Birthday, Dorothea Tanning, 1942

The Art of Fantasy: A visual sourcebook of all that is unreal has gone to the printer! I *think* it’s safe to begin sharing a few small peeks?

What was your first brush with the fantastical? For me, and undoubtedly for many, it was a naughty little rabbit in a blue jacket stealing Mr. McGregor’s veggies. For others, it may have been a maddening and enigmatic cat teasing a girl lost in Wonderland and who disappeared, leaving only a grin. Or, for an unfortunate few, it may have been lions, tigers, bears, and OMFG, ARE THOSE FLYING MONKEYS? A terrifying squadron of soaring simians swooping down from the sky to snatch up unsuspecting little dogs and haunting nightmares for many years to come!

 

Excuses, Schmexcuses, Femke Hiemstra, 2022
Shining Apples, Carisa Swenson, 2015

Though our grown-up appetites for fantasy creatures may have evolved beyond those of adorably floppy-eared childhood friends and expanded to include all manner of beasts with wings and horns, tails, and scales, we can’t deny that friendly or scary, naughty or nice, these creatures sparked our imaginations, populated our dreams and built the foundation for future stories and adventures. These small creatures were the gateway – or the guardians at the gate – to the magical critters and beasties that populate the fantasy media we consume as adults.

Today I am sharing a few of my favorite spreads from the Creatures Great and Small chapter of my forthcoming book. In these pages, you will find some old favorites, some older works that you may not have seen before, and loads of fantastical art from brilliant contemporary artists, too!

 

Straight on Till Morning, Maggie Vandewalle, 2018

 

Scowl, Annie Stegg Gerard, 2020

The marvelous menagerie seen in this gallery today includes work from Maggie Vandewalle, Annie Stegg Gerard, Femke Hiemstra, Carisa Swenson, Brett Manning–and of course, Dorothea Tanning (and I am not the layout designer, but I love that they put artists with rhyming last names in the same spread, how fun!)

Faerie Music, Brett Manning, 2021

Thank you to these wonderful artists for permitting me to include their magical creatures in my little art book, and I do hope that -if you are not already familiar with them–you will peruse their accounts and websites and come to adore their creations as much as I do!

And I cannot wait to share more such fantastical art and artists in the upcoming days! In the meantime, you can pre-order The Art of Fantasy wherever books are sold, and I hope that you do! As you hear all the time from every author friend, preorders are incredibly helpful & so on and so forth.

So kindly do so, or perhaps consider sharing this post or tagging a like-minded friend with a penchant for art, fantasy, and all things marvelous and magical. Thank you!

✥ comment

Cold Soil Kettle, 2020

 

Philadelphia fiber artist Caitlin McCormack creates works of somber delicacy and a deliciously subtle flavor of strange humor (the best kind of humor!) At turns whimsical, vulnerable, and unsettling, ghostly avian skeletal remains and vibrant floral forms tenderly chained with fragile lace, memories trapped in knots, via cotton, glue, and a deftly flashing crochet hook.

Red Wake, 2022

A personal taxonomy of hybrid anthropomorphic specimens acts as emotive artifact and memento mori, evoking imagery of folklore, medieval botanical imagery, and osteological displays, and explores gender and sexuality, isolation, traumatic recollections, familial legacy, and anxieties regarding ways in which we inhabit and care for the planet.

By using media, skills, and practices inherited from beloved departed relatives, Caitlin generates emblems of a diminishing bloodline, representing both the persistence (and warping) of memory and the significance of cloth and thread in human experience.

See below for a gallery of my favorite works from this breathtaking artist and you can see Caitlin McCormack’s work “Cold Soil Kettle” in the pages of my curated gallery of midnight shadows, The Art of Darkness: A Treasury of the Morbid, Melancholic, and Macabre.

Granny, 2019
Backyard I, 2019

 

Different on the phone, 2019

 

Keep You Here, 2019

 

Origin Story, 2021

 

If you would like to support this blog, consider buying the author a coffee?

 

 

 

✥ comment

[EDIT: THIS IS FUTURE ME. I AM HERE TO REPORT THAT THE MYSTERY IS SOLVED. READ OR LISTEN HERE TO FIND OUT MORE.]

