I admittedly am seriously neglectful of my blog and I’m pretty sure ‘all’ my posts start with this same apology/excuse…but I really am so much better at expressing myself with pictures rather then words so I just seem to forget about it most of the time….BUT since I finally settled on a title (which must ….”Use your words”) for my upcoming show I figured now is a good excuse to tend to the desert garden that is my blog ;-P
“Charming the Wilds” I have been working on this new body of work since early 2014. My process is that of a slow evolution of thoughts and ideas, a melding together of the images that spoke to me in the last “body” and the reshaping of those familiar characters into their expanded world and skin.
When I first began thinking about the direction for my new body of work, I kept thinking about mysteries, magic, the unknown, Alchemy imagery…
‘Conjuring’ this was the word that kept creeping into my mind, I wanted an action word in my title, often my titles are only descriptive of the work such as “Creatures of Saintly Disguise” or Treacherous Gardens” but this time, this show called for something more direct, or at least as direct as one can get while trying to still create work that is elusive and open to personal interpretation ;-P So originally I thought the title would be “Conjuring Miss Direction” I like plays on words…I still like that title and will likely use it for one of the individual pieces but it didn’t seem to work as an overall theme.
detail WIP peeks from several pieces
I do like the images the word ‘Conjuring’ evokes, it feels powerful, assured, direct, but maybe too strong…I had written down “charmer” in my sketchbook along with enchantment, illusionist, incantation and Miss perception…..I came back to that page today and it suddenly seemed so clear….Charming….I like that word, A LOT, it is a delicious sort of word. To have the ability to Charm takes a different kind of power, it is still strong but soft and alluring at the same time, it ‘conjures’ images of hypnotized ladies being led through the woods by beasts or the ability to charm the fairy voice out of a flower and bring it to a new level of life, the ability to communicate with animals, it also can feel mischievous but not too dark. It was finally settled, the first word anyway….the rest came quickly though. In looking around at what was coming to life in my studio there’s a mingling of nature, mysterious creatures and Lilith..
details of several ‘Lilith’ characters in new work
…all of these things make me think of the words ‘The Wilds’ the wilds in the deep dark parts of our hearts and souls, the wild beast that lives inside us sometimes, it evokes images of wild animals and hidden places and plant life that can grow around whatever we put in its path, “the wilds’ feels alive. I want to charm the wilds I want to bring a little magic into the world if I can…So “Charming the Wilds” feels like it was there all along under the soil waiting for me to kick some dirt aside and find it there smiling up at me like a shiny coin with a cute little face.
Thats all for now I hope to see some of you at my show“Charming the Wilds”
It doesn’t seem dignified somehow, to wear ones heart on one’s sleeve, though I seem to be tripping over mine, in my work, on a regular basis.
(detail of new painting, ‘Dissecting Girls Disguised as Butterflies II)
In my new body of work ‘Curious Nature’ set to be unveiled at AFA Gallery http://afanyc.com/jennybird-alcantara/curious-nature-press-release/ in NYC on the 19th of October, my characters are fused with nature. The external ‘garment’ is a metaphor for the internal world and rather than wearing her heart on her sleeve ‘she’ is wearing her heart from collar to hem. The organic elements that flow out from her core are a fusion of flora, fauna and flesh. These strange garments embody the essence of her being, her inner workings on display….Her body is ornamentation, a sacred space, a glass house.
detail ‘The Curious Nature of Extraordinary Beings’
Part of the early inspiration for this series came from childhood memories of bee and bird funerals. We engaged in this ritual when we happened upon a deceased bee or the occasional baby bird that fell out of the nest and didn’t survive. My older sister would play the ‘minister’. I would make the coffin out of a small box lined with tissue and flowers and we would hold the ceremony on the side of our house, with the neighborhood kids in attendance playing the mourners. Its memory is so vivid in my mind and the more I think about it the more curious it becomes. We were rehearsing sorrow and using that ritual to create meaning.
detail ‘The Curious Nature of Extraordinary Beings’
During the process of working on this show my dear father passed unexpectedly and I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to continue working and have to cancel my show. He was such a strong supporter of my work, so knowing that as well as how excited he was for my NY show helped me to be able to continue working. While I always feel that my heart is out on a string in my work, this show has a much more tender melancholy feeling to me.
This display of emotions draped like a garment on the outside of the characters in this series made me think of the Victorian convention of Floriography , using flowers, plants and arrangements to send a coded message to the recipient, thereby expressing feelings which could not be spoken aloud in Victorian society.
They had flower dictionaries to indicate what flower was associated with which sentiment and often exchanged small “talking bouquets”, called tussie-mussies or nosegays which could be worn or carried as a fashion accessory. It’s such a romantic idea and a way to have an outward expression of what exists in the heart and mind and I love that.
I think of tattoos as our modern day Tussie Mussies.
I hope that you will join me for the opening if you are in the NYC area.
