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Entries in Sxip Shirey (7)


Killin' It 067: A Bottle of Whiskey & a Handful of Bees

I'm very please to announce that I will be doing the art for Sxip Shirey's new album A Bottle of WHISKEY and a Handful of BEES. Below is Sxip's announcement and an amazing photo from his father Jim Shirey.

Update #10: Art Work

Today I had a discussion with Katelan Foisy about doing the artwork for my album. 

Everytime I think about the cover of the album I see her art work. 

She drew me as the magician in her Tarot deck.

It will also have this ending image by my father, photographer James Shirey. 

And it will have this image...actually, I shouldn't give the whole design away should I?

Lost of exciting musical things are happening. I am working hard. 



Pimp My Artwork 058: The Hanged Man

At the time I was plotting The Tower an idea was formulating, a little spark was tapping me on the head and whispering into my ear.  "How about Neil for the Hanged Man?" Sxip, my Magician of course heard the call of the tarot and sent me a message. 

When I told him I was thinking of Neil as The Hanged Man he said, "You always make such interesting choices. They all make absolute sense but they are not typical." We discussed The Hanged Man and it's many meanings.  For him it is about "Letting yourself absolutely accept the wisdom to come, even it hard information. It's about giving yourself to the reality of a situation to learn from it. It's about humbling oneself for the sake of knowledge."

I remember the first time I read American God's and feeling like Neil really got Odin, Loki, and the rest of the God's he wrote about.  He may not be spiritually connected to them but he understood them by tapping into a part of his brain that was or at least the archetypes. Part of The Hanged Man's meaning is Odin's sacrifice of himself for knowledge on the World Tree.  For nine days he hung, no food or water, wounded by a spear.  On the ninth day he looked down, saw runes that had fallen from the tree and understood them.  He came down from the tree and picked them up for his own.  Any knowledge needed can be found in these runes.

A few days ago I started another 40 days.  This time instead of going mad, I decided to focus solely on the tarot, it's insights, and paint the cards of the major arcana. Sxip once noticed that I lived each card as I painted them.  This one was no different.  I started the sketch on Sunday and began to work on the card, struggling a bit in the midst of thoughts and procrastination.  For the past few weeks I had gone inward and was seeing the most beautiful aspects of love, life, work, and the muses.  Day 4, the day I finished the card would be my eye opener. When you are in the midst of spiritual bliss nothing seems important, you're open, the past doesn't matter, you're here, it's now, money is just metal and the heart wants to be full.  And then you come down, back into the mundane world, back into reality. 

The night before someone I once cared about very deeply turned their back on me. It was someone that inspired a lot of the deck and it saddened me to see it end this way.  I carried it with me the next morning when once again I awoke to more news about another person, not news that I was necessarily shocked by, but news I wasn't quite ready to hear.  And so began my spiral into reality and delusion. They are quite connected you know.

I cried.  I pushed people away.  I didn't want to connect.  I buried myself in work so I didn't have to think.  I thought about other aspects of this card. "The Traitor." Was this man a traitor? Years ago they would hang them upside down by one foot as punishment. I instantaneously pushed that thought aside looking at Neil's face.  The card I painted was not a traitor and I wasn't sure that my former lover was either.  Only that he had to protect himself and that he thought of me as a temptation.  I was in limbo. I had forgotten The Hanged Man was not about life or death but suspension until the time is right, sacrificing of old ways to let new ones in, and uncovering the reality so that acceptance can happen. Something had just ended but what was to take it's place had not begun yet.  It was in the works and for now I must wait.

I took this photo of what it felt like, kind of like being in a fairytale and not quite knowing who to trust even though you know the ending.

Neptune is the ruler of this card. Neptune is spirituality, dreams and psychic abilities.  The Hanged Man has allowed himself to be taken over by all of these things, in order to receive his insight. He waits with open arms to be born into consciousness and receive the information that is to come.  He knows the knowledge will take him to where he needs to be and by sacrificing himself he will gain much more than ever expected, but sacrifice hurts and in order to receive we must let go.