Why is it that in this current year of 2023, no one seems to know who the cover artist is for this iconic Dell Laurel-Leaf A Wrinkle in Time cover art?? In a time when we have so much information available to us at our literal fingertips, how could it possibly be that the above marvelously and terrifyingly iconic imagery is perpetually credited to “unknown artist”? Even the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, always an excellent and trusted resource, does not have an answer. [UPDATE: HEY LOOK AT THAT, THE ISFD PAGE IS UPDATED WITH THE INFO.] [If I get one more commenter snarking, “a quick visit to ISFDB would have sorted it out,” I am going to scream.  It was only updated last week, people!]

Ok, so if you are anything like me, you will immediately be moved to do some reverse image searching through various internet search engines and see what you can find out, and I won’t stop you, but I promise you, I have already done massive amounts of internet amateur sleuthing. You’re not going to find the answer in the myriad “A Wrinkle in Time covers, ranked” listicles – they will list artists like Ellen Raskin, or Leo and Diane Dillion or Rowena Morrill in connection to the various editions of this book–if they share any of the names of the cover artists at all–but they are all ultimately useless because no one credits the artist for this particular cover.

You may find a blog post wherein the writer thoughtfully speculates that it could be this artist or that, deliberating and debating the nuances of various artists’ styles and settling upon the theory that the artist could be Charles Lilly. That blog post ends with the blogger noting they will contact the artist and report their findings. Strangely, that blog post is only found in the internet archive, despite the fact that the blog itself is still available online and is updated as recently as this year. There is no way to leave a comment for the blogger, and there is no contact information, so I @ed them on Twitter to find out if they did indeed reach out and if they received an answer.

So in lieu of that, if it is, in fact, Charles Lilly, you figure you can bypass the middleman in this instance and reach out to the artist yourself with an email address you find on the African American Painters website, but that would be too easy, and the email bounces back. So you find the artist on Facebook, which you are not going to link to, because that feels a little like encroaching on someone’s boundaries of privacy, but it’s easy enough to find if you look for it. And there is no contact info there, so you send a DM politely inquiring. To date, you have not received a response.

You hear from someone that they saw on a Reddit thread that it could possibly be Michael Whelan. You’re so desperate for answers you don’t even check first to see if this Reddit thread exists, you go straight to Micheal Whelan’s website and send a note through the contact form. You receive a response immediately replying that Whelan “hasn’t illustrated anything for Madeleine L’Engle” and agreeing that yes, this is quite the mystery, and have you seen the blog post speculating whether or not it is Charles Lilly? [EDIT: IT MIGHT NOT BE LILLY–SEE BELOW]

You receive a message on Instagram five minutes ago suggesting that it is perhaps The Brothers Hildebrandt. You send a message through their contact form and also message the remaining brother on Facebook. [EDIT: I have since heard back from Spiderweb Gallery, it is not The Brothers Hildebrandt.]

Finally, you send a message through the contact form and the various email addresses listed at madelinelengle.com as a last resort, even though, in retrospect, maybe that should have been your first move.

Lastly, you write all of this up in a blog post for the other people who are feverishly curious about this mystery. If you’ve got ANY ideas or leads for me that have not already been covered above, please leave a comment or email me and let me know. And I will definitely update this blog post as I learn more, even if it’s just to say definitively, no, it’s not Charles Lilly or The Brothers Hildebrandt or something like that.

Ooof! This has been driving me nuts for the past two years, and not only because I wanted to include this beautifully nightmarish work in The Art of Fantasy. Obviously, without knowing the artist, I couldn’t even attempt to ask anyone for permission to use it! I’ve gotten over that aspect of it, though, and now I just want to KNOW.

Update: Per someone’s suggestion, I have also shared this on the unresolved mysteries subreddit, but I don’t have great luck with Reddit. I feel like every time I post something, I am always unintentionally breaking some rule or not doing something right and being told to scram. We shall see. [EDIT AGAIN] Ok this is the only subreddit that has ever been nice to me and I love them. They also suggested several other subreddits! Someone on one of the subreddits suggested tweeting at Madeleine L’Engle’s twitter account, which is curated by her granddaughter, but the response was…not super helpful.

Update: John Coulthart suggested that it might be Don Punchatz or Maelo Cintron.

