Painter of the mystical, otherworldly, sensual, and whimsical.

I'm a painter living and working in the beautiful finger-lakes region of Western New York State. I am also an avid gardener and nature lover, so the lush green rolling hills, gentle streams, and majestic lakes that surround my home in this world often appear in the fantasy worlds of my paintings.

Many of the pieces draw inspiration from folk tales, myths and legends. These "teaching tales" were what drew us together around our hearth-fires for centuries, and I believe those stories still carry power.

I enjoy looking at these ancient tales, through my eyes, and painting what I see, no matter if it's beautiful or disturbing. But what's more fun is when others can see those same paintings and find something within of value that speaks to their soul directly. I do not plan for this, but am honored when it happens, and, oh, yes, do love hearing about it every time that it happens. It reminds me that maybe we are not so different after all.

Glad to meet you, and please enjoy the paintings!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Artist to watch out for: Boris Indrikov

Art Deco is revisited with new eyes through the hand Russian illustrator of Boris Indrikov.  Hauntingly psychological, Indrikov blends almost architectural design elements that made Art Deco what it was (Math + Geometry meet nature) with Russian folklore, and finishes it off with a delightful kiss of the erotic and the sensual.

Above: Indrikoff, Boris. The Premonition 
2012. Oil on canvas. 80 x 100 cm.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Blessed Solstice, my friends!

Above: St Luke, Portia. Holly King Oak King

2010. Ink on tinted paper highlighted in white. 
Original Available.
(Also available as a poster or as note cards from Zazzle.)

Fix yourself a cup of hot chocolate while I tell you an old story from my homeland, with piece of artwork from a couple of years ago... 

The tale of the Holly King and the Oak King is a timeless myth with origins that run throughout the British Isles.  The Holly King was believed to be crowned every year on the Summer Solstice, only to cede the throne every year come the Winter Solstice to the young Oak King. The Oak King takes his rightful place, knowing he, too, will have to relinquish that same throne in his time.  So it is that the seasons turn, winter to summer and back again.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Our deepest fear

is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

-Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on a Course in Miracles, (ch. 7. sec. 3)
(Often attributed to Nelson Mandela)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

“If you fear nothing, then you are not brave. You are merely too foolish to be afraid.” ― Laurell K. Hamilton (Skin Trade)

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
– Nelson Mandela

So many exciting things are going on, and I'm really happy.  I can't express anything but gratitude to the universe, but, of course, there's always that little kernel of fear:  fear of failure, fear of looking like an idiot.  The truth is, everybody feels that, all the time.  John Wayne famously said, "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway."

Everybody has that fear. Really, It's OK.  Anybody who has ever gone into a creative field has to wonder if they're going to look like a damned fool.  It's a common adage in the art world that to make art is to stand naked on stage.

“Until you're ready to look foolish, you'll never have the possibility of being great.” 

― Cher

When I found this article by author and inspirational speaker Danielle LaPorte, it really spoke to that inner demon.  

Then again, maybe my inner 6-year-old just needs to understand it's OK to be scared.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New this year: Portia St. Luke Christmas Ornament (Blue Jay)

This may be insane, or it may be brilliant, and, either way, I'm excited.  For the first year ever, we're releasing a Portia St. Luke Christmas Ornament.  The painting is a gentle, realistic watercolor and ink painting of a blue-jay perched on a tiny birch sprig. 

 The fearless blue-jay is known for both its talkativeness and its seemingly boundless courage. Much like Magpies, ravens, and crows, they are vocal, expressive and can mimic other birds and humans. Call the energy of the blue-jay into your life to help strengthen your sense of and to find courage to speak out,“find your voice,” and believe in yourself. Those with the blue jay as a totem or spirit guide are often drawn to professions such as sales people, lawyers, politicians, public speakers, and teachers.


Above: St Luke, Portia. Blue-jay and Birches
2008. Mixed media on paper. (Private collection.)

