anonyrrie: July 2006

Friday, July 28, 2006

Illustration Friday - Clean

Natural Music

The old voice of the ocean, the bird-chatter of little rivers,
(Winter has given them gold for silver
To stain their water and bladed green for brown to line their banks)
From different throats intone one language.
So I believe if we were strong enough to listen without
Divisions of desire and terror
To the storm of the sick nations, the rage of the hunger smitten cities,
Those voices also would be found
Clean as a child's; or like some girl's breathing who dances alone
By the ocean-shore, dreaming of lovers.

-Robinson Jeffers (1887 - 1962)

(acrylic on 6" x 8" stretched canvas)

The Vine - She's Finished!

I acually finished this a while ago, but wasn't able to get a decent photograph. This is pretty close to the right color, but not perfect. I found this project very challenging and at times, very frustrating. I'm still trying to get comfortable with acrylic paint after so many years, so I've been learning and relearning as I go. Now that I've finished this, I think there are some things I'd approach differently when I eventually do (yes) another version. In the meantime, below is the naughty poem from which I derived the painting's name.

The Vine

I dream'd this mortal part of mine
Was Metamorphoz'd to a Vine;
Which crawling one and every way,
Enthrall'd my dainty Lucia.
Me thought, her long small legs & thighs
I with my Tendrils did surprize;
Her Belly, Buttocks, and her Waste
By my soft Nerv'lits were embrac'd:
About her head I writhing hung,
And with rich clusters (hid among
The leaves) her temples I behung:
So that my Lucia seem'd to me
Young Bacchus ravished by his tree.
My curles about her neck did craule,
And armes and hands they did enthrall:
So that she could not freely stir,
(All parts there made one prisoner.)
But when I crept with leaves to hide
Those parts, which maids keep unespy'd,
Such fleeting pleasures there I took,
That with the fancie I awook;
And found (Ah me!) this flesh of mine
More like a Stock then like a Vine.

-Robert Herrick (1591 - 1674)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Illustration Friday & Inspire Me Thursday - Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

The topics for this week's Illustration Friday (Opposites) and Inspire Me Thursday (Child's Play) challenges serendipitously came together when I started to thinking how some animals are portrayed in myth and literature with either positive or negative attributes, usually depending on the cultural context. The wolf is a perfect example.

Wolves, as predators, have historically been perceived by humans as mysterious, cunning, and dangerously bloodthirsty. Yet as an archetypal symbol that's both negative and positive, the wolf represents the union of opposites. Although in many mythologies and religions, the wolf is considered demonic and destructive, there are as well many examples of the wolf as the protector-companion. For example, in the Middle Ages, the ancient idea that men could be transformed into werewolves, half-human, half-animal creatures who roamed the streets at night and feasted on humans, became a widely accepted belief, attributing the transformation to the devil. Yet in Classical mythology, the wolf is the companion to the goddess Artemis, and it was a she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus, the founders of ancient Rome.

The opposing images of the wolf appear in literature as well. A large body of folklore attests to the negative image the wolf has attained throughout history; an image that has in fact caused the word "wolf" to become a metaphor for wily humans (usually men) who prey on innocent, helpless creatures (usually women). Fairy tales such as "Little Red Riding Hood" bring the creature and the metaphor together in a story with a moral: "...young lasses, pretty, courteous and well-bred, do very wrong to listen to strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for a wolf." In contrast, the Russian Folktale, "Prince Ivan and the Grey Wolf", shows the wolf as a loyal friend who helps Prince Ivan achieve his goals and live happily ever after.

In nature, the wolf is a keystone predator, and as such, is an important part of its ecosystem. Prior to the 20th century, however, the wolf had been almost hunted out of existence in the United States and Europe, as it was erroneously perceived to be dangerous to humans and livestock. Fortunately, ecological research has caused more people to understand the importance of predators in the natural order, and there have been efforts to reintroduce the wolf to its former habitats.

(acrylic on 10" x 10" stretched canvas)

Check out my article on Andrea Pratt of Colouring Outside the Lines and her really outstanding art. If you don't know about her work, you're missing a wonderful experience!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Surface and Symbol Outside the Lines - The Art of Andrea Pratt

Epoch - acrylic - 48" x 48"

I have always been intrigued by the work of archeologists. Meticulously sifting through layer upon layer of dirt and rock, they dig into the ages of the earth, uncovering artifacts that allow us to learn more about the evolution of human cultures, and connecting humankind through the discovery of common archetypal motifs.

When I entered the blogosphere a year ago, one of the first people I "met" was Andrea Pratt, the Canadian artist whose blog, Colouring Outside the Lines has since become one of my daily reads. Although I always delight in her generous servings of sharp humor, astute commentary, and introspective exploration, it is her truly extraordinary art that draws me in each time I visit. In its presence, I find myself playing the role of the archeologist, reading the narrative her painted artifacts reveal.

Ms. Pratt's work immediately calls to mind Oscar Wilde's assertion that "all art is at once surface and symbol." Employing a brilliant palette of saturated, jewel like colors, rhythmic patterns, and symbolic motifs in her signature "flattened and segmented picture plane," her paintings seamlessly embody an aesthetic, intellectual, and emotional communication that marries the concept and process with product, providing the viewer a rich opportunity to experience her work on these multiple levels. And although the viewer may be satisfied simply relishing the visual experience her art offers, looking beneath the surface of Pratt's work yields even greater satisfaction.

