The Season of Fairy Tales

If you go deep,
deep into the heart,
the heart of the forest,
you will find her.

I have loved The Season of Fairy Tales at Get Messy so much, I don’t want it to end. It is a subject very close to my heart and I feel that during the last two months I have only just begun exploring the realm of fairy tales in the pages of my art journal.

‘The Heart of the Forest’ – While some of my pages touched upon specific fairy tales, many of them drew upon the images that exist across many tales. I was particularly attracted by the image of the forest. I loved the idea of the heart of the forest as a place where all the juicy stuff happens in a fairy tale. It is an external setting and at the same time it is a place within us, a place where we can find something beautiful and essential if we are willing to make the journey.

‘Don’t prick your finger on the Wheel of Time’ — The messages attached to my ‘Women’s Energy’ tea bags reminded me of the blessings given to Sleeping Beauty at her christening. In the Grimms tale, the king invites ‘wise women’ to the party. (Perhaps Disney is responsible for turning them into fairies?) In my rewrite, these women are not divided into good and evil. Instead, they have a depth of beauty and power which they wield unapologetically.

As I was working on the page, I kept thinking about time. In the tale, it cannot be slowed or stopped; Beauty cannot be prevented from turning 13 and pricking her finger. Neither can it be made to go faster; the hundred years of sleep will certainly be a long, long time. I felt drawn to include a multitude of clocks. And it occurred to me that for us today the clock is a kind of spinning wheel. We prick our fingers many times a day and fall into all sorts of ‘slumbers’ because of our reactions to time.

And then I came full circle to the advice on my tea bags. We need these little blessings! Especially the one at the bottom of the page: ‘The purpose of life is to enjoy every moment.’

‘There once was a woman who fell in love with a star’ – When I painted this page, I didn’t realise that the Painting Galaxies class with Katie Smith was waiting for us round the corner! I loved creating a page that explored the beginning of a tale. It’s as if the whole story is contained within that beginning. Our imagination is drawn along that starry path into the rest of the tale. You can read more about my experience of the Painting Galaxies class here.

Come live with me
in my wintry realm.
You will never need
to feel again.

‘The Snow Queen’ – This page was inspired by a wonderful stencils tutorial with @sasha_zeen. Once again I found myself exploring the idea of a fairy tale setting as a place within us, that place where we just want to be numb and not feel any more.

‘Not a morning person’ — This strange bird was my first ever acrylic image transfer, made as part of the Transference class with Tiffany Julia. And the Season of Fairy Tales was the perfect time to explore image transfers because they are like magic! In this page, I was working with something that often happens in fairy tales: one of the characters is transformed into an animal, bewitched, put under a spell. This seems quite similar to the feeling I have when I wake up in the morning, hatching out of my shell, feeling not quite like myself. It usually takes a cup of tea or coffee to shake off the enchantment and come back to my usual shape and form!

I always had the feeling
this was not my place
but someone else’s
as if I needed permission
to walk these paths.
I will take my place
among the trees
that sing to me,
and call me my true name.

‘These are my woods now’ – This page was inspired by the story of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, and every tale where female characters are made to fear walking into the woods, into the dark.

‘Gown of tatters’ – So often we imagine we cannot ‘go to the ball’ because there is something not right about us. In Cinderella, her fairy godmother procures her the most beautiful dresses. But what if she were to go to the ball just as she is, in her gown of tatters. What if she were seen in her own magnificence without the need for a make-over?

‘I have always been here’ – During this season, I’ve been rereading many old favourites about the merging of myth, fairy tale, psychology, and personal history. One such favourite is ‘The Heroine’s Journey Workbook’ by Maureen Murdock. Each day, I have been taking a morning pages approach to the writing exercises in this wonderful book. Writing in depth about my sense of myself at various intervals throughout my life so far, I’m struck by how much change has taken place. And at the same time I can sense the thing in me that is unchanged — some essence of who I am that I carry with me through all the adventures and transformations.