First, the title of the blog post… at times I get a title before the painting ever begins… this is one such instance, I wrote it down last year but haven’t created a painting for it yet. (Actually I did create a piece since this originally posted, it is depicted above) It’s sort of me tongue n cheeking myself…. “Once wearing her heart on her sleeve was passe, she wore her viscera for a hat”
Its about going one step beyond wearing ones heart on ones sleeve…
Today I tripped down the rabbit hole when I started to think about the heart imagery in my work. Rarely a painting goes by that doesn’t include a heart in some form. I would say heart imagery is pretty much one of the signatures of my work, another being deer footed girls but that’s a story for another time…so here I have a selection of jennybird hearts…
I see the heart as this big soaking wet organic beast of sorts, endless in its complexity and possibility, its crawls out of black pits and slinks across the landscape, it has the power to possess the vessel that contains it, its tentacles can lovingly strangle…
the heart can contain sharp teeth to bite and tear or simply detour a threat with a pearly flash. It has eyes that can see through flesh and read into minds and other hearts, sometimes the hearts eye is blind and it aimlessly wanders. It is a carnivorous plant with a voracious appetite: but it can also feed the flora and fauna that exist in its world, with endless drops of Crimson. As long as blood courses through it, it never ceases to grow….. When the blood flow subsides, it becomes a ghost that can still haunt…..
In my work the heart takes on many, many forms and sometimes I think I ‘shouldn’t’ paint it anymore, but I never seem to tire of it and ‘its’ will to exist in an unfolding landscape of paint on panel persists… it can always take a new form and it always informs my work in such a strong way.
The heart depiction in my work often takes on the shape of an animal or animals, locked in an embrace sometimes deadly sometimes serene.
I talked a bit in a recent interview about the progression of the heart imagery in my work over the years and I’ll sum that up here…
I had created many paintings where there was simply an incision in the chest, this was a representation of the feeling of the exposed self. The heart was depicted this way for a long time, then the incision slowly opened and you could look into the chest and see the organ. The heart at this time had sort of a root shape to it; I am endlessly hybridizing so at this point it was a cross between a human heart and a root ball.
In the early 2000’s I painted a ‘Candyland’ series, the hearts were covered with whipped cream and cherries or depicted as deer-fur cupcakes, sweet and bloody, but edible, with potential for adverse side effects…. Like the old saying goes…’If one is too vulnerable, one might lose all their cherry filling’….;-P
Sometimes the heart is represented by a simple’ X marks the spot’ on the chest or arm; sometimes it is a black hole in the center of the chest with ink flowing out…hearts for eyes, eyes for hearts…
From this point I moved on to using animals to create the shape and representation of the heart. The first animals I used I believe were two birds…
…then multiple birds then the rabbits and foxes and bees snuck in there as well, even the truck of an elephant became the long nose of a heart blindly sniffing out the way.
Eventually the animals became increasingly fierce and protective. The heart took the shape of the snarling mouth of a cougar, tiger or bear it also became the antlers of a large deer, thrusting out of the chest cavity, defending the host.
Let the duels begin…
At the same time the arteries of the heart began to extend and take the shape of black and red arms reaching out of the chests of sweet faced girls…the Girls began fighting with these new fists…
Once the chest was opened up enough to see the animals commingling within, there started to be a view beyond to a more distant landscape, a dream scape and the winding path disappearing into the horizon.
In my more recent work the body is overflowing with plant and animal life, so full that its spilling onto the ground or out into space…I’m still exploring this place in current work so it’s hard to say too much about it…I always gain greater understanding of the narrative in retrospect…but I can say that I look at all of my work as an unfolding story and because I am partly following it and partly directing it, it stays interesting to me and I hope to others as well…
I hope you’ve been mildly entertained by my little heart obsession and so sorry my posts are so few and far between.
Its been quite some time since I posted and I’m pretty certain I begin all my posts with that line…. Well what can I say I’m not so much about writing as I am about making pictures I guess. …But… I thought I would do another post about the making of my latest large painting, ‘Reviving Ophelia’.
Those who are familiar with my work likely know that I am endlessly exploring duality and the circle of life and the dream state. I have a love of fairy tales like every other proper girl who was raised with stories of wolves, lovely girls and dark forests.
The driving ladies behind this latest work are Sleeping Beauty and Ophelia. My piece isn’t driven necessarily by the stories as much as the visions that the tales evoke. But I have to say that John Everett Millais’s Ophelia painting was a great inspiration.
Before I go ahead and post the W.I.P. shots of the painting here is the completed ‘Reviving Ophelia’ . It is oil on wood 35″x55″
I don’t do a lot of sketching before I start a painting, I always say ‘I will next time’ or ‘I really should’ but my anxiousness to get going usually prohibits me from doing that. I end up working issues out on the panel and color changes etc. which makes it a longer process but more natural for me. I have to see something before I know whether it is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.
Another inspiration for this painting was a work on paper that I did in 2010 called ‘The Duel’ pictured below. I reeeeeally loved it, even though it wasn’t something that took me a ton of time like an oil painting it just really is special to me and I and missed it so I was trying to recapture it in a way and let it inform the new painting that was coming down the pike.
ok so here we go with the progress shots…I didn’t take as many as I would have liked but I was in the process of a big move at the time so it was enough to just get to paint let alone take pictures as I went along.
it started out with 2 girls and I was thinking that the color palette would be similar to the Duel piece.