New Product: "Angry Lemur" laptop and tablet case

Such love for the way this design looks on Zazzle's electronics cases!  The ever-popular "Angry Lemur" is now available as an unconventional laptop and tablet case through Zazzle. Steampunk takes an unexpected twist in this unique illustration. Both surreal and whimsical, the “Angry Lemur” is a nod to the political agitators and anarchists in New York City and Boston during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

As always, I'm overjoyed when friends and fans share the love by taking the time to click-and-share the

Above: St Luke, Portia. Angry Lemur.
2008. Mixed media on paper. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Artist to watch out for: Isobel Williams

London figurative artist Isobel Williams is one of those rare, wonderful traditionalists who is wiling to stand in the middle of the great "be here now" and draw the living world around her as it happens. I was introduced to her through this collection of gestural ink drawings on her blog of life drawings, Boulevardisme, but her other blog, Drawing from and Uncomfortable Position, covers her occupation and avocation, court-room drawing in local London courtrooms and general drawing from life. Much of her (best) work could be counted as erotica, and possibly NSFW (depending on where you work), but I felt she was worth taking the time for a click and a look, as an artist who knows her craft and practices it well.  I hope you enjoy her work as much as I did.

Above: Williams, Isobel. 2012
"Financial Times Office"

Artist to watch out for: Javier Perez

Half medical and half biology, Javier Perez creates work that speaks to my inner medical illustrator.  I find in it a strange soul that's both dark and life-affirming at the same time.

Above: Perez, Javier. Untitled.
Represented by Galerie Bartshi

New item: Laptop & tablet cases featuring unique Portia artwork

This is so exciting.  I've found a new design challenge!  Zazzle is now selling custom electronics cases, so I've had a request to make my pieces available as designs for these new items.  We chose to base the first one on "Rabbit Haberdashery ".  This dapper, whimsical rabbit in stylish, bottle-green Victorian dress is among my most popular and beloved designs.  

These laptop and tablet cases offer stylish protection in 3 different sizes for laptops & tablets (10", 13" & 15"), with a top loading zippered enclosure, and 100% satisfaction guaranteed by Zazzle. 

As always, I appreciate it more than I can say when my friends copy, paste, share the link and spread the love:

Above: St Luke, Portia. Rabbit Haberdashery

2008. Mixed media on paper. Private collection.

My "Autumn Fairy" painting

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Trying something new here...

...and using my abstract art skills in creative ways.

Earlier this year, I painted several abstract "space-scapes" in watercolor for the game.  I doubt we'll actually be able to use them, as we've found a much more high-tech sky-box maker, but as unique artwork that stretches beyond my usual scope (and textures for things on Zazzle) they are pretty neat.

They show a very different side of my brain.  Interestingly, I still gravitate to the same colors.  In some way, I'm still me, even when the art is no longer representational.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Great writing by Kate Courageous: The Truth about Getting What You Want

I'm sharing this article by Kate Swoboda, (a.k.a. Kate Courageous) because I've read it several times over the last couple of days and it resonates with me more each time.  A wise woman once told me, "In this life, there are phenomenal cosmic 'yes-es' and then there is everything else. Follow those 'yes-es.'"

In my own life, I have seen this in play countless times.  When I have begun an endeavor because I was "expected" to, knowing my heart really wasn't in it, the project was naturally doomed from the start, whether that was a job as a typesetter or having somebody else's dream of a house in the suburbs.  By contrast, if I care deeply about a project, I know it and the world knows it.  The spirit catches fire.

"The truth about getting what you want is that the things that are most significant in our lives will start to enliven us even with the first step. Even the fear will be accompanied by that sense of vitality–a vitality that shows up as intrigue, or a new bad-ass attitude towards facing fear, or curiosity about facing a challenge.

"Vitality is that way. A life does not wait to begin when something is fully formed; life is happening, right here and right now, with every stage of development, and when I look around at the natural world, it seems to me nothing but sheer celebration, from acorn to root to trunk to tree."

