“Snow Blossom Kitsune” 12x12” mixed media on lightweight board, $1200
inked bristol sketch coloured with alcohol-based markers on rice paper collage background
MAY, 2018
Welcome to the 5th Fox Spirit Design official Studio Update - thanks for being my audience seeds! I think we’re going to grow great things together.
Doodle & Drabble of the Month

Drabble (n.): a piece of microfiction precisely 100 words in length.
These will be a mixture - some finished pieces, and others concept sketches from my journal, so you can get a glimpse of the process from idea to completion.
3 Petals
    Two petals float on the still surface, drifting with infinite slowness across the silver mirror of the pond. Imminently, it will be a spring blossom-storm, a blizzard of pink and white. Her stillness reflects the water, her only movement the whisper of the breeze through her hair, but she, too, is on the cusp of sudden motion, a tempest of brewing potential about to emerge in dazzling perfection. A third petal casts itself to fortune, and a delicate ripple shivers through the waiting, tipping the balance. The moment is gone; the moment is now; the world is forever changed.
[Above: Mehndi design (henna body art) - Spring Daisies for the opening day of the Farmers Market!]

Where to Find My Work This Month
Fox Spirit Design came out on the 16th of May for the first Eureka Farmers Market of the season in the new location in Memorial Park, next to the Montana Market; there’s more shade and hopefully better foot traffic than there was in Riverside Park, so if you’re in the area, stop by on Wednesdays between 3:30 and 6:30 pm all summer long to get some henna designs and browse available prints and cards of my artwork.
You can also find Madeline (the Wooly Witch of the West) there doing spinning demonstrations and selling some of her beautiful handmade fiber goods!
For the rest of my summer schedule, I recommend following my Facebook page for regular updates; I’ll be sure to let you know when events I’ll be at are coming up.

If you’re curious about some of my future plans for growing this art-garden I’m planting, here’s a peek into my bullet journal (the essential organisational tool at the core of my life). This page shows progress bars for my Patreon goals; the patronage I receive there in exchange for regularly posted content and other fun rewards provides me with a dependable monthly income from art, which in turn helps cover the expenses of making and sharing it. If you haven’t been to the Patreon page yet, please take a minute to check it out! I’ve been posting regular content, including extra Doodles & Drabbles, colouring pages, and more since the beginning of this year, and even $1/mo. patrons will receive occasional bonus posts with fun extras.
Find all the public (free) posts here to get an idea of what you can expect, and please consider becoming a patron!

[Below: Bullet Journal Page from Patreon Index re: Patronage Goals]
[Above: Colour selection over morning coffee for Solar Mandala]

From the Sketchbook: Bare Beginnings
This month, I thought you might enjoy a look at the process I go through for a quick project from start to finish, mostly in pictures. This is a solar mandala (made to be slipped inside a clear phone cover) for my sun-chasin’ bonus mama, who’s out on a grand adventure.
Step 1:
Define the basic dimensions; rough sketches often begin in my bullet journal.

Step 2:
Once I'm happy with the general form, I quickly ink the lines I want to keep, then use my lightboard to transfer it to bristol board, where I clean up the sketch and ink it a second time, but more carefully, for my final lines.

Step 3:
Erase pencil marks and use utility blades to make cutouts where I want to use foils.
Step 4:
Time to select colours & materials! I wanted to give this some real flash and shine, especially when it's out and about in the sunlight, so I used recycled chocolate foils; I particularly love the texture on this gold one.
Step 5:
Colours chosen, I create a reference bar next to the original sketch, then begin to fill in the image. Always keep a blotting towel on hand when using markers, though - surprises can happen at the most inopportune moments!
Step 6:
One by one, I fill in the saturated colours, until every space holds colour. Then it's time to get out my white pen and add the details that add depth to the vibrancy - one of my favourite parts of the process!
Step 7:
When everything is coloured, I use a second piece of bristol as a template to mark the locations of my cutouts; it will also reinforce the overall construction of the piece.
Step 8:
Each spot marked on the template gets covered by a corresponding piece of foil of the appropriate colour for its placement in the pattern.
Step 9:
Assembly! With everything complete, I simply attach the two pieces together, add a little texture to the red foil to match the gold, and voilà! It's ready to hit the road with my bonus mama wherever she goes.

