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!
When Anu Garg offered me the word “Daedal” to illustrate for A.Word.A.Day, I knew it was bound to get complicated, & sure enough, it was a long & labyrinthine path from my first concept to the finished painting.
Originally we had intended it to appear in 2020, to complete my second A.W.A.D. alphabet, but it took me so long to finish that we decided to save it for 2021. Patience is one of Anu’s many virtues, for which I’m endlessly grateful!
Even though there were many times during the making of Daedal that I feared I might never escape its convolutions & complexities, there were also moments of serendipity and delight. Early on, as I was struggling through the construction stage, (3D architectural drawing is so not my forte!) I heard this amazing poem by A. E. Stallings on the Poetry Magazine podcast:
Not only was the poem literally titled “Daedal” (!!!) but it perfectly captured my feelings about creating this piece, and the journey of my artwork in general. I asked the author’s permission to include the above lines in the painting, & when she was kind enough to say yes, I felt I’d been given a magical talisman conferring the strength I needed to keep building!
Finally, the structure began to take shape. Then a group of dinosaurs came to visit. Then one of them morphed into a dinotaur (or is it a minosaur?)–this was starting to feel like my kind of adventure!
When I was finally ready to turn the drawing into an actual painting, I realized it just wasn’t going to fit on my usual 6″ x 6″ canvas. I ended up using an 8″ x 8″ wooden panel, a new experience for me that I liked so much I did it again for another A.W.A.D. piece this year. (Stay tuned!)
In the end, I was grateful for the lessons I learned from this “fractal branching of mistakes!” If you’re curious to see a snippet of my super-slow invisible-brushstroke painting method, (no joke, this is really what it’s like *sob*) check out this little video on my Instagram page.
The original painting is sold; prints are now available in my Etsy shop, Curious Art Lab.
When Shauna Narciso, Art Director of Dragon+ Magazine asked if I’d like to illustrate a “curious vegepygmy” in a fantasy jungle setting, you can imagine my reaction. It was truly a dream assignment, full of hidden messages & tendrilicious details. If you’d like to read the story that inspired the illustration, as well as an interview in which I perhaps reveal too much about my working process, have a look at Dragon+ Issue 16, now online!