Oh I guess i should also mention that I have been working for quite some time with these water skirts, I am a bit obsessed with them..for me water does so much to evoke a dreamy state a place that is below and so different from the world above. It separates the conscious mind from the mysteries of the subconscious….blah blah blah …Pictures please!! OK.. ;-P
in the beginning the girl on the left was awake…and the girl on the right was looking at you 🙂
she quickly fell asleep and vines began to grow between them…
the vines disappeared and her hand began to reach out of her chest cavity…
here the plant life is forming around them and their under bodies are determined
at this point the pinks and blues weren’t working for me so i did a wash of green over…and determined that the fox and deer needed to be the symbols that passed between them…
it’s always a major decision for me where the characters gaze lands and here she finally looks inward and away from the viewer…
here is where I made the decision and was also urged by another painting I was working on during this time titled ‘Glasshouse Girls make good warriors’ (pictured below) to bring up plant life into the cavity of the conscious girls torso….and begin to fill the surrounding space with giant hair ;P
‘Glasshouse Girls make Good Warriors’ oil on wood 19″x29″ framed (available at la Luz de jesus Gallery)
these aren’t out of order I guess I had second thoughts about the giant hair…but as you can see the organic area is pretty much completed first…I really loved painting this I love how so much of it took over the water from the inspiration pieces and there are just small pools remaining….
the appearance of the raven…at this point I was trying to figure out how I wanted to treat the unconscious girl I needed to balance her with the other half and for a while she had a giant wing (which i don’t have a pic of) but I settled on the bird being a part of her…thought the color ultimately changes to pinks for the raven….
don’t ask about the blond hair..LOL) …here is the first appearance of the heart eyed girl, I have painted her before and also made dolls of this character and in those representations she is blind…one of the first I did is pictured below and is a work on paper titled ‘Masquerade’ the heart eyed character has also been the ‘patron saint of blind love’
back to Ophelia..
whew dark hair!! 🙂 and the background coming together, I don’t have a good pic of when it was blue but I am glad i made that trip to the store that day and picked up an old Holland Carmine it completely transformed it for me….
refining refining and a fox growing wings…also I wanted to give her a death mask of sorts but nothing overt so this is what I came up with.
Reviving Ophelia will be making her debut at Varnish Fine Art Gallery’s Grand Reopening launch this Saturday Sept 24th from 4pm -8pm I hope to see you there if you live nearby!!
So I was a thinking…I was feeling like shopping, like buying lots of pretty things and pretty art (the web can be a wonderful place to window shop) and as I followed this stream of thought to its unavoidable end, the end where I realize that I can’t really spend money right now, not on frivolous things or even deeply meaningful things.. that its time to batten down the hatches and just worry about the necessities and paying bills etc…. well this made me sad….Not a sad in an end of the world way or sad about the real suffering of so many animals and people we share the planet with kinda way…but in a WAH…pity party I want something new spoiled brat kinda way but still sad none the less….
So I was thinking ‘I’ can’t have what ‘I’ want right now but I have all the power to give someone else what they might want right now, so I decided to do another giveaway on my Facebook Fan page.
I made this little ‘Beast Girl’ painting. I didn’t have a real plan about how I would do the contest, but once I was finished with the painting I decided the Character needed a story and what better way to decide who gets the painting then by asking people to write stories about her. So I posted the painting and way to win it to my facebook fan page, initially I intended to pick my top 2 favorites and have those voted on. …but I decided it would be too hard to do that and I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, as I am so touched by the efforts that people made to tell ‘her’ story.
Soooo I am posting them here in the order that I received them in my mail box. At the end of all the stories there is a chance for you to vote in the poll ‘Who should will the Beast Girl’
Please only vote for one story.
First up is a story by Jeff Bertrand
Once upon a time in a land of doom and dismay lived a Beast Girl who lived in the woods far far away she howled at the moonlight and growled at the blowing trees she chased little children and gave them her beastly disease. she ate the blue sky and cried white snow flakes it was winter here dying trees and frozen lakes
second up Melissa Ruby
i am a buxom wildebeest at night, possessed by the blinking of satellites and the silhouettes of leering trees. the moon stalks me everywhere i go, longing to halo my head, as if a wildebeest can earn the title of angel. but i have no feathered wings, i am burdened by beastly fur and the devil’s cleft feet and Nyx herself has spat on my hair.
a mourning dove flutters over my head, then drops from the sky, as if she loses the will to lift her wings and flee from a wildebeest. i nudge her with a hoof and scream for her to fly. i cry over her body and my tears become as frozen as the tundra, seared onto my face. my eyelashes form icicles, which splinter away, and fall into the dove’s beak. her soft coos bubble into gurgles as she chokes on my icicle eyelashes and dies. i hear a cackle in the sky and look up. the moon is doubled over, trying to stifle his laughter. i curse him for mocking me. i curse you! i say and his laughter erupts. he laughs so hard he gets the hiccoughs. then he smiles at me, that crooked smile, and taunts me: yes, wildebeest, you are an angel, he says, you are an angel of dove death! and he laughs again so i lunge into the air, aiming to strangle him, but i miss, so i bite the sky instead. the atmosphere smears across my face and dribbles down my chin. as i swallow the little piece of universe in my mouth, the sun rises, so the moon winks at me and fades into the lightening sky. see you tomorrow night, he whispers. i glare at him and turn to face the sun so she’ll melt the tears and icicles from my face. i lick the leftover blue sky at the corners of my lips, catching a star with the tip of my tongue. it pops and fizzles in my mouth.
when the sun sees me, she sighs. what did he do this time? she says.
