"Art is both the taking and giving of beauty; the turning out to the light the inner folds of the awareness of the spirit. It is the recreation on another plane of the realities of the world; the tragic and wonderful realities of earth and men, and of all the inter-relations of these."
~Ansel Adams

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Magick Brush and Living Paintings

When I was 4, my mother began joining a few book clubs for me and just kept the introductory books, canceling after the first shipment. One of them came a second time anyway, and I wouldn’t let her return the book – I was only supposed to look at it before she returned it. I tried in my own way to write my name in it, which made returning it impossible. It was a book that forever colored my passion for art, my views on life, and of magic.

I had already, in my own way, had started illustrating books by drawing on the blank pages in printed books – usually at the beginning or end of the book, and at the end of chapters. Several of my mother’s cookbooks became permanently decorated. I believe it was after this book that I decided I wished to become an artist.

The book is Ma Lien and the Magic Brush by Hisako Kimishima. I believe this is a retelling of an old Chinese folk tale.

Ma Lien is a poor Chinese peasant boy, who longs to become a painter – a true artist. He drew with whatever he could on whatever he could; charcoal on the walls of his hut, scratching stone against stone, or with his finger in sand. He has an amazing gift because his drawings are so good they appear to be real – even the sheep were afraid to go near the stone where he drawn the wolf. But he is a poor peasant boy – he has nothing. He begged an artist for just one paintbrush but was chased off.

An old man came to him – a wizard – and gave him a fine brush. He immediately ran home and painted a beautiful rooster on his wall, and as he painted the last tail feather it flew off the wall. It wasn’t just a paintbrush, it was magic, and everything he painted became real and was brought to life.

He used this power for good, helping his community and doing good deeds, but it wasn’t long before he ran afoul of the local mandarin who was a greedy man. He arrested Ma Lien and took away his brush only to find out that it would not work in anyone’s hand but Ma Lien’s. So he demanded the boy make him rich, and Ma lien painted him a mountain of gold, and then began painting water around it, explaining he was not yet done with the painting. He then painted a fine ship for the mandarin and his men to sail to the mountain of gold, and when they were all on it he painted a storm, and sank the ship.

He spent the rest of his life helping others and was never forced to use the brush, or it’s power, for evil ever again.


I immediately understood. It also became the book that inspired me to read.

The magic was never in the brush, it was in Ma Lien. He used his power for good, to help people. It was never meant to be used in a bad way, although it became necessary. The true power of the brush was in the heart of its user.

It also teaches humility and the importance of using one's gifts to help others. Ma Lien stayed true to himself, and his own integrity, and did not allow greed to deter him from his path.

The illustrations are lovely, and stylized – I used to look at it again and again, studying the pictures. It spoke to my soul, and I believed that if I tried as hard as I could to create art that was realistic, it too might become alive – just like in the story.

These things have stayed with me all these years. I began by creating realistic art, and as I grew older, I began infusing myself into the art, sometimes also infusing something more. A number of people commented that they could see things in my art that was expressive to the point of almost making it seem as if it was alive. It wasn’t by accident. It was deliberate.

I stopped painting and drawing about twenty years ago. Something happened to me that caused a blockage so that I could not create art without it becoming mentally painful – and so I pretty much stopped. The art didn’t flow. Creating graphics on the computer didn’t have the same effect, and so that became my career. It wasn’t until I began drumming – playing the djembe – that I was able to start drawing and painting again, although working through these blockages has been a real struggle. Working through pain on a subconscious level isn’t easy and there was no way around it. Recently I was able to show my dear friend and drum teacher Baba David Coleman the murals I had created. I wanted him to know that the only reason I could create once again was because of him. If I didn’t have such a kind, loving, and patient drum teacher, I likely would have given up on that too. And then he told me that most people don’t learn the drum to learn it as a musical instrument – what they are actually looking for is healing.

Painting these murals, my latest work, has been on heck of a struggle as I had to push myself beyond what I thought I could do. The first one of the unnamed Goddess with Fruit came to life as I painted Her – it glowed. That old fire within me had returned, my Muse had returned, and so she became my first ‘living painting’ that I had created in over twenty years.

Artemis was my next painting, and She, allow with Apollo I originally attempted to create quickly to meet a short deadline. It didn’t work. They weren’t my best work, and my friend said she wanted ‘the Gods’ in the paintings and she didn’t care if it took longer, but I had to redo them. Ever redo a painting? Let me tell you that is painful – to paint over what you have already created. Each painting was about six months worth of work, and it shows. I struggled with each one, but as I was painting Artemis, I asked this Goddess to please show me how She would like to be painted. She did, and became part of the painting. That was a surprise. As a priestess I have invoked deity in my rituals, and They have come down for me, but I did not expect They would come down for my paintings. Once called, They insisted.

Apollo was particularly demanding, and I felt repeatedly as if He had taken over my hand, and although the painting was late, He would not let me cut corners. Everything had to be just so. He knew what He wanted me to paint, and so I painted. The painting and its components are far better than the reference photos I used, which as most artists know, that isn’t supposed to happen. And the wolf in the painting, that’s me, my alter ego.

