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Why Underwater?

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” - Loren Einsley

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Water is magic, in a sense. It is literally life bringing, life sustaining, and -can be- life ending. Water is beauty, power, grace, flow, divinity, creation, destruction, patience, awesome, fearsome, the source of all life and the thing that sustains life as we know it here on earth. It is the key ingredient.

Because it is literally all these awe-inspiring things, it is easy to associate it with the divine, and to see it as magical and otherworldly.

It’s even easier to associate it with divine mysticism when we realize that the oceans are still mostly a deep, unknown, mystery. Dip beneath the waves and your vision is changed, your hearing is changed, your air is gone, and gravity and light behave differently. It is about as close to another world as we earthlings can physically get.

 

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It’s no small wonder then, that psychologically speaking, water is representative of the divine feminine- of chaos, creation, power, beauty, flow, and life. The parallels are so self evident that they are universal. Every human on any corner of the earth at any point in time inherently understands the power, magic, and divinity of water.

Perhaps because of this universality, or perhaps they are just to intrinsically linked to ever untangle which came first, but either way, psychologist Carl Jung identifies water as the collective universal subconscious. Water is the dream state. The unknown and unknowable but beautiful alien realm. And that’s no wonder either, since whether we are daydreaming of a day at the beach,  or fighting night terrors of floods in our basement, water is the stuff of dreams both wonderful and terrifying.

The subconscious is a place to sort out the things that we know but we don’t quite know we know, or don’t yet quite understand. Much like the process of making art, it is chaotic, mysterious, and when it’s wonderful, it flows magically.

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For all of these reasons (plus my own personal divine Moana-like calling to the sea), I cannot think of a better realm in which to explore my work than in the flowing, brilliant, mysterious, fantasy land of dreams, the subconscious, and the divine that is the underwater realm. A better marriage of subject matter and setting would be difficult even to dream up.

And besides, as everyone knows, if there’s magic on this earth, it is definitely contained in water.  

 

To support my creative journey into the waters of unknown and light, visit my Patreon. 

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Why Fantasy?

Stories, particularly myths, legends, and fantasy,  are how we as humans examine, explore, and ultimately explain the human condition.

The editors of the book Fantasy offer a profound take on the merit of fantasy literature (and by extension, all fantasy art.) They state that fantasy authors create new worlds in order to rid their readers of preconceptions and prejudices that are found in day-to-day life. By removing these biases, moral standards and truths can be examined in new, fresh, ways, and hopefully, lessons can be learned that would otherwise be out of reach.

In his article “Children and Fairy Stories,” JRR Tolkien argues for the validity of fantasy as a genre in literature. Fantasy in this and most cases includes everything from ancient myths and legends, to folklore, to the classic fairy tales, to Tolkien’s own The Hobbit, or There and Back Again.

Tolkien makes the point that “the goal of fantasy is to lead the reader to a keener understanding of himself and his world.” The idea being that in the fictional work can be found deeper truths about the world around us. So by reading the story, we can better understand ourselves and our world.

RG Collingwood demands almost the same exact thing of art in general in his aesthetics. He claims that the artist proper works with the world from beginning to end to help the world see what he (the artist) sees; to help them find out things about themselves through the art.

He says that the artist, instead of being “the great man who imposes upon the world the task of understanding him, will be a humbler person, imposing upon himself the task of understanding his world, and thus enabling it to understand itself.”

My personal hope is always that people viewing my work in the context of the new fresh combination of technique and media will perhaps gain some insight into themselves or their world. (I’ll get into my technique a little more in detail in some later blog posts, so stay tuned!)

So, where does fantasy come from? What is its history? (Other than a long history of British writers defending it.) The short answer to this question is ‘human imagination.’

However, I am a little more concerned with its historical origins and how it has developed across time. For as long as there have been humans, presumably those humans have always strived to explain themselves and their world.

There are records as far back as 2000 B.C. of fantastical stories in Ancient Egypt, including one that is essentially the story of Cinderella. The myths and legends of Ancient Greece are, if not actually common knowledge, certainly not lost to the ages.

What is most fascinating to me is that across all borders of time and geography, humanity continuously comes up with essentially the same mythological and magical stories. If we keep writing this story, the very fact of its repetition begs us to ask why? What value does it hold to us? To ALL of us; all humans everywhere and at every time. There must be something worthwhile in there.