Third up Danielle Vogel
In the beginning, he would lie me down in the dark and read. I would stretch my fingers and toes. Lick the base of my bone-teeth to taste the inked edges of his words. “How sharp. How musk,” I would say. And he would bite my breast blue. And I would let loose a growl for him to swallow before continuing his verse.
Words spilled like ink-filled spiders from his mouth. His jaw would drop and they crept out. Their thin silver legs balanced on his opened lips. They crouched and hopped. Their hairy blue heads made their way from his throat. Gurgling up, heavy bodied. They dropped from between his teeth.
No matter how far I go they will travel — the large ones will stalk and the small ones will cast their script into the wind.
They will crawl upon my skin. Wind their webs about my wrists and ankles. Sink their ink in my blood. They will make a refuge of my hair and spin in the space between my thighs.
They will make a marionette of me, leaving me motionless without his words. My arms and legs limp.
And when my skin is too heavy with spiders, they will pry open my lips and crowd my lungs. They will stop my nose and suffocate themselves into my sex. And there will be no place his words have not touched.
Fourth Up Nicole Perugini
In a far away land
lived a far away girl
she was lovely on the eyes
so it was said
her heart was as big as a town
and she wore it on her chest
unlike those whose hearts would fit on their sleeves
There once was a beautiful woman who was saddened by the world. She decided to become a hermit and live the rest of her life in the forest. In the bitter cold months of January her skin and her heart grew hard like the trees around her. One day while searching for berries she was startled by a Handsome male youth of a deep blue color. He was dressed like an ancient King adorned in gold and rubies. He held in his hand a beautiful and fragrant lotus flower. “Why are you here in my forest?!” yelled out the Beast Girl. He answered back “I am the Sustainer, the Master, the Abode, the Most dearest friend, I am Creation And Annihilation, I am the basis of Everything!” As she glanced deep into his eyes she felt the heat of her heart for the Very first time. With that the Beast Girl kissed him on the cheek and he disappeared into the night. The ice around her body began to melt as her lips were forever stained indigo blue like the color of this mysterious and magical boy’s skin. At that moment she knew that she must return back into the troubled Human world and restore it to it’s natural state of Love, Peace and Harmony.
Sixth up is a True story by Jen Solomon
There once was a girl. She lived all alone. She was that way even though many had loved her. Some had proposed and some had given her all the best- friendship, flowers and accompanied her on foreign trips and many nights at Bay Area Bars. Nothing had been enough for her. She was so afraid of them going away that she would push them away then pretend it didn’t matter when they left and found new friends and wives and lovers. They thought she didn’t care. She thought she was sad to see them go, bewildered at their leaving and tried to wish them the best and put on a happy face but there came a day when she could no longer hide the ugly truth- she was JEALOUS! So jealous and had never been able to admit that- not even to herself! This jealousy was eating her alive and leaving her lonely. But even worse, she realized, she needed to tell those she had loved/hurt that she was sorry, a fool and a Beast Girl.
The seventh story is by Lorena Krause
She opens her eyes and sees millions of cloudy stars. The vision lasts a fraction of a second or perhaps less. That is one quality of the beast girl who can see massive amounts of imaginative visions thereby creating worlds, but she’s just learning that every time she does it she transforms herself and that; she can’t control, hence the melancholic look in her eyes.
With her famous sweet voice that still sounded human said once “I’m so excited, where are we going?” An old voice answered: “I told you it’s a surprise because you’re different”. That was the last time we ever saw her. It is said that she now lives in a magnificent landscape she imagined.
The Eighth story is by Noelle Eckman
The Night of The Beast Girl
It was the night of the full moon, and as the matriarch of the sky cast her first glow onto her children of the woods, the smell of misty pine needles and freshly disturbed dirt tickled Beast Girl awake from her nap and filled her little nostrils with the electric current of the night forest. As the collection of lengthy lashes on her lids parted she gazed up without thinking and was lost for a moment in the trance of Luna’s light, body and breath gone completely still in awe – like the stillness of the dead – but soon with much strain she forced her eyes down again, just as she had spent the last few years training herself to do. Her first few full moons she had lost consciousness several times when catching her breath for too long at the sight of her cosmic goddess. That is how it was, and must be, for the true children of the Moon… A curse within a curse, to be bound to the most beautiful entity ever to lift shadows from the dark spaces of her soul, but to be made near-fatally dumbfounded at every glance, every small attempt at visual admiration. As she felt her heart fall in her chest at the awful affair, she remembered her only consolation: the lake. With a lick or two to her tail and a good stretch to the arch of her back and her dainty limbs, she began the sprint to the sacred body of water.