Update: other artists that have been suggested by helpful Redditors:

  • Ray Feibush
  • Carlos Ochagavia
  • Jean-Leon Huens
  • John Jude Pallencar (probably not)
  • Boris Vallejo (I really don’t think it’s him, and someone on Facebook seems to be confirming it is not him, but I am not sure what that is based on, so more on that as I learn it. [EDIT] The individual asked Julie Bell, Boris’ spouse, who confirmed that it was not Boris’ work].)
  • Paul Lehr,
  • Paul E. Wenzel
  • Charles Shields
  • Davis Paul Meltzer
  • Frank Kelly Freas
  • Peter Haars
  • Richard Clifton-Dey
  • Clyde Caldwell
  • Jerome Podwil
  • Alfred Kelsner

Update: A Redditor gave me this suggestion:

“Have you tried contacting Wheaton College in Illinois? Apparently, they have an archival collection of the author’s papers, including some business correspondence, which may offer further clues. https://archives.wheaton.edu/repositories/5/archival_objects/7081

Further update: I heard back from Wheaton in record time (36 minutes!!). Sadly, their response was: “Unfortunately, we are unable to locate the artist for that edition of A Wrinkle in Time.” Booo!

Update: It was suggested that I reach out to Adam Rowe of 70’s Sci-Fi Art. I have done so. I eventually had some back and forth with Adam both in the comments of this blog post and he’s been tagging me in various things on twitter as they come up–see below, and thanks Adam!

Update: It was suggested that I contact Jerad from Centipede Press. I have done so. Jerad responded and suggested Charles Lilly.

VERY INTERESTING UPDATE AS OF MAY 16, 2023: A commenter on this blog post shared the following: “Shared this fun article with a fellow illustrator thinking he’d enjoy it and speculating. Turns out he was out of town on a getaway and happened to be visiting concept artist Eliott Lilly, Charlie’s Lily’s son. Eliott didn’t think it was his fathers, but passed it on to his father who confirmed it was not him, but thought it might have been his assistant (at the time) Toni Taylor. Looked into that, timeline did not mesh unfortunately, and Toni confirmed it was not her.”

Another update: I’ve gotten the awesome folks at Endless Thread interested in this mystery (thank you to the Redditor who suggested these guys) and they are doing all kinds of digging!

Update as of May 25: Tor has posted this mystery to their website–thanks for linking back to me, Tor!

Updated May 30: Via artist Michael Whelan on Twitter (thanks Owlmirror!):

Meanwhile, pulplibrarian on twitter turned up this cover on a book of German science fiction stories…

 

70’s Sci-Fi art actually commented on this post and has been tagging me on Twitter as things turn up. Richard Bober was suggested as a solid contender, but according to this thread, it seems to have been confirmed by his agent not to be him.


If you would like to support this blog, consider buying the author a coffee?

 

 

 

✥ 66 comments

6 May
2023

To be honest, I started this blog post about three weeks ago, and about five minutes into it, I got bored and thought, “ok, done now!” and gave up. Today I’m realizing that there’s not really been any more of the personal-in-nature, lifey-bits on this blog (I’m guilty of putting all of it in my newsletter now), and maybe I actually need to buckle down and finish this. To make it look like a real person lives here, I guess.

Anyway, I had totally forgotten what the title of the blog post was about, what was I referencing? But now it’s coming back to me, and actually, no one gave me that culantro. I bought it by accident when I thought I was buying stemmy spinach. We’ve found a very low-key, no-frills local farmer’s market somewhat nearby, and in the last few months, I’ve been stupidly excited about our visits loading up on herbs and veggies for half the cost of what we might spend in the grocery store (I need that extra money for books and perfume!) It’s just a few stalls of produce; there are no artisanal bread or cheese sellers, no coffee stalls, nothing fancy like that. Just a few people selling fruits and veggies.

Instead of going there with all kinds of plans and recipes in mind, I’ve decided that I will just show up and see what looks interesting and grab it! And then figure out what to do with it on the fly during the course of the week. I’ve sort of fallen into a rut over the last few months. Not without good reason, I guess. I was writing a book and working toward many deadlines, and it was easier to make a lot of simple meals, salads for lunch, and easy brothy soups for dinner. I didn’t have to think about it too much, and I didn’t have to expend a whole bunch of energy. Now I’ve got more time on my hands, and I am realizing that I really miss experimenting!

So what did I do with all of that culantro? First, if you’ve never even heard of it (I had not), it’s an herb that is similar in taste and smell to cilantro, but it looks quite different, and the taste is a lot stronger. I made sofrito with it, except I didn’t have peppers, so I used celery (!!) instead. I realize they are not interchangeable, but, eh, it was an experiment. I also made a dipping sauce for dumplings –and then realizing we had no dumplings, I had to make some of those, too–but Yvan and I agreed this would probably make a better salad dressing.

