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I am the Captain of My Soul

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INVICTUS

BY WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY

Out of the night that covers me,

       Black as the pit from pole to pole, 

I thank whatever gods may be 

      For my unconquerable soul. 

In the fell clutch of circumstance 

      I have not winced nor cried aloud. 

Under the bludgeonings of chance 

      My head is bloody, but unbowed. 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears 

      Looms but the Horror of the shade, 

And yet the menace of the years 

      Finds and shall find me unafraid. 

It matters not how strait the gate, 

      How charged with punishments the scroll, 

I am the master of my fate, 

      I am the captain of my soul. 

William Ernest Henley was a Scottish poet who faced no shortage of hardship in his life. He contracted tuberculosis of the bone at the age of twelve. Then when he was seventeen, his lower leg and foot had to be amputated because of the progression of the disease. In his early twenties he spent twenty months in the Royal Edinburgh Infirmary due to further complications, in which he almost lost his other leg, and during which he wrote Invictus and many other poems. He was friends with Robert Louis Stevenson, and when Stevenson wrote Treasure Island, years later, he based the complex jovial character of Long John Silver on Henley. So, interestingly enough, many people know at least the last line in Henley’s poem, and almost everyone has at least heard of Long John Silver. I would argue that few people know that they both came from the same man and his incidental hardships in a Scottish hospital.

“Invictus” means “unconquerable” in Latin, and Henley certainly did have an unconquerable spirit in the face of his arbitrarily dealt life blows. Even in the face of death, his spirit seems unbowed. That indomitable spirit certainly made an impression on Lous Stevenson at least. And the thing that stands out most clearly to me is that this spirit is a clear choice he has made. And it’s a choice we can all make.

In the face of the terrible stormy seas of life and whatever turbulent and absurd waves fate throws our way, we can either choose to cower in fear, or we can choose to be the captains of our own souls.

For me this is a clear connection to the stars and the compass, which are featured in my art piece. When I make art, I don’t usually know where I’m going with it when I set out (ironically). In this case, I was hugely inspired by a chandelier I had seen on Pinterest from a celestial photoshoot, and, with time to kill and my sketchbook and pencil at the bar of my favorite coffee shop, I simply started sketching, first with the moon and stars garland, and then the compass emerged as well. Later I blended the line work with the watercolor and starry sky photograph as the background, and added the gold foil letters from Henley’s poem at the last minute on rather a whim. It simply felt like the two went together, just as well as the compass goes with the stars.

The stars and navigation are a truly remarkable thing, when you think about it. Because the stars, being fixed points in the sky, are what sailors and sea captains have used for most of human history to literally orient themselves and navigate to their destinations. But it’s not just literal. Our myths and stories have a long history of the idea of wishing on stars; essentially, metaphorically using the stars to orient ourselves and navigate to our metaphorical (or perhaps metaphysical) destinations.

Maybe the metaphorical use derives from the literal use in the first place. It’s a bit hard to say. Because the idea of light and stars as guides is so deeply embedded in human mythology that it’s hard to say which came first. Lucifer was the morning star, after all, God’s highest angel, and that tale is as old as time itself.

So, we mere mortals aim for the stars. We shoot for them, you might even say. Because the stars are the highest possible good we can conceive of. And perhaps because we have been using the stars to orient ourselves physically since the dawn of time too, so why not this too?

But there’s something else implied in this sort of navigation; this captaining of our own souls, and it is this: we get to choose the direction in which we sail. Metaphorically we are all captains of our souls, whether we take up that mantle with courage and forthrightness or not, it remains true. And that means that we choose the bearings. Or else we drift, aimless and lost, because the waters are constantly shifting beneath us either way.

So, in order not to drift aimlessly, in order to not run aground and destroy the ship, we choose our goals, and we use the stars and compass to navigate our way there. More than that though, we choose the spirit with which we follow those goals, in the face of inevitable dangers and even that horrific shade of certain death. In fact, it is the certainty of our own mortality that helps us to determine what we want to do with the precious few moments we have on this planet in the first place. So in a way, choosing a goal at all means metaphorically staring death in the face and proceeding anyways.

It’s a good reminder for us all, especially at the end of another January, when New Years resolutions made with bright eyed hope begin to look more like the arduous tasks of change they almost always are (at least the ones worth doing), that no matter how narrow the road in front of us, no matter how difficult the winds and the waters, no matter how strait the gate, we still get to choose our own destinations, and we get to choose the spirit with which we set sail.

May we all remember to be the masters of our own fates and the captains of our own souls.

Behind the scenes shot- Chai Tea Latte, Pinterest, and a sketchbook. Bliss.

Behind the scenes shot- Chai Tea Latte, Pinterest, and a sketchbook. Bliss.

The final pen and ink drawing that became the line work in this piece.

The final pen and ink drawing that became the line work in this piece.

Part of the watercolor piece that later integrated with an astrophotography photo to become the background for this piece.

Part of the watercolor piece that later integrated with an astrophotography photo to become the background for this piece.

Close up of the final piece.

Close up of the final piece.