As she felt her padded toes start to squish into heavily moistened turf she slowed, panting softly, and filled her doe-like eyes with the sight of her moon goddess, reflected in the still waters of the lake before her. She used to drink from a river closer to her den than this lake, and so did not even know until a recent exploration the wonder that took place here. For here, and here alone, in the reflection of the glassy liquid, she could make love with her eyes to the round paleness of Luna and not be stricken with the deadly stillness. She felt warm saline drops fall onto her bare fleshy cheeks and grinned, cooing and purring to the shining white circle, making night music. She spent an hour this way, sometimes dancing on tip toe and holding her frame in devotional and celebratory postures, until she started feeling bolts of pain in her stomach and remembered that she needed to hunt if she did not want to go hungry tonight. She started to pout even though there was no one there to see it, but the light of her lady’s reflection seemed to chide her softly and urge her to find prey and commit the divine murder. A little upset, but resigned, she bent down to take a drink of water out of the pool of light before heading off. Before breaking the surface with her mouth she caught sight of a fish weaving casually below the surface, and did not move to try and snatch it out or startle it – for she was not in the mood for a slippery and cold meal. Strangely though the color of the fish made her pause. It was a bright, light aqua blue, and though it made no sense, it reminded her of something sticky, hard and sweet. She felt her heart pace start to speed and salivated to an uncomely level, and then a quick and distorted sensation of gooey lips and a saccharine glue running hot down her throat overtook her. She stuck her face violently in the water without thinking, teeth bared, and the fish darted fast out of distance. After blowing some angry and confused bubbles she pulled out of the water and combed her long midnight black hair, now dripping wet, out of her face with her paws. She huffed, upset at how disorienting and strange that bombardment to her senses had been – and realized she was more famished than ever, in fact almost crazed with hunger! But suddenly, interrupting her thought, a low noise started coming into focus and filled her ears- then grew and touched deeper, causing a vibration just below her rib cage… Looking in the direction of the source of the sound, now completely taught with the rapidly growing unusualness of the night, she started to spy two bright lights fading into view on the other side of the lake – and without thinking further scuttled into the shadows beneath an overhang on a large rock to her immediate right. In the crevice of darkness she felt safer, but could, and did, continue to spy on what manner of attraction unfolded before her.
As she watched, a large rectangular box of metal on round rubber balloons puttered through a hollow in the trees, crunching the mass of leaves on the forest floor and rolling into a stop at the edge of the tree line, in view of the lake. Beast Girl then had a vague memory float into her mind of a great big human man with a curling mustache standing next to a contraption like this metal beast, holding her on his shoulders and making her repeat the word “car” as she kicked and chuckled. She was very small in the memory and without her fluffy tail, and as she tried to say the new human word a gob of something bright and tantalizingly blue fell out of her mouth onto the hulking man’s well-oiled hair and stuck there. Flying mentally back out of the past and into focus, she felt a piercing fear at the reccurence of the blue mystery substance, and also it pained her that she could not remember what this memory meant or was a part of. Thinking harder she realized she could not remember anything but a stretch of hollow blankness before a few years ago. She did not know why she hadn’t realized this before, and was at a very depressed loss until she had a thought that maybe the funny fish in the lake had secreted a hallucinogenic poison into the area of water she had submerged her pretty face into earlier. It was, after all, a very unusual and suspicious fish, and wanting to keep her simple and natural sanity in tact, she settled on that reasoning. She made a mental note that perhaps she should search out a different lake for future viewing sessions with her holy aerial beacon if she desired to to stay alive and well. It was not safe here after all.
She slowly started to inch her way out of the area, but always with her eyes on the threat. As she watched a human female exited the mechanical box holding a small human child, who in turn held a basket of some kind. The assumed mother carried the child with her parcel all the way over to the bank of the lake opposite to Beast Girl and plopped her gently down on her tiny bottom. The woman had fine pale hair that looked almost silver in the light of her great satellite priestess. Beast Girl watched it sway around her pale creamy frame as she adjusted her child’s pinafore straps and kissed the child on her peachy cheek. These were surely exemplary creatures of their race. So immensely gorgeous, and tender, and… helpless. Beast girl realized she was lingering on that last adjective, and it came to her mind that she had stopped slinking further back from the scene and, although very quietly, was breathing at a much faster pace. Her little chest bobbed up and down like a fan at the flames of a furnace, and when the woman across the lake bent over and started setting out whatever was in the child’s basket, the woman’s breasts hung down, bulging out of the line of her cloth garments, looking so plump and fruit-like it made Beast Girl involuntarily start sneaking back in the direction he had once feared. She was now filled with the blushing heat of the hunt, her skin practically undulating to it’s own percussive beat.
