When you start to paint faeries you set off on the beginning of a spiritual journey, it is a way to express and open your soul to the mystic world we are privileged to see and in so doing to enlighten the innocent with dreams that they too can be at peace with nature’s greatest inspirations.
Thank you for joining me on this path of my fairy walk. I must tell you a little about myself because I know you are going to ask me if I believe in fairies. So many strong coincidences in the last fourteen of my forty one years have happened to me I am wondering if our lives are already mapped out for us by the fairies when we are born, for as long as I can remember, I have always believed in fairies.
It was as a little girl I played in the garden with my sister the fairies would be with me beside the meandering garden path dancing in the sweet smelling flowers. It was my own little world where I could escape to, it was there where I wanted to be. It was the early morning stillness, the dawn chorus, the glistening spiders webs, the dew drops, the sunbeams, god given glorious colors and perfumes and the buzz of the insects as they went about their business, I felt I needed to go there, for it was such a playful happy place to be and I never seemed to have long enough there, it was where I felt so creative everything was naturally beautiful, it filled me with energies of inspiration.
My brother Mark was one year older than me, I idolized him he was the main reason I started to draw, I was told that at 18 months old he could draw cars and people and they were quite outstanding, when some children cannot even talk properly at that age. My mum absolutely adored what he did and so did I, we were close, he was my hero. I remember following him everywhere trying to see what he was drawing, I took my pencil and paper and as polite and caring as my brother was, I am sure it got on his nerves but he never complained, so I decided I would have to do it myself and see if I could have develop the same amazing techniques.
With just a few pencils and some paper and a little watercolor paint, but mainly pencil I spent every moment of every day drawing the energies I saw in my little world alongside the fairy path, and I wouldn’t give in. Most of my influence came from my Mum who also loved fairies ever since she was given a book as a child by my grandmother called a ‘Day in Fairyland’ illustrated by Swedish artist Ann Mari Sjogren which I was allowed to see occasionally as it was considered very precious. As my interest grew my mother bought us all Fairy books to encourage our artistic fantasies and creative expression. Mark had the Brian Froud, Michelle my younger sister had the Michael Hague and the Beatrix Potter, and I had the Jill Barklem Brambley Hedge, Margaret Tarrant and Kate Greenaway books and of course the Cicely Mary Barker Flower fairies. We treasured our books, our family had little money so they were very special, but I always hankered after Mum’s book on Fairyland it was so big, well I was only small and it seemed it was as big as me and the fairy paintings in that book had a magic effect on me.
We weren’t actually allowed out so much especially in winter and we didn’t go on holidays so the energies within me created a stronger connection and desire to be somewhere with my fairies. Books became my reality and my world of dreams, Mother Earth was like a magnet to me, I felt so close to her it was as if she was trying to tell me I had a message to convey to others with my drawing and painting.
The little garden beside the fairy path, my father tended with his magical green fingers, he kept it meticulously. It was full of herbs and vegetables and fruit trees and gooseberry and currant bushes, attracting colorful butterflies, moths and bees we would go and pick the ripened fruit that would be made into jam or home made wine. I was fascinated by so much, the steamy humidity of the moving compost heap there I saw lots of little creatures among the huge mushrooms that suddenly appeared overnight, the big rhubarb plants with their big leaves and the neighbours pigs snorting and squealing behind the big wall at the end, in those brick walls there was always lichen and fungus like things growing, and all sorts of creepy crawlies to draw inspiration from. Sometimes when we were meant to pick fruit so Dad could make wine, it took us a bit longer than it should have done, my sister and I trying to attract the fairies by the stacked flower pots that had been there all winter in which all types of creatures had found homes in which to hibernate, so we had a hedgehog, a tortoise, ferrets, frogs, toads and bird boxes.. I loved to draw them all and dress them in suits and clothing. I used to see them as a little family of garden creatures, Dad use to chase away all the cats so that gave me the opinion that cats were mischievous and naughty, we had mice and rats as well, I used to love the rats they were so interesting. Our spiders had stalks for eyes and they always used to wait for me at the top of the stairs to scare me. When my Dad grew flowers there were always so beautiful and the leaves and blooms left a perfect impression with me I loved to draw and paint them.
