I live in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York, an area blessed with beautiful
landscape; gorgeous mountain vistas, open fields, sparkling streams. I love
these views but I’m also drawn to painting the close up textures and colors of
tangled brush and weeds. These landscapes speak to things hidden; another world
of a darker beauty.
Burning Bushes in Winter
Where The Sky Drops Low
Bittersweet with Crow
Memory Of The Vly
Meeting with the Chief
Princess Bat with Shadow
The Weight of Color
My Cut Out collages often portray
the lives of fantasy characters I’ve created, such as the baby gazers. They are
babies who have extreme adventures that sometimes get out of control. The
gazers are drawn to living on the edge.
with papers I paint or print on a small press. I also incorporate fabric.
Sometimes I have an image in mind and at other times the images pop out without
much conscious thought as I cut into the paper. Sometimes I’ll cut out a figure
or shape that I like but don’t have a world for. I tape it to a large sheet of
paper and put it on the studio wall where I can look at it. Little by little it
paintings become more abstract my cut-outs become more narrative. They inform
and balance each other.
The Merkids Have Two Moms
Catholic Girl In Tahiti
Yearnings Of The Heart
The Great Crow Escape
Baby Gazers In The Unicorn Forest
Baby Gazers Ride The Narwhales
lot has been said about artists painting flowers and it has sometimes been
negative. Sir Joshua Reynolds, an influential British artist and theorist of
the eighteenth century said ‘No mature artist should waste his brush on the
lowly subject of flowers.’ I suspect his view was influenced by flower painting
being a common pursuit for women of that time.
Georgia O’Keefe blew the idea of flower painting by women
being a lower art wide open. She warned viewers not to interpret her work with
this statement “When you took time to really notice my flower you hung all your
own associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if
I think and see what you think and see of the flower and I don’t’. Tough woman,
I love to
paint flowers because I feel so free when I do it. Every spring I paint the
same flowers in my garden that I have painted year after year. Irises, poppies,
peonies and spider wort. They are like old friends who appear for a short while
and have to leave. I grab my watercolors and paper and sit in front of the garden
and commune and record before they’re gone.
Irises With Ghost Tree
Poppies and Sun
Peonies, Poppies and Dragonfly
A Lively trio
The Calligraphy of Flowers
Opening, Opening, Opening
Peony with Iris
My recent work is rooted in the seemingly disparate areas of ancient mythology and scientific research on interspecies and intra species communication that has gained momentum in recent years. Although most research is done with primates, there is evidence of humans communicating with many other animals including wolves, foxes, crows and whales. Our new understanding of animals allows connections with them that bring a restorative balance to the human psyche.
I’ve long been drawn to myths that explore relationships between humans and animals. In these tales people communicate with animals, accept guidance, and even designate them as gods. Mythology and scientific research both state that clear communication exists between animals and humans, and also between animals of the same and different species. My paintings on interspecies communication comprise my own personal contemporary myths. Viewers enter a world where diverse creatures are connected.
Crow and Crowboy Sing Their Secret Song
There's Nothing To Be Afraid Of
Lulu and Lola and The Wolf
Hidden By Friends
Wolf, Woman, Crow
Carry the Fox
I'm privileged to live in an area where I frequently see foxes and have painted them for years. In the Spring we visited Provincetown. Walking through the dunes next to the ocean
we had fleeting glimpses of red foxes. Later I read in the local paper
that many people in town were supportive of the foxes being there. They appreciated
these beautiful animals. I began a new series I call Dune Fox. Some of those are in this gallery.
Fox In A Thunderstorm
Gathering On The Dunes
Fox and Crow
Fox on High
When I create art with
animals as the main theme, I enter the folds of an ancient tribe. The oldest
art in the world contains animal figures. Cave paintings in Spain and France, Native American pictographs and Egyptian
hieroglyphics depict animals as part of everyday life and also as sacred
symbols. Europeans in the middle ages compiled illustrated books called
bestiaries that spoke to the spiritual and magical qualities of animals. Myths
and legends inspired by animals became part of a spiritual framework. They
helped our ancestors grapple with those eternal questions we are still asking,
‘Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going?’
Wolf With Baby
Every Mother's Child
Raised by Wolves
Courtauda and the Twins
The paintings in this gallery follow the story I wrote about Courtauda, a Canadian gray
wolf, and Lulu and Lola, twin girls who became Courtauda’s foster daughters and
lived under the mantle of her protection for more than a year.
One spring morning
Lulu and Lola’s father was flying his private plane, with the girls and their
mother as passengers, from the United
States to their home in Canada. Just as the plane passed over Canada’s great
boreal forest, an enormous area covering millions of acres, the plane developed
engine trouble. He struggled valiantly to save them but the plane crash landed,
killing both of the twins’ human parents. The little girls, two years old at
that time, were asleep in the back of the plane and were miraculously unharmed.
They woke, discovered their parents still as stones, and climbed out the open
door of the plane. The little girls found themselves in a beautiful glade
surrounded by tall trees with the sun shining through their tops. They made
their way into the woods, wandering until they grew tired and hungry. Lola
began to cry and Lulu joined in. Perhaps it was their cries that signaled
Courtauda. The gray wolf had given birth just days before and sadly all four of
her pups died within hours. She was walking slowing through the forest, both grief-stricken
and sore, as her teats were still full of milk that was meant for her pups.
stepped through the underbrush and saw two little creatures looking at her with
awe. She approached them quietly and lay down close to them. Soon the twins
followed their natural instincts and were suckling on Courtauda.