Beast Girl made her way around the bend of the lake, belly pressed low into the water reeds and grasses , dark fur blending with the earth below her. She was almost in distance when she heard a creaking and crunching close by, and she stopped and hovered to watch a man appear and begin pulling the mother away from the child back towards the mobile machine. He was calling her strange human words like “bay-bee” and “huh-nee poht” and giving little brisk pats to her rump. As he pulled and teased on her, the mother pulled something small from a hidden pouch in the man’s smooth garment’s. She took some sort of wrapping off it and handed it to the child, then began to walk away with the man, back towards the machine. But this time Beast Girl did not follow them with their eyes – for the gift given to the child glinted in the light of the sky, and a strobe of opaque aqua filtered onto Beast Girl’s retinal nerves and suddenly she was struck dumb with horror. Watching the little girl push the orb of blue into her small, moist mouth and start to play with a family of small stuffed animalia gathered around her, Beast girl was thrown into another memory – this time stronger than ever:
In the “past-vision” Beast Girl was a bit smaller than she was now, and sitting on a large red and white checkered cloth laid out on the floor of a forest. As she looked down at her own hands and feet, she saw that she was bare-skinned and… and human! She sat amongst two large humans, one male and one female, all three placed amidst many small plates of strange foods and liquids. There were crumbling sweet-smelling bricks of dark grain, jars of yellow and red paste, a very delicious looking carved leg of beast, and other some such human delights. Being very déjà vu, the large dream-man patted Beast Girl on the top of the head and handed her a bright blue sweetie from his pocket. Beast Girl let out a squeal of joy in a very female human manner, and started dancing about with her new prize – off of the floor cloth and into spinning circles of giggles nearby. When she was done celebrating she tentatively used the attached stick to press the orb of blue tint into her human mouth, decorated with all of those useless round and soft teeth, and began to slurp and suck at the thing. She remembered then that this was her absolute favorite thing in the world, this blue mystery sweet, and that the big human folks only let her have these things on very rare and special occasions when they would go on outings and she would wander alone, soaking in the pure delight of the sugary sap-ball. In her “time-dream” Beast Girl wandered on a path deeper into the forest, looking passively upon the multicolored leaves bedding the floor, eyes practically glazed over, being sensually all-consumed by the fountain of flavor slowly dripping down her throat.
In this scene though, she was not left to see her contentment through to the end proper – for she spied two great and glowing yellow eyes looking straight into her face about 6 paces ahead of her, and a deep and rumbling voice began to erupt from the razored maw that sat below those enchanting optic organs. “Yoooouuuuuu…” it groaned at her. “Look at me… look into my eyes… Yes, good child. You are so very beautiful. I have watched you today, adjusting your skirts and throwing your head back to look at the clouds. Many humans have entered my forest but they have all been such sad members of their species, compared to you. None had such hair, so fine and silken, and yet so completely dark. None has such eyes, so large and with the unsettling likeness of a doe of the woods. Small round breasts, hidden under your dress; small delicate fingers, constantly playing and toying with the materials about you… You are too beautiful to waste on a meal. You, child I want… as my wife!” And as the monstrous entity said the last, he approached the still stunned memory version of Beast Girl’s self and stroked one half-human half-animal hand languidly down the side of her face and neck. He then let his long pink tongue slide from his black distended lips and traced a slow, drool-heavy line over the tops of her small breasts and up to her lips. This was so completely across the barriers of her comfort zone though, that every hair follicle on her graceful body stood straight up on end and she gave the beastly creature a big smack to the face without thinking further. She had awoken, unpleasantly, from whatever trance the creature’s eyes had trapped her in, and she was furious and humiliated. Lightning dancing in her otherwise soft eyes, and she used words that she had once heard her human mother curse at a particularly over-zealous postal boy. “Fudge off, you scum-humping son of a whore! You disgust me!” And then she spat a large stringy glob of blue colored saliva in his face and started to walk off back in the direction she came, hoping deeply that he would not follow. But surely and disappointingly enough, the enraged beast-man appeared in her way again, coming up in front of her unsettlingly fast – and he snatched the treasured blue sweetie from her fragile grip. Then swinging it in front of her he hissed, ” What about if I take THIS from you, eh little wretched angel? I have seen how you love it, cherish it, favor it’s salivary gifts. I have watched the cloud of euphoria float off of your skin, and smelled the pleasure in the beads of gay sweat that dribble from your glands as you dance and skip in it’s name! What if I refuse to give it back until you let me take you as my own?” At this the young pre-Beast Girl turned a deep shade of scarlet, raised her hands with fingers now bent and shaking with anger, bared her little useless teeth and attacked the man in front of her, pushing her fingers deep into his magical and strange eyes until they oozed blood. Screaming high and shrill the monster in front of her slashed her guts open with his clawed hands, tossing the lollipop away, and biting into Girl’s shoulder before running off into the far-away shadows.
Now a ruin of hemogoblin and pain the Beast Girl of the past fell to her hands and knees, too wordlessly in shock to weep. She watched her human fluids of life start to make a pool below her and knew she would probably die in that place, all alone. During her shallow and ragged breaths she smelled the sickly sweet scent of her blue lolli, and looked to find it was not far out of her reach. Rolling onto her side, she took the sweet from the ground and marveled at its magnificent color once more, before sticking it back into her mouth. She felt strangely triumphant in her last conscious moments as her human self, reveling in the now muddy and leafy sugar goodness. And then she was gone.
The next bit of memory that washed over the present tense Beast Girl were flashes of waking up filled with the hunger, using her new claws and predatory teeth to slaughter any living thing she could find and conquer. And then forgetting, forgetting faster than she had ever planned she could, how she had come to be and who she was. She would now simply be Beast Girl, mammalian horror of the forest wood.
