdom and a warning, to dance and steal a kiss, to check on loved ones and remind them that true wealth lies not in the material world, to eat and drink and be merry (for tomorrow we may die, as the full expression goes)... all before midnight's bells toll the twelfth chime.

Through the Veil was inspired by a handful of different Halloween traditions and superstitions. Besides Halloween being my favorite holiday, its corresponding Pagan festival, Samhain, has a lot of magic and spiritual significance to draw inspiration from. I focused this artwork on the ancient belief in the thinning of the Veil and the way Halloween serves as a bridge or gateway between our world and the spirit realm. I'm not entirely sure where these three specific ghosts and the stories of their lives came from; it was more of an intuitive flow of Knowing (the way the beings I depict usually come to me) like recalling a dream you know you had but can't fully decipher - that's how clairvoyance works anyway so it makes sense. I wanted to include the tradition of dumb suppers because I think they are a fascinating ritual of bringing the living and the dead together. I depicted the variety of forms that offerings to spirits can come in through what these ghosts are wearing/carrying: from a traditional hag's taper to a past belonging to a favorite food or drink - anything that shows love and consideration towards the spirit. Also, though not originally intended, I can't help but notice that these three ghostly women embody the Triple Goddess archetype - seen in Greek mythology with Hekate, for example (Goddess of witches, the night, the Moon, and yes, spirits) - of the Maiden, Mother, and Crone; unintentional magic. The raven was chosen because they have strong ties to witchcraft, the night, and Halloween, being sacred animals who have been historically revered and are also said to be psychopomps - helpful beings with the ability to travel between the spirit world and our own. Besides being arguably the most prevalent symbol of Halloween, the jack-o-lantern in this scene is meant to serve an old traditional purpose of carving a fiery face both to ward off evil spirits and guide the spirits of loved ones home. The time this illustration is set at is midnight, when it is said that Samhain's energy reaches its peak and time seems to stand still as magic and mischief abound, and is generally just a very auspicious hour. I chose to include a waning gibbous moon because that is the phase the Moon will be in on Halloween this year. The look of the Veil was inspired by various concepts I have read and seen, depictions of scrying mirrors with swirling, ghostly figures within, and my own visualization and illustrative interpretation of fog and smoke. Lastly, I lined the nighttime scene with silver because I wanted it to appear as either a window through which we are peering or as a portal these spirits are passing through.

Not so much visual but rather in terms of this illustration's accompanying story, did you know that "eat, drink, and be merry" - a well known expression - actually ends with, "for tomorrow we may die?" Intended to encourage living life in the present and to the fullest, I thought this expression quite fitting for both the festivities of Samhain and the dichotomy of life and death present in the connecting of deceased and alive loved ones.

This was a creation and tale spanning two different Autumns, started last year and eventually postponed, but I always knew I would come back to complete bringing these spirits to life (so to speak) and they were very patient as they waited for the veil to thin once again. I am so glad I was able to serve as a medium of sorts for these ghosts, to connect to and share their bittersweet stories while conveying the many magical traditions of Halloween - isn't that what witches do, after all?

pollination and divinations

Pollination and Divinations

Every aspect of Nature is innately magical, of course, but there are creatures within Nature who are magical in a different way: those who possess anthropomorphic qualities in both appearance and mindfulness similar to faeries and akin to witches. This bumblebee, for example, is a witch, albeit more learned than born. Notorious for their absolutely integral ritual of pollination, bees have long since been associated with the green magic of plants and the bright energy of the Sun, and the latter is where this bee has always felt like a bit of an outcast. While buzzing from flower to flower with her sisters each day, this little bee longs to be out when most of the world is asleep, to cast spells lit by moonlight and observed by the Stars. She has finally begun to pursue this desire, and in her ongoing quest for magical knowledge she has learned that bees actually have a long history of being associated with witchcraft, from weather magic to the gift of prophecy as well as being psychopomps with the ability to travel between the spirit world and ours. They also have connections to the fae, creatures that this bee has certainly encountered amongst the fields of wildflowers she frequents, and even better - at least to her - she has learned that witches love and revere bees! Suddenly, her being drawn to witchcraft and the night seemed less strange and made her even more firm in her resolve to follow this path. Besides, as a wise Mantis once told her when she sought him out for advice, "Accept who you are, embrace who you want to be." So, she has started to do just that. 

By day she still works hard and contentedly, pollinating flowers and collecting nectar, but as soon as the Moon begins to rise and the first stars dot the twilit sky, this determined little bee dons her foxglove hat (dyed dark with berries to replicate the pointed hats of witches whose gardens she's visited) and takes off on her broomstick (fashioned out of a dry carnation). She takes to the sky, wings outstretched not to fly but to feel the perfect evening air - now that she can get her little broom to properly levitate, she likes to give her wings a break in the evening; plus, she feels a "broomstick" really highlights the fact that she is a witch, a title she has felt more comfortable claiming as of late. From dusk until well past midnight she joins the flight of nighttime's pollinators, falling in line with the moths and looking up in awe at the bats as they swoop and dive so very high in the sky. As she flies over vast meadows, she dutifully notes each flower that she comes across in a little leaf-bound journal, both their botanical and magical properties. Even the flowers that have closed for the night open up as she flies overhead, and she keeps the pollen and nectar she collects in the evening for her spells and potions. Lately, she's been very fascinated with night-blooming flowers, and her nightly practices have actually made her appreciate her daytime work more; she realizes that the foraging she does during the day isn't so different from her nightly rituals, and perhaps pollen and nectar blessed by the Sun's energy offers magic different yet equal to that of the Moon's when used in spells? And there's always anthomancy, divination through flowers, that she can offer to fellow bees and local creatures alike, *especially* during the day when flowers are readily open and available. She has accepted her place as a bee and embraced herself as a witch, as the Mantis would say. Now on this lovely Summer night, as she flies towards the rising full moon, she knows that her being a witch isn't farfetched at all and magic is never out of reach, nor is your true passion, so long as you believe in it and believe in yourself.

Pollination and Divinations was directly inspired by a snippet of a Nature documentary I saw on mason bees, who gather little sticks and stems to build their nests and therefore appear like witches on broomsticks as they carry the stalks through the air. I was absolutely entranced by the idea - a bee witch seemed perfectly fitting in every way for my art world - so I made sure to fit her in my queue of upcoming projects as soon as possible. Sometimes my beings take years to fully come to life, the concept of them added to my ever-growing list of art ideas and stories until it's the proper time to depict them (often, they let me know when it is time rather than me deciding), while others demand my immediate attention. This little witch certainly doesn't have a demanding personality, but due to my love for bees and my (obvious) affinity for all things witchy, I couldn't resist bringing her to life immediately! 

I started this painting without much imagery planned aside from the bee herself - and even less story - but like many of my creations, a whole narrative was eventually revealed to me and with that, more in-depth visuals. Firstly, she's not a mason bee but a bumblebee - more local and familiar to me - and she really is a witch rather than just appearing as one. Her hat is a foxglove, chosen because I wanted something similar in shape to a classic pointed witch hat but made of a plant. A dry carnation I have in my room directly inspired her broomstick as it resembles a broom while keeping the floral theme. I also made sure to include an anatomically correct "pollen basket" on her leg because I find them both adorable and interesting. What started as a general wildflower meadow turned into a nostalgic and sentimental arrangement, each flower selected because they can be found in my home state of California and many of them have special meanings to me. The flowers that are included in this painting are: lupine, echinacea, California poppy, yarrow, sourgrass, wild rose, wild radish, oxeye daisy, red poppy, wild mustard, purplehead, and fiddleneck. The moths and bats were included because I have always found it very fascinating that they pollinate at night, something many don't consider as we often solely associate bees with pollination. Plus, moths and bats have spiritual ties to the night and witchcraft. Lastly, I ended up setting this painting at twilight both because it fit the story and because it is one of my favorite times of day, when the sky takes on a light purple hue as the Moon is rising big and yellow-orange in the sky. 