This is a time when emotions run high, when insights are deep, and you dangle in the realm of fairytale.  It is  also card that suggest at this time being a little daring, trying new things, and letting go a little.  These are moments that won't last forever but they are moments worth listening to.

And of course a huge thank you as always to Jim Shirey who has allowed me to use his gorgeous photos.  The background on these two is straight from Jim himself.

The partridge berry blossoms come two to an ovary. thus, the two small ones are connected to a single berry and leave a double seed scar. They ripen in the winter into a small red berry the size of a small pea. The rattlesnake plantain is named after the appearance of its leaves, which resemble a snake skin. The flower spike produces a profusion to tiny flowers about 1/8 inch across. when i took this shot I was competing with a bumble bee who had her next under one of the leaves. She was very patient at first, but became quite cross when I wanted to do a re-shoot. She zapped me on the arm. Just a bit to let me know my time was up.



En Gypsy Couture 018: The Writing Mines

I've been in the writing mines for the past few weeks.  Each tarot card has a story to tell and I'm here at my trusty computer taking all of it down.  So here's a little update on the things I've been doing in between.

Coilhouse had their Black and White and Red All Over fundraiser.  Photo by Steve Prue.

Molly Crabapple's Week In Hell came and went quickly and my beloved friend covered 270 feet of wall herself.  My friend Robin Grearson wrote a lovely article on it over at Curbs & Stoops.  Photos by Steve Prue.

Molly included me in her 66 project a few months back which can be viewed here.

Gabby Young came to town and played the Gypsy Fest.  The show was gorgeous and Gabby, Kai, Zina and I had a blast afterward.  The next day Gabby and I gallavanted around the East Village drinking coffee and chai, exploring thriftshops, and sitting in secret gardens.  Sxip joined us later for coffee at one of my favorite cafes in the city.  Gabby and I plotted some new secret plans.  Will announce them soon.

Also Gabby is rereleasing "Song for Japan" to help raise more money for those in need after the earthquake.  It's only £0.79 and I did the cover art.  Click the image to get to the itunes page.

You can also purchase the original through my etsy store here.

I'll be back soon with more tarot and some new updates. x to the o


Pimp My Artwork 051: The High Priestess

The day I met Baby Dee I was feeling rather shy.  I had just had drinks with an ex boyfriend and running very very late.  I slipped into the show and found my seat.  Sxip had mentioned I should see her live to get her full presence. Luckily she had only just started.  I sipped white wine and immediately fell in love. Sxip waved from across the room.

A few weeks earlier Sxip had suggested her for the deck.  I usually don't paint people I don't know unless it's for an illustration job but this felt right. Also I knew somewhere down the line I would end up meeting her.  A few weeks later a rather shy and tipsy Katelan did.

In order to really experience Dee, you have to see her live.  There's something incredibly magical that happens when she sets foot on the stage.  It's kind of like having someone come in and take you by the hand, reach into your chest, and take all the stitches out of your heart.  Then take the rubber bands and tape and staples out, pour a little honey on it, and hand it back to you saying.  "You know they heal themselves if you just let them."  She's filled with deep knowledge and experience.  She's someone who has lived and will keep living with love and compassion in her heart even when life is bittersweet. She was and is the High Priestess.  By sharing her music, she brings you to self awareness.

We ended up going to the Anyway Cafe after the show. Now not many people know this but the Anyway Cafe is the place that made me rediscover my love for NYC.  Years ago I would stop in for breakfast sipping coffee and writing in my journals.  I told this to Dee as I was now coming out of my shyness.  "Oh we must have missed each other." She said. "I was here every night." And she began to tell tales of her time in New York City.

