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EverGreen by sphinxmuse EverGreen by sphinxmuse
EverGreen: Baby and the Faerie Queene is a piece dedicated to my late cat Baby, who my mother and I found deceased on the side of the road in front of my home on Friday, October 13th of 2006, presumably the victim of a passing car. I have lost pets before, but not in such an untimely manner. Our other pets were old and obviously suffering, for them death was a quiet release. For Baby it seemed too soon and we were not there to ease his transition. We discovered him already stiff and cold. We had adopted him as an adult cat from one of my mother's coworkers who was moving and could not bring him with her, but he fit in perfectly with our already multiple-pet household. He was there to greet me when I went to school or work and he was there to welcome me back when I returned.

I was not angry at Death for taking him, I was just deeply sad and it was almost incomprehensible to me to realize that the only contact I would have with him from that point on would be relegated to dreams, visions, and memories.

This piece is such a vision - my vision of Baby's transition to the Otherworld. He is welcomed by the Mistress of the Wild Hunt for souls Herself, the Faerie Queene. They share milk from an earthenware chalice. The milk is significant in two main aspects: firstly, Baby was a stereotypical feline in that he adored drinking milk, and secondly, milk and/or cream are traditional offerings left for the fae, especially as payment for the household spirits who often perform domestic chores on the property. Baby performed his share of domestic duties by being a diligent mouse- and mole-catcher. The chalice itself is directly inspired by the goblet in Victorian faery artist Richard Dadd's 1862 painting Bacchanalian Scene. In Dadd's piece it also is adorned with a Death's head motif, but there is also a verse in Latin inscribed upon it. On the reverse of his painting is a legible version of the same phrase which translated means "Each man then has his own unlucky fate both here and beyond - like must be added to like and one's due paid to the appointed spirit." The winged Death's head in my version though is drawn from American gravestone art.

The Faerie Queene is Herself a blending of the western and northern European traditions from which She hails and physical features which link her to the soil in which Baby was actually laid to rest. I believe that Faery is deeply tied to the Land, it may perhaps be regarded as the Land's dreaming heart. I also believe that the spiritual creatures, much like their material counterparts in plants and animals, endemic to a certain landscape reflect its uniqueness. Therefore, I don't necessarily think that the Faerie Queene in the south-eastern woodlands of Pennsylvania may appear exactly as She does in the forests of Germany or in the English countryside.

In traditional fairylore the realm of the dead and the ancestors was associated and in some cases perceived to by synonymous with the Faery world. Early accounts even go so far as to link the Faery Queen and King with the rulers of the classical Underworld, Proserpina and Pluto. The faeries themselves were said to especially haunt ancient barrows and tombs, and human visitors to Elfhame often reported seeing their deceased friends and relatives among the inhabitants of the Otherworld.

The title "EverGreen" is both a hopeful metaphor for the life beyond this life and a reference to the main sylvan component in this piece, Taxus baccata otherwise known as the Yew tree. Since it produces small, red, cup-like fruits known as arils and does not yield resin, it is technically not a coniferous tree, but it is evergreen and possesses needles rather than leaves. Yews are among the longest-lived trees on earth, yet they also grow at a very slow rate. The Norse commemorated the Yew as the 13th rune in the Elder Futhark, "eiwaz" and regarded it as a symbol of of the related nature of death and rebirth. Due to such associations, Yews are to be found planted at gravesites. While Christian churches often sit beside these cemeteries, the Yews themselves often greatly predate the construction of those buildings.

Size: approximately 11" in width x 12" in height
Media: Prismacolor colored pencils, watercolor, acrylic, sumi-e ink

copyright Desiree Isphording 2007 - all rights reserved -
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:iconivi-green:
Ivi-Green Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
wonderful colours and forms!
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:iconpyschomental:
Pyschomental Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013
Very lovely idea and you obviously found it very cathartic to paint it. I am very sorry for your loss, it is always hard to loose a good friend especially if it's so untimely..
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:iconfractaldragon:
Fractaldragon Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
Beautiful work. Both the art itself, and its meaning. I really appreciated your description of this piece, its symbols and meaning, and what inspired it. I am sorry for your loss, I know how hard that is. I am currently owned by 5 felines, but lost three over the past several years, and it is never easy.
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:iconspangler-imagery:
Spangler-Imagery Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2012  Professional General Artist
Very Interesting work. Sorry to hear about your kitty,.. I think it very therapeutic to be so well versed and creative, allowing you to work through your grief, and pay homage to the relationship you obviously felt so deeply with this earthbound spirit.
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:iconawesomeness626:
awesomeness626 Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2011  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THAT IS LIKE THE WORLD TO ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! you... are... AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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:iconcrystalixir:
Crystalixir Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2011
beautiful :heart:
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:iconcatteddie:
catteddie Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2011
simply amazing,so lost in the transition from death to life, i could stare at this all day... thank you for such beautiful work that you share with us :)
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:iconpsychopixi:
psychopixi Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2010
I thought this was a lovely piece, and your description was very touching as well as wonderfully detailed. Very interesting to look at and read about.
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:iconmarcelogodoy:
MarceloGodoy Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2010  Professional General Artist
Beautiful,perfect colors!!I love
Is mystical!I love drawings that depict fantasy,
especially the colors you used
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:iconskyetrinity:
SkyeTrinity Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2009  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I love the vision you describe behind the piece. The way you visually transitioned the cat is extrodinary. It is really great how you show some of the internal elements without them becoming grotesque.
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2009   Traditional Artist
Thank you, I really appreciate the comment regarding the internal elements.
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:icontytaniafairy:
tytaniafairy Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Hello! :wave: I am letting you know that I have Featured this image in my journal this week [link] Please let me know if you would rather not be a part of this collection for some reason. Otherwise, thank you for creating such lovely artwork! :deviation:

