“Nothing Happens Unless First…A Dream:”
A review of
Pure Inspiration’s Fantasy Art Collection: A Compilation of Artwork by Sixteen Extraordinary Artists
By Jan Calloway-Baxter
mentor at the Wise Woman University
When I began this review, I suspected that I needed to google “fantasy art” to get a cogent definition. My mistake was in picking up the book to look through first. I found my definition. Molly Harrison, one of the artists represented in the wonderful art book of “sixteen extraordinary artists” probably describes it best when she says that she paints fantasy art because it has “legends, myths, history, and beauty, all wrapped up into one.”
And you will find all that in this beautiful book, as well as butterflies, fairies, dragons, angels, unicorns, mermaids, seahorses, knights, luna moths, the dark and the shadow as well as the light and the sun. Intricately drawn. Fantastically colored. Movingly presented.
The story of how the book came to be is very satisfying. Sue Miller answered a request by Light Stream Publishing who wanted to do a review of her art work for their magazine Pure Inspiration. She visited the publisher, located only a few minutes from her home, and looked at the many how to magazines and a single lovely art book on carved Santa figures they had published. An idea formed in her head. And now, barely a year later, the idea Sue Miller pitched to editor Robert Becker has come to life.
Common threads run throughout the artists collected her. Almost all express a deep love for and often a spiritual connection to, nature. Most have been doing fantasy art since they were children. And, as the editor Robert Becker says, “every contributor to this compilation desires to make our world a better place.”
Ms. Miller rounded up many of her artist friends, and Light Stream, who she describes as “about the nicest people I have ever done business with,” chose their favorite sixteen to publish. The reproductions are stunning; the artwork inspiring. I have spent many a happy hour gazing into the intricate art works.
While a love of nature seems to be a common theme for the artists in this book, one can especially see that motive in the paintings of Sue Miller. She describes her handiwork as “this little world which I have designed, where there is hope, happiness, inspiration, and explosions of color.” I wholeheartedly agree with this description! The angels, wizards, grandpas, fairies, princesses and woodland creatures of her paintings shine with joy. I love “Mother Nature” where this oft-painted persona is presented very differently than usual, with a jaunty leaf beret and elven ears. My favorite, though, is “Hugga Bunny,” not because of the sweet lop-eared rabbit, but because of the leafy vine going up the arm of the girl who is holding him. I printed out this picture a long time ago when I first saw it, longing for a tattoo that looks just like this woman’s arm! (I don’t have the nerve to actually GET a tattoo—just the IDEA of a tattoo is enough.)
Sheila Wolk’s work “Revelation” is embossed on the cover of this book. It is not surprising to learn that DaVinci and Michelangelo are sources of inspiration to her. I was thrilled to realize that I own a tee shirt (of all things) imprinted with her painting “The Garland.” Perhaps her fairies and angels show the greatest range of expression, from the rapturous “Ecstasy,” to the peaceful “Bliss,” and the wild woman look of the crouching fairy in “Chameleon.” Some of her work is surrealistic, like “Offerings,” in which an angel, lighted from beneath, holds forth a rain cloud with lightning and a dripping crystal. Her eyes are hidden by numerous rings of differently colored light around her head. The elaborate precise rendering of nature, such as the bugs crawling around on the mushroom in “Dry Spot,” really repay extending gazing.
Kinuko Y. Craft is described as one of the best known and highly respected artists represented in the book. She reports that her inspiration comes from the “passionate love of beauty.” And her work surely shows it. Unlike some of the other fantasy artists here who have developed their individual “style” to the degree that their work is very recognizable—like that Jasmine Becket-Griffith—Ms. Craft has a variety of styles, from the detailed representation of flora and fauna in “Cybelle’s Secret” to the Hieronymus Bosch-like “Wildwood Dancing,” to the classic historical style of “Eleanor Of Aquitaine,” to the mythic “Millennium Liberty.” My favorite, though, is “Old Magic” which I think readers of Susun Weed would love, given its representation of, among myriad other things, an old wise woman Mother Nature.