I am so happy with how this creation came to life, it's just so whimsical and detailed in all the best ways! I love being an artist and the magic of my art world because more often than not I have to ask myself questions like, "What would a bumblebee look like flying on a broomstick?" and it is an amusing but also quite serious pondering for me. As I mentioned, this was another painting where I started out thinking it'll be a simple and smaller scale illustration but then suddenly I'm here on a larger paper with a bunch of overlapping elements and countless tiny details to paint (and paint *around*) - which was exactly how it was meant to turn out and I'm not complaining in the least! The minuscule details are truly what make an artwork whole, perhaps not always noticed at first glance but what ultimately weave together to make it beautiful and magical and alive. In that vein, I really appreciated the way this painting allowed me to study so much animal and plant anatomy up close - one of my favorite things about illustrating the natural world in general. The process of conveying each wildflower's vibrant colors, individual shapes, and unique textures was both pleasing and challenging. I also always enjoy observing how insects/bugs are built and segmented. I have painted bats before, but I really loved capturing their anatomy on such a small scale for this piece - in fact, these bats mark the tiniest faces I have ever painted! This is also my most summery and colorful painting to date; my art certainly has more of an autumnal or wintery vibe all year round (my favorite seasons) but I am always so inspired by each season in my daily life and spiritual practices, so it was only a matter of time until it was Summer in my art world.

Also, did you catch the callback to my sweet Mantis Oracle in this bumblebee's story? Yes, most of my creations and beings exist within the same fantastical world, when they're not hiding in plain sight amongst our own!

autumn's arrival
spring's emergence

Autumn's Arrival / Spring's Emergence

Within Nature's abundant and transcendent magic, one of the most magnificent aspects is the changing of the seasons. From the visual beauty to the unique offerings each season provides, the ebb and flow and cyclical nature of it all is truly something special to behold. Each season is a cause for mindfulness and celebration: witches ring in the Solstices and Equinoxes, animals find themselves acting as harbingers, and still other creatures not as widely known might be observers, admirers, or even caretakers of each season. Autumn and Spring may sometimes seem like the shortest of the four seasons, overtaken by the vastness of Summer and Winter, but they are unique in their marking of Nature's turning wheel and even more unique in their duality. Though headed towards the calm and cold, decay and slumber, Autumn begins with an explosion - leaf canopies turning scarlet, gold, and countless hues in between before raining down to form a lush carpet of fading foliage. Spring on the other hand, though headed towards light and heat, renewal and vibrancy, begins quietly - delicate buds and sprouts forming on bare branches and poking through the ground, small but mighty for their color and new life. Every plant and animal has its season, whether it is when most everything is in bloom or when almost nothing is. Yes, everything in Nature has its season, even faeries.

Some faeries aren't the beings we're used to seeing depicted, tiny people flying around on gossamer wings (though their mischief and magic is something all fae have in common). Rather, they are wingless, born down in the soil and possessing qualities - both in appearance and enchantment - of certain flora or fungi, as well as the pointy ears signature to fae. A sure sign that Autumn has arrived, baby mushroom faeries such as this one spring up out of the dirt and fallen foliage, nurtured by the dwindling heat of Summer and morning dew. Their skin is the color of a mushroom stem and their cap isn't a hat at all, but part of their head and will grow with them as they get older. Humble and "down-to-earth", they don't need much more than the comfort of fallen branches and the aroma of damp leaves. Though most mushrooms - and mushroom fae - tend to be involved in the task of decomposition, these distinct toadstool-capped faeries mostly deal in the same kind of magic their fungi counterparts hold, revered and utilized by witches for their advanced workings and faeries in their rings and realms. 

When Nature's cycle begins anew, after Autumn has gone and Winter is almost spent, Spring begins to emerge. Green is the first color and sign of the season - the tiniest sprouts popping up out of the soil and leaves on branches so bright green that they're almost yellow. If you look closer at one of these buds, you might realize that they aren't leaves at all, but a sprout fae, who is still just as tiny and brightly colored as any of the other sprouts. Nurtured by the ever-growing sunlight and Winter storms turned to Spring showers, sprout faeries such as this one tend to gravitate towards gardens and fields of wildflowers. They prefer to sleep nestled in the middle of a flower, wearing clothes fashioned out of the softest, most fragrant petals and leaves - as seen on this baby sprout who is wearing a wild rose petal and mint leaf outfit complete with a cherry blossom hat. As she matures, she may even grow her own leaves or blossoms and with them that plant's magical properties (similar to how the mushroom faeries have their permanent cap and corresponding magic), but until then she will be content to frolic amongst flowerbeds and meadows, gathering knowledge and magic from any plant willing to share.

I have seen beings of both seasons cross paths, for there are still mushrooms growing from the same decaying leaves that new sprouts are poking through. Plus, though these fae may have many characteristics of their fungi or flora counterparts, their life spans are more in line with the way of faeries, longer lasting than would seem possible. Throughout the year, they may choose to adventure through seasons unfamiliar, or perhaps they hibernate until their season once again cycles back around. Either way, as the seasons come and go, as you watch for the return of different animals or the growth of certain plants, keep an eye out for the appearance of these faeries, too.

Unlike most of my artworks, this duo of baby faeries was not planned nor expected and I didn't have a clear story already envisioned before creating them - maybe the fae have been calling to me, maybe I was just inspired by current Spring and my ever-present longing for Autumn. Either way, they appeared and demanded my immediate attention (as both babies and faeries do) and they were just too cute and too whimsical to resist! The Autumn baby actually flowed into my awareness before his Spring counterpart (makes sense for me), which is why he is presented here first even though Spring comes before Autumn in Nature's wheel. As I slowly brought them to life, their stories unfolded as an exploration of the dualities and dichotomies of Autumn and Spring (both from each other and within themselves) and my love for these seasons (which are my two favorites.) I took SO much inspiration from the way I personally experience these seasons in my local Nature; pretty much all of the plants from every Autumn leaf to the various Spring flora and even the snail and ladybug were directly inspired by photos I have taken in my garden, neighborhood, and favorite woodland spots. I also really enjoyed studying and capturing the anatomy of a baby (so many rolls and wrinkles!) and channeling the essence of their correlating fungi and flora in their characters - the Autumn baby's pale complexion, scrunched face, and stubby build (similar to that of a mushroom) versus the Spring baby's vibrant coloring yet soft expression and sweet aura (reminiscent of a flower). I also made a point of conveying their itty bitty sizes through the way they can rest comfortably on a leaf or within the center of a flower, and how large the snail and ladybug look next to them. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed every single step of bringing this duo to life; I've been constantly swooning over how adorable they are - I think these babies may be the cutest beings in my art world thus far - and I really feel enveloped in the pure whimsy of them!

garden fence wisdom portfolio.jpeg

Garden Fence Wisdom

Dear reader,

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, one bit of knowledge I hope to share with others, it’s that there’s magic to be found everywhere - in every aspect of Nature of course, in hidden realms seen only by those who know what to look for, and yes, even in cities and neighborhoods.

On nights when green leaves have begun filling in gardens but the air is still crisp enough to see your breath, you may find yourself taking a walk through your neighborhood. The sky is dark yet there aren’t many stars visible tonight, most likely due to the light from street lamps and houses. As you walk down the street, a ghostly white face peeks out of the shadows and into your peripheral view. Taking a second look, walking closer, the next thing you see is stars. But how? You get lost in this view of the night sky, and just before you can wonder too long about why these stars seem to be so low and even further away than usual, a voice breaks the silence. “Hello,” it says, in a tone unidentifiable. Broken from your trance, you realize the voice came from right in front of you, from an *opossum*, to which the ghostly face and stars - that you now realize are its eyes - belong. 