Friday, December 7, 2012

Support small businesses this season

A big round of applause to all of the friends who have encouraged folks to "buy from small businesses, artists, and craftsmen this season."  Some of you ("love!") are compiling lists of those artists and crafters, and have asked for my information.  I'm grateful to have friends who are this organized!

Posters, prints, and cards of original Portia St. Luke artwork are available at: this year:  Yuletide cards!  "Yule Log," and "Freya at Her Spinning Wheel" have been re-imagined as holiday cards. Of course, the earlier Yuletide illustrations, such as "Holly King & Oak King", are still available as blank cards and prints. 

Like me on FB at

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lunar Eclipse Magick

Wednesday morning, November 28th, the Lunar Equinox will occur.  While it won't be visible for me, I'm still a geek about earth magick and general Pagan Orthopraxy, and love doing wonderful things to celebrate and honor special occurrences like this.

For me (and everybody else in New York), it'll be happening early Wednesday morning from 7:14 AM to Wed 11:51 AM. This means I won't be able to see it.  Really.  I love my friends, but these fun things don't help, other than in the sense of celebrating the Earth's magick:

If you would like to find out when and if it is visible in your part of the earth, you can click here for an interesting site with a graph that details exactly when it's happening by your local time.  (Isn't science neat?)

Those who deeply enjoy astrology have already delved further into this than I possibly can.  The Tumblr feed Lunar+Eclipse has gone farther than I possibly can with suggestions for possible meanings and suggestions for rituals.  If you, too, enjoy lunar magick or working with manifesting positive energy, there's a lot of fun suggestions in that feed so far. However, if you're expecting hard-science astronomy, you may be disappointed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Rethinking Salome

The dance of Salome for the Head of john the Basptist is one of the many Bible Stories that I've wanted to explore for a long time.  Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau has an interesting take on the subject, and, this fall, the the Hammer Museum is presenting an exhibition devoted to Gustave Moreau’s Salome Dancing before Herod.  The write up calls this, "one of the most remarkable and best-known paintings in the museum’s collection."  One of the parts that makes this particular exhibition so interesting is that it includes the related paintings, drawings, and preparatory studies that went into this piece, which allows us to see more of how the artist worked and went through his creative process.  Typically, most of these materials are housed in his home country, France.

When fellow artist Michael Manning sent me the link about the exhibit, he added, "Moreau's work has an iconic sensuality to it - haunting/haunted-looking figures, shadowy supernatural environments, and layered textures, all dripping with exquisite detail, sometimes incised directly into the paint surface - that can be almost overwhelming, even chilling to me."

Looking at Moreau's take on Salome has me re-thinking how I might work this subject when I get a chance to tackle it.  What is the best way to capture, in paint, a dancer so sensuous that she could make a king take leave of his senses?  It's an interesting question!

Gustave Moreau, Salome Dancing before Herod (detail) 1874-76

Gustave Moreau, Salome Dancing before Herod (detail) 1874-76

Above: Gustave Moreau. Nude Female Model for Salome (Study for Salome Dancing before Herod)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Artist to Watch Out For: Marco Mazzoni

I'm in love with this artist.  If you can't get enough of Marco Mazzoni either, please visit his FB page here, or cut the foreplay and enjoy his gallery here.

Above: the Hairy Fish, by Marco Mazzoni

Above: the Pink Skull, by Marco Mazzoni

Above: “Somnarium,” by Marco Mazzoni 

Strange WWII Propaganda posters

So, I'm taking a break from my current animation project to work on the next piece of creating a world for a video game.  This particular piece is creating propaganda posters for inside the world, as a way to flesh out the darkly oppressive look and feel of AErligheim.  As a way to research what makes good propaganda great, I began wading through the dark and unapologetic back-eddies of the internets in search of the truly unique propaganda imagery from during WWII.  I love the skill that allowed a masterful graphic designer to drive a point home, in one, punchy frame, and I do not care, for this exercise, how crazy the message itself was.