‘You the moon’ – This page was inspired by an exploration into rebirth as part of the Metamorph class with Erin Faith Allen. In this exploration, we cut up a picture we had already made, one that we had some degree of attachment to. We then brought it back together as something new and quite different. You can see the original image here.

‘The Duchess of the moon’ – My image transfer came out looking quite cloudy so I traced over it with white gel pen, which gave the woman’s face an ethereal look. I added planets which I made during the Painting Galaxies class. As I worked,The Duchess of the moon began to emerge. Once again, it seems the fairy tale character and the landscape through which she moves seem very much intertwined.

‘Revisiting the Snow Queen’ – It seems I’m not finished with this icy figure! There is something I find so fascinating about her: the icy stare, her chilling beauty, her stillness.

‘Looking for lost selves’ – This was another piece influenced by my work with The Heroine’s Journey Workbook. I used much more journaling on the page than usual. This stream-of-consciousness writing on the theme of identity became an integral part of the layering of the piece.

‘Babas at large’ –  Look out! Babas at large in the forest! They will sit you down by the fire, brew you tea which will turn your mind into a galaxy of stars, and tell your fortune deep into the night. If you should be lucky enough to cross their path, please say hi from me! The trees in the background are from a wonderful tutorial with Julia Cusowrth.

I had to end the season back in my favourite place – the forest! And it was great timing, too, because I was just about to travel to the forest in real life – the beautiful EarthHeart centre in the Forest of Dean. It was time for the next part of the Initiation yearlong journey into the sacred feminine. Time to write a new page of my story…

Thank you for coming along with me on this magical journey through the fairy tale realm of this past season! I can’t wait to see what the coming season at Get Messy will bring!

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These are my woods now

I always had the feeling
this was not my place
but someone else’s
as if I needed permission
to walk these paths.
I will take my place
among the trees
that sing to me,
and call me my true name.

The Wheel of Time

‘Don’t prick your finger on the Wheel of Time’ – my first page for The Season of Fairy Tales, inspired by Sleeping Beauty.

I was so excited when I heard about this particular season at Get Messy Art Journal. I have always loved fairy tales and imagined I could easily spend a year diving into the treasure chest of these beloved stories. But when the day came, I found I didn’t know where to start. There is so much I want to explore and this made it even more challenging to begin.

Inspiration came to me while I was enjoying a cup of ‘Women’s Energy Tea’ with some friends. The messages attached to each tea bag reminded me of the blessings given to Sleeping Beauty at her christening:

In the Grimms tale, the king invites ‘wise women’ to the party. (Perhaps Disney is responsible for turning them into fairies?) In my rewrite, these women are not divided into good and evil. Instead, they have a depth of beauty and power which they wield unapologetically.

Magazine images are not usually my first point of call when I’m working on an art journal page. With a subject such as fairy tales, however, I suddenly realised how almost every magazine image draws upon our associations with these magical stories. The opulent gowns and jewels are straight out of Cinderella’s ball. The women are often portrayed archetypally as innocent maidens or sultry seductresses with magical powers.

As I was working on the page, I kept thinking about time. In the tale, time works as a kind of antagonist. It cannot be slowed or stopped; Beauty cannot be prevented from turning 13 and pricking her finger. Neither can it be made to go faster; the hundred years of sleep will certainly be a long, long time.

It occurred to me that for us today the clock is a kind of spinning wheel. We prick our fingers many times a day and fall into all sorts of ‘slumbers’ because of our reactions to time. So many of our struggles are ‘against the clock’, rushing to squeeze more hours into the day, or even more impossibly, trying to prevent our own aging processes (back to many of the adverts in magazines – “try this new product! It will work like magic and prevent you from getting old!”)

I came full circle to the advice on my tea bags. We need these little blessings! Especially the one at the bottom of the page:

I love how these little messages point to an inner experience and enjoyment of life – a realm in which the spinning wheel of time has no dominion. I might just go and brew a cup of ‘Women’s Energy Tea’ right now. I wonder what message is waiting for me today?

Wishing you all a lovely weekend!