This possum is an example of a being belonging to the magical world but residing in the so-called everyday world - though honestly, the line between the two is hazy at best (magic is everywhere after all, it’s the ability to recognize it that varies.) It is unclear whether this possum is a single entity or several possums with similar auras of mysticism. Regardless, he sits atop garden fences, dispensing wisdom to passers-by before disappearing into the shadows of shrubbery and fruit trees. His story is quite well-known amongst local witches, other critters, and even some humans whom no one believes when they swear a possum told them, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right” or “you will soon receive a delightfully unexpected message.” Elusive as ever, he’s never seen unless he feels the need to make himself known and share whatever tidbit of info he deems fit - which is actually fairly often, since he believes what he has to say is quite important. To all who have encountered or at least heard about such a possum, it’s rather unclear if his words truly come from some greater mystical power… or from discarded cookie fortunes he finds in people’s trash bins (like most instances, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.) Still, is he not the keeper of said wisdom, whether innate or learned? Do his words not echo in your mind, and more so, end up being useful and even prescient? 

If you do happen to encounter this possum, you'll see that his pale face is barely illuminated by the moonlight and streetlights, whiskers at attention, nails clicking on the wooden fence as he waits for you to approach. His crown, though shiny and green as an emerald, is really a glass marble from a patio wind chime - yet he still feels it represents his regality and intelligence. His eyes, on the other hand, are the true symbol of his wisdom - dark as can be, yet piercing both the night and your soul, gleaming with life and filled with the reflection of stars even when none seem to be visible. You’ll find that his way of speaking is straight to the point and always true to his own style; it’s unlikely you’ll get an answer if you ask a question unless that answer is another string of words to ponder, and before you can ask some more or feel annoyed at his cryptic and vague statements, he fades into the shadows, his message lingering long after the night.

Now, perched between two backyard gardens, crescent moon glowing overhead, he has one piece of wisdom to dispense to you, to us, in this moment. A sentiment fitting for Nature, for that hidden world I have connected to and illustrated, and yes, dear reader, even for cities and neighborhoods: find magic in the seemingly mundane.

 

Garden Fence Wisdom was inspired by several opossums that I have seen on various occasions - whether they spoke to me or not I am not at liberty to say, but whether I got inspiration and wisdom from them... well, of course. The above scene rings quite true to my personal experiences with this mysterious nighttime creature - a crisp night filled with silhouettes of leaves illuminated by the Moon, a ghostly face breaking through the darkness atop a garden fence, eyes gleaming with life and magic before eventually fading into the shadows. I always say animals have a certain shine to their eyes that indicates life and spirit, so I wanted to highlight that, as well as this possum’s mysticism, by painting his eyes filled with stars (In fact, I was inspired by a time I encountered a possum who appeared to be dead, but I knew was only pretending due to the "life gleam" in its eyes. It ended up getting up and running away a few minutes later.) His glass marble headpiece is directly inspired by a wind chime hanging in my own backyard, which I thought would look fancy and whimsical while also being raw and resourceful. The foliage surrounding him is a strawberry tree and a lemon tree because those were the garden plants around the possums I had seen before and I wanted the two different plants to imply him sitting between two different backyards. The vines creeping up the fence are another reference to the flora I often see and admire in my own neighborhood and a common bit of imagery throughout my art - the idea of Nature reclaiming the space. The fortune peeking out of the leaves is a fun little nod to the ambiguity of the possum’s source of wisdom; I wanted it to display a message that tied into my art world, something I - and this possum - would most want to convey to those who view my creations. I love that even though part of the fortune is covered up, the main message is still synchronistically visible: magic in the mundane. The crescent moon was chosen purely because that is my personal favorite moon phase; full moons are, of course, known as the most powerful phase and even new moons (when there’s no moon to be seen at all) are well-represented magically. So, I wanted to give attention to what I feel is an underrated but equally beautiful and magical moon phase. Lastly and subtle in its symbolism, there are no stars visible in the sky because I wanted to further convey the setting as being in a city where streetlights and houses might make them difficult to see.

This painting is a great example of my art often being less thought and more flowing inspiration, channeling that energy and happily following where it leads me. I found that to strongly be the case for this creation in both the imagery/story and the painting process itself. I did have several moments where I needed to remind myself to trust the process, but I should know by now that my creations flow and finish how they're meant to! I especially loved painting the many different details from the countless individual fur strands and glorious leaf veining to the shine of the possum's eyes and marble; painting the paper fortune to look like a typed font and making the moon appear to be glowing were both super fun, as well. Of course, I added many of the final details (breaths of life) quite late at night which I suppose is fitting for a nocturnal possum. I like to think that this project is also a small way for me to help break the negative stigma around opossums - they’re often misunderstood to be dirty and dangerous and are feared due to their rodent-like appearance, when in fact they are extremely beneficial to neighborhoods as they clear out a huge amount of garden waste and pests (even ones that are venomous or carry disease) and are actually quite shy and rarely harmful (hence their famous defense mechanism of playing dead). Now, you might think this is a funny little creature to base a whole painting on but it actually makes perfect sense for me; I am endlessly inspired by the woods, wetlands, and patches of neighborhood Nature I have grown up exploring - both for their physical and spiritual properties - so my creations mostly reflect the flora, fauna, and magic familiar to and beloved by me. Often, the creatures I depict are considered small and perhaps common - but I dare say mighty and magical. Yes, even an opossum!

October stroll.jpg

October Stroll

This vampire likes to take her pet bats - Benedict, Birdie, Beatrice, Bernard, and Bram (named after author of “Dracula” Bram Stoker) - for walks on gloomy Autumn days or early October evenings. They fly above her on leashes made of spiderweb silk - and definitely get tangled up from time to time. Lately, she’s been followed around by a little patch of night in the shape of a black cat. She keeps insisting he go find a witch to be a familiar for instead, but he much prefers the company of this vamp and secretly she’s already planned to buy him a collar and is pondering a name for him.

As you can see, this vamp is quite stylish and has the necessary items to protect her delicate skin and senses from the sun (though she won’t burst into flames, contrary to popular belief). Her face shows contentment but she quietly hopes to be left alone on her walk; she definitely prefers to keep to herself and her fuzzy little babies, all 5 - now 6 - of them. Where do you think they’re headed as they walk down this Autumn lane?

October Stroll is a whimsical idea I envisioned some Halloweens ago so I (and these characters) all waited patiently for the right Halloween to come along so the spell of creation could take place! There’s no super complex story, just a fun depiction of a modern vampire with her bats and cat - all classic Halloween beings. She’s not a blatant vampire, no fangs bared or blood dripping down her chin. However, I still wanted her to have a classic vampire appearance so I decided on a Victorian look mixed with 1970s style (which also happened to have a Victorian Revival period so it worked out nicely). Her outfit is actually based off of clothes straight out of my own wardrobe! I love how you can see trends from both eras in different parts of her outfit. I even did a bit of research on ‘70s and Victorian jewelry to combine styles for her accessories. I think combining eras like that really helped convey the timelessness that vampires are known for. I also love how little things throughout this piece really add to the supernatural vibe as a whole, such as the ever-present swoop of her hair, the oversized yet still adorable vampire bats, and even the unique shape of her parasol’s handle.