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To support this blog, and to adorn your everyday life with this reminder to captain your own soul, visit my shop and get it on a pillow, travel mug, notebook, etc, here.

To support this blog and my artistic work in general, consider becoming a Patron on Patreon, here.

Love and light, creatives.

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What to Expect from Lusicovi Creative

Dear Creatives,

If you’ve been following along on my social media at all (or even talked to me in person recently), you probably have gotten a general idea of what I’ve been up to and what’s coming down the line. But, for the sake of clarity, I wanted to write up a quick outline of the things currently going on at Lusicovi Creative, and also what to expect over the next year. We have a lot of awesome projects we are cooking up here, so bear with me on the length of this post. It might be a little longer than usual.

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First off, you really have to have been living under a rock to not have heard of this yet (because I've been annoying everyone about it), but the Starlight Journal, is finished and now in production!! This has been a project that I have been working on for YEARS, and I’m so proud of how it is turning out and I cannot wait to share it with you! There have been a lot of setbacks along the way, and honestly this is not at all the product I thought I was making when I started. But it’s so much better. Pre-Orders launch at an extra special discounted price (for the first 150 copies only) on August 1st (that's this Wednesday!) And the copies and official launch (including a glittering launch party) will be early November! So, for the next couple of months especially, as we go into launch mode, Lusicovi Creative is going to be almost all Starlight all the time! But, it’s going to be wonderful!  I won’t talk much more about that here, because we’re going to talk your ears off about it in the coming weeks, but I will end with this excerpt from the back cover:

The world is made of the dust of ancient stars, and we humans have always looked to the stars to guide us home. Like the stars, the Starlight Journal is both a guiding light and a source of wonder for creatives seeking balance.

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Secondly, I’ve already started working on this project preliminarily, but it has been mostly on the back burner since it’s inception almost a year ago. This project is also a book project, and is a collaborative, unique project that I am also really excited about and anxious to get back to! This book will be called Into the Sea: Fairytales of Atlantis, and it is a curation of artwork and stories that collectively explore the question: what if the story of Atlantis was a princess fairytale story? The submissions that we have gotten already are blowing us away, frankly, and this book is going to be truly beautiful. It is definitely still in the collaboration and art creation stage. So if you are a writer or artist (or you know a writer or artist) and would like to get in on this group creativity action- send me an email at fairytalesofatlantis@gmail.com, and we will be sure to get you included! The current plan is to create a group and be really active in there in September, into next Spring, and then final deadlines for submissions will be next Spring, so that next Summer we can launch a kickstarter to fund the printing of this beautiful book.  

 

Starting in August, I will be re-launching my society6 shop, in an effort to focus more on my artwork. This will be a way to achieve three exciting things! One, to make my artwork available and affordable. Two, to keep me generating new artwork and products continually (we will launch one new design per month from September onward!). And three, to give all you marvelous creatives and supporters a way to adorn your lives with some great boho and literary beauty! So look out for those shop updates every month starting in August, and if there is a particular piece I’ve done or that you want to see done and up in the shop, definitely drop me a line and let me know!

 

Another way that I’m pivoting to focus more on artwork is by focussing my business more on book cover designs than anything else. Because I am such a bookworm, and my artwork has always been pretty literary inspired anyways, this is the perfect way to combine all of the things I love to do. So, as such I will be collaborating with authors, particularly self publishing fantasy authors, not just as their book cover designer, but as general support as well. The reason I design book covers is because I want to tell the story in enchanting visual ways, and my aim will always be to work with storytellers to truly capture the story within, entice readers to pick up and buy the books, and therefore help my authors realize their dreams of publishing successful books. So you can expect to see a lot more talk of upcoming books from me in the future! (Pssst: the first one will be Tell City, by a very dear friend of mine, Kaylin R Boyd. We just finished the cover for Tell City this summer, and the cover reveal is scheduled for mid August, so stay tuned, especially if you like urban fantasy or anything at all by Neil Gaiman!)

As a super sneak peek, here is one of the images we shot for the cover of  Tell City.  

As a super sneak peek, here is one of the images we shot for the cover of Tell City. 

 

With all of these big changes and exciting projects coming down the pipeline, you can also expect a lot more consistency from me in updates. I’ve obviously launched a blog, and while the blog posts over the next couple of months will be quite frequent as we really explain everything that the Starlight Journal has to offer, even after November, expect at least one monthly email update with the shop update, recent blog posts, and other fun behind the scenes news!  

Finally, though these are still long off dreams, I do want to mention two really big projects that are in the works for the future of Lusicovi Creative. One is the next book project after Atlantis, which will be an illustrated (with underwater photography + painting and montage) and re-imagined and re-written version of the classic The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen. The second is even bigger in scope. But it will be a semi-annual magazine publication entitled The Starlight Emporium: Beautiful and Thoughtful Art and Stories. Combining many of the ideas and values of both the Starlight Journal and the Atlantis project, this will be a regular collection of beautiful and thoughtful art and stories that focus on anything curious, fantastic, and wonder-filled. There will be gorgeous photos and art, written poems, short stories, and articles that inspire, travel adventures, and featured artists, writers, and locations each time. There will also always be a featured “curiosity” article about anything interesting and related to a life of creative adventure (think health and wellness tips, financial talks, psychology, astronomy & other science, and ways to access creativity and divinity).

