A Rown-Tree, Witch!

I finally finished that big piece last week! It took an unusually long time because of the size and the amount of detail I put into the background and because I was making a point to be a little more thoughtful about planning and color selection. I was offered an opportunity to have some of my prints produced and up for sale on a site and I wanted to make something really over the top and brand new (exclusive! whatever...)

Anyway, here it is (ignore the light leak on the right side and definitely click to see it larger):
I was doing some sketching when I started this but couldn't land on an idea I was really excited about. I keep a little list of ideas, images and stories I think could turn into an illustration someday and I revisit it every so often to see if any of those ideas are appropriate for whatever project I'm working on. I had made a note to myself about how interesting this image was:
I found it in the "Mysteries of the Unknown: Witches and Witchcraft" with the caption:
"Satan directs his minions from a hollow tree in this 1591 woodcut of the North Berwick witches." I made a note of the fact that the devil was emerging from a hollow tree because it seemed unique to me and reminded me of some of the reading I did about forest demons while doing research for the Unclean Spirits show. Forest demons and tree spirits seem very common in the folklore of cultures all over the world. In reading you'll also see the association of forests and specific trees with the devil and witches as habitation and ritual sites, presumably a connection made during the rise of Christianity when all the trappings of the previous pagan religions were relegated to the supernatural and demonic world.

A lot of the Slavic folklore I read referred to spirits like the Leshii who interferes with humans in defense of the forest. Across many many cultures there are spirits that live in the trees themselves and live or die depending on the state of the tree, or will brutally avenge any harm done to it. German folklore seems particularly full of scary forest demons like the Bockmann and the Baumese as well as the Wild Hunstman. I like the idea of these spirits of place which have a sort of shared consciousness and are intimidating because...well forests are intimidating and were even more so when people couldn't hear the highway from them.

It's dark in there!

The Forest in Folklore and Mythology by Alexander Porteous which I mentioned in a previous post is seriously full of so much relevant information that I'm having a lot of trouble summarizing it here for the purpose of this post. If you're interested in stuff like this you should probably just read it. Like a lot of folklore texts from the time it doesn't have a ton of insight and is more a collection of information, but it's a little smoother to read than a lot of the others I have and makes more connections than some of the ones that just read like lists of facts.

I think I drew the demon with european medieval images of demons in mind because I've always liked how bizarre and colorful they are. Here's a picture I took of a painting of one in the Cloisters in New York:
Dog legs? Face crotch?

I also wanted to give a nod to the aesthetic of the Sabbatic Goat and the Horned God without it looking directly like either of them and wanted it to be a composite of all the kinds of wildlife in a forest.

Anyway, if all goes as planned this piece along with a few others and another new design will be available to purchase through Shirts and Destroy in a few months. This is happy news because they are awesome and their products come out great and because I am fully aware that trying to deal with printing and selling prints on a person by person basis through email has been totally absurd and irritating for everyone involved. Up to this point I've really failed at making the things I make available for purchase online but hopefully that will change very soon!

In the course of working on this really labor intensive piece Mike and I watched countless movies and got particularly hung up on horror movie documentaries. Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape was particularly good (and long!). We also picked through youtube and found the Fangoria produced "Scream Greats" series. Here's a link to the special on Tom Savini (Pittsburgh friends, I think this is the one that includes a lot of footage of him walking around Bloomfield) and one to a special about Witchcraft and Satanism (Wiccans with astounding NY/NJ accents). I also watched some old Satanic Panic videos. This British one "In Satan's Name" is particularly comprehensive (tons of "recovered memory" weirdness, also an interview with Boyd Rice if you're into that) and if you're into pointy eyebrowed Satanist hilarity (Gorgo, Mormo, thousand-faced moon!) please do watch Satanis: The Devil's Mass.

Leaving for Maine in the middle of the night tonight for a week of lurking in the fog by the ocean, taking hikes on the mushroom covered trails near my grandfather's house and sketching and hanging out and most importantly getting the fuck out of the garbage strewn sweltering pit that is South Philadelphia in August. See ya.


Frank said...

The new piece looks amazing. Excited to hear about the deal with S&D. Have fun in Maine. Just got back from Vermont not to long ago. Now I get to enjoy that trash heap of S. Philly.

A.Mictlan said...

Your work is so great! Maybe one day we can do a trade? xo

wandering genie said...

I would love to! I probably could in the next couple months even. Been keeping my eyes peeled for those witch finger necklaces = )

A.Mictlan said...

i can also make them in silver! Which makes the immortal, unlike the plated one. I also have a sweet hand of glory in silver that you might like. I'll send you the links as I list them.

Jeff P said...

Painting looks amazing, Jeanne. And congrats on Shirts & Destroy!

wandering genie said...

Amanda, I'm sure I'd like anything with the hand of glory on it! Stoked to see your new stuff when your photo shoot is up!!

Frank, I just checked and it's a high of 70 something in Maine right now. I'm guessing Vermont offered similar relief!

Jeff thaaaaanks also please make a print of that new painting you did! I love it.

Amy Duncan said...

that's such an incredible painting jeanne, and amazing news about shirts and destroy - you're in the company of some pretty outstanding dudes there, as you deserve to be!

kniemiro said...

Amazing piece!!!

Travis said...

This is fantastic! I actually just found out about your work through S&D. They do amazing things, and I can't wait until this is available! I just hope I don't miss out on it.