Blessings of Light and Love and Magic!
:frail: Tytaniafairy
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:iconfloralfaerie:
FloralFaerie Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2009
A wonderful commemoration for Baby :) Thank you for sharing his story, and the fascinating folklore. I too have lost beloved companion-felines over the years, but am consoled by meeting them in dreams and occasional glimpses of spirits in waking life. In fact I believe they can come back to us in new bodies...I feel especially that one of my cats is definitely a reincarnation of his former self :)
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2009   Traditional Artist
Thank you. A week ago I had to have my 17 year old cat Cleo put to sleep and so I feel like in many ways I'm reliving the experience with Baby. I had a dream the night before she died though that leaves me hopeful about her fate.
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:iconavi-of-scott:
avi-of-scott Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2009
I adore this peice.. I lost my own 'baby' a little over a year ago, and I felt the same way. I love the eloquence with which you stated and drew this.
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2009   Traditional Artist
Thank you very much, it is still a very special piece for me.
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:iconavi-of-scott:
avi-of-scott Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2009
You're quite welcome.. :)
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:icongreensap:
greensap Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2008   Traditional Artist
wow! I love this one , I think I have it as a favourite over at Elfwood... now to have a look though your wonderful gallery...
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:iconlaaura:
laaura Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2008
wow, I love your sensitive and delicate art!!
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2008   Traditional Artist
Thank you very much :)
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:iconstory:
story Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2008  Professional Photographer
The symbolism, layout, details, colors, everything is absolutely right.
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:iconteofilo:
teofilo Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2008
You are fenomenal.

Congratulations.

[link]
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:iconshedara:
Shedara Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2008  Professional Artisan Crafter
13/10/06 was the date my Grandfather died, also. (although not by a car, it was me who found him).

This is a beautiful picture, and so very heartfelt. But what strikes me most is your comments - i have never seen so much work put into the explanation of a piece - I love it! I have recently been discovering pieces of art on here where the artists actually know what they're drawing, and can say so - and it's fantastic to see. I get quite annoyed when I see pieces based on people or tales from the past/mythology that the artist has not done any research on/does not know the context of the character/tale.

Once again, a stunning piece, and so very sad yet beautiful.
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2008   Traditional Artist
Thank you very much. I feel as if writing about a piece is integral to its real completion for me.
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:iconsomethingtangible:
SomethingTangible Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2008
This breaks my heart, I'm sorry for your loss but no doubt that he is well taken care for there as well.
I lost a dear friend of mine to FIP, he was very young, but he was suffering. I still see him in my memory when I walk where he used to walk. Breaks my heart, he was my little handsome man :(
Mm...I don't mind death much but I will tell you, I hate cars.

I love how happy he looks, gleeful for the milk. His transparency is one of the many details I love of this.
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:iconsysikue:
Sysikue Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2008
Story behind is touching since i also lost one of my cats in accident.
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:iconrobertsloan2:
robertsloan2 Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
I had to come favorite it in my own account once done with club stuff. Wow. I am totally stunned by this piece, it brings tears to my eyes. You caught Baby's solid bulk and the texture of his fur, he looks about as large as my Ari.
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:iconprismacolorists:
Prismacolorists Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2007
This is so beautiful. Thank you for taking the time to give the background of this profoundly moving piece. I have lost cats in the past, even young cats, and this moves my heart. Subtle points in your piece caught my eye too, like the transparency of Baby's midsection showing both ribs and a transition to knotwork... Baby will long be remembered.

The pose is fantastic. I feel as though I could reach into this and scritch Baby (though I might get clawed for it), Baby's pose is so natural and so is the Faery Queene's, there is so much love in this piece.