I have just completed my fourth painting – Le Morte d’Amore. It too took on a life of its own. Things seem to be happening to people just by viewing it on the computer screen, but as with my other paintings, it is viewing them in person that has the strongest effect.

I may be between jobs right now, and I’m barely alive financially, but like Ma Lien I seem to have found my gift. I can create spiritually ‘alive’ paintings that are bridges between the worlds. I don’t know of any other artist who can do this, although I expect their will be imitators as I have announced that I can. They don’t have my Muse, and I doubt they have the same kind of connection I do. It’s how I do my readings, it’s how I communicate with living things, and it’s how I work my magick. Some of are just born between the worlds to begin with.

But I also know that this gift cannot be faked.

So if you are looking for devotional artwork for your altar, sacred space, or temple, I will be happy to create a commission for you. Artwork for magickal purposes is another possibility.

Or I can just create lovely portraits, fine art, murals, and graphic design. I need work.

It seems this is what I am supposed to be doing. It is supposed to be my new career.

As I was leaving the Norwich Medieval 12th Night event, one fellow complimented me on my artwork. He said, “That is some gift you have there." He looked straight into my eyes, "Don’t stop.”

I’ll take that as my message from the universe.

I'm in the papers again - Twelfth Night feast in Norwich

I made the paper yesterday. I was vending and reading at the 25th anniversary Norwich Twelfth Night Medieval Feast at the United Congregational Church. It was a nice little event, and the food was excellent. The little ones wanted readings as well - who was I to say no? My latest painting is in the photo too.

TheDay.com logo

Twelfth Night feast in Norwich

Published 01/09/2011 12:00 AM

Dana Jensen/The Day
The Rev. Alicia Lyon Folberth, right, of Derby gives Nicole Kingsley, left, and China Williams, center, both 10 years old and of Norwich, tarot and runes readings.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Le Morte d' Amore

FOR SALE: Original, Le Morte d'Amore $500
Acrylic on art board 18" x 24"

"Beginning with audacity is a very great part of the art of painting.”
~ Winston Churchill

My first painting of 2011 and first in a series of black and white works. If this doesn't sell on the internet it is going to a gallery. Unpublished, but will be available as prints on Art America shortly.

My roommate and friend Hilliary inspired me with her black and white paintings. A photo of a graveyard sculpture inspired this. I have had much to mourn over the last several years, and so this became a painting. Perhaps this can say all the things I could never express in my writing about the deep pain of intimate betrayal of trust and love. This is one of my very few pieces that speaks about a personal story - my friends know. Beauty can still be born out of sorrow, so it's also an expression that I have triumphed over it, although I will never be able to move completely through or past it.

It's also a personal milestone for me as I continue to refine my ability to work with acrylics, in terms of texture. My training and love is in oils, but need has required me to use acrylics - I work twice as hard in them.

It seems I have mastered the art of making my paintings come to life, which no doubt will become stronger as I continue to paint after my twenty year hiatus (if you can call it that). If you see it in person, then you will truly understand. Photos on the internet don't do my paintings justice.

If you would like a commission created of your favorite deity or for magickal reasons, be aware I create 'living' paintings. I can call spirit into the painting as a bridge between the words. I don't know of any other artist who can do this, but I can. And that is something that can't be faked - you know it when you experience it.

All images at this site are copyrighted and specific property of Alicia L. Folberth. Removal or reproduction in any form is infringement of the copyright law. © 2010

Monday, January 3, 2011

Illustrations for Sagewoman Magazine

Here is some of my latest work - interior illustrations. The compositions came out rather nicely. The story they go with is of a woman remembering her mother and growing up in the Midwest.

My friend Karen posed for me,
and the pictures on the mirror are of her mother and father.
Original artwork NFS
Click on the art to see it larger.

Woman gardening.
Original artwork available $85
Click on the art to see it larger.

Western Meadowlark
Original artwork available $65
Click on the art to see it larger.

All images at this site are copyrighted and specific property of Alicia L. Folberth. Removal or reproduction in any form is infringement of the copyright law. © 2010

From 2008: Returning to the Drawing Board and Brushes - Part 2

(The Daybed Panels)

Yes, I have been busy painting. I'm working on several pieces at once. I'll add them to my blog as I continue to work on them. You might not realize it, but a lot of thought and consideration goes into any good piece of art.
The latest projects are the panels for a daybed of a 'goddess with fruit' (fruit is the theme of the room it is going into). This is the backboard, which is over six feet long, two feet high, and the scotch tape is to allow for the mattress height under the panel.
May 30th, 2008
This panel is my first attempt below, but it wasn't what my client wanted. It is in acrylic, black and white gesso as an under painting on a faux wood painted finish. If I had continued it, I would have added amphoraes, baskets and cornucopias of fruit on both sides. I have a real love of the frescos from inside of the homes that were preserved in ancient Pompeii (try doing a Google for them and you'll understand why).
The faux wood finish itself took some time to complete, and it was done in three stages. First a white gesso layer, followed by a dark-grained layer, and then a lighter layer with multiple shades. Having done graphic design for so long, I tend to think in terms of layers. The texture was created by using thick paint and dry-brushing the top so that it appears 'grainy.' I chose to complete the wood finish first so that I didn't have to try to 'paint around' the goddess or the other objects in the final. This also keeps the color and the grain uniform.

