Twilight Song of the Swan Maiden by sphinxmuse
Prints Available!I offer a T-shirt and a calendar with this piece on them at the Autumnsphinx Giftshop
Like so many other of my pieces, this began as a humble, spontaneous dance of pencil on paper. As with the "Deer Woman" image, it was not created initially with the expectation of being a full-blown, completed depiction but ended up asserting itself in that manner regardless. Her profile and basic facial features emerged first, followed by the delicate swirling patterns that became a strong visual indication of her nature. From there, everything else in the composition seemed to come of itself.
In many ways, I have found this image to speak of a convergence of the Old World and the New. Very early on in the process, it was clear to me that this figure was somehow meant to be a Swan Maiden, a Faery creature I strongly associate with European lore. Yet I found myself placing aquatic plants of American origin, namely the White or Water Arum (Calla palustris L.) and broad-Leaved Arrowhead (Sagitta latifolia Willd.) in her hair, and I felt as if a Native American flute belonged in her hands. The landscape itself is a surreal location inspired by the lake by my home and my own mythic imaginings of the British Isles. And strangely, this particular Swan Maiden shares her affinity not with the quintessential Swan archetype embodied by the aristocratic tight S-curve of the neck and raised secondary wing feathers of the Mute Swan (Cygnus olor), which hails from the Old World, but by the sleeker, less conspicuous, Tundra (Cygnus columbianus) and Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator), which naturally inhabit this continent. It is these species which are represented throughout: as the large zoomorphic knot in her hair, as the fetish on her flute, and even present in the background.
Essentially, this image depicts what might be this Swan Maiden's final "swan song." She looks thoughtfully into the distance, and whether she has just played her tune or is at the moment preceding her melody, I do not know. There is but one other swan within her sight , and it is poised by the entrance to a hollow hill - perhaps an indication of an imminent transition. Storm clouds can be seen rolling over the horizon.
Visually, I drew heavily upon Celtic tradition in this piece. It includes a few examples of Celtic-style knotwork, and her very skin is etched with swirls inspired by examples of Celtic spirals. Celtic myth also features extensive references to swans and Swan Maidens, some of which I kept in mind when working on this image.