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December 2015

Last chance...

Once Upon a Time by Terri Windling purchase original art by me and other Chagford artists from Fernie Brae Gallery's autumn show. There are orginal drawings and paintings by Brian Froud, David Wyatt, Rima Staines, and Danielle Barlow, plus limited edition Giclee prints by Virginia Lee and Marja Lee Kruÿt. But the show is ending, so if you're interested, please contact the gallery right away.

The Fernie Brae is located in Portland, Oregon...but if you live elsewhere, they will ship the art to you. (And they also offer payment plans.) You can see the remaining work for sale here on Fernie Brae's Facebook page. The gallery's lovely website is here.

There are four pieces by me available, each of them pictured in this post: three hand-stitched collages (with pencil drawings, papers, fabrics, lace, buttons, and bits of Devon flora brought home from my walks with Tilly), and one of my "Earth Mother" paintings (oil paints and pencils on illustration board). If your budget doesn't run to original work, Fernie Brae also has signed prints of mine for sale; please contact them if you'd like more information. Also, Greta Ward is still kindly running her online sale of my prints (mailed out from her studio in Arizona), which will continue until the stock runs out.

May I ask you to please pass this information on to anyone who might be able to give these Little People of mine a good home? They want to go out into the world!

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep by Terri Windling

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

The piece includes a poem of mine, handwritten and stitched into the collage:

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray to Earth, my soul to keep.
I pray to Wind, for gentle dreams.
To Water, for sweet murmurings.
Cuddle bunniesTo Grass, where I will make my bed.
To Moss, where I will rest my head.
To blood’s Fire, to keep me warm.
To Dark, to keep me safe from harm.
To Moon, to dim her silver light
so Fox will pass me by tonight.
I pray to Stars, who watch above.
Bless me, and everyone I love.

Fairy Tales collage by Terri Windling

Fairy Tales

The handwritten text says:

"Once upon a time there was a girl, there was a boy, there was a poor woman who wanted, there was a queen who couldn't have, there was witch who lived under, there was a green frog at the bottom of, there was a troll, a tree, a bear, a bright eyed bird who knew the secret of, there was a fairy who had lost, there was a child who had found, there was a wizard who had made, there was a princess who had broken, there was a story that was trying to be told. Listen. The wind is speaking...."

The Guardian of the Fields by Terri Windling

Earth Mother: Guardian of the Fields

I'm not going to tell you what the handwritten text says here, as it's not meant to be entirely decipherable. It's the story surrounding the Guardian and the little ones she protects...but I leave it to you to help tell her tale....

A trail of stories

The Arabian Nights illustrated by Charles Folkard

Following up on yesterday's post: Another reason we hunger for narrative, writes Scott Russell Sanders in "The Power of Stories," is because stories create community.

Ottoman Wonder Tales illustrated by Charles Folkard"They link tellers to listeners, and listeners to one another," he says. "This is obviously so when speaker and audience share the same space, as humans have done for all but the last few centuries of our million-year history, gathered around fires or huddled in huts; it is equally if less obviously so when we encounter our stories in solitude, on the page or screen. When two people discover they have both read Don Quixote, they immediately share a piece of history....Strangers who discover their mutual devotion to fairy tales or gangster movies or soap operas or Shakespeare's plays become thereby less strange to one another.

"Frank O'Connor went so far as to declare that 'the one subject a storyteller must write about' is 'human loneliness.' Whether or not stories speak to it directly, they offer us a relief from loneliness, by revealing that our most secret feelings and thoughts do not belong to us alone, by inviting us to join the circle of readers or listeners. The strongest bonds are formed by sacred stories, which unite entire peoples. Thus Jews rehearse the events of Passover; Christians tell of a miraculous birth and death and resurrection; Buddhists tell of Guatama meditating beneath a tree; the Hope recount the story of their emergence from the earth; the Aborigines repeat in song the primal deeds of their ancestors.

Ottoman Wonder Tales illustrated by Charles Folkard

"As we know only too well, sacred stories may also divide the world between those who are inside the circle and those outside, between us and them, a division that has inspired pogroms and inquisitions and wars. 