SO. The featured image for this blog post is not culantro. It’s a random flowering plant from our garden, which we’ve finally begun working on. It’s a mess right now and making me very anxious, so let’s change the subject.

It’s a slow, rainy day today; everything is gloomy and dim. All of my favorite corners looked especially haunted, so I thought I might grab a few murky photos, light a candle, play something atmospheric, and cobble together a cozy space for writing.

Our friend Pam just left from a quick overnight visit, and I’m recovering from the gardening she helped us with this morning and the ONE cocktail I had last night. Lordy. As I am becoming An Old, I am coming to the realization that I can barely drink anything without feeling absolutely woozy and wooly afterward. I need to find some tasty mocktail recipes, except we need to call them something else because I hate the word “mocktail,” it’s just too dumb.

So Pam and I watched some great movies while she was here. Yvan is not a horror movie fan, and I don’t subject him to it, but I’ll always take advantage of having company if they swing the way of spooky movies. As a matter of fact, the last horror movie of any kind I watched was last October, yikes! Last night we saw Huesera: The Bone Woman, which came highly recommended by Andrea at Rue Morgue. An artful pregnancy-as-body-horror/dark side of motherhood story, it follows Val, a former punk-rock rebel turned somewhat domesticated wife, who is caught between what she wants for herself and what society wants for her and who is stalked by a sinister entity after she realizes she has become pregnant. I really enjoyed this one (I especially loved the mid-century modern artsy decor of her apartment!) We also watched M3GAN, and I am sure that I do not need to tell you anything about that one because I am the last person in the world to watch it, but it was delightfully silly and a lot of fun.

 

My Best Good Friend stayed with us a few days last week, and holy moly, I am just realizing that one. we have lived in this house for over a year now, and two. we have had more guests here in a year than we had in a decade in the old house! Despite the fact that as of April 8th, we’ve lived here for a whole 12 months, the place still doesn’t look very put together…however, BGF is quite good at configuring rooms and maximizing spaces, so they gave us lots of good ideas for temporary solutions while we are still figuring things out.

I don’t quite know what my interior style sensibilities are anymore; I never went full-goth, and creepy-cute never resonated with me, dark Victorian just feels way too extra and high maintenance and cluttered…I think I’m leaning toward something sort of Scandi/mid-century modern, but also rustic fairy tale/cottage witch and a touch of dark bohemia/shadowy eclectic…and that’s not even a thing! How do I make all of this work? I don’t know!

Well, to throw everything off entirely, during the course of their visit, we stopped by a vintage shop, and I bought this splendidly pretty, strawberry-festooned teapot/pitcher, cream jug, and sugar bowl. Where do I put it? What does it go with? There are currently no answers.

To wrap up this little update, here are some current favorite things…

  • an ergonomic keyboard and mouse for my poor fucked up thumb and wrist
  • Linghun by Ai Jiang is a heart-haunting novella on how the melancholy of loss makes for desperate ghosts among the living
  • the time and space dissolving synthy dreaminess of Spirit Exit by Caterina Barbieri
  • hot chocolate tea from David’s tea (it’s so good with a little bit of milk!)
  • the Clio cushion foundation –even though I hate makeup, this stuff is really flawless
  • very into these beautiful lover’s eye plates by Susannah Carson
  • very obsessed with the idea of knitting up this Anthology throw blanket
  • also obsessed with turning my billowing wardrobe into more of a Lagenlook thing, but also mori-adjacent, and also from The Shire
  • re: the above look, I think @kelseamori on TikTok is my inspiration
  • I’m wearing the shadowy forest temple vibes of Kyoto from Comme des Garçons and realizing for the millionth time it is my all-time no. 1 favorite fragrance
  • I have perfected miso soup (to my taste): add miso to a hot broth of dashi powder, a tiny bit of both soy sauce & Shaoxing wine
  • add chopped zucchini and dried, soaked, and sliced shitake mushrooms to the above
  • serve the above with a rolled omelet or rice and pickles, and this is my breakfast for the past two months

 

If you would like to support this blog, consider buying the author a coffee?

 

 

 

 

 

 

✥ 1 comment

Euphoria, Rachael Bridge

Contemporary artist Rachael Bridge brings a singular perspective to traditional portraiture. Saturated in palettes somehow both electric technicolor, sunless-somber (how the heck does she do that?) and shrouded in shadow, her subjects appear to vanish into the murmuring whispers of a dark and deeply personal wonderland.