Tide - acrylic - 48" x 48"

Pratt's most recent series, Primal Landscapes, shows a stunning synthesis of the techniques, motifs, symbols, and themes she has explored in previous series. Working in a large format (48" x 48" and 36" x 36"), Pratt continues her examination of time, growth, and life cycles in the layers of earth and sea through her use of pre-Columbian motifs and symbolic imagery and patterns related to the cyclical nature of life. These motifs and patterns are consistent with the multiple levels on which Pratt's art can be experienced, functioning both as literal cues to the landscape and each painting's visual narrative, as well as symbolic keys to each painting's underlying concepts.

Ms. Pratt uses a layered approach to structuring each painting that physically manifests her conceptual vision. She begins with an underpainting of strong colors in a palette complementary to that of the finished painting. This layering of complementary colors allows Pratt to reveal some of the underpainting in the outlines of forms, or as gradients within her patterns, thereby increasing the brilliant luminosity of the final colors. She continues by stenciling and stamping various images, and using conte to draw in other elements that will be painted by hand. She then moves between painting in the conte images, working in the background colors, and adding patterns to various planes of color. The finished painting seems to glow from within as the viewer's eyes move from symbols of death to symbols of rebirth and ripe life, all to the rhythmic drumbeat of energetic repetitive patterns. This beautiful vision of life is eternal, sublime, and inspiring.

Cultivation - acrylic - 48" x 48"

Andrea Pratt "started drawing before (she) could remember," and drew daily throughout her childhood, receiving a district scholarship to study art at the University of Victoria. However, after graduating with a BFA in 1983 she "began a long hiatus from making art regularly," working for many years first as a photographic lab technician and then as a teacher. In 2001, Pratt made the decision to return to her life long passion and become a full-time artist. Since then, she has built an impressive portfolio and CV, showing her work in both Canada and the United States, and winning several awards.

Visit Andrea Pratt's website to see her latest work and previous series. Contact Ms. Pratt for information on availability and/or location of paintings for purchase at

Pratt's art is also available through her blog, Small Art, where she sells small paintings ( 8" x 8" x 1.5"), and as limited edition giclee prints at Art For All of Us, where she is an inaugural artist.

Daily doses of everything Andrea Pratt can be found at her blog, Colouring Outside the Lines.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Illustration Friday - Sacrifice


Those delicate wanderers,
The wind, the star, the cloud,
Ever before mine eyes,
As to an altar bowed,
Light and dew-laden airs
Offer in sacrifice.

The offerings arise:
Hazes of rainbow light,
Pure crystal, blue, and gold,
Through dreamland take their flight;
And 'mid the sacrifice
God moveth as of old.

In miracles of fire
He symbols forth his days;
In gleams of crystal light
Reveals what pure pathways
Lead to the soul's desire,
The silence of the height.

- George William Russell (1867 - 1935)

(acrylic on 9" x 12" stretched canvas)

Edit 7/19 - I posted my IF a bit late, because among other things, I was working on this article. It's a "must read" for those of you who do and those of you who don't know about the exquisite art of Andrea Pratt. Take a look!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Almost finished...

All that remains is the background, and then she's done! I still haven't gotten the hang of properly photographing a painting outdoors, so the background seems to have a blue cast even though it's still white.

Below is a detail of some of the tattoos. I drew them on with a micron pen, painted them, and then added outlines and the very fine linework with ink.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Illustration Friday - Skyline


This mighty empire hath but feet of clay:
Of all its ancient chivalry and might
Our little island is forsaken quite:
Some enemy hath stolen its crown of bay,
And from its hills that voice hath passed away
Which spake of Freedom: O come out of it,
Come out of it, my Soul, thou art not fit
For this vile traffic-house, where day by day
Wisdom and reverence are sold at mart,
And the rude people rage with ignorant cries
Against an heritage of centuries.
It mars my calm: wherefore in dreams of Art
And loftiest culture I would stand apart,
Neither for God, nor for his enemies.

- Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)


Thursday, July 06, 2006


She's ready for her tattoos! I built up several layers of glaze on top of the blue underpaint, working from a warm putty color to a final glaze that is a mix of iridescent white, a touch of acra crimson, and a bit of iridescent light gold mixed in with a lot of glazing medium. This gives her body a warm tone and a really nice sheen (which is a bit exaggerated in this photo due to the lighting). Although it's hard to tell in a photograph, her hair also has metallics in some of the strands. I want the overall effect to be lustrous and opulent.

Inspire Me Thursday - Body Parts

The torso counts as a body part, right? I know I'm late again posting for this week's challenge, but I've been working on this lady all week! It took two days to do the hair alone. She's not going to be blue forever...this is just her undercoat. I've already put on a couple of thin lighter flesh tone glazes over the blue, which will come through as shadows in the darker areas. Once I finish getting the body just right, she'll make a visit to the tattoo parlor to get her ink done. The final stages will involve putting color over the textured background and then texturing and painting the sides of the canvas (gallery profile) to make a "frame." I'll post more pictures along the way.

You can see the first stage here.

Edit 7/6 - And you can see the next stage here.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Illustration Friday - Sticky

Windswept Hair = Hairspray
Hairspray = Sticky

This is a very old pencil drawing from college quickly doctored in Photoshop. I know it's a stretch, but I'm too into working on my painting and a few other projects (including my new website with fun things for sale) to do what came to mind for this week's topic. If I find time later this week, I'll do a new illustration.