Our final act for this year’s concert of words is Tatterdemalion. I’ve often used this word to describe myself, as I detest shopping, & will wear favorite garments to tatters.
When I was sketching ideas, I first thought of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Match Girl,” but the idea of painting her just made me too sad, so I decided to portray a busker of the Victorian era. His sheet music is Gilbert & Sullivan’s “A Wand’ring Minstrel, I” (“…a thing of shreds & patches, of ballads, songs & snatches…”). Oh, & why is he an otter? Just because I love painting anthropomorphic animals & the name Otterdemalion popped into my head!
I painted him in warm colors, but given the subject matter I thought it would be interesting to offer a print in the sepia-toned series I call “Tinctures.”
Today’s illustration of Rutilant was one of the many times when my fingers come up with an idea before my brain does. As I was doodling R shapes in my sketchbook, one of them reminded me of an old-school flip hairstyle. And what could be more rutilant than a redhead?
At first my sketches centered on the face, but then I thought it would be funnier if the hair were floor-length. A little distortion of proportion has never bothered me, so I went for it! And the long red hair made me think of Rossetti, so I added a pomegranate & green gown as a nod to this painting.
In keeping with the red, gold & gleaming theme, a pair of ruby slippers & a golden hair ribbon were my last additions. It didn’t even occur to me until mid-painting that the color scheme is very Christmasy!
Today’s word, Pelagic, like last year’s Lentic, is a scientific term describing a water ecosystem, in this case the open sea. Researching various inhabitants of the zone, I was drawn in by the giant squid– not as scary as that sounds! Aside from this squid’s many fascinating qualities, its tentacles can conveniently be arranged to read as a Curiotype P.
Dangerously near pelagic in the dictionary lurks plastic. That coincidence reminded me of a painting commission I did a few years ago, to illustrate the word Obfuscation: an octopus emitting ink, & surrounded by a gyre of floating plastic. Plastic pollution in the ocean is a serious problem, & I decided to make this painting a companion piece of sorts.
This painting, & prints of the others referenced, are available in my Etsy shop, CuriousArtLab.
For our second word, Nidus, my first few thoughts took a very dark direction, but I decided to go a little lighter, mainly because I wanted to cheer myself up! Painting imaginary critters always takes me to a happy place, & these little hatchlings did the job. I doubt they’ll be this creepy-cute when they grow up, but I suspect we’ll be glad they’re on our side!
Life has been a bit chaotic around here this year, but now that it’s time for my week with Anu Garg’s A.Word.A.Day, things are looking up!
Our first word, Cherubic, had me thinking literally for a while & getting nowhere, but when it occurred to me that a rather devilish kitty could also be a little angel, all the chaos came together.
And isn’t that the way life is? Things fall apart, then reassemble in new ways. Years can be brutal yet beautiful– full of new challenges, but also happy accidents & comforting constants. Oh 2022, I guess I’ll forgive you for all the mayhem & mischief you caused! I know you didn’t do it on purpose!
My husband Tony is crazy about tigers, so I was delighted to see that according to the Chinese Zodiac, 2022 is the Year of the Water Tiger. We’ve also traversed some rough seas lately, metaphorically speaking, & I wanted to express my gratitude for how he’s carried me through these challenging times. So this is the Lunar New Year painting I created in his honor. The little calligrapher mouse in the houseboat is my avatar, so to speak, as the steadfast tiger is his.
The mouse’s hat & curious whiskers were loosely inspired by a portrait of the Yongle Emperor, Zhu Di, below, which I discovered while researching Zheng He, a great Chinese explorer of the early Ming dynasty. I’m a hat person & the resemblance of the emperor’s headgear to the iconic Mickey Mouse ears was irresistible.
The Chinese character that mousy-me is writing is one of several that translate to tiger. I’m not really sure if it’s the most accurate translation, but it is the simplest to draw!
There’s just something about cutaway diagrams & models that has fascinated me since I was very young. Maybe it started with dollhouses, or science museums, or classroom posters, but the sensation of being granted a curated view into a secret space behind or beneath the surface still feels magical to me.
When I realized that Lentic would lend itself to this treatment I felt such giddy, childlike delight! Not only did creating the cutaway make me happy, but the softly rippling water & gently waving lilies were soothing to paint when I felt stressed– almost like watching an aquarium. So when Anu chose this painting to end our week of illustrated words, it felt just right to be floating out on this peaceful note!
I’m eternally grateful to Anu for making it possible for me to create these pieces & to connect with such lovely logophiles every year. And I deeply appreciate all your support through my Etsy shop, Curious Art Lab, & through your kind comments & messages.
I wish you all a peaceful, healthy & happy holiday season, & I look forward to seeing you again in 2022!
When I first sketched out this seraphic being, it had feathery wings that were fiery only in color, much like the phoenix in Fulgor. Although I do love to paint feathers, as I thought more about the word’s etymology–
“From Latin seraphim, from Greek seraphim, from Hebrew seraphim, from saraph (to burn).”
–I decided to try a rough sketch of a straight-up flaming version. Once it began to take shape, I never looked back.
As I was painting the face I tried to capture a sense of seraphic serenity, but also of empowerment & determination. I visualized a being capable of bringing light & comfort in dark times, like fire itself, but also holding immense power & mystery.
This was my second painting on panel after Daedal. The (slightly) larger size and smoother surface seemed to befit an angelic entity!
The original painting & prints are now available in my Etsy shop, Curious Art Lab.
Even though I live in a city, a block away from a busy street, I’m definitely xylophilous! (In the etymological sense, that is– wood-loving.) My childhood home bordered on a forest, & my family spent many hours working, playing & wandering in the woods. But I’ve always said that I can’t see the forest for the lichen, because my favorite thing to explore & paint are all the tiny little life-forms that are overshadowed (yet also supported) by the overstory.
So when Anu offered this word, I jumped at the chance to create my own little peaceable kingdom of wood-loving flora & fauna. It’s certainly not an accurate sample of xylophilous species in the scientific sense, & it vastly under-represents the number of species that depend on trees– I couldn’t begin to show the tiny beetles and borers that live in & under bark, for example– but I hope it gets the point across that even dying or damaged trees can be teeming with life & potential & beauty in their own way. As William Blake said, “A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.” Or even a wise beetle!
I couldn’t resist hiding that quotation in the bark, & if you look in the background near the pendulous possum, you may find a rather dreadful math pun tucked in there too. Apologies in advance.
The original painting is sold, but prints are now available in my Etsy shop, Curious Art Lab.
I’ve always had a weakness for curly green things…
…so when Anu offered the word Involute, my mind went right to fiddlehead ferns. And because I am probably part snail, I thought I’d throw in a little self-portrait as well! But then my alter-ego looked a bit lonely, so Fiddlehead Fernfellow was born. And what better place for the two to meet than on a magic mushroom in the moonlight?
The original painting is sold; prints are now available in my Etsy shop, Curious Art Lab.