Twilight, Rachael Bridge, 2020, also seen in The Art of Darkness

Vespertine mysteries teem behind their luminous, milky gaze, but far from loveless and hollow, these otherworldly eyes offer a glimpse into the complexities of the human psyche, the very real-world themes of anxiety, isolation, dread, and despair.

See below for a gallery of some of my favorites amongst this artist’s shimmering twilit phantoms, and find Rachael here: website // Instagram

 

Dreamer

 

Love Ridden

 

Loveless

 

Levitate

 

Transient


If you would like to support this blog, consider buying the author a coffee?

 

 

 

✥ comment

1 May
2023

Apparently bestie here is “upsetting” and people would “prefer not to see her in a Zoom meeting.”

My beautiful girl is very misunderstood.

Psssst! No one knows this but bestie here is famous. She was in a brief scene in The Disaster Artist (that movie about Tommy Wiseau and The Room!)

✥ 2 comments

Aurora in white toga smelling a flower, 1864, Jean Louis Hamon

Signature by Aedes de Venustas I feel like if you are going to make a signature fragrance for your brand, then you are likely going to choose notes that are universally loved, you’re going to make something everyone can agree upon, you’re going to make something safe, and probably a little basic. That’s…not what this is. It’s weird. It’s offbeat. It’s utterly unexpected. And it’s incredible. To be fair, it says right in the copy that it aimed to break from traditional perfume structures, but come on, how often have you heard something like that only to smell the same thing you’ve smelled a million times?

What an oddball cast of characters: The tangy, fruity, acidic zest of rhubarb, dry woody incense, and bitter chypre accord with sweet vining notes of honeysuckle, sour green apple, and the sharp aromatic grassiness of tomato leaf. Hazelnut and vetiver are also listed in the notes and add a lovely, cozy warmth, an aspect that you’d think wouldn’t belong here, but somehow it does. If you were going to make a perfume from olfactory extractions of the myriad, wildly differing Fraggle Rock personalities, their goodness and goofiness, their kindness and cleverness, and all their wild dreamy, delirious energy, you would end up with this funny, magical scent.

I am trying another one of Hilde Soliani’s gourmands, and to be fair to the first one that I sampled and didn’t care for, come on. I was never going to like a strawberry scent, anyway. And if you are the person to entice me to fall in love with a strawberry perfume, I will bow to your wizardry. Anyway, Quin is an Italian meringue scent, and while I like it quite a bit, it doesn’t actually have a whole lot to it. It’s not going to tax your brain or challenge you. And sometimes that’s fine! It’s sweet but not sugary, creamy but not in a heavy way– it’s frothy and frilly, not stiff frosting. Vanilla beans steeped in cream whipped to airy peaks. And that’s it.

And I do know that, of course, meringue uses egg whites, not cream, but I have never noticed an egg white that smelled like anything in particular, so I am not trying to be too literal with my meringue perfume review. This is light and sweet and simple, and I like that it doesn’t add any unnecessary notes, like chocolate or fruit or marzipan; it’s not trying to be some impossible confection in the final round of a televised baking competition. It’s nice. And that’s plenty good enough sometimes. Good enough to spend $175 on it? Ah. For me, personally? If I’m spending over $100 on a fragrance, I want a scent that is going to give me something to think about, and I don’t find that to be the case here.

I’m realizing, as I do periodically, that I’ve gotten a little complacent in my efforts to try things from more indie brands. And partially, I think that’s because I know myself pretty well; I decided a long time ago that I’ve already got my favorites. Like, between the years of 2004-2008, I found a handful of stellar brands and a shitload of mediocre disappointments, and I keep defaulting back to that mindset. And I have to remind myself to keep an open mind and just keep trying things. Because as stubborn as I may be and as much as I hate the thought of wasting money, what I hate even more is the thought of missing out on something amazing. I thought a good place to start would be peeking through indie fragrance and indie perfume Reddit threads. I got a lot of good ideas! I put together a list of the top dozen or so brands that were mentioned repeatedly, and if I’ve never ordered from them, I chose a few of the most popular scents. In some cases, there were a few brands mentioned that I’ve heard questionable things about from other perfumers or customers, so they were immediately struck from the list. If it was a place that I’ve ordered from more than once and have been repeatedly disappointed, they did not make the list, either.