From British Fairy Tales & Folk Tales illustrated by Charles Folkard

"There is danger in story, as in any great force. If the tales that captivate us are silly or deceitful, like most of those offered by television or advertising, they waste our time and warp our desires. If they are cruel they make us callous. If they are false and bullying, instead of drawing us into a thoughtful community they may lure us into an unthinking herd or, worst of all, into a crowd screaming for blood -- in which case we need other, truer stories to renew our vision. So The Diary of Anne Frank and Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz are antidotes to Mein Kamp. So Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and Toni Morrison's Beloved are antidotes to the paranoid yarns of the Ku Klux Klan. So the patient exchange of stories between people searching for common ground is an antidote to the hasty sloganeering and slandering of talk shows."

From British Fairy Tales illustrated by Charles Folkard

 "We are creatures of instinct," Sanders writes later in the essay, "but not soley of instinct. More than any other animal we must learn to behave. In this perennial effot, as Ursula Le Guin says, 'Story is our nearest and dearest way of understanding our lives and finding our way onward.' Skill is knowing how to do something; wisdom is knowing when and why to do it, or to refrain from doing it. While stories may display skill aplenty, in technique or character or plot, what the best of them offer is wisdom. They hold a living resevoir of human possibilities, telling us what has worked before, what has failed, where meaning and purpose and joy might be found.

Cinderella by Charles Folkard

"At the heart of many a tale is a test, a puzzle, a riddle, a problem to solve; and that, surely, is the condition of our lives, both in detail -- as we decide how to act in the present moment -- and in general, as we seek to understand what it all means. Like so many characters, we are lost in a dark wood, a labyrinth, a swamp, and we need a trail of stories to show us the way back to our true home."

The Princess and Curdie illustrated by Charles Folkard

The paintings today are by Charles Folkard (1878-1963), who was born in south London and worked as stage magician before turning his hand to design and illustration. He created Britain's first daily newpaper cartoon strip (The Adventures of Teddy Tail), but he's best known today for his long career as a children's book illustrator, producing sumptuous editions of fairy tales, nursery rhymes, Aesop's Fables, Alice in Wonderland, Pinnochio, The Princess and Curdie, and numerous other classics. Folkard died at the age of 85, still painting right up to the very end.

British Fairy Tales & Folk Tales illustrated by Charles Folkard

The Old Fashion Picture Book illustrated by Charles FolkardThe passage above is from "The Power of Stories" by Scott Russell Sanders, published in his essay collection The Force of Spirit (Beacon Press, 2000), which is highly recommended. All rights reserved by the author.

The hunger for narrative

Arabian Nights by Edmund Dulac

In his great essay "The Power of Stories," Scott Russell Sanders explores ten primary reasons for telling and hearing stories. The first reason on his list is a simple one: Because they entertain us.

"Why else," he asks, "do we trade them so avidly, in myths and folktales, in poems and songs, movies and plays, novels and yarns, and countless other forms? Children tell stories spontaneously, exuberantly, even before they have enough words to fill out their sentences. Anyone who has made up a story for a child , or read one from a book, only to have the child beg for it again and again, night after night, knows that the need for story goes deep in us. Scheherazade kept a sultan from putting her to death by telling him stories, always breaking off in the middle of a plot at bedtime, leaving him eager for the next installment. You do not have to be a child or a bored sultan to hunger for stories, of course, nor a captive to be saved by them. We all hunger for narrative, from the simplest anecdote or joke to the most convoluted saga, as we hunger for bread or companionship or sunlight; and we all may be fed, and even restored, by a tale that speaks to our condition."