My ideas didn’t fit in at school with others, I was quiet, maybe introverted, I excelled at art, studying watercolour, creative drawing, surrealism was a favorite I continued to improve my all self taught qualities, but was otherwise not academically brilliant. I wanted to be a ballet dancer, but alas the family finances did not allow such luxuries. I felt bullied at school and couldn’t wait to rejoin my fairy path.
At eighteen however my path came to an abrupt stop. What I thought would be the highlight of my life with a fairy Prince turned out to be eleven years of a disastrous relationship of damaging domestic violence and alcoholic abuse, the magic had forsaken me and my two little girls, and try as I might I could not find in our life that fairy path again to show them the way, I had not seen the trees for years, the beauty in my life was but a distant memory drained from me, and my prayers unheard……… or were they, for it was as if a miracle happened.
I was introduced to a retired business entrepreneur someone who listened intently to my life story and was prepared to encourage me to try and help myself recover my confidence and self esteem and hopefully find that fairy path again, a chance to believe that miracles may happen, an opportunity to try and find my Fairy World.
My drawing skills were rusty, my faith in my ability slow, but to thank this fairy godfather and business mentor, I painted him the glow worm fairy to hang in his home, better than that he said, “I am going to hang it also on the internet so this light may shine for all to appreciate” and so Fairies World a web site on Fairies was started by him and developed by a second fairy godfather, and yet again a third appeared in Colombia South America, to translate all the web site content into Spanish sites.
I could not believe what was happening and the interest that was developing in my work, at first I drew more fairies, then when more and more were needed, we were joined one by one with a great family of fairy artists around the world who wanted to collaborate together. My fairy path was opening up all over the world, with wonderful artists who all had their own stories to tell and beautiful fairies to show on their web sites too.
So interesting was our work together that David Riché the creator of Fairiesworld was approached by Chrysalis Books to contribute to a compilation book of contemporary faery art, to be called ‘The Art of Faery’ . David who had been helping me and many other artists then approached Brian Froud who agreed to write a foreword to this publication The Art of Faery (2003 Paper Tiger) The Visionary Art of the 21st century Faery Artists.
When I went to meet faery illustrator Brian Froud and his lovely wife Wendy in their Devon longhouse, it was hearing Brian say these words to me that helped me finally to understand after all these years the truth of my fairy path
“Yes,” said Brian but the secret is not to give in, you have to keep going, you just have to believe, you’ve got to believe! It is interesting, once you step onto the fairy path, which I did once, it’s a simple step, there is no way off, they don’t want to let you off! You can if you want but you know it would be a terrible thing to do. It’s very interesting, people often think that dealing with faery is a retreat from reality and I say ‘no’ it is not, it is actually a re-engagement with the world.”
Shortly after I was invited to launch the book in Sweden on TV with no less than Ann Mari Sjogren then 84 years old but she was the very same illustrator whose large book and fairy images A Day in Fairyland helped me as a small child at the start of my fairy path, and we both were featured in the same volume together, that was an amazing fairy story come true.
Yet more surprises, a sequel book full of new art and illustration from the same artists as well as some outstanding new ones will be published September 2005, ‘The World of Faery’ with a foreword by Alan Lee, Academy award illustrator and conceptual designer of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
For us young artists this recognition from Brian Froud and Alan Lee whose book Faeries is still a best seller after twenty five years perpetuates the subject that started their own illustrious careers and encourages us to spread our message for the fairies in the 21st century.
Where is my path leading to? Only the faeries know, but another opportunity for my own book and to introduce even more new contemporary Fairy artists in my first book 500 Fairy Motifs.
More about me will follow soon as I dance into light