...which is good, because, man, it gets strange.  It gets very, very strange.  Like with these two handy broadsides about how to avoid chemical weapons:

Remembering all the times Grandmother told us not to waste food...

...and, for all of my friends who actually are Canadians...  (Love the hat!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Autumn Fairy, Finished Image

Final details and Finished Piece: Here's where the most opaque "darkest darks" and "lightest lights" are added, and always with care and restraint. Remember, true black and true white do not occur in nature, so before adding a really inky black or a hot, bright white, I make sure to really think about it. More often than not, that black is really a deep burnt umber, and that white is an off-white or cream. However, if they need to show up, this is the layer where that fine definition happens. "Finis!"

New Yuletide Card: Freya at Her Spinning Wheel

The next card in my series of Yuletide Cards is up.  Freya at her Spinning Wheel.  The inside reads, "Blessings to you as the wheel of the year turns once again."

If you'd like to help spread the love, feel free to directly copy-cut-paste the link here:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Riding with Holda

In years past, I have always created a Yule-themed image. I know I've been threatening to draw the Krampus, but I just found this beautiful, ancient Yuletide legend: Holda, (whose name means “Merciful”) was the Teutonic (old German) goddess of winter.

In her form as the noble White Lady, Holda is beautiful and stately, with long, flowing golden hair, which shines with sunlight as she combs it. She was typically shown as a beautiful blonde wearing a shimmering gown (often white) and a magical goose-down cape (resembling the snow... shaking it makes the snowflakes fall). At Yuletide, she travels the world in a carriage and bestows good. Flying through the night sky on December 24 ("Mother Night," or "Lady Night"), Holda brings gifts and spreads joy to the good.  Remember, she also keeps track of those who have been "naughty" and "nice!"

Holda was a sky goddess riding on the wind. She is thought to be an older form of Frigg, wife of the Father God Odin; in some tales, Holda and Odin ride the sky together.

I could see having some real fun illustrating my impressions of this fascinating goddess. We'll see where this goes!

First Yuletide Holiday Card Design is up....

c. Portia St. Luke 2009

More will follow. Please enjoy, share, and pass them along!

My favorite parts of this holiday are the more traditional European "Yuletide," and "Father Christmas" parts of it.  I especially love the warm firelight, so this one has a very old, English poem called "the Yule Log" printed on the inside. It was written by the English poet Robert Herrick (1591-1674), and Zazzle was able to print it in a beautiful Old English typeface.

Here's the poem:

The Yule Log
Come, bring with a noise,
My merry, merry boys,
 The Christmas log to the firing;
While my good dame, she 

Bids ye all be free,
 And drink to your heart's desiring.
 With the last year's brand 

Light the new block, and 
For good success in his spending, 
On your Psaltries play, 
That sweet luck may 
 Come while the log is tending. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Amazing Art: Daniel Agdag's Intricate Cardboard

Some work is simply too exquisite not to be shared.  Australian sculptor Daniel Agdag's "unbelievably intricate" cardboard and glue sculptures create tiny worlds, or, as he puts it, "Sets for a film I'll never make."  For more about this amazing artist and his upcoming film, just click here.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Autumn Fairy: Sixth Stage Paint

Above: Autumn Fairy, Work in progress: Sixth Stage Paint

Sixth layer paint. Introduced vermilion for the warm reds and oranges, while further defining and refining the details. With the exception of the preliminary pencil sketch everything up to this point has been created using thin layers of watercolor only. No ink or opaque pigment has been added yet.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Autumn Fairy - Fifth Stage Paint

Above: "Autumn Fairy - Fifth Stage Paint." by Portia St. Luke

Here, I'm adding ultramarine blue to the shadows. In the places where it's being painted over existing dark brown (burnt umber) it will look black, but combining ultramarine and burnt umber creates a much richer black with more subtlety. Even when mixed on the palette the "black" that results is much truer to nature than straight-out-of-the-tube "ivory black" or "bone black." The artist can control the mix and create a warmer or cooler black by using more of one pigment than the other.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Work in progress: Autumn Fairy

Cross-posting this for anybody who has not yet visited the Portia St Luke Illustrations Facebook site. I've created a folder of images showing the progress of my new fantasy piece, "Autumn Fairy." Scanning this piece each day means my friends and fans can watch as the piece develops. If you visit the page, click "like" in order to receive updates showing each day's new scan. 

