Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Foxes of the Past

On the heels of this most recent painting (A Dream of Grace), I was asked by a few people about my past pieces on a similar theme. The older pieces I had retired from my website, but I thought I'd post them here to satisfy the curiosity for those who have never seen them.

As time passes, I find myself occasionally wanting to revisit concepts I've explored in the past. With a new perspective or twist, a new eye, and (hopefully) better skills. One hopes that it can go beyond simple rehashing of the same tired images, and instead approach a subject with more visual eloquence granted by the passage of time and experience.

True Reflections (2009) was my most recent foray with fox spirits. This was a piece I did for Dreamscapes, Myth & Magic in a chapter dedicated to exploring trickster archetypes. Foxes and fox spirits fit into this segment quite naturally. The piece itself was kept more basic in composition, and I had to rein in my tendencies to elaborate too much, due to the restraints of having to make the painting something that would fit into a step-by-step format.

Kitsune (2001). Quite a jump back! I did this piece for my friend Sylvia Leung's web-comic, Wish3, based on her character Himitsu - fox spirit, friend, guardian, guide. Anatomy ( both for the girl and the foxes) was clunky, And my color palette was a bit less refined at the time. I liked really vibrant, distinct shapes. Partly that was due to the fact that I was still doing a whole lot of digital painting as well, and the in-your-face colors of painting on a screen with light pixels was how I tried to paint with watercolors as well. I like to think that I've since developed more subtlety, and learned to appreciate watercolors more for themselves, while keeping a really glowing and vibrant palette.

Lady of the Gingkos (2002). I'd recently come back from a sojourn in Japan. It was autumn, and the trees were glorious cathedrals of living light - fiery orange and emerald maple foliage, and carpets of golden gingko leaves. In Kyoto I visited a temple of Inari (to whom foxes are sacred, and whose temples are often guarded by two white foxes). A tunnel of crimson torii gates stretched up the mountainside, flanked by a bamboo forest. In the dimness along the path, with the eerie whisper of the swaying bamboo, there were occasional fox statues. The image of that place formed the inspiration for this piece.
A Dream of Grace was an attempt to go back to this image that I had in my mind. My own "dream of grace" perhaps. Trying to approach and capture the feeling of mystery and wonder that I had in me at times during that trip. As a result, the new painting does have a similar color scheme, and there are familiar elements, like the swirl of gingko leaves, and the fox-spirit-maiden has an echo of the pose from this original piece.


  1. I love that you have shared older pieces, for I have never seen them and they hold a beauty and majestic quality that is lovely for me to see. Your time in Japan sounds wonderful, making me want to visit.

  2. Looking a little foxy yourself there Steph:D...

  3. Woah! You might call the colors in "Kitsune" less refined, but I think they're much more interesting. True the anatomy isn't what it could be, but I still enjoy the piece for its color and energy.

    I have to say, while I admire the complexity and detail of your pieces, I often find them uncomfortably dulled by the muted and subdued colors, especially since the palette in most of them is all the same- blue/green/violet/gold. It makes them feel too much the same, and it's nice to see some variety in your older pieces.

  4. I recently have had a wonderful connection with a couple of fox kits. although I live in a small town in rural southern illinois, we have had a den in our nieghborhood. i immediately thought of your art and hence Im here to revisit a much admired artisit. These spiritual beings are mystical in personality. One has taken to me similiar as a pet would. and yes I am careful, wearing gloves, he has eaten from my hand and comes to me when called. Really spirit felt connection. Thanks for the re-visit and now i have found your blog. I have always wondered if perhaps u had a special connection with a fox and now i know ,if u have,i understand the magic it is.Im here to say I'm a long time fan,now I 'must' indeed order your deck. perhaps my answers are found within. /bow darla*