June 5th, 2008
Below is the first part of the new under painting in white gesso (I sanded off the first painting, above). Since I lack a model, the woman is a combination of two old master's reclining nudes. I wanted a natural looking woman with a real body – not a Barbie. I made her a little heavier in a few places, and feel that a vegetation goddess should have a 'lush' bit of weight to her. She will be covered strategically with grapevines.
Why a white under painting? I am fleshing it out this way, laying down the first details and values for the color painting, which I am planning in my mind as I paint. Since it is on the faux wood surface I had already painted, it will also make whatever I paint on top of it 'pop,' making the final colors brighter.

June 10th, 2008
Below is the final white under painting. The white gesso provides extra adhesion of the paint I place on top, so I tightened it up a bit, and made the gesso heavier. It also made the surface smoother, important since this painting will have a lot of skin, and the texture needed to be smooth for it to look right. The body and its curves needed to flow. I painted her completely nude first, adding in the "leaves" last. I've removed the tape since I no longer need it as a guide for positioning the painting.

June 11th, 2008
Now I can begin the color under painting. Acrylic can require many layers, and the drying time is so fast that I have to do blending and shading as quickly as possible. The colors don't mix true, and the values are different wet from when they are dry. I want to avoid glazes since this will affect the texture and depth of the values. Acrylic isn't my medium of choice for this reason, oil painting is, but it was the choice of my client since she wanted it done quickly and felt the paint should be more durable since it will be a well-used piece of furniture. Truthfully, I can create a better painting of greater depth with oils or even oil-based enamel, and I have never done anything this large in acrylics, so I am finding this really challenging as I must overcome the limitations of this medium.
I begin to "sculpt out" the face in basic colors. I really don't like the faces on the old masters paintings, and a new face of the goddess begins to emerge, as I paint it freehand without a reference picture. The painting at this stage has taken on a life of its own.

Below I begin to add in the grape leaves, blocking in the color. The grape leaf in center over her breast is a trial run to figure out the palette I will use to paint them. Acrylics are very bright – too bright for a subtle or naturalistic painting, and I have to quiet the bright green with mars black and titanium white. I start to work on the face in earnest now. It is the one part of the painting that requires extensive detail since it will be the focal point.
I added my old signature in the corner, something that I started doing while I was in the SCA and vending at renaissance fairs. Celtic uncials with three dots at either end – these dots in old Celtic manuscripts signified someone of the priesthood. At the time it was sort of my own personal secret as a votary of Rhiannon, before I began the temple, knowing that the 'Trinity' was very Pagan in origin.

June 12th, 2008
The picture below is really beginning to show how the final will look. I've begun working on the face in earnest. The first layer of green in blocked in, as is the red of the rose crown. The grapes will be painted last since they will be in front of everything else if the picture. I had a few visitors ask how long it took me, which I think is kind of funny since time eludes me while I paint. At this point I have put in about 40 hours of real work time into it. I 'guesstimate' that this panel will take me another 20 hours to complete, and then I will begin working on the side panel/headboard.

June 17th, 2008
Below is a close up of the face. It needs touching up (especially the eyes) and a bit of dry-brushing to make it softer, but this part of the painting is almost done. I have spent a lot of time carefully working on it; if this part isn't right, then everything else will I do in the painting will not make up for it. Again, the face was done freehand. This is the goddess that emerged as I worked on it. Just as when I do readings or I am in ritual, I go 'someplace else' when I create my artwork.
I've started working on the hair now, building up the layers of color and highlighting it with the gold iridescent paint. It's also one of the colors that was mixed into the faux wood finish to give it a bit of subtle depth, just like real wood. The rose crown will be the next part I work on – what you see in the picture below is only the under painting. I still need to go over the body as a whole to deepen the shadows and bring up the highlights. Then the grape leaves will be done all at once (lots of greens to mix), and then the fruit as the final project.
If you look closely, you will see the reason why the white gesso under painting is so integral to the final work. It has 'lifted up' the color from the faux wood finish background, and the skin texture is very smooth. It will be sealed after I'm finished, but even with the clear coat it is likely to retain a texture that can be seen underneath. Everything must have a richness and depth to it, as there are no unimportant parts to the completed work. It's a matter of personal pride that everything about it is professional in both craftsmanship and detail.

July 1st, 2008
At long last, her face, hair and rose crown is done. The roses alone took me several hours to paint. I'm satisfied with the way she looks now. I begin the underpainting for the grape leaves, and the fruit.