I worked on this piece for many late hours - which I suppose makes sense for a vampire. Many of those days were rough and almost got in the way of creating, but this vamp was a friend on those dark days and her story was something peaceful and festive to focus on. In regards to color palette, I tried to keep the colors moody while also conveying classic Halloween schemes. I painted with less vibrancy and more richness to convey a scene of walking in the October gloom - shadowy with pops of autumnal colors. For the vampire herself, I worked to balance between giving her that classic skin paleness but with a darker tone, using some purples and extra shadows. There’s various “black” items in this piece - her hair, skirt, shoes, parasol, and cat - so it was interesting figuring out how to make them all dark and “black” but still convey their individual undertones, textures, highlights, and shadows. Black is already an interesting color to paint with because I never actually use black paint; there’s no true black in Nature so I tend to use a mix of dark blues, purples, and browns to get the desired look. I like how she and her pets have a similar and consistent color scheme while the pumpkins, leaves, and cobblestones provide their own autumnal earth tones, and the way the palettes almost keep to themselves - she may dress in classically vampiric reds and blacks but the Autumn world around her will stay its changing colors. I also like the way the gray negative space of the toned paper helps simply convey the gloomy atmosphere (much like my painting, Guiding Those Lost). At the end of creating, I noticed how the subjects turned out sort of diagonal across the page - it was not intentional but worked out nicely to give a unique composition. I really enjoyed how many textures went into this piece from clothing fabrics and the reflectiveness of her accessories, to the skin and fur of the bats and cat, and the surrounding cobblestones and natural elements. This painting also holds a lot of my smallest details to date so that was really fun to work on - I definitely thrive on tiny details!

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Eternal Love, Eternal Slumber

Is this an arrow of love or death? Are these drops of crystalline ruby or crimson blood?

Eternal Love, Eternal Slumber was initially inspired by one thing: red dragonflies. I love dragonflies in general, both for their strong ties to mysticism and magic and for the beautiful intricacies of their physical form. One day I learned that spiritually, red dragonflies specifically are said to lead you to either eternal love or death. I was fascinated by this dual symbolism, one theme so different from the other but held at once by the same creature. I already love to explore dichotomies in both my art and my spirituality: divine femininity’s softness and strength, Nature’s nurturing and wilds, witchcraft’s light and shadows, and the ever-present cycle of life, death, transformation, and rebirth. From there, I decided to create an illustration born from the red dragonfly, then connected and built on with the dichotomies and dualities I was already familiar with.

The woman herself is depicted as mostly nude with only some lingerie-type wear - femininity, sensuality, and power in both a naturally effortless and decidedly intentional way. Even her hairstyle was chosen specifically as a subtle depiction of duality, refined and clipped back at the top but still flowing down wildly and naturally. A red dragonfly is perched on her lips - one of the first bits of imagery I envisioned when planning this piece - delivering either a kiss of love or death. Her heart necklace also ties in with the original theme of the red dragonfly: is that an arrow of love or death? Are those drops of crystalline ruby or crimson blood? The flowers around her nipples are apple blossoms, chosen because spiritually they are symbols of feminine energy and can be used in spells of love and fertility but can also be used in Samhain/Halloween rituals, divination, and connecting to the spirit world - a powerful duality. Similar in nature, the pomegranates symbolize an ancient dichotomy. Like the apple, they are a fruit of femininity and fertility as well as Samhain/Halloween. They symbolize Nature’s double-sided cycle of life and death, transformation and rebirth. Much of the pomegranate’s magic and symbolism stems from its association with Greek goddess Persephone, her being a strong figure of duality as both the Goddess of Spring and the Queen of the Underworld. I also incorporated atropa belladonna, more commonly known as deadly nightshade. This plant has a deep history of magic as well. “Belladonna” itself means “beautiful lady”, however this plant is highly poisonous. It is associated with divine femininity, witches, and the Goddess archetype in ancient and darker forms, having connections with beauty and glamour magick as well as traditional witchcraft, ghosts, astral travel, and the Underworld - femininity’s dual power. All of the plants come together to form a potent magical garden.

In the medium and color palette of this illustration lies several more references to duality and dichotomy. Right from the start I wanted Her to stay graphite, contrasted yet complimented by the watercolor accessories and foliage. When rendering her, I used exaggerated shading and highlights, like the look of hard shadows and random spots of sunlight cast through a canopy of leaves - the duality of light and dark both physically and spiritually. The color red is also very prominent in this piece since red is a color of complexity, able to stand for such bold and powerful energies like love, passion, and confidence - or desire, danger, and blood. I used only a single shade of red for the lingerie, border, and dragonflies because I wanted them to have a more subtle and illustrative look to kind of be a middle ground between the penciled and painted parts - flat yet colored enough to compliment the graphite while also being less detailed than the watercolor foliage.

I loved exploring familiar dichotomies and dualities of femininity and Nature in new ways; it felt spiritual and relatable, as is the way with my artwork. Actually creating this piece also got me through a period of new grief and old sadness - as my art often does - and isn’t that a dichotomy in itself? Beauty and inspiration emerging from creation amidst sorrow and negativity?

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Stone Jackrabbit Ode

Oh little stone jackrabbit,

Nature resting in you, 

flowing through you, 

growing on you, 

existing as you. 

You tell so much of a story on your own,

Even while you were surrounded by pencil marks

and the gray of an unfinished world.

You inspire me in so many ways

and I’m sure there will be more creatures like you brought to life in the future.

Mighty stone jackrabbit,

thank you for shining your guiding light to and through my art world.

Worlds Between and Within

Even in the city, Nature spirits are there if you know where and how to look, whispering “we’re here, we’re still here…”

Worlds Between and Within was created for a magazine theme of, “The City and the Wild”. This painting is really a combination of all of my first thoughts that came to mind when thinking about the theme. Because of this, it is absolutely packed with story and symbolism, much of it stemming from personal ideologies and experiences. I leaned more towards “the wild” as my main focus, of course, with just a glimpse of the city and that combination of Nature *in* the city as I often experience it. Overall, I wanted the city and Nature parts to be combined and separate all at once, so the name Worlds Between and Within goes.

I chose a jackrabbit as my main subject because rabbits and hares are a symbol of magic for me in many ways. I always look for them in the fields and wetlands around my home and in this way, I consider them to be a sort of “Nature Guide”, hence the beam of light shining from his eyes. I chose to have him made of stone because I thought it would be cool if he were sort of this mossy, withered statue - a pillar of Nature’s sacredness - and also a cross between the natural world and the manmade world, a theme that runs throughout this painting. At his center - his heart - is a wetlands scene, a nod to where I’ve grown up most often exploring; I feel very lucky to have so many places like that to wander within walking or short driving distance of where I live. The vines creeping up and growing on him were one of the very first bits of imagery I had for this piece as one of my first thoughts of “the city and the wild” was how much I like to see vines growing on the walls of neighborhoods and cities - the idea of Nature reclaiming the space, which is also why the cattails and water are breaking through and spilling out. The stick this Guide is holding is a silly nod to the fact that my family and I often find and keep cool sticks from our walks; at home, we have a whole corner filled with sticks and “staffs” we’ve brought home from our adventures. If you know me, you know I love mushrooms so they often get incorporated into my work anyways, but these in particular are because mushroom-finding (and admiring) is one of my favorite things to do when exploring. The raincloud in a bottle is a whimsy way to include my favorite weather, one I feel great magic from for its dual nurturing and power. The sachet represents how Nature ties into my spirituality, one of the ways being using plants for both their medicinal and magical properties. The bird skull was included because *naturally* found animal bones are one of my favorite treasures to stumble upon when walking through the wetlands or woods. For the bottom foliage, I chose brambles of blackberries and rosehips because those are common foraging items I like to find patches of around neighborhoods - again that theme of Nature within the city. The “no trespassing” sign is a fun reference to what I sometimes see when I go exploring (I find it ironic how Nature is claimed and made to be fenced up or off limits) and the brambles slowly but surely covering up the sign is another reference to what I previously mentioned about Nature reclaiming its space. The mushrooms, bird skull, brambles, and sign are actually all based on my own experiences and photos I’ve taken on my little adventures. The hands in the brambles are representative of Nature spirits, reaching out to let you know that Nature is still here, even in the patches throughout a city - magic is everywhere if you know how to look. The cityscape shows the “otherworld”, upside down since it and Nature may be *between and within* one another, the same location and yet separate worlds all at once. I drew inspiration from architecture in the towns and cities I’ve grown up in; each building has its own distinct look and even painting technique to further separate locations - worlds within worlds. The background consists of a tree, flowing out from the jackrabbit and foliage and into the buildings, gnarled and ancient-looking to represent wisdom and sacredness. Trees are perhaps the most basic yet important symbol of Nature, ever-present even in the city - a constant reminder of the Natural world and the energy and power it holds. The tree is also based on one of my own photos taken in a beloved woodland area. The words floating around the tree were sort of a stream of consciousness for me, jotting down what came to mind when I thought of Nature and ultimately including those words in the painting last-minute; there’s a feeling of comfort and safety, wonder and sometimes darker mystery, as I feel Nature always carries that dichotomy. The way the words are written (well, painted) also ties in to that combination and yet separation of the city and the wild - do you see these words as graffiti on a wall or perhaps the whispers of the trees and Nature spirits?