The little girls
and the wolf were together for many months before they were found by their
mother’s twin sister, Esmeralda, a naturalist who had never given up on
searching for her sister and her family. Esmeralda had great respect for wolves
and recognized that Courtauda was like a mother to the girls. Lulu and Lola
went back to civilization and lived with their aunt but every summer Esmeralda
brought the girls back to spend time with Courtauda, their foster mother, and
the rest of the pack that had adopted them when they were in need. Once they were sixteen they went on their own
and camped near their pack for the whole summer.
One sad day, when
the twins were grown women, Lola arrived to discover Courtauda was dying. She
arrived in time to bid goodbye to her loving wolf mother and mourn her passing
with their pack.
In Memory of 06
Lulu and Lola and the Wolf
At Play With Their Pack
Follow Her Home
Courtauda as a Young Wolf
Woman Holding Wolf
These paintings are from a series called Wolf Crossing, The Forest where Red Riding Hood and Wolf live in Harmony. They present a revision of the classic tale of Red Riding Hood in which the wolf is used as a metaphor for something evil. In my version Wolf is a hero who rescues the orphaned Red Riding Hood and takes her to live with and be protected by him in the forest of Wolf Crossing. Here are the details of their True Story...
The TRUE STORY of Red Riding Hood and Wolf by Elin Menzies
Red Riding Hood, whose given name was Mandolena, was born in the 14th century to a family who had lived near and loved wolves since time remembered. Their home was at the edge of an ancient forest called Wolf Crossing and their proudest possessions were six silver cups each bearing a separate wolf portrait that had been passed down through generations. Mandolena was born the same day as a handsome pup who was introduced to her by the wolves of Wolf Crossing. He visited and played with Mandolena from the time she could crawl and became her special friend. Those were happy times but when Mandolena was only five years old her parents died from the devastating black plague that ripped through the country destroying whole villages. Mandolena went to live a few miles away with her grandmother and the silver cups were all she brought with her. Her clothing had to be burned because of the plague germs, but her loving grandmother sewed her a white linen dress and a hooded cloak of soft wool that she dyed red with berries from the woods. When Mandolena put it on her grandmother hugged her and said, “My little Red Riding Hood,” and that became Mandolena’s nickname. Two years had passed and Red Riding Hood’s special wolf friend still came to play with her. By this time he had grown big and strong and was considered an adult wolf while Mandolena was only a child of seven. She and her grandmother were doing well until one day an evil woodcutter passed their cottage and through the window spied the silver wolf cups displayed on the fireplace mantle and decided to steal them. He waited until the day he saw them leave the cottage together and set off on the path to town. Once they were out of sight he headed towards their cottage with a big sack. But at the same time Grandmother looked into her shopping basket and said, “Mandolena, I forgot to put in the healing salve I promised to a woman in the village.” “Let’s go back for it, Grandmother,” and with that they turned around. When they reached their home they saw the open door and Grandmother rushed forward to see who was in there. The woodcutter was putting the last silver cup in his sack and when Grandmother tried to grab it he swung the heavy sack, struck her in the head and knocked her to the stone floor. Mandolena screamed and rushed to her grandmother. As she kneeled by her side, the woodcutter removed a hatchet from his belt and raised it to strike Mandolena in the head. Before that could happen a fierce dark wolf bounded through the doorway and with his large jaws grabbed the woodcutter by the neck and shook him until he was unconscious. It was Mandolena’s special friend who had been nearby and heard her scream. Mandolena tried to save her grandmother, but it was clear the woman was dying. Her voice was a whisper but with her last words she managed to say “Mandolena, take the silver cups and go with Wolf. He will protect you until you are grown. I love you little Red Riding Hood.” And that was the beginning of Red Riding Hood’s years of living in the woods of Wolf Crossing with Wolf. That time was very healing for the little orphan girl who had lost not only her mother and father but now her loving grandmother, the last human relative in her life How wonderful it was for her to be with Wolf and his pack, to play in the fields and swim in the lake at Wolf Crossing. Being close to nature enabled Red to enter a spiritual world that is rarely accessed by humans. She learned to leave her body through meditation and was protected by Wolf who stood guard by her side. Wolf was her guardian and parent but also her playmate. They had so much fun together, lying side by side in the golden grasses, swimming in the lake, gathering berries and herbs that Red placed in the sun so they could be dried for winter. It was exciting to climb on Wolf’s back and cling to him as he raced through the forest. Wolf taught Red how to sing the deep throaty songs of the wolves, and she loved howling with the pack to release the deep sorrow she felt for the loss of her human family. All in all it was a wonderful life and Red Riding Hood had the best childhood a girl could have, but as she grew older and bigger, she remembered her grandmother’s words…“Until you are grown. Mandolena felt a pull to the world of humans and knew she must return to that life and teach humans of the goodness and intelligence of wolves. Wolf had taught her to communicate like a wolf and no words were needed when she told him she was leaving Wolf Crossing. Wolf was very sad but knew that he and Little Red Riding Hood would stay connected on a spiritual plane. He was concerned for her and silently asked "How will you live, my friend?" And Red Riding Hood told him her plan. “Wolf, I will sell some of the silver cups and apprentice to learn silver-making and engraving. Someday when the world is a safer place for wolves I will return to Wolf Crossing with a silver cup engraved with your picture.” So off she went and did not return to Wolf Crossing for many years.