*robertsloan2, founder of *Prismacolorists
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:iconadelaida:
Adelaida Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2007  Professional General Artist
it's so intriguing and interesting. Great work :)
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:iconblue-willow:
blue-willow Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2007  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
totally beautiful, I love the cat :D
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:iconm4g1c4lm3:
m4g1c4lm3 Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2007
wow. im so amazed by this piece. just the whole idea is gahhh amazing
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:iconelfin-grrl:
Elfin-Grrl Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
So beautiful and such a moving reason behind it. I too lost a precious familiar to a passing car, he was a very special cat and only 3 years old so like you said was so much harder to deal with. I want to paint a tribute to him also so I think he will be cropping up in my paintings. It sounds like we have a very similar Faery ideology. :nod:
Beautiful painting. :heart:
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:iconaminaa:
Aminaa Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2007
Wow, I love this picture, and your description adds even more to it (I love it when artist tells the story behind the art). Loosing a pet is always painful, and I got so sad after reading your description. But this is such a great way of honoring his memory, very beautiful. I really love how you drew the cat, it's so creative. Awesome work!
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:iconangelusnoir:
AngelusNoir Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2007  Professional General Artist
:aww:a beautiful tribute...we have a Dadd painting in our city gallery,I thought of it immediately upon seeing this....
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2007   Traditional Artist
Thank you very much!
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:iconangeleslaveau:
AngelesLaVeau Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
What an amazing Tribute. I was moved by the painting itself, but after reading your story, I feel even more connected. Thank you for sharing such a personal and emotional thing such as this. The loss of our "pets" or animals companions is the hardest loss I believe. With them there are no fights to remember, no grudges held, no thoughts that are anything other than the purest love; since that is how we live among each other - with perfect love, unconditional and unending.

And of course the piece itself is simply stunning. I just ADORE your work. :heart:
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:iconsylvancrow:
sylvancrow Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2007  Hobbyist Photographer
There is a warm beauty in this, that is rare. You are skilled at capturing qualities within your art.
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:iconfionabus:
Fionabus Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2007
Have you ever seen a fae?
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2007   Traditional Artist
I have never seen one appear materially in a humanoid shape before my physical eyes, but I believe I have "seen" them in other senses. Why do you ask?
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:iconfionabus:
Fionabus Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2007
I'm just curious, I think that artists and other creatively minded people are much more intuitive and able to see things beyond our five senses.
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:iconsomethingtangible:
SomethingTangible Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2008
Interesting thought,...I would definitely give that theory a high probability :)
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:iconmorghandi:
Morghandi Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
I love it. It really is beautiful.

Do you know the Rainbow Bridge poem about passing pets? It makes me cry every time.

[link]
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:iconmerwing:
merwing Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2007
This is beautiful. It's a perfect way to commemorate him. :)
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:iconnebetseta:
NebetSeta Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2007  Student General Artist
I don't know how you could add more to an already beautiful written description for an absolutely gorgeous finished picture! :) I remember I commented on the beginning WIP picture you put up, and now it's truly blossomed into something marvelous. :nod: Your heart was truly in this (not saying it's not in other works of art that you've done), and it shines all over this picture. :+favlove:

Once again, I am very sorry for your loss. Baby sounds like he was a free spirit, individual as all cats are, yet loving, and perhaps even kittenish. I too have a male adult cat, named Set (after the Ancient Egyptian God, whom I hold dear); while he is sometimes a pain in his kittenish manner, I know he's loyal and loving. I could not ask for more. I'm very sorry you lost this out of Baby. It sounds as if, though, he is trying to let you know "hey, I'm okay now!" even though, not in the physical. *sigh* I wish people were much more careful with all life - insect, animal, plant - as we are supposed to be with fellow humans. But I digress, this is your moment. :)
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:iconidalarsenart:
IdaLarsenArt Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2007  Professional Digital Artist
beautiful :love: :+favlove:
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:iconkrishna76:
krishna76 Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2007   Traditional Artist
I love this work greatly you have captured so much emotion .I think you did a wonderful job in not only in depicting an ethereal picture but capturing the essence there of .this may be your best work to date
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:iconenchantedmasquerade:
EnchantedMasquerade Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2007  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
This is GORGEOUS and I love all the Faery lore you incorporated into the piece and explained in the description. I feel that all of that adds alot of weight and meaning to the piece itself.
Again, I am so sorry about your cat.

Some of the things you explained about Faery's connection to the Underworld rang a bell for me. Apparently I had read it somewhere before and had forgotten about it 'till your description jogged my memory.

Some of the piece...particularly around the trees, looks unfinished. Is it? Otherwise it's beautiful:)
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2007   Traditional Artist
The tree area isn't unfinished, I just decided to leave it less detailed. The piece already had so many centers of interest already that I thought it needed the balance of some less busy areas. Certain aspects of this piece though do not come off well in the scan.
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:iconenchantedmasquerade:
EnchantedMasquerade Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2007  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Sorry about that, wasn't meaning to criticize...just curious. Again, it's very beautiful!:)
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2007   Traditional Artist
It's okay if you critique! You are welcome to do so, and you're most definitely entitled to your own opinions about my work. There's nothing for which to apologize.
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February 5, 2007
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