Nona Limmen

Anyone who has ever worked on any number of projects knows that while it’s tough to pick favorites amongst them, or favorite pieces and parts from within them…well, you’re always going to have a best-loved darling or precious or two.

Jaime Johnson Aelavanthara

Some of my favorite types of art to research and gaze upon in The Art of Darkness might not be what you’d expect to hear from me (or maybe it is if you’ve listened to my ramblings long enough!) Though I love me some ghosts and ghouls and myths and monsters…do you know what I absolutely love to lose myself in? Mysterious vistas creeping with strange flora, ancient lands, and eerie ruins. Marveling at the fragile, verdant curve of a fern, the unexpected colors and textures revealed in the heart of a crimson rosebud, a glistening drop of morning dew atop a plump, inky nightshade berry. Lonely landscapes and tenebrous topographies shadowed in wild darkness and raw beauty, where a boundless sense of nature overwhelms with breathless, bewitching intensity.

And why, even though these scenes feel fraught, fearsome, fatal – why do they still, despite everything, call to you? Why do we at times find ourselves desperate to crawl deep within these somber scenes, to disappear forever?

Nightjar Illustration / Adam Burke

Do you feel it calling, too? I’ll meet you there, in the darkness.
…where you’ll also find all of the artists I have included in this post today.

Marco Mazzoni
Yaroslav Gerzhedovich
Agostino Arrivabene

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This was originally written for Haute Macabre in 2018; considering that Alex’s work is on the cover of my forthcoming book, I thought it was definitely time to revive and reshare this post…!

Initially, I was torn, truly torn, when examining the painstaking collage work of Alex Eckman-Lawn. Deep, dense, full of doom and gloom and dark details, these surreal, lonely portraits, on one hand, called forth a sickening dread in the pit of my stomach and give my heart a little lurch.  But on the other, and at the same time… they caused an involuntary, choking giggle. As if a shadowy horror had crawled its way from the void to the sanctity of my home, and after an agonizing wait whilst I cowered at the peephole, it gave a smart rap on the door and told me a knock-knock joke.

Perhaps it’s an odd take on things, but I once envisioned the above scenario, I saw these pieces through fresh eyes– and instead of a face-full of nightmarish chaos, they appeared wondrously playful, like a funny postcard from the midnight recesses of your soul, just when you need it most. Have a laugh, they seem to say, or here, have a kitten! Oh, hey, it’s just your dear old skull peeking out to say hello, that’s all, no worries! Little voids, the faces-within-your face, checking in on you from the inside, popping out to say, “hi!” and, “how’s it going?” and, “have you heard the one about…?”

A Philadelphia-born illustrator who “spends his days in the gutter and his nights in the sewer”, Alex creates multi-layered, hand-cut, paper collages using everything from his original digital paintings to imagery from old medical texts. His work has appeared in comic books, on album covers, book covers, T-shirts, music videos, and posters.


Find more of Alex Eckman-Lawn’s work:  website // instagram // twitter

 

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Foxes stalking the darkness, padding through a thicket of thorns. Shadowy snakes snarled in somnolent repose. A skull cupped tenderly, a candle’s flame snuffed. Rendered in ash, chalk-lead, and ink on black cotton rag, the funereal monochrome visions of artist and printmaker Dylan Garrett Smith reflect the artist’s views regarding our relationships with the natural world. Combining ecological and occult concepts with existential fears and anarchism, Smith stresses the importance of the cycle of birth, bloom, and decay and the ultimate triumph of nature in the end–whatever that ‘end’ might be.

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More peeks and pages from The forthcoming The Art of Darkness (September 6th is coming quickly, preorder now!)

This is a piece titled Vögguvísa by Becky Munich, a long-time like-minded weirdo, kindred spirit, and occasional partner-in-crime. You may recall that Becky and I worked together on the beloved fan-favorite Occult Activity Books, volumes one and two!

“… On the surface these sinister, ethereal wraiths and monstrous femme fatales simultaneously menace and beguile, but in a strange and playful twist, there’s sly and creepy clever mischief to be found in the details, and it’s clear to see that this artist takes her spooky business quite seriously while winking at us playfully at the same time.”

I’ve been OBSESSED with Becky’s works ever since I first laid eyes on them and I am so pleased to have been able to include her work in The Art of Darkness. And as you can see in the second photo, the original Vögguvísa hangs on my wall, cautioning me every day to shush my pie-hole. Or choose my words wisely. Who knows! She is a very mysterious lady, after all.