I love this painting so much; it is the perfect example of what I want my art to be: full of in-depth story and tiny details, a whimsical subject (be they animal or person), intricate Nature, and personal magic. The process of creating this scene as a whole flowed so smoothly and intuitively and this stone jackrabbit is one of my favorite beings I’ve ever encountered in my art world.

The portal to my art world is closed for now!

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Dragonlight

At first, Dragonlight was going to be a little original illustration for sale in my shop. I hadn’t thought too much about the concept; I like dragonflies so I wanted to draw a dragonfly. Much like the praying mantis, I love the segmentation of their anatomy and the random yet oh so intricate wing patterns, as well as the sacredness they hold in Nature and mythology. The key and lantern just sort of happened (I thought they were cool and kind of mystical). But then as I was working on rendering the graphite bits - just me and my mechanical pencil - all of the components clicked together and this dragon started revealing a spiritual story to me. What can I say? I got attached (to no one’s surprise)! 

Sure, at first he was just a dragon, flying through the sky with his glowing lantern. Then some thoughts started drifting in:

Spiritually, dragonflies represent higher knowledge, wisdom, and change. Maybe the light guides those in need towards their transformation and enlightenment. Maybe the key is there all along for you to transcend. Keys also represent moving between worlds and planes, so maybe this dragon is a guide to and through the spirit world.

Either way, it turns out he’s full of story and mysticism so my unwillingness to part with him was really inevitable!

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Small Business Spell

Magic toad says to shop small!

I created Small Business Spell to use as a basis for my conversations about supporting small businesses - a topic that is, of course, very important to me as a creator and small business owner myself! And honestly, I just felt it was finally time to illustrate one of my favorite animals and he felt the need to conjure this important reminder!

So, let’s talk a bit about shopping small: When I need to shop for something whether it be jewelry, home decor, art, gifts for someone, or really anything in between, the very first place I look to is a small business. If you know some local and specific small businesses, that is great! If not, Etsy and other similar platforms are a fantastic way to go because they are a compilation of countless small businesses and creators for you to discover and shop from! I highly encourage you to be mindful of where you shop and shop small as much as you can. I promise your money means so much more to an artist or small business than to a large corporation; we make high quality items because we do it out of love and passion for what we’re creating. Your support helps us fund our businesses, provide for ourselves and our families, and is just incredibly beneficial for everyone involved!

Also, it’s never too early to start shopping - especially if it’s a present for someone. When you support a small business, things are handmade with time, care, and passion and are one-of-a-kind so they do take a little longer - as does shipping sometimes - but it is definitely worth it! I appreciate you making an effort to support small businesses whether it’s mine or someone else’s!

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Memory Garden

Memory Garden was originally created for a magazine theme of “Do You Recall?”, all about nostalgia, memories, deja vu, liminal spaces, and any other similar feelings or experiences.

As I was first thinking about what to create for the issue’s theme, I noted what my immediate thoughts were in regards to what made me feel nostalgic: the smell of lavender. Plums. Figs. Soon, a garden was growing around me, each plant symbolizing something precious.

Every time I smell lavender, I see a flash of a midnight blue sky with golden moons and suns like the herb-filled heating pack my mom used to soothe sore tummies when I was little. Plums take me to my yiayia’s (“grandma” in Greek) spacious backyard, eating the abundance of sunset-centered fruit until my mouth and hands were sticky and I couldn’t eat anymore. Figs take me back to growing up on a beautiful 11-acre property on the days of each week I was at my mom’s house. The ancient-looking, gnarled trunks and branches held my siblings and I as we picked the magical fruit, splitting them open to reveal their sacred geometry but ultimately eating them whole if they were ripe enough. At the *heart* of the garden grows pomegranates, that ruby-filled fruit which symbolizes my Greek heritage. I never cared much for eating them but they remind me of my love for Greek mythology, the stories I’ve studied since I first learned how to read, asking my dad to quiz me on the gods and goddesses as we sat on the school bus for field trips, whispers of the evil eye from my yiayia. And, ultimately, the way my Greek heritage weaves ever-present through my spirituality and my art.

If you know my art, you know most of my pieces revolve around women, that constant divine feminine aspect. I’m often told the women I paint resemble me, but this one is actually an intentional self-portrait; it seemed only fitting. The half up, half down hairstyle is one I wore a lot growing up and what I actually called “a yiayia” because my yiayia would often do my hair like that for me. She also always wore gold hoop earrings, which is why I own a pair and is just one of the reasons I see her when I look in the mirror. I never wear blue eyeshadow but I chose it because it reminds me of when we’re young and play with those amateur makeup sets, the chalky colors applied messily but giving us such a euphoric feeling of grownup-ness.

It’s kind of a funny thing, what defines us. It could be a piece of fruit or a pair of earrings, something so universal and at the same time so minuscule, and all at once formative and individual - the roots in my Memory Garden.

I wanted to convey a sort of dreamscape appearance because of the subject of memories and nostalgia. I knew I would be painting with rich colors due to the fruit trees and background; however, I made sure to paint with jewel-like tones that gave everything almost a crystalline, reflective appearance and an overall lush and decadent look. I used slightly exaggerated pinks and yellows in her skin tone so she (I?) would have a soft, warm glow in contrast to the cool-toned background. In fact, everything about her/me is warm-toned except for the eyeshadow because it had a symbolic purpose. (Fun fact: because my reference photo was mirrored, I accidentally painted my dimple on the wrong side! But to be honest now I feel the mirrored image kind of adds to the whimsical, dreamy feel of it all. I am watching this dream unfold and am a part of it at the same time.)

I remember working on this extra hard to meet the deadline, getting up early to have plenty of time and not rush or sacrifice quality. I painted for 8, even 10 hours a day, something that seemed like a lot at the time but has become more and more frequent. That being said, for the most part I actually didn’t feel rushed when I worked on this piece. In fact, very few paintings have gone as smooth as this one! Everything about it from the painting and layering to the colors and textures were easygoing and methodical and everything came out as good as or better than I envisioned! I didn’t overwork the paper in any spots (a mistake I’ve made quite a few times before) and even the tedious details and overlapping background parts were enjoyable and meditative - I especially loved painting all the different leaves and fruits. I tend to mentally process my pieces and physically work on them from front to back (regardless of how challenging it may be to paint around the subjects later) but filling in the background last was actually one of my favorite parts, flooding indigo between leaves and branches like a satisfying mosaic.

