Folk Art, Magic, the Faery Faith, Herbs, and Chores
Folk art is magical, evoking the Faery Faith—an ancient spiritual path. Folk art often adorns everyday items, which can enchant them and bless mundane chores.
Fairies Hide in the Flowers
When I was a little girl and first saw a floral painting in a folk art style, I found it magical. I think fairies hide in folk art flowers. Above is a painting I just finished.
Though I was never taught this (except by my heart and my Gods), I think the folk art of various cultures is inextricably woven with the Faery Faith—the ancient spiritual path of many a witch—as it is expressed in those cultures. I love that folk art is not elitist but down-to-earth, often used to adorn everyday items and blessing those items with enchantments I find to be innate in folk art.
I got lost in the painting while I was making it. When I finished it, I realized that, while painting, I’d wandered into other realms.
The piece might be good as magical ornamentation on a Book of Shadows page to give my students as a handout in an upcoming witchcraft course.
I work hard on my palettes. I love color and putting together unusual color combinations. Doing this, too, brings me to other realms.
A friend of mine said the above painting is really happy. That made my day. I don’t want ivory-tower art. Art that might give someone even a little boost of happiness means the world to me.
I am thrilled: my new brush set made rosemaling brush strokes so much easier. (Rosemaling is a style of decorating objects.) The pictures in this post were done using the new brushes and perhaps some other brushes.
Actually, I should say I am “kind of” doing rosemaling brushstrokes. I can’t claim to do the brushwork the way it’s typically done. But I don’t want to because it’s not relevant to my goals as a creator of talismanic art.
Mind you, I have great admiration for people who do traditional rosemaling. And if someone’s magic and creativity are uplifted by adhering to a commonly accepted method, that’s wonderful.
However, too often, the measure of what constitutes folk art, whether in painting, dance, or another form, is biased, perhaps gleaned from just one example of an art form as it was done in a single household or village. While these examples might be extraordinary artistic expressions, the use of them as standardized measures can invalidate and squelch other expressions of that form.
Folk Art is the Art of the Folk
Many supposedly authentic folk measures would shame you for your creativity and might, if you adhere to those measures, squash your magic and originality.
I cannot imagine Faeries gathering to enjoy themselves and insisting that every single Fey must dance the same or sing the same.
I imagine some of them having a fun contest where each sprite creates a new flower, unlike anything seen before, and the other Fairies cheer them on.
There has to be room in folk art for both the traditional and the new. Without that, it’s no longer the art of the folk.
I love tradition and have, for example, trained vigorously in some magical traditions, but I want tradition to inform and empower me, not pummel me. For example, I took great care and time to research and then mix colors for a palette of colors often used in the middle ages to ornament sacred texts. I learned so much from the doing that, my artistic predecessors of the middle ages were astonishingly skilled and had much to teach me, and I am proud of the artwork I did as a result. However, as I said above, creating unusual color combinations brings me into Fey realms. Mindlessly following what’s traditional in, for example, rosemale or medieval texts, would keep me from my innovative color combinations and other fruitful explorations.
Making Beautiful Everyday Objects
I like to paint to ornament my newsletters and blogs. It’s an act of respect and love for my subscribers and website visitors. I just finished painting this banner to go at the top of my newsletter:
Long story short, I can’t use sharp, crisp representations of my art for the newsletter graphics. Ditto my art in my blogs. But I add the art to the blogs and newsletters anyway, not only out of respect but also because I want to bring as much beauty and magic as I can to everything I do.
I’m grateful I can provide crisp detailed clarity of my artwork in my digital books and witch class handouts. I want to give the best I can in everything I do. That includes bringing witchy art as much as possible to the daily life of the individuals with whom I interact and to my own life.
Herbs and Enchanted Herb Labels
I used my new brushes to paint some herb labels. I’m pretty much the cliche of a witch, with my shelf after shelf of herbs—herbs for magic, herbs for physical health, and herbs for culinary purposes. Usually any herb I use for one purpose, I am also using for one or both of the others.
I love pretty labels on my herbs. Seeing the ornamentation as I search my shelves to decide which herbs I want makes me happy. Again, that simple benefit is important to me. Life can be hard. I want to make sure it’s also beautiful.
The labels also add gravitas to my use of herbs in cooking, healing, and magic spells. This is what folk art often does: illuminate the importance of all our activities, including our many mundane chores.
I find the herb labels magical for three reasons.
1) As I said, I experience folk art as innately magical. Use it to adorn something, and you’ve added magic to that object.
2) I sense energy in my artwork and might’ve thought I was deluded but have been told repeatedly that tangible energy rises off my art as well as off the printed pages of the Pagan liturgies and lessons I write. I think such energy happens when I paint or write or teach or do a lot of other things. The many reasons for that are beyond the scope of this post, but one reason is that I’m magical and pour myself into everything I do.
3) When you take your life seriously enough to adorn your everyday objects or find beautiful ones, the Fey Folk celebrate and bless those objects. No wonder some people want to restrict folk art to strict, narrowly-defined parameters; they don’t want all that magical power in the hands of folks. Often, the restrictive measures are based in sexist or other oppressive agendas.
If you decide to make your own herbal labels, a suggestion: I don’t like to deal with glue when labeling herbs. It’s always a pain to wash it off later. I prefer to punch a hole in the corner of the tag, string a pretty cord through the hole, write on the back of the card the name of the herb I want identified, and tie the cord around a jar with that herb in it.
A PDF of the tags in these photos will be a giveaway in my next newsletter. Then newsletter subscribers can print the labels on card stock to make their own labels. When I share magic and beauty, it comes back to me threefold.
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I love your art. 🙂 it’s inherently magical.
Arwen, Thank you so much! That means a lot to me, coming from magical you.
I have always loved the folk art paintings, I even took a class a long time ago. I never completed the project because I thought mine was not good enough, so if I don’t finish it doesn’t matter. I don’t know that project is, perhaps buried in storage or given away or when I was downsizing tossed away! This article gives me hope.
Toni, thank you soooo much for telling me your journey.
Your feeling more positive about doing folk art makes me happy!
I wish you the best in your pursuit of doing folk art and would love to know how it goes.