July 2nd, 2008
As I had mentioned earier, I have to work in layers with acrylics - the drying time is just to fast for me to do otherwise. I am working on the grapeleaves and fruit. There are at this point 3 underpaintings and one final for most of this work - 4 layers. It's also easier for me to start a bit darker and work in the lighter areas on top (thank you for showing me that technique Becka - it works!).

One of the hard parts about it as that for the most part - I am making up the painting as I am going along with just reference material. It would be different if I had taken a picture of this scene or had worked from a model - so I have to make it look right by "faking it." The picture taped to the wall is a referenc picture that I took of grape leaves. The roses were also inspired by another reference photo I had taken. If you have gotten this far in my blog, you must be an art geek like me. This is taking a long time because I have put my heart and soul into this - a part of me goes into everything I create. Bob Ross may have been quick, but he never inspired me, and if I had painted like him in art school I would have gotten an "F."

July 13th, 2008
The grape leaves and the pear under her head are done - I still need to work on the grapes. I begin to darken and define the areas around the body in the underpainting. Getting the color and texture of the grapeleaves to be right proved a challenge. It took me a little bit, but I figured it out - the missing color in the green turned out to be brown, so I added burnt sienna to the mix.

The apple and orange are finished - but everything else is still the underpainting. The leaves will also go over the orange, and so I chose to work on some of the fruit first.

July 17th, 2008
I've started working on the grapes, mapping out in the underpainting where each individual grape is. I finished one small bunch under her thigh - it turned out to be a challence in mixing the colors since there are so many on grapes - they themselves are mixed and the highlights and shadows create yet even more colors.

You know, I just finished telling some friends about the Chinese story of Ma Lein and the Magic Brush, a story of how a little boy painted pictures that came alive with his magick brush, and then I took this picture. I took several more and I am more than a little surprised because the goddess's brown eyes changed - they glow in the pictures. Now, I know I used a light bit of irridecent paint for highlights in the eyes, but there comes a point for an artist where they have to ask themselves what they connected to when they painted - the essense of the painting itself. Something has been happening on a spiritual level the entire time I have been painting.

From May 2008: Back to the Drawing Board…. & Brushes - part 1

(The Stairwell Panels)

Bet you thought I only did graphic art, eh?

It's been over twenty years since I put a brush to my last oil painting – it's a long story. I also have had some serious creative blockages for a number of years – yet another long story – hand drumming helped to heal those (thanks Baba). It looks like I am finally past all that. Drawing was actually mentally painful for a while, but it isn't any more. Considering the year I just had, I think it will be very healing and therapeutic for me to return to drawing and painting again. Being an artist has always been a very large part of who I am.
Once, I thought I might have given my favorite illustrators Michael Whelan or Rowena a run for their money…I still might. My true inspiration is from romantic painters like John Waterhouse. I went to Seven Bridges a few weeks ago – I was lucky to go. It's only open a few times a year and only select people are invited – a friend brought me. It was very inspirational, and got my creative juices flowing again with me thinking of things I'd like to create. I see things in my mind before I create them, a kind of deliberate painter's déjà vu.
In more ways than one, I've gotten back up on the horse…
A friend asked me to paint two mural panels in her home – and they will be large. The panels are 60" x 39 and 56" x 39". The first concept drawing of Rhiannon is finished – all I need is a photo model for Rhiannon (yes, she is drawn freehand from memory). My Goddess lives in my mind's eye. Another friend, Ernie (yes, a woman) is my model of choice. She's a warrior woman type, with great facial features – she looks like a warrior queen to me.
There is a good bit of symbolism associated with Rhiannon in this drawing. The white horse behind Rhiannon, the primitive Uffington White Horse that is carved into the chalk in Oxfordshire, England, a burial mound with carved entrance stones, and Her three golden birds. The small rider on the horse is Pwyll, on the mound waiting for his miracle of seeing Rhiannon for the first time.

When we spoke about doing the other panel, I chose the Morrigan, since I consider her to be the other half of Rhiannon. I usually don't mix deities, but in Their case I will make an exception since I have spiritually worked with both, including full invocation; I know Them, and They know me. The Welsh name of Rhiannon was derived from the Gaulish 'Rigatona' meaning "Great Queen," and the Morrigan's Irish name meaning "Phantom Queen." There are more connections between the two, but my focus in this blog is on my paintings.
Rhiannon will be on the left side panel, and the Morrigan on the right side panel – almost like reflections, but very different. Rhiannon's side will be sunrise, and the Morrigan's side will be sunset. The colors will be different too even in feeling – brighter/warmer greens, blues and red for Rhiannon and deeper/colder blacks, blues and purples for the Morrigan. The contrasting white 'day mare' and black 'night mare' is intentional.
I have just started the drawing for the Morrigan, getting the placement right for the horse and the raven. Rather than pencil in the Morrigan fully in as I did Rhiannon, I want to take a picture of a model first – I asked yet another friend to pose for me, who is something of a dark goddess herself. In the back I am thinking of placing the Calanish stones in the background, with several standing stones representing ancient Celtic warriors in the foreground.
After I finish the drawing of the Morrigan I will replace the picture above. I now have a spiffy digital camera, and this means I can take pictures of my work that are too big to scan. I'll finally be creating my website www.FlyByNightStudio.com (pun intended) over the summer – I've owned the domain for several years. I'm looking forward to photographing the rest of my art.
After the paintings are finished I'll have some excellent new portfolio pieces to show. I'd like to try my hand at illustrating book covers in the New Age/Pagan publishing industry – in addition to seeing if I can get some more of my writing published. It's taken me a long time to hone my writing skills as well, and I feel that I am ready. I'll see where it all goes.
For now, it's simply making me happy.