This piece was just an absolute joy to create and is filled with such sweet, personal story; I always feel it’s necessary to share whatever folklore I envisioned to go along with my creations, but I have a hope with this one that it will ignite in others a moment of individual remembering, of personal memories soft and sweet and almost forgotten.

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Autumnal

Simply yet appropriately titled, Autumnal is meant to capture all of my favorite things about Autumn: the coziness, the season’s reflection in Nature, and of course Halloween. I had this loose idea floating around for a while until it formed into this witch (who looks like a natural embodiment of Autumn herself) mid-ritual in a mushroom ring - most often associated with fairies but also said to be where witches meet - conjuring Halloween with both hands.

I wanted to convey the quintessential Autumn color palette in both the surrounding elements and the witch herself. Her clothes are actually based off of my favorite knit sweater and my favorite pair of pants! The leaves are inspired by the abundance of October Maples in my yard whose colors change beautifully in the Fall. I also love to play with lighting in my art, particularly glow, which especially adds to the cozy and warm atmosphere through the candles, jack-o-lantern, and even leaves. This illustration has such a special place in my heart due to being centered around my absolute favorite time of year; I’m so happy with how all of the different textures and components came together to set this whimsical Autumn scene.

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Mother Marrow's Poem

 

Go and visit Mother Marrow

Mother Marrow, Mother Marrow

Go and visit Mother Marrow,

To see what she sees for you.

The skull of a rabbit, the beak of a crow

Mother Marrow, Mother Marrow

Go and visit Mother Marrow,

To see which bones are for you.

She’s gentler than she seems

Only takes what she finds

In the woods around her cottage

Leaving offerings behind.

Smoky silhouettes drift all around,

Ghostly creatures who don’t make a sound.

Familiars of this witch for help and protection,

Summoned from their very bones in her collection.

Into the air she tosses a button and a shell,

A gem and a tooth from someone she knew well.

A claw, a coin, and of course some bones,

Then she reads how they fell in a serious tone.

So go and visit Mother Marrow

Mother Marrow, Mother Marrow

Go and visit Mother Marrow

She says this time, the bones fall for you.

Mother Marrow

Mother Marrow is a bone witch, but don’t assume the worst just because of the hollow skulls on the walls of her old, candlelit cottage - she’s gentler than she seems. Mother Marrow would never harm a creature; she only collects bones that she finds in the woods around her home. Often, she gives those animals a second life by using the bones to invite their spirits to be her familiars. If you’re brave enough to venture to her cottage, she offers a service of osteomancy: divination through bones. She tosses her little collection into the air, then reads how they fell in a serious tone - even if what she sees is good. So go and visit Mother Marrow - she says this time, the bones fall for you…

Mother Marrow was inspired by my love and wonder of animal bones that I sometimes find and collect on my Nature walks. I imagined this witch’s main rituals were osteomancy - bone divination - and summoning animal spirits to be her familiars, so I depicted her doing both. I wanted the summoning ritual to have a marionette-like appearance, crow bones dangling from her hand with blood red string. In her other hand she tosses her osteomancy set. Within it, I’ve included several bones from my personal collection: a beaver tooth I found in local wetlands, a deer vertebrae I stumbled upon at a lake, and a small leg bone also from a deer I found in the woods along a river. A key dangles around Mother Marrow’s neck as a symbol of her connection to the spirit world and a carrion beetle is tattooed on her sternum because in Nature, carrion beetles often eat the bodies of dead animals, therefore playing an important role as decomposers; spiritually, they represent the cycle of life, death, transformation, and rebirth.

Of course, a bone witch must have bones all around her cottage. I included a ram skull, deer antler, and rabbit skull because that’s just what I imagined in her home, along with a unicorn horn for a unique touch of magic. The herbs I painted, however, have specifically chosen meanings: verbena/vervain is used for protection and communication with Nature spirits while mugwort also offers protection as well as aid in divination. Mushrooms still grow on the branch she uses to dry the herbs, another symbol of decomposition and Nature’s cycles.

Bringing Mother Marrow to life was a wonderfully spiritual and magical experience but also a challenge because there were a lot of different components and textures to paint as well as her pose and anatomy and I wanted to get everything just right. Her name came to me before much of the rest of her story, like meeting a kindred spirit for the first time - new and familiar all at once. As much as I enjoyed bringing Mother Marrow to life, I’ll admit I was a little worried at the end that I didn’t quite do her justice (a reflection on myself, not her). But then she ended up getting the most love and attention perhaps any of my art has *ever* gotten and that filled me with so much excitement and happiness - and relief! She was met with much kindness and acceptance, as well as the reverence that she commands and deserves. She also helped me out of one of the worst bouts of art block I’ve had, the kind where countless ideas were floating around but none seemed ready or willing to make it onto the paper, and for that I am very grateful.

Mother Marrow, fellow witch and kindred spirit, thank you for being part of my art world.

Mother Marrow was also created parallel to Guiding Those Lost, so I tend to pair them in my mind; both are focused on magical beings (one a fae, the other a witch) with helpful yet mysterious natures. Both scenes are also very autumnal though they were created at the start of Summer - which is honestly not surprising for me in the least.

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Guiding Those Lost

She’s a fae whose self-imposed mission is to find those who are lost in the woods before other unsavory creatures get to them… more often than not, those who didn’t physically make it out at all but whose souls can still be guided to safety. Though fae have been known to be tricksters, she can unmistakably be trusted due to the otherworldly warmth that radiates off of her amidst the ever-present woodland chill and her soft yet genuinely reassuring smile that even the most cunning of dark beings could not fabricate. Just follow the glow of her lantern and listen for the tinkling of the bells around her waist - they’re some of the sweetest sounding things in these woods.

Guiding Those Lost was originally created for a magazine theme of “Feelin’ Ethereal”. When I was first dreaming up this piece, I knew she would be a mushroom fae and have some connection to the spirit world; the concept changed a few times but in the end, her story came together just as it was meant to. I wanted her hair and eye colors to be earthy and neutral (I like the way her hair resembles delicate roots) and for her clothing to resemble the stem of a mushroom, to compliment her cap. Moody ferns, crisp Autumn leaves, and the gray negative space of the toned paper came together to form the cold, woodland atmosphere - all of which are oversized to demonstrate this fae’s tiny stature. I also wanted to make a clear contrast between the fae’s overall warmth and the cool-toned ghost. I played with lighting a lot in this one which is probably my favorite part of the whole painting and something that revealed a path for me to explore in future creations. Overall, I really loved creating this piece, painting the scene to life, and discovering their story.

Guiding Those Lost was also created parallel to Mother Marrow, so I tend to pair them in my mind; both are focused on magical beings (one a fae, the other a witch) with helpful yet mysterious natures. Both scenes are also very autumnal though they were created at the start of Summer - which is honestly not surprising for me in the least.

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Xemati

Xemati was originally created for a magazine theme of “Heritage”. It is a very personal piece centered around my Greek heritage, specifically the mati or “evil eye”. The mati dates back to Ancient Greece. It is a curse cast intentionally - or often unintentionally - through negative emotions. It has been adopted by many other cultures and religions and is still a common superstition today.