Arabian Nights by Edmund Dulac

Sanders goes on to note: "In all its guises, from words spoken and written to pictures and musical notes and mathmatical symbols, language is our distinguishing gift, our hallmark as a species. We delight in stories because they are a playground for language, an arena for exercising this extraordinary power. The spells and enchantments that figure in so many tales remind us of the ambiguous potency of words, for creating or destroying, for binding or setting free. Italo Calvino, a wizard of storytelling, described literature as 'a struggle to escape from the confines of language; it stretches out from the utmost limits of what can be said; what stirs literature is the call and attraction of what is not in the dictionary.' Calvino's remark holds true, I believe, not just for the highfalutin modes we label as literature, but for every effort to make sense of our lives through narrative."

The full essay can be found in Sander's essay collection The Force Spirit, and is highly recommended.

Arabian Nights by Edmund Dulac

The art today is from a 1911 editon of The Stories of the Arabian Nights, illustrated by Edmund Dulac.

Arabian Nights by Edmund Dulac

Arabian Nights by Edmund Dulac

Arabian Nights by Edmund Dulac

Edmond Dulac was born and raised in Toulouse, France, where he spent two miserable years studying law before embracing art as his true vocation; he then studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Toulouse and the Académie Julien in Paris before moving to London in 1904. Obtaining his first illustration commission (for Charlotte Brontë's  Jane Eyre) at the age of 22, Dulac went on to become of one of the greatest book illustrators of his day, while also collaborating on various theatre projects (usually with his friends W. B. Yeats and Thomas Beecham) and becoming an expert in postage stamp design. He spent the rest of his life in England (changing the spelling of his name from Edmond to Edmund), became a British citizen in 1914, and continued to create his exquisite illustrations right up to his death in 1953.

Arabian Nights by Edmund Dulac

Arabian Night by Edmund Dulac

Arabian Nights by Edmund Dulac

Arabian Nights by Edmund DulacThe passage above is from "The Power of Stories" by Scott Russell Sanders, published in his essay collection The Force of Spirit (Beacon Press, 2000); all rights reserved by the author.

Little People looking for good homes....

Bird Girls by Terri Windling

Once again, my lovely friend Greta Ward is kindly making my prints available for purchase through her website ... and because she mails prints out once a week (from Tucson, Arizona), there's still time to order prints in time for Christmas, especially for those of you in the States. All the prints are hand-signed, and will remain on sale until the stock runs out. You'll find the prints here:

And while you're on Greta's site, please go have a look at her extremely gorgeous artwork too.

If you know anyone who might like to own one of my prints, would you please let them know about this sale? I have an ulterior motive for trying to sell as many of them as I possibly can this year: the proceeds will allow me the time to make more art, and I'm very eager to get back to the drawing board. Print purchases also help to support Myth & Moor...and to keep Tilly well stocked with bones!

This is true for just about every artist who isn't independently wealthy, of course, so please consider supporting writers, artists, musicians, and craftspeople when you're shopping for holiday gifts this year. I'm going to put a few links and suggestions in the Comments section below; please feel free to add suggestions and links of your own, including your own work.

The Lost Child by Terri Windling

The Lost Child

She had fallen out of her nest long ago and had no idea where she belonged. "Nevermind," the Bird Mother said, folding soft wings around the child. "We are your family now, so dry your tears. What was lost is found."

The Dreaming by Terri Windling

The Dreaming

Wrapped in the quilt, she closed her eyes and dreamed herself into a different story. The bunny snored softly in her arms. The wind pulled at her long yellow hair. Then she heard the rustle of footsteps...and the sound of giggling close behind her....

Best Friends by Terri Windling

Best Friends

They were the best of friends, inseparable, and they spoke the same language: the language of the soul.

Bunny Troupe by Terri Windling

Bunny Troupe

"Thank you for coming," the rabbit said, paws crossed politely on his belly. Mina gazed at the stranger curiously and waited for him to tell his story. She'd never met such a creature before! He had only one shape, the animal shape. He couldn't 'shift' like them. Imagine!

Mother Nature by Terri Windling

Mother Nature

This Mother Nature is is a muse figure, and the symbol of a fecund imagination. The original painting used to hang above my writing desk to keep my creativity fresh and fertile...before she found a new home with another artist. May she bless your creativity as well.