First layer paint: The preliminary graphite pencil sketch is covered in a simple wash of color. I choose a light tint of something that I know will carry well throughout the rest of the piece. 

Second layer paint: The light yellow wash is worked in a monochrome "griselle." This was a common technique of the renaissance masters. Earth tone pigments were, and are, usually less expensive than the bright mineral-pigments used to create the brighter colors. A monotone griselle was a way to define form, highlight, and shadow without dipping into the bright colors. The "griselle" could be worked in deep greens, dark browns, or even true gray (as the name suggests.) I used burnt sienna, since it complements the overall "autumn" theme of the piece.

Third layer paint: The monochrome "griselle" gets the beginnings of color. I started with a very light wash of sap green for the vegetation and light washes of violet to darken and further define the shadows.

Fourth layer paint: Continuing to work in burnt sienna, sap green and violet, darkening and further defining the form and shadows. At this point, I begin working burnt umber with a very fine brush into the details that will be the darkest. True black, like true white, occurs in the natural world only rarely, so these pigments will be added only at the very end.

All images c. Portia St. Luke 2012



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes, the whole world around you,

because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.”
by Roald Dahl

Above: "Satyress." Mixrd media on Bristol. c. Portia St. Luke 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012

"May I develop compassion as boundless as the sky"

"Soon we all will die. All our hopes and fears will be irrelevant. In the illuminous continuity of existence, which has no origin and which has never died, Humans project all the images of live and death, terror and joy, demons and gods. These images become our complete reality, and we submit, without thinking, to their dance. In all the movements of this dance we project our fears, and we make every effort to ignore it. Anything that has a shape will crumble away. Anything in a flock will disband. We're all like bees, alone in this world, buzzing and searching with no place to rest, so easily caught in a net of confused pain. So we offer this prayer: Delusions are as various as the reflections of the moon on a rippling sea. May I develop compassion as boundless as the sky, so that all may rest in the clear light of their awareness."  --Bardo Thodol

Above: "River at Sunset." 
Sketch from life, black wax on paper
c. Portia St. Luke, 2002

Friday, September 28, 2012

Saturno Butto: A Florentine Master in the Modern World

Above: by Saturno Bruno

High Renaissance and early Baroque painting holds a fascination for me in a way than no other artistic period or style possibly can. The meticulous attention to detail, light, shadow, reflected counter-light, textures, drapery, anatomy... For me, the art world reached its apex in the 1500's - 1600's.  Caravaggio has always been a favorite.  Artemisia Gentileschi, his contemporary, was influenced by his work, and rose to a level that was clearly on-par with his brilliance. Often, I feel I could work my entire life with the hope of being that good.
(Pictured right: Caravaggio's "Judith Beheading Holofernes," 1598.
Left: Artemisia Genteleschi's treatment of the same subject, 1614) 

Finding Saturno Butto was like finding a light in the middle of a very dark world. Here is a living painter who has the skill to paint as well as either Caravaggio or Gentileschi ever did, while throwing disturbingly modern twists such as medical equipment, modern lingerie, and weapons, into what could otherwise be a flawless reproduction of the Renaissance Masters.  Far from being a run-of-the-mill copyist, his work has its own dark, uneasy feel to it... elements of psychology and theology intertwine to create a so-real-you-could-touch-it mixture that is, somehow, both sacred and profane at the same time.

