Day 2: Favorite Animal

November 02, 2011

I refuse to choose an ordinary animal as my favorite. No dogs or cats or lizards or reindeer or "hippopatasmussesses".

I chose the phoenix.

(This choice is a combination of 1. never having owned a pet 2. loving mythology and 3. liking things that are awesome to draw.)

The phoenix is a mythological bird-- the only one of its species. It lives for 500 years, then creates a nest and ignites it, becoming engulfed with fire. A young phoenix rises from the ashes of its old self.

The phoenix is also very symbolic. It's considered a sign of immorality, rebirth, renewal, etc. It is also symbolic of Christ's Ressurection, or of the the soul at Baptism (dying to self and sin to be born in the life of Christ).

For this reason, the phoenix can be found in many early Christian manuscripts and works of art.

As many of you know, I am extremely interested in illuminated manuscripts (such as the book of Kells). This is what sparked my fascination with Celtic Knotwork and calligraphy. (I even did my research paper on it!). Anyways, I've seen the phoenix drawn in many illuminated manuscripts.

I've run into the story of the phoenix in some surprising places. In ninth grade I read the ancient Greek historian, Herodotus. He mentioned the phoenix, but his tale and description is rather different than the myth as it is known today:

Another sacred bird is the one called the phoenix. Now, I have not actually seen a phoenix, except in a painting, because they are quite infrequent visitors to the country; in fact, I was told in Heliopolis that they appear only at 500-year intervals. They say that it is the death of a phoenix's father which prompts its visit to Egypt. Anyway, if the painting was reliable, I can tell you something about the phoenix's size and qualities, namely that its feathers are partly gold but mostly red, and that in appearance and size it is most like an eagle. There is a particular feat they say the phoenix performs; I do not believe it myself, but they say that the bird sets out from its homeland in Arabia on a journey to the sanctuary of the sun, bringing its father sealed in myrrh, and buries its father there.

And it's in many of my favorite fantasy books. ^_^

The quote from Herodotus really has nothing to do with my painting, aside from the fact that it is talking about phoenixes and gives me a chance to complain about Herodotus' writing style (which stinks!).

But all the rest of the background information is supposed to tell you about the drawing. I'm going to go all super-artist-y on you and describe why I drew what I drew.

The pheonix is shown in it's typical pose: wings splayed, ready to fly away from the fire of it's ashes. I followed the typical mode of coloring and made its feathers blue, purple, and green. The Celtic Knotwork is there because I love Celtic Knotwork... but also because the illuminated manuscripts peaked my interest in the symbolic meaning of the pheonix. The watercolors and pen ares supposed to imitate the stained glass look (since I'm quite sure that the phoenix can be found in many old church windows). It's hard to see, but there is a slight sun-like design in the background-- the phoenix reportedly lived in Heliopolis in Egypt (the "city of the sun") All the swirly spirals and fun designs on the feathers? That's just because I love drawing swirly spirals and fun designs. :)

Oh, yeah, in case you can't tell... I spent a long time on this. I stayed up until midnight to work on it, lol! Future drawings for this challenge will not be as fancy as this!

By the way... I've always felt a little sorry for the Phoenix. Imagine, living for 500 years all on your own, any friends you might make dying in what would appear the blink of an eye. I often get this sad, melancholy feeling when I think about the old mythological creatures and heros. Do you?
My amost-8-year-old sister is joining in the challenge!

Day 1: Draw Yourself

Day 2: Draw your favorite animal

Some more random updates:
  • I'm working on Ink and Fairydust today. The November/December issue should be released within a week!
  • Happy Hallowe'en! Happy All Hallow's Day (aka All Saints' Day)! And Happy All Souls Day!  
  • I'm working hard on some new jewelry for the Shoppe. Remember, Christmas is coming up... if you would like to order some jewelry, do so soon! :)

30 Day Drawing Challenge at Shealynn's Faerie Shoppe 


All images belong to Shaylynn

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  1. Oooh wow. I is *very* impressed. :) And now I is inspired.... **Goes to find pencil and paper**....

  2. Oh my gosh. A PHOENIX. That is beautiful, and what a gorgeously unique animal to choose! My fantasy-animal idea pales in comparison... And thanks for all the information! I love learning about mythological creatures. =) I hope you don't mind if I give some information about the animal I chose, like you did? If you feel that's overly-copying, tell me, and I won't.

  3. This is so pretty! ^^ Hehe, I was actually just wondering if mythical creatures were allowed or not.

  4. Please do, Theresa! I love it when people are inspired...

    Of COURSE mythical creatures are allowed, Vicki! It's your art after all... You could go and draw a little hot pink chipmunk with mechanical wings and it could still count. ;)

  5. This came out beautifully, I love the symbolism behind the phoenix.

  6. Victoria-- thank you! Go right ahead and talk about your drawing. It's not really copying and I'd love to read it!!

  7. That's really an epic phoenix, and I like all the swirling fire and the knotwork!
    And Adelynn, nice horses- just like ones I used to draw...

  8. That is SO PRETTY!!!! *is in awe*

    I am awful at art, otherwise I would totally join in....this looks like so much fun. I might do a couple of the days (aka the ones that I can attempt to draw and not have it turn out horribly ;-)

  9. Awww, Camryn, you should do it anyways. :) You'll only get better if you practice!!! :D Please do join in whenever you feel like it!


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