The High Priestess tells us to take a moment when making decisions.  We all have choices.  It's about holding back on acting on that until you have received all the information.  This involves going within, acknowledging the sacred and profane.  She wants you to gain knowledge through experience, through the spiritual, the physical, the secret, and the self.  This will not always be happy.  Life does not always provide you with a clear path.  She is the guide that teaches us about intuition, mediumship, psychic powers, and secret knowledge. Where the Magician reveals to us what tools we have, the High Priestess keeps things hidden behind the veil. the Magician tells us to verbalize our thoughts, the High Priestess urges us to silently reflect on feelings and focus on intuition.

She is the complementary card to the Magician, Hierophant, and the Hermit. She is the partner to the Hierophant, together they preserve secret knowledge and traditions passed from teacher of the oracle to beneficiary. She is also the natural moonlight to the Hermit's manmade lantern.

The Monotropia Uniflora is courtesy of Jim Shirey.  From the first time I saw this plant I knew we were kindred spirits.  "This is your flower." Sxip wrote sending me images his father had taken.  And it was. Monotropia Uniflora is called "Indian Pipe" or "Ghost Flower".  Sxip sent me a little something on them. "Indian Pipe lives at the connection of the vast fungal network (that looks like a neural network in the soil in the woods and the roots of trees. (Paul Stamets an amazing scientist I met at TED believes the forest is thinking) No chloroform. Ghosts. They live at the node of communication and draw nutrients from there. My father believes they
will discover they regulate how chemical information passes between the fungal brain and the trees."

Jim on Monotropia Uniflora:

"I kept going back over and over to find the "perfect" flower. of course, they are all perfect and I know it, so I am really just looking for the one that seems perfect on at that moment. it's a bit like going in to a crowd of people and someone just catches your eye and you start up a conversation. Except that this conversation takes you into another world. and this particular flower was pink and lit by the sunlight. I took this shot after the light passed and I'd calmed down."


Pimp My Artwork 040: The Three of Swords

"Your art is amazingly sensitive and subtle. Like graceful old laces." Orhal messaged me. 

That message brought me back to flea markets in the summer of 1997.  I bought a black lace shawl for $20. Everyone I showed it to shook their head.  "Oh Katelan, it's ripped, there's a huge gaping hole."

That's the reason I bought it.  I fell in love with it's imperfection.  Why? Because once it was loved.  Holly told me she thought it had a spirit attached to it, then she bought a parasol.  I thought that was a romantic idea.  That night we made the bed for "visitors." Visitors could be physical, spirit, or completely made up.  It was a magical thought really, and the wind blew in softly as the sound of rain and thunder guided us into a gentle slumber.

I woke up with her lying on my chest.  "What are you doing?" I asked, curiously.

"You sleep so soundly.  I can barely hear you breathe and you don't move all night.  I was afraid you stopped breathing.  So I snuck over to you and put my hand near your mouth.  It was slight, your breath was small, so I crawled on top of you and you still didn't move.  So I put my head to your chest and I could hear your heart beat.  And I knew as long as I could hear your heart beat that everything would be okay."

We slept soundly.

A few days ago Sxip sent me a link to a song he wrote years ago.  "Did you write those lyrics?" I asked him.  Now he didn't know this when writing the song but the song has deep roots, roots he did not grow up with. But music speaks it's own language and you can translate it any way you want. I listened to it all day, repeating it over and over. The next day The Three of Swords took shape and for the duration of the painting that song played, over and over, a haunting melody.  It had become almost an exact replica of a dream I used to have years ago.

I remembered living in Greenpoint.  I built what I called a fairy ring in the middle of the room and sprinkled rose water on the floors.  The circle was made of twigs and roses and stones.  I put two white candles and a Saint Michael candle in the middle.  I wrote Holly's name on small slips of paper and put them into envelopes until the name was so small you could no longer see it.  I may have learned this from my Grandmother, I may have learned it from a friend.  All I know is that it was ingrained in my memory. At the end of seven days, I burned the envelopes.  This is a form of release and helps those move on.  I had forgotten about that, until the song.  Music can conjure many things, including the rain.  As I wrote these last few lines, the rain began to pour and that old sweet familiar scent permeated the room.

It's time for me to drift off...