And now, without further ado, allow me to present this month’s…
[Above: “Snow Blossom Kitsune” 12x12” mixed media on lightweight board;
inked bristol sketch coloured with alcohol-based markers on rice paper collage background]

Featured Piece

    Some of my ideas come to me as images, the play of light and shadow, the suggestion of movement, a creature arrested mid-moment. Others are as much story as picture, and this one started that way, exploring the character at the heart of so many Asian myths: the fox who becomes a woman. Her motives vary from love to revenge to simple carnivorous cruelty, but her dual nature always reveals itself eventually. I named mine Snow Blossom; perhaps one day I’ll write her story.
    She is one of the old ones, 9-tailed and canny; those eyes see much that is hidden. The coins she wears around her neck are 5-yen pieces, often used as luck tokens or offerings of goodwill at Shinto shrines because of the phonetic similarity of the term go en, which means “5 yen,” to the phrase go-en, which doesn’t really translate directly into English but expresses a wish for auspicious connections. Echoing this auspiciousness, the cord of the garland is bright red, a colour which seemed doubly apt to me because of the two-sided aspect of the kitsune: they are, after all, predators of a sort, and there is often a bit of blood in these tales.
    This piece features many traditional elements of the kitsune story, and more drawn from Japanese culture generally, such as the inclusion of cherry blossoms and the hexagonal style of the lantern, which would have been made of wood and iron and lined with paper to create a more even illumination and protect the flame inside. Rice paper serves many functions in traditional Japanese culture, and for the background here I have used selections of it that, while contemporary, still carry echoes of these roots in both pattern and substance. Stories about kitsune say the lights they carry with them are both a sign of their nature and the key to their powers, and may be the only way to truly kill them.
    In the stories of many cultures, the line between humans and other creatures is a fine one, particularly in the case of certain animals, like bears, seals, and of course foxes. All of these appear in tales where they exchange their own skin for a human one, at least for a while; often they become human women, and take up lives with human men for husbands. Even so, their underlying nature is always there, concealed but unchanged, underscoring the ways we are different, yet essentially alike. Kitsune (fox spirits) run the spectrum: some tales portray them as malicious, others show them as benevolent protectors, and often they are said to take the form of a beautiful woman, especially at dusk or twilight. Most of these stories end in some sort of tragic circumstance that sends the shape-changer back to their old form and nature, although sometimes a connection of affection remains.
[Above: Snow Blossom WIP - selecting the colour palette, shades of spring twilight in the cherry orchard]

    The cherry blossom is the essential symbol of spring in Japanese culture, signifying hope, growth, possibility, love. Life bursts forth in merry profusion all around, and suddenly the air is heavy with the smell of opening blossoms and impending thunderstorms. It’s a time to clear the tangle of last year’s remnants out of our houses and our garden beds to find out what’s still strong and green, a time to make room for possibilities we couldn’t see before. At the heart of so many tales of magic is this truth: you won’t see past the glamour, the illusion of the familiar, until you make room in yourself for the unexpected to occur.
     Snow Blossom waits in the cherry orchard with her lantern, no ordinary flame but a magical light, the truth of her nature revealed. Will you take the invitation?

Thanks for reading.
Guest Mention:
This NPR article came to my attention sometime last month, and I can’t count how many times I’ve watched this video since then. I love everything about it. Beatrice Deer is a half-Inuk, half-Mohawk musician who collaborated with a team of Native animators to create this fantastic depiction of the Inuit version of the story of the fox-who-becomes-a-woman (for a while). Very similar stories exist throughout Asia, and throughout the world featuring animals other than foxes (bears, seals, and swans all come to mind) who shed their animal forms for a time to take the shape of a human lover, and the often-tragic endings of those unions between two beings whose essential natures are in fact disparate, or even opposed. This particular interpretation, while featuring many traditional elements of Inuit culture in the video, looks a little differently at the idea of expecting someone you love to conform to what you find acceptable. I hope you enjoy it; the article also provides a little additional insight into the process of conceiving and creating the song and accompanying video.

Beatrice Deer: “Fox”
Looking For More?
Explore to find more information about me and my process, to see more of the art I make, and to learn about available pieces and upcoming events.
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    Feel free to contact me directly with inquiries, questions, and feedback at:

Thanks for being part of my journey!
[Above: informal portrait of Anjuli at work in a favourite window nook]
Copyright © 2018 Anjuli - Fox Spirit Design, all rights reserved.

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