June 21, 2008
I was finally able to schedule Ernie to pose for pictures. Below is the one I will use for the painting of Rhiannon. She makes a very good warrior goddess, doesn't she?

Travel Examiner Artist of the Month: June 2010: Rev. Alicia Lyon Folberth: Part 1

Pagan Travel Examiner Artist of the Month: June 2010: Rev. Alicia Lyon Folberth: Part 1

June 9, 7:40 PMPagan Travel ExaminerPaula Jean West
"All artwork copyright 2010 Alicia Lyon Folberth. Do not use without permission."

Rev. Alicia Lyon Folberth is a multi-talented, multi-faceted Pagan artist, writer and festival organizer. She is a Visual and Digital Illustrator, Painter, Graphic Designer, and Photographer, Alicia grew up in rural North Salem, NY behind the old Keeler Farm at the top of Hunt Mountain, and in the shadow of an ancient Celtic dolmen. She moved to Connecticut in 1988 after attending the Philadelphia University of the Arts. She has lived in the Valley for the past 7 years and currently resides in Derby. When she received the children’s book "Ma Lien and the Magic Brush" accidentally in the mail at age four, she would not let her mother return it.

After that, her focus was always to become an artist, breathing life into her artwork just as the character Ma Lien has done in the story with his magic brush, and this concept would later also magically color her life spiritually as well.

Although her focus was Illustration, she became a Graphic Designer, and has worked for Fortune 500 companies and Advertising Agencies.

As an entrepreneur Alicia ran a small business in the 90’s, Centaur Illustration, exhibiting her work at Renaissance Fairs, and creating commissioned fine art and graphics. She also privately instructed local children in art and drawing while living in Bridgeport.

"All artwork copyright 2010 Alicia Lyon Folberth. Do not use without permission."

Most recently, she ran her own magical book and gift shop in East Haven, SubRosa Magick, for three years, and is a talented tarot reader giving spiritual advice to her clients. The recession forced its closure last year. Rev. Alicia still reads by appointment, and over the phone. She has always had the second sight, as well as other spiritual gifts, and employs these during her readings. Her customers tell her that her readings are highly accurate, and the manner in which she reads is caring, honest and straightforward. She was a long time reader before she first began reading for the public thirteen years ago, and has been a spiritual advisor to many in her capacity as a priestess. She enjoys reading and she has found it to be one of her callings in helping others on the path.

Now, running a magic shop might sound unusual, until you realize that Alicia has put her talented hand to many different creative pursuits. Alicia considers life to be the greatest canvas on which to paint. She is not simply a visual and graphic artist, but deeply spiritual woman of the Goddess as a Priestess, a teacher, a feminist, a writer, an activist and advocate, a psychic, a Reiki Master, and a student of the Afro-Caribbean hand drum.

She also teaches Reiki Classes and offers Reiki treatments. She first received Usui Reiki Level I training 27 years ago from David Jarrell, she began working with animals, and later treating people who were ill. She completed the Essential Reiki Level III Master/Teacher Training in January 2005 with Morganna Davies, who was trained by Essential Reiki author Diane Stein.

Rev. Alicia came to the path 25 years ago, after she was introduced to Wiccan religion through Zanoni Silverknife. For many years she has devoted herself to Celtic traditions as a votary of Rhiannon. She was introduced to Odyssean tradition thirteen years ago, which is the tradition of the Wiccan Church of Canada, and has now resumed her studies with two wonderful teachers, Elders Tamarra and Richard James.

Rev. Alicia founded the first Wiccan and Pagan Temple in the state of Connecticut in 1995, the Panthean Temple, formerly known as the Pagan Community Church and runs its large Beltaine festival every May in Oxford (http://www.PaganOdyssey.com/). She is no stranger to the media, having co-hosted a Wiccan cable access television show for several years, and has been interviewed on television, radio, the internet, and in newspapers and magazines.

Her writing has been published in two books to date; Cakes and Ale for the Pagan Soul edited by Patricia Telesco, and Voices of Survivors edited by Namid, both are available on Amazon.com. Her advice tarot column “It’s in the cards” has been featured in Finer Things Magazine and on PaganPages.org. She is in the process of writing and illustrating her own first book, which is a series of guided meditations and journeys.

Having matured as an artist, she is beginning her career now as a visual artist and writer full time, and is excited about this new journey under the new name of ‘Fly by Night Studio.’ To this end, she has recently joined the Valley Arts Council in Derby Connecticut.