In some cases, like the one I’m talking about today, I’ve been ordering amazing soaps and scrubs from Paintbox Soapworks for years now, but weirdly, I’d never tried her perfume oils! I got Blue Besom, which is a beautiful blueberry jam incense fragrance, Capybaras and Yuzus smells like soaking in a steaming mineral bath while eating lush, fuzzy slices of apricot, and remember how I said it would take a wizard to make me like a strawberry perfume? Pynk’s sun-ripened strawberry is tempered with cool floral lilac and sweet, creamy marzipan, and it may well be that magic scent that I insisted does not exist. These fragrances are all subtle, but long-wearing, and each one of them, though they all smell very differently, tugs at a strange, wistful chord of nostalgia in my heart. All three of these are wonderful, so I’m happy to say this is a pretty strong start.

Time is a Phoenix is a scent of the mythical and miraculous, but also of the intensely, personally, mundane. Fed on tears of sacred incense, resinous, volcanic, honeyed, and bittersweet, fanning its own ancient, acrid spice-scented flames, a fiery vision of scarlet and gold and eternal return, the scent left in wake of this being is incendiary, incandescent, immortal. A funeral pyre flipped through a pinhole in the darkened chamber of a camera obscura, the ashes of the afterimage captured in a winding sheet of amber: the wild, joyful zest of loving, the sour sighing sorrow of leaving, the impossible weeping, sweating, earthy-tethered, salty-sweetness of living– and through it all, climbing into our own, us-shaped mortal infernos, again and again, and again.

Oil and Flight and Vision from BPAL and exclusive to bloodmilk for Sphinx and Snakeskin is rooty and resinous, dark and droll, and brings to mind Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem “Hamatreya,” in which the poet reveals the earth song of dark-humored flowers, laughing to see the men who steer the plows unable to steer clear of the grave. How every one of them who lay claim to the land, who wished to control it, are now asleep beneath the very dirt they thought they owned. I like to imagine subversive, psychoactive roots and blossoms–hallucinogenic henbane, tarry opium, bittersweet mugwort–growing from the bones of those dead and being used in enigmatic preparations like fabled witches’ flying ointments. And whether or not those witchly botanical balms induced actual levitation and soaring under a full moon through the midnight air or was key to a ritual for one to travel the astral planes in spirit, I delight in the imagery of witches being borne aloft on the musky-throated gallows humor of grim growing things sprung forth from and thriving in grave dirt.  Oil and Flight and Vision perfectly encapsulates the poetry of that sentiment.

Urban Beekeeper from DSH Perfumes, and it’s the most beautiful honey-inspired scent I have ever tried. They can often be so syrupy and cloying, and at their worst, they somehow smell like a urinal (am I the only one to think honey perfumes lean toward old pee sometimes??) This one is lightly floral, with a subtle citrus zing, and is quietly effervescent. The honey is still at the forefront, but it’s more of a wispy veil than a golden glop of it. This is definitely going on the full bottle list! There is actually a list. Every time I say something is “full bottle worthy” this year, I’m adding it to the list, and at the end of 2023 I am treating myself to a bottle or two. (Unlike the last two years, wherein my collection somehow doubled.)

In other perfume news, I am marinating in a scent I loved in high school, Chloé Narcisse. It smells of the things that built me: Heidi and The Secret GardenDracula, and Rebecca. A parlor of florals bitterly spiced with the temptations of darkness and shadowed with a strange sadness, but still, always peeking toward a life that is sunny and sweet.

Dollhouse from Astrid Perfumes. I tried this brand in what feels like a past life, back when they were called blooddrop and if I recall correctly, I think the maker also sold bespoke corsetry. But that was a long time ago, and I don’t remember any of their scents. Dollhouse, with notes of raspberry, vanilla, grapefruit, calendula, and bergamot is a hypersaturated hallucinatory Lisa Frank folder funhouse fruit salad of a scent. I think this is a fragrance that would be so much fun for jellyshoe flipflop string-shouldered neon sundress summertimes and though I don’t know if I would associate this with dollhouses, I try not to critique or judge inspiration. Like the Boulet Brothers say on every episode of Dragula, “We’re not here to judge your drag. Drag is art and art is subjective.” The artful inspiration that goes into the creation of a fragrance is intensely personal, and if this is what a perfumer imagines a dollhouse smells like, who am I to argue with that? For myself, I think it smells like technicolor dolphins tie-dye unicorns, and kaleidoscopic rainbow daydreams.

 

If you would like to support this blog, consider buying the author a coffee?