Unfortunately, his main portfolio site is possibly the most Flash-heavy piece of web-construction I've run into, making it very slow or difficult to navigate if your computer is not running at peak efficiency.  It's worth taking the time to look through, but, sadly, that may mean time, and lots of it.   Thankfully, the interwebs are vast, and he can be found just as easily on FaceBook.  The on-line gallery von Scaramouche was able to provide this intriguing interview with the Master himself. 

Von Scaramouche describes "a mawho, with the exception of a decade related to art studies, never left Bibione, a small Venetian city alongside the sea, where he lives and works," and yet can be called "one of the most captivating figurative painters around today."

For a real treat, find a time when you will not be interrupted and music by 
Claudio Monteverdi (16th century) or Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (18th century)   (This is very easy to do if you have Pandora.)  Mute your phone.  This world can wait.  Listen to the music, and loose yourself in the dark and twisted beauty of the world that lives within Saturno Butto's paintings.   

(Left and below:  various paintings by Saturno Butto) 

Monday, September 24, 2012

The importance of Self-Compassion

Above: Gyrfalcon. Stock photo.

Hundreds of self-help books have been written about improving self-esteem.  We're told that it's essential for children to be raised to have it, and that it's what helps adults maintain good mental and emotional health. While there's no denying that self-esteem is important, self-compassion may be even more valuable.   This fascinating article details the results of a new study out of Berkeley.  Self-compassion, much more than self-esteem, can be what really helps us.

From the article:
"A growing body of research, including new studies by Berkeley's Juliana Breines and Serena Chen, suggest that self-compassion, rather than self-esteem, may be the key to unlocking your true potential for greatness... Self-compassion is a willingness to look at your own mistakes and shortcomings with kindness and understanding -- it's embracing the fact that to err is indeed human. When you are self-compassionate in the face of difficulty, you neither judge yourself harshly, nor feel the need to defensively focus on all your awesome qualities to protect your ego. It's not surprising that self-compassion leads, as many studies show, to higher levels of personal well-being, optimism and happiness, and to less anxiety and depression..." 

Self-esteem is important, but, it would seem, self-compassion may lead to an improved overall outlook more quickly, resulting in better health, both physical and mental.  After reading this, I've decided to make a real daily practice out of practicing compassion for myself.  This, along with compassion for others, creates what the Dalai Lama has taught for decades:  "Holistic Compassion."

Artist to watch: Tancrede Szekely

Just when I'd begun to think that glamour photography had become a lot of the "same ol' same ol'," I discovered the work of Tancrede Szekely.  A native Polish speaker, he began his career "in the heart of Transylvania," but these days he calls Catalona, Spain his home.  A master of the high-contrast, his brilliant reds and greens sparkle like the fire found in the hearts of jewels.  Conversely, the subjects themselves (usually exquisitely beautiful ladies) often appear to be de-saturated, giving an other-worldly pallor to their flawless skin.

Most of his best work appeared on FetLife, which will not work as a link unless you have a FetLife account yourself (FetLife is free, but you have to have your own account to access content.)  However, a reasonable sampling of his pieces are available for viewing on Facebook.

Upper: Lorely
Lower: Anthrazit

Both by Tancrede Szekely

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Artist to watch: Yang Qi

Even though she may not be well known, Yang Qu, out of China, has created a body of work that could hold its own alongside fantasy art greats such Luis Royo, Paolo Serpieri, and Brom.

I'd love to see more of Yang Qi's artwork.  Unfortunately, the only page that I could find displaying her work is a Deviant Art page, which leads me to believe she may be new to the art world, or new to self-promotion.  (In my experience, artists are almost invariably taken more seriously if they have their own page, with extra credit if they are referenced by others on related pages, fan sites, and so on.)  Still, if the work is good, I like watching to see how an artist grows and develops, and, from what I've seen so far, this lady is somebody who will go places.

Left: "Fortune Teller"
by Yang Qi