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The Lilith – past and present

I’m not an art historian. I wish I had the kind of mind that could contain and examine the history of the visual arts, but I do have favorite subjects and enjoy researching them in the hope of adding to the conversation through my own work.

I’m a little late for Halloween, but I’ll be dedicating this post to one of mythologies most hated witchy women, Lilith. Her purpose and definition changes with time and location. She’s a storm demon, a screech owl, a succubus, Adam’s first and rebellious wife, killer of infants, an ancient kidnapped queen, or the tempting serpent in the garden of eden. The feminist in me can’t help but to be fascinated.

Her image over time has gotten combined with other female demons from many different cultures. She’s a femme fatal. A magical, rebellious female character punished for being willful.

My favorite version of her story is that she was Adam’s first wife. Lilith was already on earth(imagine that) and God picked her up and placed her in Eden to be Adam’s mate. She refused to be dominated by Adam and eventually escaped Eden(I guess a sorta first divorce?). She settled by the Red Sea, made out with demons and then was cursed by God after she refused to return to Eden and Adam. She was condemned to spend eternity as a succubus/murderer of infants. Not very fair is it? You can read some other versions of her story at Gnosis.org.

Wikipedia also does a good job summing up the various stories and linking to other sources.

Below are some slivers of older paintings depicting Lilith as the serpent that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. Admittedly I am not Christian, but I grew up assuming the serpent was supposed to be a personification of Satan yet here are Christian paintings depicting the serpent as a woman. In some ways they remind me of Gorgons/Medusa, depictions of Hygeia or even Cleopatra on her death bed. Women and snakes. Women and snakes. How very chthonic.

From left to right, Bosch’s Paradise and Hell, Michelangelo’s The Original Sin and Expulsion from Paradise detail from the Sistine Chapel ceiling, Hugo Van Der Goes’ The Fall of Adam and Eve Tempted by the Snake, Bosch’s The Fall of Adam and Eve left panel of the Haywain Triptych

More Modern depictions of Lilith shown below are by Chet Zar, Tara Macpherson

Creepmachine did a nice interview with Chet Zar about this Lilith inspired paintings.

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Stressing out over Still Lifes

Here are some thumbnails of the some photos I took trying to put together still lifes for my painting class. I want to do this, but I always fear I’m being too cheesy, when really I should just go for drama and as cheesy as I want.

It’s also not like I can’t creatively edit the scene how I want in my painting. I don’t have to paint every unnecessary detail and I can interpret thing how I see fit.

As you can probably tell, I’m trying to create vanitas-like still lifes but with objects of fortune telling and superstition to match my conceptual portraits. I want to improve my observation skills and removing the portrait from the scene is probably exactly what I need to do to concentrate on objects.

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Sticky Lip Wishes and Vampire Hisses

Concepting photo with Cora Dietz and Elizabeth Tolley MUA

It took me forever to get something edited from the shoot I did with Cora Dietz. Jason helped me with most of the editing with his photoshop skills. I was attempting to concept out some future paintings and Cora was awesome enough to help out. Our friend Elizabeth Tolley did her make up and hair.

Le Fanu's Carmilla painted by Leonor Fini

Above is a painting I found by Leonor Fini of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s lady vampire Carmilla. Bram Stoker is said to be inspired by Le Fanu’s story, so yes, Carmilla is a work older than Dracula. If you are a Vampire Hunter D fan you will probably recognize the name. The villainess in the second movie shares the name.

I honestly am not much of a vampire fan, or at least not of pop culture’s latest incarnation of the vampire. I can’t stand the sight of blood, real or fake. It doesn’t scare me really, but it makes me feel slightly sick and I can’t get the taste of iron out of my mouth when seeing it.

I did enjoy the story of Carmilla though. Atleast from what I’ve read about it and heard in the below linked radio play produced by the horror series Nightfall Have a listen. It’s hosted on my site so you can listen to it on it’s own page or download it.

I won’t bother to describe it except to say that it’s less bloody and more interesting than typical gory vampire fare. I have downloaded the short story to my nook but haven’t read it yet. You can find it online to download here.