I have fond memories of feeling headachy/sick and going to my yiayia (grandmother) for help. She would first determine if I had the evil eye, which included a certain hand gesture and a prayer muttered under her breath in Greek that I could never quite hear. That’s what I wanted to capture in this painting: a woman mid-ritual, dressed in traditional black, her right hand in the proper three-finger position and the other holding a glass evil eye charm (mataki). I always saw my yiayia as a healer, and more than that just the most lovely person I have ever known, which is why I included a gold ring of light - a halo of sorts. I took my own reference photo for this piece and though I primarily just do it for the pose and change facial features and such to create a separate being, it felt right to keep some of my own features this time.

The whole process of xematiasma - the chasing away of the evil eye - and the evil eye in general was and still is so mysterious and elusive to me. It was one of the first things that sparked my interest in spirituality and magic. Growing up, I always asked my yiayia to teach me to do what she does, but she would just smile and say, “eventually.”

Addendum: This painting has always been and always will be dedicated to my yiayia. I painted this with my yiayia in mind and spirit the entire time. I never got to show it to her but I am sure that she has seen it in her own way, just as I see her every time I look at it. Yiayia, you have always been and always will be loved and missed but I take comfort in knowing I’ll still see you through our traditions, the characteristics we carry within us that we picked up from you, and I’m sure your own ways of reaching out to us. σε αγαπω παρα πολυ.

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The Mantis Oracle

The Mantis Oracle is sought out by animals, fae, and even witches if they know where to look. He was born possessing the power of clairvoyant Sight, with a visible third eye as a physical representation. His little temple is adorned with bay leaves, which he burns to strengthen his connection to the Divine. He is highly revered, as he shares his wisdom freely but humbly; he understands that each path is there for a reason, but they are always changing and can be changed - we make our own fate.

“Mantis” actually means “prophet” in Greek, which I found out while researching for another painting idea. After that, the vision for this being sprung forth basically fully formed! I took inspiration from the Oracle of Delphi, who is often depicted holding a dish and bay leaves. Bay, or laurel, is a versatile magical plant; its leaves can be burned to aid in divination and visions, as well as incorporated into various spells and rituals. It is a plant sacred to Apollo, who is most well known as the Greek god of the Sun, but he rules over prophecy as well. The mantis’ third eye is a physical representation of his clairvoyant abilities; the third eye is an important spiritual symbol, serving as our window to higher consciousness. A sapphire charm dangles from his arm as in Ancient Greece, sapphires were used for protection, healing, and connecting to the spirit world and the Divine. Sapphires are also said to help you see through your third eye. The border is meant to resemble Greek Red Figure pottery and includes the commonly used Greek Key pattern, which symbolizes “infinity” and the “eternal flow”.

Some of my creations are such pure joy to work on from start to finish, where I just feel extra confident and easygoing in my process to the point where it’s meditative and really reaffirms how much true passion and magick there is between me and my art. I wish I could bottle that feeling of contentment and accomplishment, there’s none better. The Mantis Oracle is one of my favorite beings in my art world; channeling that powerful combination of Nature’s sacredness and Greek mysticism, not to mention the pleasure of painting such a divine creature as this one - capturing each segmentation and intricacy, breathing life through detailed paint strokes and passionate energy to the point where he looks like he could crawl off of the panel at any moment.

My sweet Oracle - born from a different idea evolved, an accidental smudge of blood on the panel (life force), and a heavy dose of personal Greek spiritualism, mixed together like a fulfilling potion to form this creature who is an important part of my little art world.

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Samhain Under a Blue Moon

Samhain Under a Blue Moon was created to honor a special cosmic event: a blue moon that fell on Halloween and all the magick it brought to that night. A blue moon is the name for the second full moon in a month and the thirteenth full moon in a year; it is a relatively rare occurrence, hence the phrase “once in a blue moon”, so the fact that it fell on Halloween of all nights makes it that much more enchanting. Magically speaking, blue moons represent all things *seemingly* rare and unattainable and the ability to manifest those things into existence. Combined with the magick of Samhain - the turning of the natural wheel and the thinning of the veil - it was a most powerful event that I feel very lucky to have witnessed and celebrated!

The witch herself wears a moonstone talisman, one that is actually modeled after my very own that I wear everyday. Moonstone connects to the magic of the Moon as well as intuition, inner growth, inspiration, and protection. I gave her a planchette tattoo as a symbol of spirit work since the veil between the spirit world and ours is thinnest on Samhain. Her moon phase tattoo symbolizes the lunar cycle as a whole which ties back to the blue moon, the true peak of the cycle. I included ravens because they are keepers of magic, especially related to dream manifestations and willed intentions, much like the blue moon. They are also known to be psychopomps, connecting our world with the spirit world which ties back to Samhain. There are seven ravens because seven is the lunar number. The ritual circle on the ground is a pentacle, a key symbol in witchcraft; it represents the five elements and Nature’s cycles, much like the phases of the moon. I included five jack-o-lanterns to connect the ritual as a whole to Halloween. Lastly, the moon is blue for my own extra touch of whimsy - it doesn’t actually turn blue, contrary to the name. I also think the coffin shape of the painting itself is a really fun and whimsical way to frame this auspicious scene.

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The Wake

In a small clearing where a vigil is set, lit only by flickering candles and scattered moonlight, the dichotomy of life and death and the parallels of growth and decomposition are explored… 

The vision behind The Wake was a funeral held by Nature for a fallen animal; I first considered painting a fox, but the innocence of a young deer seemed more fitting. Pretty much every element of this piece was intentionally chosen to tie into the exploration of life, death, transformation, and rebirth - much of it stemming from Greek myths and superstitions. The coin on the deer’s eye is a nod to the Greek tradition of placing a coin on the eyes or in the mouth of the deceased as payment for Charon, who would ferry souls to the Underworld. Cypress is placed around the deer’s neck as it is the Greek cemetery tree which symbolizes mourning. Butterflies are a well-known symbol of Nature’s cycles; specifically, yellow butterflies are said to be the souls of those who died young. The most common funeral flowers, lilies, represent the innocence of the departed while daisies were said to have been scattered by the gods to cheer up those in mourning when someone young died. Lastly, the mushrooms represent the overall cycle of life, death, decomposition, and new life. 

This is one of my favorite creates ever; it was one of my first more physically detailed and story-filled artworks (since then my details have become even tinier and stories even more complex), the kind of painting where hours go into each part with little to show for it if you don’t know what to look for. Though I didn’t have much experience with watercolor (now my favorite medium) on such a small and detailed scale yet, the painting process as a whole was so lovely - conveying the different textures and color scheme, seeing each part of the story emerge in color and life from the white paper and flat sketch. I also actually painted this little scene almost exclusively on rainy days which I believe really added to the magic and atmosphere of the piece. 

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Breathe

When I look at Breathe, I think she’s quite pretty and remember how peaceful it was to draw this one, though I don’t always remember the message it holds. This illustration was originally meant to be a reminder for myself when I was stressed and is still there for me when I continue to face things that conflict with my mental health - swallows symbolize hope while rain represents healing, and the overall light and airy feel reminds me to, well, breathe.

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Sacred Space

Where vibrations are high and energies are centered, cleansed, and charged. A place to practice your craft and honor Nature, the Goddess, and the Universe. Our bodies are our most sacred of spaces in which the magic of our souls reside…

I started Sacred Space with the intention of creating a queen, but she quickly turned into a witch or high priestess instead (inevitable really). I incorporated many aspects of my own spiritual practices, specifically lunar magick and divine femininity - from the colors of the candles, the symbols carved into them and crystals tied to them, to the spirit bells and hanging eucalyptus, and of course her crescent headpiece and moonstone talisman. Even her hair and eyes were painted with an icy, glowing Moon in mind. I always feel a surge of power and a reminder of my own when I meet her piercing gaze. 

This was also one of my earlier acrylic paintings and my very first painting on wood, which I found I vastly prefer over canvas when it comes to acrylics. 