Since you are reading Susun Weed’s newsletter, and probably not for the first time, you are almost certainly already aware of the art of Josephine Wall whose magnificent designs have been seen here as well as illustrating Susun’s Seven Rivers course. It is always a treat to find even more of her work. The introduction to her section says “her work is absolutely lovely—with a sense of beauty, detail, and inner vision that is uniquely her own.” Her work reflects her belief that artists have a responsibility “to change the world by portraying images of how life could be and how it should be.” I find her work powerfully moving. The way she uses colors makes her pieces glow, and the ecstatic expressions of her subjects give me a sense of wonder. Along with that Sue Miller tattoo, if I could just add the hair of the bubble blowing woman in “Bubble Flower,” I would be completely satisfied!
Myrea Pettit’s work, using a watercolor technique taught her by her mentor Per Arne Skansen (A Day in Fairyland, 1947), has grown in popularity over the last twelve years, and it’s easy to see why. She presents a wide range of styles and approaches to the life of fairies. Her “Old Librarian” is surely one of my favorites in this book, as it shows an old man with tattered butterfly wings attached, dipping his quill into an inkpot (which has the initials MP) in order to write music into blank pages of a book. Much of the space is filled with books, quills, and manuscripts. His observers include a mouse, a bat-like creature, and other fantasy creatures I can’t name—I kept seeing more the longer I looked at the painting.
Tom Cross passed away in 2008, unlike most artists in this book who are still working. He describes his inspiration as “nature folklore,” and as a scientist as well as an artist, he defines what he means by that in his works which blend “traditional and unconventional techniques.” I could have used more information about those techniques, and, in fact, would have appreciated a paragraph in each introduction to an artist about technique, be it watercolor, acrylic, oils, pen and pencil, photography, or digital media. I found myself wondering what techniques were used often. Tom Cross’s “Shell Caster” works are some of the most delightful in the book, and knowing that his very last work was “Enchanted,” a luminous picture of fairies and waterfalls, is touching. I believe the old men/wizards that Cross presents are the best I have come across, and an important image in our youth-crazy culture. It is important to honor our wise ones, male and female.
It is painful to be unable to write a very long paragraph about each artist, but sadly length requirements prevent me. Other inspiring artists in the book include Sara Butcher and her marvelous depiction of light, Priscilla Hernandez dark fairies, John Arthur’s unusual backgrounds, Jody Bergsma whose word play inspired my title, Christine Von Lossberg who has been painting since age eleven, Vicki Visconti-Tilley’s knights, Sherri Baldy’s “happy feel-good art,” and Linda Ravenscroft whose work I first met through her Mystic Faerie Tarot Deck.
If you love fantasy art or beautifully done art books, do not miss this collection.
To order, see Light Streams website at www.fantasyartcollection.com
© 2010 Jan Calloway-Baxter
Read other reviews by Jan Baxter
Optimum Nutrition - Review by Jan Calloway-Baxter
Herbal Healing for Women - Review by Jan Calloway-Baxter
Magical Plants - Review by Jan Calloway-Baxter
Elements of Herbalism: Harvesting - Review by Jan Calloway-Baxter
The Visionary Art of Martina Hoffmann - Review by Jan Calloway-Baxter
Online Courses by Jan Calloway-Baxter
~ Creating Altars ~
~ Goddess Dolls ~
~ Dream Journals ~
~ Moon Writing ~
~ Creative Writing ~
About the Mentor:
Jan has taught writing, literature and humanities in universities, colleges and high schools for many years, including developing online composition courses. Jan is delighted to be a mentor at the Wise Woman University.
Find out more & REGISTER HERE
~ Creative Writing ~
Beginning a Writing Practice; embark on the creative journey of writing and journaling with guidance, encouragement, and support. Learning to get in touch with your womanly belly, to free yourself from judgment and negative critique, to use your own goddess-given voice, can help you to write more creatively no matter what type of writing you are engaged in. Let's join together to learn to bring more creativity to our writing. REGISTER HERE
~ Creating Altars ~
In the Creating Altars class, we come together to look at a bit of history about altars, to explore the many different kinds of altars out there, to discuss purpose, location, and symbolism important to altar builders. We will bring all of this information together to build four altars each: a seasonal altar, a single focus altar, an outside altar, and a portable altar. Come join us to begin or to expand on your altar-consciousness.