There will be some new prints coming up in early next year too, just as soon as health permits. More on that anon. If it's original work you're after, the Fernie Brae Gallery in Portland, Oregon has three of my collages and one of my paintings (among other magical things), and they do ship. 

The prints laid out in Greta's Tucson studio

Spinning stories with Scheherazade

Scheherazade and the Sultan

"What's your story?" asks Rebecca Solnit in her exquisite memoir, The Faraway Nearby, which I've recently re-read. "It's all in the telling. Stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like arctic tundra or sea ice. To love someone is to put yourself in their story, or figure out how to tell yourself their story.

Drawing for The Arabian Nights by Kay Nielsen"Which means that a place is a story, and stories are geography, and empathy is first of all an act of imagination, a storyteller's art, and then a way of traveling from here to there. What is like to be the old man silenced by a stroke, the young man facing the executioner, the woman walking across the border, the child on the roller coaster, the person you've only read about, or the one lying next to you in bed?

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live, or to justify taking lives, even our own, by violence or by numbness and the failure to live; tell ourselves stories that save us and stories that are the quicksand in which we thrash and the well in which we drown, stories of justification, of accursedness, of luck and starcrossed love, or versions clad in the cynicism that is at times a very elegant garment. Sometimes the story collapses, and it demands that we recognize we've been lost, or terrible, or ridiculous, or just stuck; sometimes change arrives like an ambulance or supply drop. Not a few stories are sinking ships, and many of us go down with these ships even when the lifeboats are bobbing around us.

The Tale of the Third Dervish by Kay Nielsen

"In The Thousand and One Nights, known in English as The Arabian Nights, Scheherazade tells stories in order the keep the sultan in suspense from night to night so he will not kill her. The backstory is that the sultan caught his queen in the embrace of a slave and decided to sleep with a virgin every night and slay her every morning so that he could not be cuckolded again. Scheherazade volunteered to try to end the massacre and did so by telling him stories that carried over from one night to the next for nights that stretched into years.

The Tale of the Young Thief by Kay Nielsen

"She spun stories around him that kept him in a cocoon of anticipation from which he eventually emerged a less murderous man. In the course of all this telling she bore him three sons and delivered a labyrinth of stories within stories, stories of desire and deception and magic, of transformation and testing, stories in which the action in one freezes as another storyteller opens his mouth, pregnant stories, stories to stop death.

The Favorite Wife Smuggles a Young Man into the Harem in a Box by Kay Nielsen

"We think we tell stories, but stories often tell us, tell us to love or to hate, to see or to be blind. Often, too often, stories saddle us, ride us, whip us onward, tell us what to do, and we do it without questioning. The task of learning to be free requires learning to hear them, to pause and hear silence, to name them, and then to become the storyteller. Those ex-virgins who died were inside the sultan's story; Scheherazade, like a working-class hero, seized control of the means of production and talked her way out."

The Arabian Nights by Kay Nielsenx

The paintings and drawing here are by the great Danish artist Kay Rasmus Nielsen (1886-1957), best known for East of the Sun, West of the Moon and other lavishly illustrated fairy tale editions. These pictures were created sometime around 1917 for an edition of The Arabian Nights translated by Arabic scholar Arthur Christensen...but the project never came to fruition and the paintings remained unknown and unpublished until after the artist's death.

The Paris Review has just published a short article on Nielsen on their website, with a number of his gorgeous fairy tale illustrations. (I feel a childlike delight in the serendipity of the posting, which appeared on my birthday.) You can learn more about his fascinating but tragic life in "From Fairy Tales to Fantasia," an article of mine in the Journal of Mythic Arts archives (2001).

The Tale of the Second Dervish by Kay Nielsen

For Arabian Nights illustrations by a range of other artists, see Maria Popova's "A Visual History of the Arabian Nights" (The Atlantic, 2012).

And to learn more about Scheherazade and her tales, I recommend Marina Warner's excellent book Stranger Magic: Charmed States & the Arabian Nights (Viking, 2013).

The Lovers Perish in the Fire by Kay NielsenThe passage above is from The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit (Viking, 2013), all rights treserved.