“Before the Fire” 12x12” mixed media on birch panel, $800
inked bristol sketch coloured with alcohol-based markers on handmade paper collage background
Anjuli - Fox Spirit Design

making narrative art for the curious in the wild Montana woodlands -
one-of-a-kind pieces whose layered details reveal an embedded story
Welcome to the 6th Fox Spirit Design official Studio Update - thanks for being my audience seeds! I think we’re going to grow great things together.

Remember all that work I put in toward earning my certification from the Montana Arts Council? Well, it paid off - here's my official medallion! Thanks to all of you for your support and encouragement during the process - it continues to mean the world to me.

This newsletter's featured piece "Before the Fire" is the one I submitted with my MAP "toolbox" for certification, and it's still a favourite of mine.

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.
Where the Wild Things Are

Branching path, quiet pool: the wood is full of secrets.
How do you know that you have seen
every footprint that marks those meandering trails
when no one like you is watching?
Some lives are too wild
to be caught on film; instead they inhabit
the shadowed edges of the stories that we can’t seem to stop telling
no matter how much we tell ourselves we don’t believe them
and that there is no place for that kind of magic
or mystery
in this world of answers.
In the wild places, I think maybe
they never needed our permission.
[Above & Below: henna highlights from this year's summer vending season]

Where to Find My Work

Fox Spirit Design spent the summer making weekly appearances at the Eureka Farmers Market and our annual weekend at the Lincoln Co. Fair in August, and I finished out the season with the Peace Festival at the Ewam Garden of 1000 Buddhas. Now I'm planning to take a couple months off from vending and work on things around the studio - my website, plans for the upcoming seasons, and most importantly, making some new art!

I realise I've been a little quiet this summer online, but there's plenty brewing behind-the-scenes, and soon you'll be seeing more of what I've been working on. To be honest, summer isn't my best season; I'm a winter child, and the heat goes hard on me. Unfortunately, it's also the busy time of year for our little seasonal tourist economy here, so I've been picking up extra shifts at my day job while the throngs are here, and I've had less time and energy for creative pursuits these last couple months or so. Luckily, autumn is finally here!

For October this year I'm going to try #Inktober - 31 ink sketches in 31 days, and I'll be posting the results on my Instagram feed as well as running some special offers on Patreon. I think it will be a good way to get back in practice with some good habits, and also be a good warmup for finishing some pieces I've been working on to be ready for this winter.
[Above: Squirk on a Stack of Books - sketching over coffee with the grandparents]

From the Sketchbook: Bare Beginnings

I'm gearing up with some practice sketches for #Inktober next month - I'll be doing daily sketches and posting them on my social media accounts. If you're on Instagram, follow @foxspiritdesign and vote for your favourites - they might become future finished pieces!

Even better, I'll be giving away the sketches to new patrons who subscribe to my Patreon account, so if you haven't checked it out yet, consider signing up in October!
Patronage tiers start as low as $1/mo. and provide me with income that keeps the studio lights on and my art supplies in stock, so please consider joining my community of patrons yourself, and if you have friends who might enjoy my work, please share it with them as well! Patreon is a crowdfunding model, so it relies on the existence of a crowd - a large group of people each making small contributions to create a big difference. The best part is, it lets real people decide what kind of creative output - what kind of art art - they want to see more of in the world, and provide resources to those artists.

And now, without further ado, allow me to present this month’s…
[Above: “Before the Fire” 12x12” ink and bristol cutout on board with handmade paper & acrylic accents.
This piece pops in any light; it has a subtle glimmer from the metallic accents on the edges, and the tail has certain shades in the fluorescent range that really make it vibrant. In addition, the cutout style lends a slight three-dimensional effect.
Instead of being framed, this piece has a 1” deep edge where the background wraps in a continuation of the aesthetic; it is meant to be hung as is.]

Featured Piece

 Peacocks mean many things to many people: vision, wisdom, nobility, vanity, protection. To me, they are a beginning. I was sixteen, still scarcely more than an egg myself, when I went to India, where the peacock is an ever-present symbol. It was an experience which touched and transformed me in deep and unfathomable ways, and the peacock has stayed with me. You can see the influence of India in the distinctly mehndi-esque stylism I used when I drew it; we’re pretty far from realism, here. (Mehndi is the art of doing henna tattoos on skin, and there are whole schools of traditional and contemporary styles for it that draw heavily on Indian and other Eastern and Middle Eastern traditional patterns and symbols.) The symbolism of the peacock is also closely linked to the mythology associated with the firebird, or phoenix, and this creature inhabited my imagination at a far younger age than India ever did. Even better, both birds have complex mythologies which occupy prominent places in both Eastern and Western cultures, overlapping yet distinct.
    There is a faerietale from Russia which I believe is called Ilya the Fool. (Mercedes Lackey wrote a delightful novelisation of it that I discovered somewhere around the age of 9, simply called Firebird.) It features an underdog young prince with little going for him but his good manners, which earn him a handful of magical animal helpers including a vixen (this always made me love the story more). Ilya falls in love with a firebird who has been stealing from his father’s cherry orchard, and it changes everything in his life in a way that ultimately makes a bullied, discounted youngest son into a hero in his own right, and because he earns it. This story caught my imagination early, and whenever I see peacocks, I think of firebirds, and Ilya, and his quest to gain the firebird’s love. It is difficult to explain what this story meant to me, as a child, but it ran deep into my imagination and planted a seed there.
[Above: scenes of Montana -
top: juvenile grizzly crossing the road; bottom left: skunk tracks in the river trail; bottom right: one of my godchildren celebrating a perfect summer day with his mama]

I draw a great deal of inspiration from my surroundings, like many artists. As many of you may be aware, Montana is one of the places that struggles with forest fires during the dry season of the year. Additionally, the management of our forests and the conservation of our wild places is a highly contentious topic here, and one that, in spite of the loud voices on all sides, has few easy or simple answers. Each summer, we watch the reports and the horizon for signs of danger; as a community, we look out for each other when the worst happens. Not all transformations are for the best, and many are difficult. All the same, all life is change; new growth rises from the ashes of what was before, as all that passes lays the foundations of our future.
[Above: "Before the Fire" linework]

 As I was making this piece, which I began six years ago and only picked up and finished last autumn, I was thinking, both times, of beginnings in my own life, the nest egg of what I have begun to build and what I hope for. The peacock’s many eyes can see many roads, many possibilities, the good and the bad alike; the egg that frames this bird is the beginning of an established context, all the potential outcomes of the future yet to be. It is brightly coloured and full of hope, but it is at the beginning of its journey still.
    The background behind holds pieces of pressed leaves, moments of spring growth arrested in time, but the stark black and white are the colours of ash, of duality, of the moment of choosing that lights the spark of manifestation, setting fire to all other possibilities in the process of ultimate clarification: becoming. It is a peacock for now, but in its future is the firebird, purified and refined to be reborn in fully realised glory, hinted at here only in the gold and silver edging of the frame, barely perceived, but present already.

Thanks for reading!
Guest Mention:

Check out the amazingly intricate work of illustrator Olivia Kemp. She makes impressively largescale works with a surprising level of detail down to the tiniest touches. Her settings are beautiful and imaginative; enjoy your explorations.
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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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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Fox Spirit Design · PO Box 2127 · Eureka, MT 59917 · USA

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