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I have long been familiar with the haunting romanticism of Deborah Turbeville’s fashion photography, and have often lost myself in their eerie atmospheres and spectral moods– elegant ghost stories, and hazy hallucinations of antique decadence, beloved and perfect, all.

I had never seen until tonight, though, her 1981 series Unseen Versailles:

“In the late 1970s, Turbeville was living in Paris. She discovered the Château de Versailles, but was refused access for a fashion shoot. Fortunately, thanks to Jackie Kennedy Onassis – an admirer and a friend! – she was finally granted permission to photograph the estate during its renovation. She spent a whole winter there and presented her work in a book, Unseen Versailles, in 1981.” (via)

The photographer went in search of unused, unaltered rooms, scattering their floors with autumn leaves to emphasize the chambers’ abandonment and neglect. The result–a haunting vision of this excessive place, a ghostly evocation of memory and melancholic magics in those long-waiting derelict, dust-shrouded and twilight chambers.

 

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1968 Reader’s Digest edition of “Rebecca” by Daphne De Maurier.

It must have been fate. Born eleven days apart on opposite coasts, Leo and Diane met, competed artistically, and eventually fell in love while attending Parsons School of Design, each aspiring to a life of art. After their marriage in 1957, the artists initially pursued separate careers in illustration before recognizing their strengths were collaborative in nature. In an effort to work in a particular style that they both could master, they symbiotically and seamlessly melded their personalities and styles, employing pastels, colored pencil, watercolor, acrylic, stencils, typography, woodcut, pochoir, found-object assemblage, collage, and sculpture into an entity/partnership that they came to refer to as “the artist.”

Noted Leo on the gorgeously striking complexity of their distinctive decorative realism and unconventional techniques: “People often comment on the ‘Dillon style.’ I think that someplace, the two of us made a pact with each other. We both decided that we would give up the essence of ourselves, that part that made the art each of us did our own. And I think that in doing that we opened the door to everything.”

Marie Laveau Cover Artwork, 1977

The Dillons became famous in the science fiction community for their imaginative and incredible variety of drawings and illustrations for prints, book jackets, textbooks, album covers; the books of authors such as Ray Bradbury, Garth Nix, and Isaac Asimov were all embellished with cover art revealing “the artist’s” unique vision. The Dillons were presented with the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist in 1971, making Diane the first woman to receive the award. Outside the world of fantasy and science fiction, the Dillons became renowned for their numerous children’s picture books celebrated for illustrating stories featuring all ethnicities and cultural heritages–for which they received unprecedented back-to-back Caldecott Medals.

original art for the cover of John Brunner’s The Traveler in Black

 

DEATHBIRD STORIES, by Harlan Ellison cover art

 

Queen Zixi of Ix , or the Story of the Magic Cloak LP art

 

A Wrinkle in Time cover study

 

The Ring, 1968

 

Cover art for World’s End by Joan D. Vinge

 

The Tempest album cover Caedmon Records (1975)

 

Different: An Anthology of Homosexual Short Stories cover art

 

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury cover art

 

art from Claymore and Kilt: Sorche Nic Leodhas

 

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27 Apr
2022

 

Below is a gallery of men disturbing a woman’s restful and rehabilitative beauty sleep. Will I die mad about it? Maybe.

 

The Rose Bower by Hans Zatzka

 

Brewtnall, Edward Frederick; Sleeping Beauty; Warrington Museum & Art Gallery; 

 

Duncan, John; The Sleeping Princess; Perth & Kinross Council; 

 

Sleeping Beauty by Roland Risse

 

Sleeping Beauty by Peter Newell

 

Sleeping Beauty. by Edmund Dulac

 

Sleeping Beauty by Richard Eisermann

 

The princess lay fast asleep, Anne Anderson

 

Sleeping Beauty by Henry Meynell Rheam

 

Sleeping Beauty by Jennie Harbour

 

Sleeping Beauty in the Woods by Gustave Doré

 

The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods, Carl Offterdinger

 

 

Sleeping Beauty by Walter Crane

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“FOLLOW YOUR BLISS”

 

“Today is your opportunity to build the tomorrow you want.”

 

“She believed she could, so she did.”

 

“Keep your face toward the sunshine, and the shadows will always fall behind you.”

 

“DREAM BIG”

 

“It’s never too late for a new beginning.”

 

“Find joy in the ordinary.”

 

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

 

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”

 

“You didn’t come this far to only come this far.”

 

“Pursuing reckless optimism.”

 

“I am open and receptive to all of the abundance in the universe.”

 

“I am in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.”

 

“I AM ENOUGH.”

 

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.”

 

“Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.”

 

“I choose happiness.”

 

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