The description of “the story of an uninitiated young hero who must voluntarily battle and outwit forces much greater than himself in order to return home” can be applied to everything from Gilgamesh to Odysseus to Harry Potter to Luke Skywalker.

With only a little bit of a stretch, that description could even apply to everyday people in their everyday lives. Often in everyday life we encounter and must overcome forces greater than ourselves in order to simply survive the day and get back home.  My own entrepreneurial journey certainly fits this bill. Many relationships fit this bill. We are continuously going out there into dangerous unknown territory (either literally or psychologically/metaphysically) and back again to safety.

Fairy tales, the ancestor and cousin of modern fantasy literature (and quite often the inspiration), are often the same story again as the even more ancient myths, though perhaps slightly less fantastical. Often it is not a literal dragon that the Princess must fight, but everyday evil people, and metaphorical dragons. In some cases, she must face the slightly less commonplace evil magical Queen or Jabberwocky. In this way, Fairytales can usually be seen as a step closer to reality.

Magic is always involved in Fairy tales, but with that exception, the tales could take place in our own world, as opposed to in Middle Earth or in galaxies far far away. Even those that end up in Wonderland usually begin and end here in our world.

The best aspect about fantasy stories of all sorts is that they parallel real life. I suspect that this is why they are so popular, and why since the dawn of time, humans have been compelled to tell such stories. This is what makes them so valuable.

Whether the evil in the story takes the form of dragons, evil queens, or simply nasty step-sisters, there is evil present, just as there is in the real world. And by watching the heroes of our stories bravely face and conquer their dragons and evils, we are instilled with the inner strength and courage to conquer our own "dragons."

As G.K. Chesterton famously stated, “Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

By seeing metaphorical versions of our own challenges successfully overcome, we begin to believe that we too can face our own metaphorical dragons. If Alice can face a Jabberwocky, we can stand up to the bully on the playground, or the coworker taking advantage of us. We too can believe in “impossible” things. And there is magic and value in that, you can be sure.

 

To support my artistic excursions into fantasy, please visit my Patreon. 

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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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Why Art?

The Earth, without Art, is just “eh.” This line is better than just a fun play on words, because it’s true. Art brings color, light, and awe to the world. It is transcendent. At least, good art is. It can make you think, wake you up, give you new avenues to explore, and bring you to an encounter with the divine.

There’s a great line in the movie Dead Poets Society that really captures this:

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are all noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love...these are what we stay alive for.”

Good art usually encapsulates all four; poetry, beauty, romance, and love, in one way or another.

Life is hard, just at the baseline. Humans are vulnerable beings. Every single one of us battles misfortune, disease, mother nature, and eventually time. We need art, beauty, wonder, romance, and love to make the dullness and drudgery of life worth living through.

That may all sound woefully depressing to you, but I don’t see it that way. Because, really, we cannot change anything about the baseline state of life. We can change our communities, and the world, if we are very ambitious, sure. But we cannot change the facts that disease and mother nature and plain old bad luck exists. As Neil Gaiman says in his famous Make Good Art commencement speech, “Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do: Make. Good. Art.”  

We cannot eliminate the struggle or vulnerability or disease or death that comes with life (and even if we could, do we really want to? Don’t the bad times make the good things better? Just as there can be no light without darkness?) We cannot truly stop time from marching ever onward. But what we can do is make our time here worthwhile.

We can make our lives worthwhile. By creating beauty, wonder, love, and transcendent  experiences for ourselves and our fellow struggling humans. We can encounter the divine in spite of the hard toil of life, sometimes even because of it. We can make good art. And that can make all the difference.

Art is divine because to make art is to create something; to pull something into existence when before there was nothing. It is to participate in an actual act of creation. And to properly view and engage with a piece of art that anyone has created is to bear witness to an unfathomable act of creation.

“Abracadabra” means “I create as I speak.” And what could be more magical, more divine, more poetic, than speaking and acting so as to bring a piece of art and beauty into being? No wonder it makes up for the “eh.”

My mom and I visiting the Van Gogh exhibit in Chicago, April of 2016. <3

My mom and I visiting the Van Gogh exhibit in Chicago, April of 2016. <3

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