I have forever been an ardent fan of the Faerie Realm. My first crush was on Disney’s Tinkerbell, which quickly morphed into a full-blown love affair with the ethereal world, and its mythical creatures. Little girl ballerina-dreams would usually involve some form of wings, that disappointingly only stayed put with elastic bands, but the trampoline gave a satisfying reality to my fantasies. As a young teenager, fairies were awesome to design, draw and embellish. What could be more distracting than a new pack of scented magic markers and a bit of “art practice” on colorful butterfly wings, vaguely human anatomy, and gorgeous costumes? This diversion was always a winner over biology or algebra homework!
During my twenties and thirties I turned firmly towards fantasy art and was hugely inspired by the work of Brian Froud, Boris, David Delamare, and Josephine Wall. I’m basically self-taught, so studying all of the expertly painted, fantastical nuances of these and other artists helped my own artwork evolve into different areas. I drifted away from my early art style and painted a myriad of portraits and scenes, but they generally involved the feminine spirit or otherworldly subjects….like phantoms, centaurs, and mermaids.
And then new, young artists like Amy Brown and Nene Thomas came on the art scene and the fairy craze exploded. I paid attention. I like to sell art. I painted a few more fairies and they sold. A new “phase” of my art career began.
There was a definite theme going on. I had several commission requests for fairy paintings in various sizes and colors. And then one day I discovered glitter paint! The best, iridescent, shimmering fairy wings ever could now be achieved. People went nuts over the fairies. I even did a few fairy murals. My favorite was very much Amy Brown inspired, a fairy in striped stockings sitting on top of a closet doorway, forever blowing bubbles across the pastoral scene I’d already painted on the bedroom wall. I think that is how rock stars must feel, the way I felt that day painting that fairy with an adoring 10-year-old girl awe-struck at my elbow. She had chosen the fairy, her colors, the position, the clothing, everything , and my job was to execute it. Every brush stroke brought big blue eyes close in admiration. She watched me all day and together we made a magical bedroom!
Ebay was in its art sales heyday, and my unique fantasy paintings sold almost as fast as I finished them. I was having fun being in demand, and loved letting my creativity run wild with these lovely creatures.Their personalities seemed to come through onto my canvas, and each one inspired fanciful costumes and ever more elaborate gossamer wings. So this fairy phase was a satisfying, and lucrative period as an artist.
I was, however, very cautious about trying to avoid the cookie-cutter fairy thing. I didn’t want to be the same as every other “fairy artist” and worked at developing my own unique style. Most of my winged women were beautiful, saucy, sexy little vixens . Some may have a slightly dangerous air, but they were always very alluring. A few of them wore little more than feathers, if even that, so they were definitely Adult fairies. I was creating each of them for a purpose …to tell a story, to bring enjoyment to me as the artist, and pleasure to the viewer, and of course, as nobody wants to be a starving artist….to make money. I painted what was selling.
One day, just because, I painted one that was different. I had a small oval canvas that cried out for something out of the ordinary. This one was a small child, a little fairy Youngling just out of toddler-hood. (I imagine fairies would still toddle, even with the help of their wings! ) She has dimpled knees supporting her sturdy little body, and chubby cheeks under a pair of fascinating eyes. The expression on her pixie face makes it clear… You would not leave this one alone and unsupervised!
She is impishness personified, wrapped in a veneer of endearing innocence. Mischief and sheer stubbornness cling to her body like a fragrance. She is adorable, and no doubt inspired partly by my memories of my own childhood strength of will. This quality was inherited, and then honed to perfection by my Taurus-born, bull-headed little girl. (Bull-headedness seems to run in our family. You should see my mother and sisters!) I painted those strong tendencies into the character of this small fairy in honor of my daughter and all the family’s women, whose sheer stubbornness in refusing to ever give up, helped them go places.
Staying power and the will to fight for what is right and important; the ability to stand firm on your own piece of ground… these are qualities that are sometimes very necessary. Especially when you are a woman, a mother, or a wife in this day and age, trying to work and still keep up with everything else you feel you must do. (or if you are dealing with bull-headed men. There are a few of those in the family too!)
I admired the spirit of this fairy child. She was so very young, but knew things….you could just tell. Wisdom much older than her body looked out through her eyes. After thinking on it awhile, I titled the painting “Tansy”. She was named after the hardy, little yellow flower (or weed, in most people’s eyes), that is the symbol of tenacity. It seems to grow beautifully, even in the unlikeliest of places. When I chose that name for her, I did not realize I had just given a title to her saga and described her legacy.
After being photographed for posterity and introduced to the world on my Owl’s Flight website, Tansy went to the local art gallery to be admired by classes of school children and tourists from far away places. She eventually chose to go home with a doting grandmother and was destined to be a Christmas gift for a much adored granddaughter. I smiled at Tansy’s determined little face as I wrapped her in tissue paper and bubble wrap for her winter journey. I wished her well and sent her on her way. I still wasn’t sure why exactly I had painted this little wisp of a girl. Maybe just because she was fun, and different from the usual. I was proud that she had found a new home. Another of my creative progeny sent out into the wide world! (My paintings are like beloved puppies and kittens, and I like to be sure they are safe and warm.)
(For the rest of the story, check out part 2 of “The Tale of Tansy”)