Her favorite medium is oils, but she happily works in any, on or off the computer.

Links to learn more about Alicia and her many hats in the Pagan community

* web site coming soon: http://www.flybynightstudio.com//
* old store web site: http://www.SubRosaMagick.com/
* Facebook-Alicia's FB Page: http://www.facebook.com/alicia.folberth
* Facebook-Fly By Night Studio page: http://www.facebook.com/FlyByNightStudio
* Facebook-Panthean Temple Page: http://www.facebook.com/PantheanTemple
* Web site-Beltaine: A Pagan Odyssey site: http://www.paganodyssey.com/
* Facebook-Beltaine: A Pagan Odyssey site: http://www.facebook.com/PaganOdyssey
* My Space: http://www.myspace.com/aliciafolberth

Related articles
More fun at the Beltaine 2010: A Pagan Odyssey Festival in CT:Slideshow

Beltaine 2010: A Pagan Odyssey in Oxford, CT is a wonderful festival

Sacred Sites of Northeast USA: Connecticut: Gungywamp, near Groton CT

**Author's note: I recently met Rev. Alicia Lyon Folberth at the Beltaine 2009: A Pagan Odysey Festival in Oxford, CT. Alicia was kind enough to offer me complimentary admission to the festival in return for several articles previously published about the festival. I fell in love wih the work of this enchanting artist and knew I had to feature her artwork and her story on this column. PLEASE comment on her astonishingly talented work and check out all the links. She is a powerhouse of talent. Enjoy!

Slideshow here:

Travel Examiner Artist: June 2010: Rev. Alicia Lyon Folberth: Part 2: The Interview

Pagan Travel Examiner Artist: June 2010: Rev. Alicia Lyon Folberth: Part 2: The Interview

Pagan Travel Examiner Artist: June 2010: Rev. Alicia Lyon Folberth: Part 2: The Interview

June 13, 11:34 AMPagan Travel ExaminerPaula Jean West

PW – The Pagan Travel Examiner Artist of the Month for June 2010 is Rev. Alicia Lyon Folberth. Rev. Alicia has had a long and increasingly exciting career as an artist, an author, the amazing festival organizer of the Beltaine: A Pagan Odyssey Festival and an incredible woman of spirit. Thank you for joining us today Alicia!
AF- Thank you so much for the kind words, I am really honored. This is the first time anyone has interviewed me about my art, and something that I do outside of my temple
PW—The readers have already enjoyed a lot of biographic detail about you in my intro article about your life and your many talents. Tell us something we don’t know, something that is unique about yourself that I may have overlooked in the opening biographical article.
AF- It’s a lot to fit because I do so much! I didn’t even realize that until I began writing it all down.
In the previous article it was mentioned about co-hosting a cable access television show, and I plan on doing my own now on ‘real’ Traditional Witchcraft and Paganism. As with our Beltaine festival, I would like to invite authors, Elders and leaders to speak to educate; they have messages that need to be passed to the next generation. These also need to be people of integrity. Although it might only be a small part, I would like to play a role in this and add my own voice.
I do spend much of my time engaged in temple work in one form or another, and I teach. I believe I have worn every hat there is. It’s a good thing I’m a creative person – my skills have come in very handy.
Right now I’m rebuilding my temple after my divorce as well as my life, and so it’s even more of a priority. I also am a survivor, having broken my silence very publicly two years ago. I am sure there are many people who would just as soon not wish that I mention this, but I don’t hide it, and it led to some of my work being published in Voices of Survivors by Vanilla Heart Publishing. My own book will be coming out of that experience eventually. Finding my voice freed me, and in doing so I have given other women the courage to do the same. You have to walk this walk to understand; to be able to help others who have survived abuse, violence, and assault. No amount of training would ever prepare someone if they haven’t already lived it. So in a very real sense I am more useful to the Gods now than I was before.
 I am now even more protective of women and children in our community, and I already was before. I am becoming an advocate and an activist for change, for women’s and victim’s rights. I still am finding my own healing in helping others.
For myself, I am a good cook, vegetarian for the last 12 years. I like to spend time alone, sometimes in nature, or with my pets. I like it quiet, and being on my own gives me the time I need to do everything, and to reflect and think.