 

 

 

✥ comment

Sueno del Mar, 1980

Sofía Bassi (1913-1998) was a Mexican surrealist painter and writer known for her dreamlike and introspective paintings, liquid and mysterious, often featuring ethereal anthropomorphic creatures and darkly fantastical landscapes, lost in space and time. Sometimes referred to as “magical impressionism,” Bassi’s work is often described as being both lush and unsettling and was praised for its originality and imagination. The artist herself observed that art was an elixir that she wanted to drink until the end of her career, to keep from dying.

Embarking on a path as exceptional as her artistic visions, Bassi was born into a wealthy family, but she rebelled against her upbringing and pursued a career in the arts. The free-spirited painter was married twice, but apparently, romance was not a priority, or she married a couple of duds, or maybe other people’s marriages are not my business, so I shouldn’t speculate, but whatever the case, both marriages ended in divorce. In a shocking incident that rivaled the plot of popular police procedural programs or true crime podcasts, she was convicted of murdering her son-in-law (some theorize that she took the fall for her daughter Claire, read more here) and sentenced to several years in prison.

While incarcerated, Bassi passionately continued painting, including her first-ever mural–painted on the walls of her own cell, and her works from this period are remembered as some of her most renowned, reflecting the darkness of her troubled state of mind. In 1969, Bassi was released from prison and wrote a book about the experience in 1978, and in January 2011, a documentary was released in Mexico titled “Acapulco 68,” which also recounted the incidents. In the ensuing years, the artist frequently participated in round tables and conferences, appearing on radio and television to discuss artistic and academic topics. Receptive to inspiration and generative energies to the end, she painted and exhibitedt her work until her death in 1998.

A creative force who lived a life that was both unconventional and tragic, Bassi’s story is a fascinating one– her work, a testament to her creativity and her resilience.

 

Angel de la Fecundacion, 1983

 

Al atardecer, undated

 

Mujer, 1976

 

Viajeros, 1969

 

La lágrima del mundo

 

Autorretrato, 1982

 

Mano Santo 1970

 

Luna migrante, 1969

 

Sin título

 

Sin Título , 1977

 

Te Estoy Mirando, 1970

 

Ella partirá volando, 1988

 

Polvo al polvo, 1968

 

If you would like to support this blog, consider buying the author a coffee?

 

 

✥ 1 comment

In this month’s newsletter, I featured artwork by Frants Diderik Bøe (1820-1891), a Norwegian painter of still lifes, landscapes, and nature scenes, who studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. As a lover, though certainly not even close to an expert, of floral still lifes, I had never seen his work before and was immediately enthralled with his frequent painterly inclusions of my two favorite things: flowers and jewelry.

At the height of his career in the mid-19th century, Bøe is established as having been internationally recognized painter, though sadly, according to the Norwegian Biographical Lexicon, “posterity has not paid much attention to Frants Bøe…[which]…may be connected with the fact that he cultivated a genre that has never been particularly strong in the Norwegian context.”

He seems to have been a restless soul on his artistic journey, traveling between Copenhagen, Belgium, The Netherlands, and France, but his eight years in Paris are noted as having been his most creative period as an artist, selling pictures to the French government, King Oscar 1 and the National Gallery, as well as in Great Britain and America. In 1855 he was given the very cool and honorable task of representing the Scandinavian countries during the World Exhibition in Paris.

In midlife, his body betrayed him –as our human meat suits are wont to do once we pass a certain bummer threshold–and this one was a particularly nasty affection for an artist: Bøe experienced a marked weakening of his color vision– a disorder which periodically made him unable to paint and when we was able, the results were sadly, seriously noticeable. These later works were said to be lacking in the quality seen in the paintings from his glowing Parisian heyday.

It was an unfortunate end for Bøe, I’m afraid. In November 1891, he was found unconscious on a bench in Nygårdsparken, affected by what was later recognized by a stroke. The constable who found him disastrously misread the situation and placed him in drunk custody. By the time the mistake was discovered, it was too late to do anything to save him.

What an upsetting close to the story of Frants Diderik Bøe! Still, I am glad to have learned about him, and below I’m including my favorites amongst his œuvre of luminous, jewel-scattered floral tableaux.

 

A Ladies Boudoir, 1865

 

Still life with flowers and jewelry, 1866

 

Still life with conch shell and jewels, 1870

 

Still life with roses and jewelry box, 1879

 

Still life with jewellery box, conch, bird and flowers in vase (date?)