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Kourotrophos

Kourotrophos originally started as a page in my sketchbook. I tried drawing several different plants and animals around her before I decided on a rabbit; three rabbits and some stardust later and I cut this piece out of my sketchbook to finish it as a complete graphite illustration. In the middle of creating this piece, I learned a new word: kourotrophos, which by definition was the name given in Ancient Greece to gods and goddesses whose abilities included protecting young people. And, as I came to read, they were often accompanied by rabbits! As I continued this illustration, that word repeated over and over in my mind - there’s no doubt in the synchronicity of learning that word as I was creating this!

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Jackrabbit Gossip

One morning after a long night of bad mental health, I went for a walk in the rain, headed to admire the beloved wetlands near my home. On my walk, I stumbled upon a huddled group of three - no, five - jackrabbits. They all turned and looked at me with their big, wild eyes before running away in all different directions. I felt like I had interrupted some sort of secret meeting but I immediately felt inspired to draw them, which is what I set out to do as soon as I returned home! What whimsical secrets were they discussing?

The little story behind Jackrabbit Gossip is a true one that I think back on fondly and often; to this day I still wonder what they were discussing, and yes, I do believe it had to be *something* as they were just too magical to be there without purpose.

Jackrabbits are one of my favorite animals; I love spotting their big ears and glassy eyes in the field near my house. I most often see them on gloomy or rainy days and for that I feel a kinship with them as that’s when they most often see me, too. Hares also have heavy ties to witchcraft and lunar magick, which I deeply resonate with.

Most often remembering the whimsical, true sight that inspired this drawing, I sometimes forget that it is also a reminder of me overcoming hardships through inspiration and creativity. Much of my art is made that way, pushing past mundane drama and sorrow to a place of magic and creation. This is also one of the few times I feel good about my use of ink in an art piece (I’m not really a fan of using that medium anymore, but I am still a big fan of this illustration). I still have so much love for these jackrabbits!

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Portrait of a Young Fae Queen

A royal portrait for she who rules over the Fae Folk. She’s young, but in faerie terms that could mean hundreds of years old. When her skin catches the light, it glistens with a shimmer of unique colors. Cherry blossoms bloom like Spring flowers on the stem throughout her golden curls and she is adorned with the finest elfin-made jewelry featuring stones with properties that reflect her magic: rose quartz, rainbow quartz, pearls, and emeralds to match her eyes. Roses are her favorite flower, hence her collar and crown’s foliage. She wears her talisman around her neck, a seven pointed star also known as a faery star. She smiles gently, ready to be a fair and elegant ruler to all the beings of her realm.

Portrait of a Young Fae Queen was created when I was fresh out of high school and starting to really figure out my preferred subject matters, mediums, and personal style. This is definitely one of my more underrated paintings; she was an experiment in portraiture, pop-surrealism (a subject I played around with a lot at the beginning), a bright Spring color palette, and a sprinkling of faerie lore (which was a small start to my incorporation of detailed stories and symbolism). She was one of my earliest acrylic creations and helped pave the way for my realization of how much I love to illustrate magical women. I also now know that I prefer to use wood panels for acrylic painting rather than canvas like this. Though my art and myself as an artist have definitely evolved to somewhere that feels more true to me, this faery will always have a special place in my heart and I’m sure she’s proud of the other whimsical women I paint now!

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Watchful Waters and Witch's Brew

Watchful Waters and Witch’s Brew were painted within the same few weeks, so I suppose that’s why I always pair them up in my head (and on my art wall). These were some of my best works at the time and were quite experimental, before my pieces had complex stories and when I was still figuring out my preferred subject matters and mediums. Watchful Waters was an experiment in pop-surrealism (something I was very interested in at the time), color, and texture. It’s mostly watercolor - cheap ones from before I got my beloved set that I still use today - with some acrylic details for the background/water, as I was still learning how to work with the fluidity and layering of watercolors. Witch’s Brew was an image that I literally dreamed up, so I used a spare piece of mat board and my acrylic paints and went from there.

I was still pretty new to painting in general (there was a time when I thought I favored colored pencils and ink more than paints), so these pieces were introductions to the mediums that are my favorites today. I’m still so proud of these paintings as they were important stepping stones in my journey towards discovering who I am as an artist and what/how I want to create - so much, in fact, that they have stood the test of time and have been quite popular in my portfolio and shop!

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Lunar Connection

Lunar Connection has a whole unique story and energy of its own - in fact, I consider it the genesis of my art career. I painted it at the beginning of my senior year of high school; by then I already knew I wanted to be an artist professionally but I was still figuring out my preferred mediums, style, subject matters, and overall just had a lot to learn. At the time, I was interested in exploring pop-surrealism and that is pretty much the extent of the story behind this piece (unlike my creations now that I fill with symbolism and write in-depth stories for), though it does seem to hint at what would become common imagery in my art: women, Nature, the Moon, and bones. I do remember how long it took to paint this because I was so unfamiliar with the medium (it was only my second acrylic paint attempt) and that when I finally finished, I was insanely proud of myself. It’s also the biggest artwork I’ve ever created at 20”x24” on stretched canvas - I thought I needed to create larger pieces on canvas to be a more “legit” artist but that was before I discovered my love for watercolor paper and wood panels, tiny details and my preference to work on pieces ranging from 5”x7” to 8”x10”.

This is the piece that I consider to have marked the true beginning of my artistic journey, the genesis of my career, the piece that made me really start to feel like an artist. Though I may now gravitate towards witches and whimsical animals, earth tones and smaller detailing, though my style and technique has changed and improved, this painting will always be so very dear to me. Also, reminiscing about this piece makes me feel so proud of how far I’ve come in such a short time in regards to my art, my business, and myself as an artist. Since its creation, Lunar Connection has been the centerpiece of my art exhibitions, the first item you see in my online shop (as well as one of my most popular items), and was even on my business cards for the first 2 years of owning my shop.

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Logo

If you’re familiar with my art and myself as an artist, you probably know that I always try to make every aspect of my work have some kind of meaning or symbolism to weave into a larger story, and of course my logo is no exception. You also probably know that I prefer to create everything in a traditional media rather than digitally, so it was only right for me to paint my logo with watercolors (my favorite medium) on my favorite gray-toned paper; this also allowed me to have my name in my own handwriting/lettering rather than a digital font.

The triple moon symbol is perhaps my favorite magical symbol; it represents the Goddess in all of Her forms, as well as overall divine feminine energy which I feel a deep spiritual connection to and channel in my art. The Moon herself, as a celestial body, is also a huge symbol in my craft and art. The skull represents my other favorite subject matter, animals. I specifically chose a rabbit skull because rabbits have ties to magic, witchcraft, and the Moon. They are also one of my favorite animals and a recurring symbol for me - I see them often in my dreams, meditations, and Nature adventures. The mushroom ring has several meanings; they are commonly known as a sign of magic, especially associated with faeries, but did you know that mushroom rings were also believed to be where witches would meet? Even deeper, mushrooms symbolize the cycle of life, death, transformation, and rebirth - a cycle I often observe in Nature and explore in my art. Besides all of the symbolism though, I love the moon, I love rabbits and bones, and I love mushrooms - so it makes sense from any angle!

Even the color I painted my name with is special to me - I tend to gravitate towards earth tones found in the hedgerows and wetlands I’ve grown up exploring, but my absolute favorite color in my trusty watercolor palette is its shade of Indigo. I rarely use colors straight out of the palette (mixing creates more depth and uniqueness) but this Indigo is my exception; it’s just so rich and mystical and atmospheric - like being enveloped in midnight - and since watercolor is my favorite medium, I wanted to pay homage using my favorite color within it (layered with a little white to add a slight glow.)

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