Beast girl came out of the unwanted memory bomb and back into time’s current reality with a face completely covered in tears. She did not want to remember who she had been, she had not expected to ever have a reason to remember. Odd sounds suddenly starting to bubble from behind her, she realized she was on her belly below the grass line for a reason. The older human couple from before her flashback were back in the “car,” and apparently… mating. Their child was still far enough away that she probably wouldn’t hear. She was absorbed in her visit with the lifeless cotton toys, and still gingerly holding her blue sweetie, not yet fully consumed. An almost numbness washed over Beast Girl, and she stood and paced over to the small round child – fairly certain the people in the metal contraption were sufficiently too occupied in their indecency to notice. Immediately, the little girl was so scared that she went as white and blank as the dead, not uttering a sound as our fur-bodied and lovely Beast Girl approached. Beast Girl calmly removed the lolli from the doll-like hand, which released it easily, and then walked away – back towards her shelter and into the night, leaving the humans to their mundane lives.
Back near her shelter she climbed the highest tree she knew of in the forest and took her time finishing the dreadful candy. She let herself do exactly what she wanted with it, sometimes rubbing it around the skin of her lips and under her nose lazily, taking in the experience. When she was done she lay back on her branch and knowingly lifted her lashy eyes to the Moon, letting the stillness of complete awe and devotion steal her breath and stop the beating of her beastly heart. She was filled with the light at the end of the dark tunnel of blessed lunar enchantment, and when her body ran out of enough oxygen to feed her brain, she passed out for the first time in a long time, and knew Peace.
Story 9 is by Camille Hamilton
The Blue-Mouthed Lark
Once upon a midnight dark
deep in forest,
moss and bark,
there sat a tiny blue-mouthed lark
that chirped and sang
The ravens came
and ate the lark
bringing with them
pure black dark
empty cries swallowed up
and silence filled the trees.
The quiet brought
the hungry fox
that ate the ravens
up the rocks
and swirling ’round
The serpents bring him
to the ground
the fur and sound
the echoes of the
to mingle with the breeze.
Her nose, it caught
the scent of blue
and with it came
the crying too
the bear ate every coil
she could find.
Her claws were caked
in glittered snake
Clouds of scales
fell like leaves
The moon, it rose
and filled the night
in inky white,
like tears that stained
her pretty face
eyes and limbs
a doe-like grace.
She hadn’t seen him
for so long,
her little bird
and his sweet song
Could he be close?
She felt him near
but all she saw
was the big brown bear.
So she ate the bear
and all the teeth
all the fur,
seeing her reflection
…it was known.
The moon queried how
she knew so true…
and she replied…
His mouth was blue.
OK so now that you have read all the stories please choose your favorite and please vote only once. If you are one of the authors try to be fair, if you ask your friends to vote please encourage them to read all the stories and not just bypass them to vote for you.
Thank you again to all the authors for your wonderful tales and please know that I love each and every one of them!! and am so thrilled that you decided to play along!! Best of luck!!
So I spent a good part of today looking for a picture of me from when I was about five or six with my first doll. Well not the first one that I owned but let’s say, the first one that made an impact on me and that I remember clearly. The photo is from sometime in the 70’s. It’s of my older sister and I sitting on the front porch of our family’s house in Napa. My sister is skinny and bright eyed and I’m a little chubby; not fat but “huggable” (oh Jenny she’s so huggable and sweet) when I would have preferred “oh Jenny she’s so pretty” but I digress. Under my yellow and white (if memory serves me well) dress you can see a little more than a jolly roll of baby fat but a hard odd lumpy shape. I think I am so clever and I’m fooling everyone with my pregnant belly. I don’t know if it is normal for a six year old to pretend they are pregnant, but my mom may have been pregnant with one of our brood of five at the time so maybe that’s what little girls do, pretend they’ve been knocked up. The dolly that is stuffed underneath my dress is the before mentioned ‘first doll’. I received her for Christmas and was so overjoyed when I unwrapped her and she fell into my embrace. My parents asked me what is her name and without a wink I exclaimed, Witch! My parents dreaded stares and likely small gasps were completely unknown to me as I was a kid and only saw my first child before me. They had both been raised Catholic and I am quite certain they were befuddled and aghast at the spontaneous name choice for my new little dolly.