PW—How does the creative process start for you? Is there anything special you need to make the process work for you?
AF- The creative process for my art usually starts when someone hires me to create. I know that sounds terrible, but I’m really busy – likely the busiest ‘technically-unemployed’ person you are ever to meet. The temple work alone is a full time job. Some of my biggest inspiration comes from my dreams.
For my writing, now that’s a different story. Writing is my therapy more than my art, and in some ways it is more personal since most miss the soul of the artist in their work. I am struck by something usually that I just have to get down on paper, and then the writing begins. I actually have four different books I am working on, and then there are also the ones in my head.
Honestly, I am not sure in many ways where my creative process begins because it never ends. While I do not have an abundance of physical energy (never have) I do have an abundance of mental energy. About the only time I stop processing is in meditation or ritual, and ritual is a very creative act within itself.
PW—What made you choose the path of “artist” as a career path? What was the first creative spark that set you off down this path?
AF- Although I always felt I would become an artist, life is what happens when you are making plans. My real career, although unpaid, is as a priestess. As far as the first creative spark, all I can think of is story of Ma Lein and the Magic Brush. There is some part of me that still feels I can bring my creations magically to life as the boy did with his brush; on some level, I do feel I accomplish that. Take the painting of Artemis for example, I had to connect with deity to paint her, and so that essence of Her, and part of myself went into that painting. She doesn’t feel ‘flat’ to me. In the Goddess with Fruit Panel, you will notice that her eyes are glowing in one of the pictures – something special happened with that painting as well.
PW—Is the path of “artist” your day job? What other ways do you use to support your mission in life?
AF-- I am rebuilding my life and career. My store failed with the recession, which I had chosen to do to free myself of the corporate world. I was so tired of living in the broom closet on any level – we shouldn’t have to do it. So since the economy is terrible, so are my chances of getting back into graphic design in a corporate setting, and I am getting older. I am just starting to paint again after twenty years, and I am hoping this, and my writing will be my ticket to a new career. Although I do not have a teaching degree I can indeed teach art in a way where the student truly improves. I am happy to do commissions and graphics upon request and I am rather efficient since I was doing this in the corporate world for so long. I am good at making my customers happy and giving them what they want. This isn’t something that all artists can do. It’s hard, but I have learned how to detach from my work.
PW--What has been your favorite “artistic moment” in your life so far?
AF— The painting of Artemis is a personal best for so many reasons, and yet I still see flaws, and know I will do the next painting a little bit better. The composition completely works. I surprised myself that I have grown as an artist while doing design and production work, and I am not sure how.
PW—Do you have any personal favorite or favorites among your artwork?
AF— My more recent artwork, my photos (which are also something of an addiction), and my almost life size ‘snow unicorn’ sculpture I created when I was still in high school. To me, the computer graphics and illustrations are always missing that magical spark only the human hand can create.
PW—What has been your favorite moment in life so far? When? Where? Why?
AF—That’s an interesting question. I believe I have many moments and not a single one. For me it’s an odd question because my life is more than a little surreal as I live between the worlds more often than not. So rather than answer that question directly, I am going to give the readers some advice. The Gods, your ancestors, and the world of spirit, are always listening. Always watching. Speak, and the universe will find a way to answer. When it answers, those are my favorite moments; they are filled with beauty, Mystery, and worth living for.
PW-- Tell us about your Pagan path. When did you first know you were Pagan? How would you describe your spiritual path now? Has it changed over the years? What is your path at this time?
AF—I could write a book on that, but I will try to keep it simple.
I follow ‘The Path’ because in reality that is the only path there is, it’s our own perceptions and interpretations that make it different. There is an old Welsh saying that “All rivers flow to the ocean,” and so it is with religion. But ‘The Path’ will remain, unchanged, like a mountain that looked down and seen it’s species, inhabitants and cultures come and go over the millennia. It’s there to be climbed or not, it’s our choice. For me, Paganism is the way I choose to get there.
My first introduction to Paganism was through Wicca, and in meeting Zanoni Silverknife. When I met her I was still Christian, and I had no concept of anything outside of that. I decided I was Pagan about a year after I initially met her, but she had moved to the West Coast by then. I was a Celtic reconstructionist for a long time before coming back to Wicca through my first Craft teacher, Rowan.
I am part Cherokee, and I am fortunate that I have been able to explore a Native path through others as an adult. It was something that I tried very hard to connect to and explore as a child through books and to a limited extent, television. What I have always had is a deep love of nature, and I connected with it in a very personal way when I was young. I grew up with half a mountainside as my playground.
To answer your question of has my path changed over the years – no, but the way I walk it has. One of the biggest changes for me was becoming part of a tradition, and changing the structure of our temple to having both a core tradition and a coven. It’s what I am meant to do. Odyssean as a tradition does not require me to give up anything that I was already doing; it was so named because it recognizes that we all must walk our own path. I love learning about practices and religions outside my own.
PW—In addition to your artwork, you are also a very good writer. Where did you learn your writing skills? What other writing endeavors are you considering?
AF- Thank you for the compliment. Where did I learn my writing skills? That tickles me because I am mildly dyslexic although I did well in English in school. I almost was put in special classes for it. Thank heavens that they took me to a specialist who told the school officials to stop wasting his time and to keep me in regular classes. It is my artistic gift, my spatial ability, which is exceptionally high that causes it. I can visualize something completely in my mind and turn it around much like three-dimensional programs do on a computer
If it weren’t for the computer, I wouldn’t be much of a writer though. A typewriter would still put me into tears!
Since I Iove to read, I would say reading books and articles written by good writers is the best influence. You learn what is effective. The computer also was a saving grace here. Keeping up in chat rooms and email over the years has forced me to sharpen my pen. For my words to count they must hit their target and stick, so all this ‘goofing off’ I have been doing on the internet over the years has helped tremendously! It has kept me writing, and to be a writer you have to write. I put together a Pagan magazine for our temple in our early years and that forced me to write articles, and I have been writing ritual and meditations for the temple for almost 15 years. I also now have three years of classes I have put together and I have done much writing for them as well. I’ve been busy.
There are things I would like to do, such as restarting my tarot column again and working on my books. I like to work on projects that overlap and feed each other so that everything I do will flow its energy into another project. At some point I would like to do my own series of children’s books. They are going to take a long time to illustrate, and I don’t believe in cutting corners. When I create something I always hope it will outlive me.

