I love meeting artists. I love meeting writers too, of course. I travel a lot, and everywhere I go, I try to meet other writers. Whatever our backgrounds, we immediately have a common language: of wordcount, royalty payments, and more important things such as the stories we want to tell. What we want to do, where we want to go, with the worlds we’re creating. We talk about our art and the technicalities of its production.
But I love meeting artists because they’re doing something so different from what I do, yet related to it. Particularly artists who are working with the mythic, with fairy tales and fantasy.
While I was in Chagford, Devon (just a week ago, although it feels strange to think of it now, sitting as I am in a café in Budapest — the thing about traveling is that after a while, all the places you’ve been start to seem like dreams, like places in stories you’ve told or read), I met three wonderful artists. I thought I would write about them, in case you haven’t heard of them or seen their art.
The first was Terri Windling. If you’re reading this blog, I’m sure you’ve heard of Terri, but perhaps as a writer or editor rather than an artist. However, she’s a wonderful artist. I had the privilege of wandering around the hillsides with her, seeing the magical landscape she calls home. I even spent time in her studio, doing some research in her collection of books on fairy tales. She has a website for her writing called Myth & Moor, but also a website devoted specifically to her art called Bumblehill. If you’re interested in her artwork, take a look at her Etsy shop, also called Bumblehill. I thought I would include a link to one of the prints she has posted there right now, “Mother Nature“:
(Funnily enough, since I’m in Budapest, all the Etsy prices are in Hungarian Forints!)
The second artist I met was Virginia Lee. I’ve known about Virginia’s art for years: I’d actually asked for a painting of hers to be the illustration for my first short story collection. But I’d never met her in person, and it was lovely to spend some time with her, looking through her work. (Artists! They take you to their studios, where they have stacks of original paintings, just lying on top of each other. And you gasp as you look through a stack of treasures . . .) Virginia also has an Etsy shop called Virginia Lee Art, but it’s empty at the moment, so I’ll post the cover of the poetry collection I’m currently working on, which will feature a painting of hers:
Here is a link to the original, called Moorland Melodies.
(Yes, I know, I’ve been working on the poetry collection and promising it for a while. I’ll get it done soon, I promise!)
The third artist I met was David Wyatt, whom I learned about through Terri’s blog. David is an accomplished illustrator, with many books to his credit, but my favorite paintings of his were the ones he’d done for himself, simply because he had wanted to. Many of them are available as prints in his Etsy shop, David Wyatt Illustrations. My favorite of them all is this one, Mariana and the Black Whippets:
There are several reasons writers should keep in touch with artists. The most practical is that we always need illustrations, whether for covers or the interiors of books. And although we often don’t have control over who does the illustrating, sometimes we can make suggestions. But the deeper reasons have to do with inspiration, with getting ideas for our own work, or from the way artists work and think about their art. One of the most valuable things I do as a writer is keep in touch with artists who inspire me. It was so nice to meet three of those inspirations!