So as you can see I haven’t found that picture yet. I put in a call to the keeper of the family pictures, the grand dame of all things Alcantara, my Mom, and she said she would ‘look into it’ Well I don’t have time to wait so here in it’s place is another of my sister and I, she with her cute fluffy white bear and me with my baby Witch. I think we look like those scary sisters from The Shining. HAHA
I have loved lots of dollies in my lifetime. One other Christmas my sister and I both got ‘Baby Alive’. Her commercial jingle was ‘baby alive soft and sweet, she can drink , she can eat” and she came with diapers, a bottle and baby food. Her mouth moved in a chewing sucking motion and you could feed your little baby and change her shitty drawers!! What fun!! We loved our dollies and they were much more fun to change then our real baby sister, because when you fed baby alive peach smelling food her poop smelled ‘peachy keen’ unlike really real baby stinky poop that lived in the other room. WE loved our baby alives all through the winter and spring and when summer came we were so excited to take them swimming in the family doughboy pool .We of course disregarded our mothers warning that “baby alive can’t go swimming”. Mom was right, baby alive can’t swim! in fact if you take baby alive in the pool her insides rust and brown stuff comes out of all her holes and she can’t eat drink or crap anymore and she becomes baby dead…so there we were with two dead babies on our hands. I can’t remember what we did with them. I know they didn’t get buried in the graveyard at the side of the house where we and the neighborhood kids would hold funerals complete with a director and mourners and flower lined caskets for any dead bird or bee what we found….I think they must have just been added to the heap of over loved stuffed animals and dolls and then snuck into the garbage by our mom when we weren’t looking.
I loved Raggedy Ann to I don’t have a picture of any of my raggedy Ann dolls but I found this obviously over loved doll pic online. I still have the broken Christmas ornament Raggedy Ann doll that I painted as a kid that I just can’t part with. Back in the first issue of Hi Fructose magazine, where a couple of my dolls were featured, Annie Owens wrote “Raggedy Ann better step up her game because Jennybird’s reanimated dollies are about to tear her screen printed heart out.” She couldn’t possible know how much I loved that line!! And what a huge compliment it was!
So I had plenty of toys as a kid but there were 5 children in my family so the gifts had to be spread around. I had enough but I didn’t have tons of dolls. I think that is why the ones I had were always so dear to me. When I was 11 I met my friend Sheri Debow. She shared my love of dolls and stuffed cute things and we would make dolls together and little sculpted animals. She had lots and lots of dolls. When we were teenagers she had this shelf that ran the entire way around the top of her room and it was crammed with dolls and stuffed animals. I lusted after that hoard.
Dolls have a life about them, maybe because they are made in the form of tiny versions of us. Maybe it’s the stare that they possess even when the eyes are just a few stitches of thread… I think that is why so many people have a fear of dolls, they do carry a power within them at least a power to put some people on notice. Beyond their physical appearance Dolls can be a vessel and they can take whatever you pour into them, whatever your intention is. Maybe that is where Voodoo dolls came into play. Because they possess what you give them, Dolls can be friendly and kind and love you right back or put you at ill ease and just stare down at you from the shelf.
According to Wikipedia Archaeological evidence places dolls as foremost candidate for oldest known toy, having been found in Egyptian tombs which date to as early as 2000 BCE. In Egypt, as well as Greece and Rome, it was common to find them in the graves of children. Most were made of wood, although pottery dolls were buried with children from wealthier families. Dolls with movable limbs and removable clothing date back to 200 BCE.
In my teen years I got into painting and that became my preferred method of expression so I ‘put the dolls on the shelf ‘. While in my early 20’s in art school, I had a great painting professor named Franklin Williams at the San Francisco Art Institute. His paintings were really interesting but the thing that impressed me so much about him I learned early on in my first class with him. He was showing the student slides of his work and talking about his process when he began to tell us about his relationship with his mother and father. He had a very strong bond with them and when his mother took ill he moved home for the final months of her life to be close to her and help her. When she died he took her clothing and lovingly and carefully removed the very thread holding her garments together and used it in his mixed media work. I think all the hairs stood upon my arms when he talked about that and I have never forgotten that or his influence to this day.
image courtesy of Artbusiness.com
So without getting too far afield I took that inspiration and began to revisit working with fabric and did a small exploration in soft sculptural work. I don’t have too many pieces left but here is a fabric pussy I made as well as my return to dolls in the form of this birthing bunny doll. In my painting I was doing a lot of work related to sexuality and my personal struggle to be ok with not taking the path of having a baby. I ultimately decided that my art would be my creation for this life time, but a lot of my work at that time was dealing with this topic.
After the art school short stint with soft sculpture, the dolls went back on the shelf until around 2002 when I made a series of a simple style dolls called Sideshow Sweeties seen below. I made 10 of each and they all had poems that went with them. At some point I want to redo a few of these in my current elaborate doll style and make a picture story book with them.
Sideshow Sweetie Pile
The dolls that I make now are typically characters from my paintings. I only do between 8-12 dolls per year so collectors gotta get ‘em while they’re hot! Here are some of my favorites.
My childhood friend artist Sheri Debow is the queen of dolls. I just know what I like and don’t like, but she knows so much about dolls and has collected hundreds I dare say thousands in her life thus far.
a small sample of Sheri’s doll hoard
me in Sheri’s crazy doll room with one of her more scary life like dolls
Sheri is awesome to go to garage and estate sales with because she knows what’s what. …and this girl doesn’t just collect dolls she makes stunningly beautiful ones. The doll pile below are some of her beauties and you can check out more on her blog at the link below.
She and I were both just in an amazing doll show at the Poets Gallery in New Orleans with some other fantastic Doll artists all brought together by the Amazing Christy Kane! You can click the link below to see all the dolls from the show.
And like I said earlier, painting is my true love. But I still occasionally take a cue from that pregnant six year old and a Dolly slips out from beneath my dress.