PW—What advice do you have for aspiring spiritual artists? How have things changed over the last 20-30 years?
AF—I’m not sure that I have much in the way of advice since I am finding my own way right now. The illustration market has completely changed over the last 20 years due to the computer. What the human hand once created can now be created on the computer with far less skill, and to my mind, far less heart. Pagans as a whole love art and we are drawn to it, so that gives me hope in finding a niche within my own community. I expect that even the publishing industry will eventually change as it becomes a point of marketing to produce visually appealing books. People buy ‘pretty books.’ We are just starting to get back to our roots as Pagans, recalling a time when the arts were very much a part of our ancient temples. I’m rather excited about that, as we are just beginning to explore our own cultural renaissance as a religious community.
PW- What is the key to your incredible stamina as an artist, organizer and all round amazing woman? How have you kept going on at such a wonderful pace for the last few years?
AF—I suppose it looks that way to some if you don’t know. I am still healing from three years ago, and my stamina has been slowly coming back. My pace is not what it had previously been, and my mistake in choosing someone who was an abuser almost cost me everything. I have hung onto my temple and my festival just barely and painfully, but I’ve done it. To stop at all would have meant giving up my dreams and I couldn’t let him take that away from me too.
What has always kept me going is heartfire. I am my own offering before the Gods, and I don’t want to let Them down. I made a promise and I intend to keep it. I can’t let anything or anyone stop me from ‘the work’ I must do.
I saw a phoenix in the clouds that covered the sky as the sun was setting two years ago – I have a picture of it. It was a sign. A psychic friend of mine said before then I had a phoenix-like aspect to my spirit, and that I would rise again. What you are now witnessing is that I am being reborn again out of my own ashes.
PW—What other artists have inspired you over the years? Who is your favorite artist?
AF—Fantasy artists like Rowena and Michael Whelan, Pre-Raphaelite artists, and other female artists in general. I love Robin Wood’s work – to me she is the top Pagan artist.
PW—What Pagan or similar genre artist would you most like to meet and why?
AF—I did meet Rowena many years ago, and I would love to be able to speak with her again. She does old school fantasy illustration, and is still top-notch. If you love fantasy art and don’t know who she is, you should.

PW—What is the next big project on the horizon now that your festival is growing and your artwork is receiving more recognition?
AF—More like lots of little and medium sized projects. Being prolific and flexible, I believe, may very well be the key to success. I’ll have to see where life takes me since I have had to change course.
One of the things I would like to be known for is devotional art, and I do create commissioned pieces, including large works for the home or temple space – both public and private. More and more people are creating elaborate temple space in their homes. Even if someone lives far away, I can always paint on something that can be transported and mounted after.
The festival has a life of its own, and it will be what it will be although I work hard all year for just those four days. We have one more year of recession, which is holding us back, and then I believe we will truly be ready to grow.
PW—Is there anything else you would say to your fans and followers?
AF—Fans and followers? I don’t know about that. I just run a little temple with a big festival, write, and now create art once more.
I just have friends, and they know who they are. If it wasn’t for them, the support of so many in the community, I wouldn’t have been able to get back up again. It’s been the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I am stronger for it. Knowing that there were people cheering me on helped me find my courage to continue. That love is now paying forward.
PW—Thank you so much, Rev. Alicia Lyon Folberth, for sharing your time and experience with us today. I would like to thank you, personally, for becoming my friend so naturally after we met recently at the Beltaine: A Pagan Odyssey Festival this past May. From your first phone call to me, I have felt we were destined to be great friends. You have been a huge inspiration to me to produce this new “featured pagan” series of articles and to help my brother and sister Pagans by featuring all the exquisite talent we have lurking in our community. It is my privilege to help you let your light shine. And shine it has. Yesterday, my Examiner column was ranked number FOUR in the nation in the travel category. It delights me that this was achieved by helping others achieve their goals as well. Now people everywhere, in every walk of life, know how much beauty and talent we have within the greater Pagan and Earth-centered spirituality communities. Thank you for your help in making this possible!
AF—Four is the number of my Goddess, and everything happens for a reason. I am so happy that our paths have crossed. I am so honored to be the first Pagan artist in this series of articles. It’s lovely to meet someone with some of the same philosophies I hold, such as, “When one of us succeeds, we all win!” Much love to you dear Paula! Shine on!
Blessed Be!
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