It will be for the curious, the adventurous, the thinkers, the dreamers, the magic makers, the ones aching for more creative connection. It will be physically printed, because there is just nothing like holding the physical art and words in your hands, or tearing out your favorite most inspiring pages and hanging them on your wall. And because, let’s face it, we all need to be better about getting off our screens and being grounded and in touch with actual wonder. It will be for anyone seeking wonder and connection in these frazzled, busy, exciting times of ours, and I cannot wait to get started on it. If you have any ideas for any art, stories, or creators and adventurers to feature, please email me at lusicovicreative@gmail.com and let me know about them!

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So friends, this where we are at. This is what I've been dreaming of lately.

This is what you should expect to see from me and Lusicovi Creative in the coming months and even years. I have to say, it feels really wonderful, grounded, and peaceful to have an actual plan more or less in place. Of course I expect for there to be curveballs and unexpected turns along the way. But overall I feel confident that this is basically the plan and trajectory. This is my mountain, as Neil Gaiman would say, and I’m very happy to be on the way there.

To follow along with this artistic business journey, and to support me and my art, make sure you are subscribed to my email newsletter here. I also humbly invite you to visit my Patreon page, and consider contributing whatever amount you are comfortable with to these projects. It would really mean the world to me. Especially if there is a project or piece that I mentioned in this email that you would like to see worked on and completed sooner rather than later, I urge you to support the project fiscally.

These projects are the things that light me up, the things that make my soul sing, and the things that make the hardships of life worth living through. So they are projects that I am always going to complete regardless. However, the biggest up in the air factor is always the timeline. The more time I have to devote to other jobs that drain my energy and soul, but allow me to pay rent and buy food, the less time and energy I have to devote to these projects, and therefore the longer it will take to see them realized. So if you believe that art is worthwhile, and that these projects are worth doing, please visit my Patreon here.   

All my love and light,

Elise

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Why My Art?

Dear Creative Soul,

Welcome, welcome dear brand new blog reader, to my own personal Neverland: Lusicovi Creative; here there be mermaids!

My name is Elise, and I am an Enchantment Photographer. Capturing wonder and creating enchantment is my specialty. I am a giant nerd and am fascinated by stories, the sea, the stars, and exploring questions like "why are we here?" and "what is the human condition?" and "why are we all still SO universally drawn to fairytales?"

My artwork is always literary inspired with a bohemian feel. I believe that both fantasy art and fantasy writing are incredibly important, because they allow us to explore very real problems in a safe space. Voldemort does not exist, but Hitler did. Evil Queens and step mothers don't (usually) exist, but surly bosses and prickly landlords do. And as CS Lewis once said, "Since it is so likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage."

I have a lot of other people’s thoughts (and a few of my own) on the value of art in general (For more on that, read my first ever blog post here.), and that is all well and good. But still, a curious brain like mine, which is always asking “why everything” cannot be satisfied without also answering why this art in particular?

And the most honest answer is actually: I don’t know.

Or maybe, I don’t know yet.

Or maybe I do know already. Somewhere on some lower level that I cannot properly express. Because, in truth, the ideas just come to me, usually almost fully formed. And usually formed in ways that I don’t consciously understand how exactly to create them when I start out in the process of creating them.

I don’t always know where they come from, but I have noticed that they do usually come from other art, stories, and myths. They come from archetypes. Maybe, actually probably, in a lot of ways, they are themselves archetypes. The Pandora Series that I created as my college thesis certainly was archetypal. (Stay tuned to this blog for more on that later!)

Archetypal or not, they call to me to be created, like the sea calls to Moana. And just like her, the call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me. I just have to trust that following the inspirations will bring me to where I need to be. And so far, they haven’t been wrong yet.

This is why, above all, I believe in the value of art to inspire and challenge us, children and adults alike, artists and viewers alike, readers and writers alike.

And I would like to think that my art, by exploring these big ideas about who we are as humans, why we do the things we do, and what amazing magical things we are capable of, can inspire others to re-examine what they think they know about the world and about themselves, and that together we can all learn and grow a little more.

I believe in spreading magic, beauty, love, & light, so that together we can inspire and empower the world, and I cannot do this work without your love and support. I appreciate more than words can say the support, the encouragement, and anyone who believes in this same mission, and I honor your part in allowing me to continue spreading this inspiring message and truly living my artistic life.  

To support my ever evolving artistic career, and to help me create the inspiring visions that come to me, please consider supporting me on Patreon, or check out how you can work with me as an artist or photographer here.

And of course, stay tuned to this blog (or subscribe to my email newsletter here) to see many more art pieces, and to read many more thoughts and musings about the value of art, the process of my art, magical stories, and many more exciting projects that I have in the works. If you have any feedback, I would love to hear it. Just send me an email at lusicovicreative@gmail.com.  


Love and light, always,

Elise

 

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