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Flora, Fauna, Persona
the art & writing of Desirée Isphording
Pagan Artist Interviews 
28th-Dec-2004 08:41 pm
A month or two ago I was asked to complete something of a mini-interview for Pagan artists (I mentioned it in an earlier entry actually), which apparently appeared at least in part in this Yule's issue of PagaNet News along with a black and white example of one of my pieces (I'm still waiting to receive my copy of that issue, so I cannot say for sure). Since this issue has finally been published, I thought it might be interesting to post my own responses to the series of questions related to art, spirituality, and their interconnection. In some cases, I feel that my answers were a bit terse and that a lot more elaboration was possible on my part, but considering the time constraints I was experiencing (and the presumed space constraints which would exist actually in print), I still think the results are satisfactory. 1. What originally prompted you to express yourself in your particular form of art?
This is a difficult question to answer since I've been involved in some form of art my whole life. I cannot say exactly what my original impetus was but it probably was a desire to more deeply connect to both nature and what I was learning about world myth and folklore.

2. When did you begin to create in this way?
I've been creating art in various mediums for as far back as either I or my parents can remember. I displayed a proclivity for drawing at an extremely young age, and many of the subjects I enjoy depicting now were also expressed in my very early work. I drew various types of animals, mythological creatures as well as shape-shifting figures who were somewhere along the continuum between being animal and being human. So I suppose that whatever my particular fascination is with mythic art, it's very persistent!

3. What is your favorite artistic medium? style? when you find that you are most creative in this arena?
There are so many mediums with which I enjoy working...I do not think I can pick a single favorite! I'm very fond of pen and ink (including the traditional dip pens, more modern technical pens, and even ballpoint pens), watercolor, colored pencil, and scratchboard, among other things. I often mix mediums as well. I also enjoy working in various styles - it keeps things interesting and I value versatility. Although I have no doubt that my work has a particular "look" about it which distinguishes it from the work of others, I still feel that I am in an experimental stage with regards to style.

4. What spiritual path do you follow?
I consider myself a solitary eclectic Neo-Pagan Witch.

5. Do you see yours artwork as being connected to your spirituality? In what way? Can you elaborate?
I regard my artistic pursuits as being an integral part of my spirituality. I tend to view my art practice as a form of meditation, contemplation, and magic. I also see it as an act of gratitude and appreciation. Mythologist Joseph Campbell has suggested that artists are our contemporary "shamans and myth-makers" and I certainly believe there can be profound truth in that idea. As a Neo-Pagan, I do not believe that the world is composed of a collection of spiritless, inanimate things. Nature is not dead, nor is it blind, deaf, or dumb. Art can be a shift in awareness allowing us to hold conversations with those subtle elements which normally evade our day-to-day consciousness.

6. Where do you get your inspiration? How does the creation of your artwork fulfill you?
I try to find inspiration everywhere, but more often than not, it finds me. Of course, Nature in its myriad forms is an immense inspiration. It has inspired me by way of grand, neon sunsets, through the slow curling of dehydrating leaves, and via the peculiar patterns of cracked asphalt. I am also very inspired by the work of other artists. For instance, various artists of the Art Nouveau movement, current mythopoetic illustrators, the Pre-Raphaelites, northern Renaissance painters, the Symbolists, and a multitude of others have influenced my own manner of visual expression.

7. Do you look up to any particular artistic figure, either contemporary or historic? If so, who? Why?
I look up to and respect many artists for many different reasons, but if I were to pick one in particular, I would choose Susan Seddon Boulet. I am especially interested in her later work. She was able to make her paintings both rich and earthy as well as luminous and ethereal. I also simply admire her for her considerable skill with oil pastels! I've used that medium myself in the past, and I found them exceedingly difficult to work with so I respect the fact that she can do such amazing things with them.

8. What goals have you set for yourself, both spiritually and artistically, that you have already met? Which ones are you still working toward?
Well, I major goal that I have set for myself is to consistently improve myself and my work. I hope never to become stagnant or too rigidly cemented to the way in which I currently work. I believe that, for the most part, I am accomplishing that goal on both an artistic and spiritual level. I'm always trying to learn new skills that I can put to use in my artwork and expand my current repertoire. However, since one can always improve, this goal of mine is not a single hurdle I can overcome, but an infinite series of potential paths to take. After all, even though I've been creating art virtually my entire life, I know I still have a great deal more to learn about light and shadow; animal, human, and plant anatomy; perspective; color, etc.

9. What else would you like to say to our readers about your artwork, or artwork as it relates to spirituality overall?
I would like to recommend a few books that I have found very valuable to my own artistic spirituality:
- Drawing Closer to Nature: Making Art in Dialogue with the Natural World by Peter London
- Neo-Pagan Sacred Art and Altars by Sabina Magliocco
- Wabi-Sabi by Leonard Koren
- The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura
- The Zen of Seeing by Frederick Franck

(As you can see, I have a difficult time giving definite, direct answers!)
· originally posted to sphinxmuse
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