What has led you to be a faerie artist? Have you always had an interest in faeries?
I was raised on fairy tales from the Brother’s Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, Narnia etc. Like most children, I was fascinated by faeries. But unlike most children, I did not lose this interest. As I grew, I became more interested in folklore and folktales from many cultures. In this way I was able to keep my belief in faeries as my understanding of them grew.
I’ve also always loved creating. For me, my love of painting and my love of faeries are tied very close. Growing up, my main drive to improve as an artist came from my desire to paint faeries that were truer to the vision I had of them. As an artist now, painting faeries allows me to communicate the sense of wonder and enchantment I find in nature and life in general.
Have you ever had an encounter with fairies? What do you think faeries are?
I believe faerie to be nature spirits. They are neither wholly benevolent nor wholly malicious, but exist somewhere in between. I encounter faerie when exploring muddy riverbanks, deer trails, and crumbling farm houses. They are the deep forests, but also the small overgrown woody places in town. They are the possibility of magic. Faeries do not exist in some other realm, but in this one. If one takes the time to truly look they will find wondrous things. I try to show this wonder in my art. And, yes, I believe I have seen them, fluttering out of the corner of my eye, like leaves.
Could you describe what it is like to live where you do? You refer to prairies quite a lot and that is a very different landscape to what we have in the UK. Are there particular flowers or elements that you find particularly faerie?
I live in Iowa, which is located in the middle of the U.S. This is farming country, so there are lots of fields of corn, cows, and soybeans. I grew up on the banks of the Mississippi River and was lucky to always live close enough to a little bit of woods.
I’ve always found places where water meets land to be enchanting. The water if full of light, and life, and sound, and tree roots twist into the streams creating cubbies where faeries may hide. Once I found this old gnarled tree whose roots had pockets that held water. As I stopped to look, a frog jumped out of one of these pools in the roots. I was so surprised that such a large frog had fit into the pool so I stirred it with a stick to see how deep it was. It was actually quit shallow, too shallow for that frog to fit. I suspect it may have been a faerie in disguise because when I next looked it was gone. Whenever I find a tree with twisted roots I think of faeries and when I see hollow trees I want to climb inside.
As for the prairie, it is very beautiful. At first it may look like just a bunch of very tall grass but if you look closer you will see vibrant thistle, golden rod, oxe eye daisies, edible mints, and lots of dragonflies and bees. There are also little tunnels trough the grass and everything rustles and whispers in the wind. Tall grass prairies used to cover most of Iowa, but have largely disappeared due to over farming. I’m very interested in prairie restoration because so many native species, like foxes, and bees, and owls rely on the prairie.
Your writing is really expressive too, how important are stories to your art?
Stories are very important to my work. I don’t want to be an artist who just paints pretty pictures. Each painting starts as a story about a moment. In each painting I seek to hint at this story. Some series of work are based more around a theme or notion. My current series focuses on the idea of summer’s passing. I just feel that there is so much enchantment in the air of late summer, so many stories. And it’s made all the more sweet because of the sense of impending loss as summer fades. My head is constantly full of stories that I wish to paint.
What is your favourite fantasy book? And what is your favourite fantasy film.
My favourite fantasy books would have to be The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle and Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees. I also love all of Holly Black’s novels, Harry Potter because I grew up with it, and lots of Charles de Lint. Two of my favourite fantasy films would be Labyrinth by Jim Henson and Castle in the Sky by Hayao Miazaki.
I’m always on the lookout for new fantasy or imaginative films to watch. l love collecting stories.
Is there anything that you would like people to know about?
Hmm. I think I would just encourage my fellow faerie lovers to get involved in any local sustainability or green groups. I guess I’d also like people to know about my website because it’s where I share my story for each painting and I’m also working on a blog to share faerie info and tips on living greener and connecting with nature. I also love connecting with people so feel free to shoot me a message or an email any time.
Please take a look at Autumn's beautiful website for lots more fabulous fairy pictures and to learn more about Autumn herself.
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