 

Roses and Pearls, 1891

 

If you would like to support this blog, consider buying the author a coffee?

 

 

 

✥ comment

Did you watch Darryl Hannah in Splash at a young age and dream for the next decade of diving into the ocean and magically becoming a mermaid with a sparkly orange tale? Did you regale your siblings with stories about fairy kingdoms and unicorn friends and revel in the imaginary worlds you created? Did you long to soar on a luck dragon, visit the Gelflings on the planet Thra, or envision yourself friends with a Fraggle? Were you a little weirdo who sat alone at recess or in the lunchroom, totally oblivious to what was going on around you, lost to the imaginative realms of immersive library books? Did you obsessively read pages and pages of D&D handbooks and manuals, familiarizing yourself with all kinds of monsters and spells and silently cursing yourself for being so shy and squirrelly because you’d love to actually have fantastical adventures with like-minded companions?

That was me! I did those things! (Or, in the case of Dungeons and Dragons, I never really did the actual thing, but that’s okay, RPGs are too much for this introvert!) I lost myself in fantasy via colorful fairytale picture books when I was younger; as a pre-teen, I grew into epic novels of the sword and sorcery variety, action-packed comic books, gritty contemporary folklore and fables, bizarre speculative fiction and weird tales, and of course, vast cinematic otherworlds –and whole other galaxies! – the fabulous and fantastic writ large on the big screen. And let’s not forget how I became a MtG enthusiast in my mid-30s!

I have been slipping into the other worlds of my imagination for as long as I can remember. It’s my favorite getaway, my default move. In short: I can’t help it! There is something irresistible about the imaginary, the uncharted and the unknown, worlds full of magic and mythical creatures, epic journeys across otherworldly landscapes filled with secrets and treasures. And I bet you’ve let me blather on about this for several paragraphs before busting out with I KNOW SARAH! I KNOW BECAUSE I DO THIS TOO! Well, okay, jeez.

So where is it that you disappear when you set reality aside, become entangled in a web of daydreams or lost in your own little world, and vanish into the fantastical landscape of your imagination? How are these far-flung realms of all that is incredible and unreal portrayed in the canvas of your mind? I don’t know about you, but I’d never be able to translate these highly imaginative but weirdly nebulous visions in my brain into some sort of tangible art form, but lucky for us, artists have explored imaginary worlds and fantastical creatures for centuries, expressing the mystical and mythical via various marvelous mediums.

Our most madcap adventures and extraordinary flights of fancy – the impossible stuff of daydreams and reverie – this is the fabulous realm of fantasy, and the spectrum of fantastic art is an abundant, richly diverse wonderland to explore. Artists throughout history have offered us myriads, multitudes, and multiverses of fantastical visions.

And I, in 2023, am pleased to announce that my forthcoming book, The Art of Fantasy: A Visual Sourcebook Of All That Is Unreal, is brimming with these irresistible artistic impulses…and it is available for preorder today!

Okay, so I’ll be honest with you. There are a lot of commercial enterprises tied up with fantastical art, some of them very big deal Intellectual Property, copyright, or franchise type of things, and so many artists/galleries/estates associated with these works are too big to notice lowly me or be particularly interested in contributing to my book. This made acquiring many of the works you might expect to see in a book like this pretty challenging; just look to my references in the first paragraph for an example or two of things I might have liked to have, but it was an utter impossibility*.

But you know what? Even with these struggles and issues, we were able to include SO! MANY! amazing artists and incredible works! I’m so unbelievably grateful for every single one of these creators, and there aren’t words enough to express my thanks. Some are beloved old favorites to soothe your soul, some I guarantee will be exciting new treats and surprises to thrill your eyeballs, and several for me personally– total dreams come true!

*I’m mentioning the absence of specific works or artists because I foresee a lot of fantasy-nerd-bros coming at me, hollering, “You forgot x/y/z!” and no, bro, I probably didn’t. Also, don’t be a bully; we’re all nerds here, we know better.

Anyway, here it is! Due out into this terrestrial realm on September 12, 2023, The Art of Fantasy is the third installment in my “Art in the Margins” series, along with The Art of the Occult and The Art of Darkness. I hope you will consider pre-ordering a copy today or, you know, sometime! And please check back here at Unquiet Things over the next few months for some sneak peeks, previews, and extra goodies!

PREORDER THE ART OF FANTASY NOW

Via Amazon 

Via B&N 

Via Books-a-Million 

Via Bookshop 

✥ 2 comments