In her new series of paintings ‘Under the Stars’, Foksynes delves us into an ancient and magical world. It is a place where historical myth and modern astrology combine, steeped in rich colours and golds, and linked with symbolism passed down through generations. Foksynes uses her natural ability to imbue a painting with grace, further building on her earlier works and more recently, her ‘Divine’ series.
You can feel her evolution as an artist as Foksynes further plays with the backgrounds in her latest series. ‘Under the Stars’ is more detailed, yet beyond the surface lies even more meaning for this artist personally. This latest series is the fruit born from a childhood book, matured within a visit to the Munich Residence, and ripened to perfection within the Amsterdam forest.
Learning about the Zodiac
“My first acquaintance with the Zodiac occurred when I was a child; I found a Linda Goodman book on the shelves.” Foksynes shares. “I don’t know how it got there. Anyway, it was fascinating reading, full of characters and mysticism. Now, it’s much easier to research on the Internet. It was so interesting to learn how ancient [the Zodiac subject] is and how many beliefs and theories grew from it.
“Later, during my visits in the Munich Residence, I saw many images of Unicorns which were more like a mix of horse and goat. It was used as a symbol of purity and chastity in the Christian religion. It believed that some of them lived in heaven. In legend, the Unicorn can be only captured by a virgin girl, as the beast doesn’t feel threatened by her. So, it was advised that hunters use a maiden as a decoy to capture a unicorn. I wonder if someone ever tried this and how it ended.
“In Amsterdam Forest, we have a lovely farm where many different animals walk freely, including goats. Baby goats are the cutest creatures in the world! I took a lot of reference materials when I visited.
I think that day, it clicked: I want to paint a white goat unicorn from the Enchanted Forest, which would remind me of that medieval creature I saw in the museum.
Then, I started to think about the series (as all grown-up artists should!). I got more excited: what if it could be 12 Zodiac signs and their companions from the night sky?
“For Virgo, I, of course, chose the Unicorn (Monoceros constellation). Virgo is my sign, so I obviously painted her first! You can see that the background is matched in colours so they complement each other.”
From research to design
According to Foksynes, the four astrological elements are compared to Hippocrates’ personality types. Sanguine = air, choleric = fire, melancholic = earth and phlegmatic = water. “But there are so many nuances to what planets influence a person [and how].” She shares. “Believe in astrology or not, these ancient ideas always entertain and provide new ideas to discover.”
When designing her series, she made notes of which characteristics people associated with which signs, and tried to personify them into individual characters based on her own experiences. Foksynes further incorporated the symbolism of zodiacs into the whole composition, her backgrounds being influenced by the astrological element (fire, water, earth or air), that each painting belonged to.
Alongside this, Foksynes heavily integrates digital tools for mock-ups and colour studies. Recently she has expanded her drawing arsenal to create vintage-like prompts for future paintings. “It helps me to keep my attention on the idea [at hand] if I’m aesthetically pleased with the drawing study.” She tells me.
A touch of magic, light and dark
Additionally, Foksynes has been working on a new series: “Forgotten Realm”. While this is still new in the making, the project has become an integral turning point for her: “This series finally cut me from destructive ideas of what other people will think of my art.” She explains. “In this series the characters all look familiar but not of this world. Each of them has a role: healer, warrior or protector, priest, etc. It’s hard to tell how my brain works in this case, as the images are light and bright, but it is about death. This project is a tribe of female spirits which will guide you on the other side. I have lost a very special person this year, and this helps me to cope with the idea of death and afterlife. Those bright colours and places are my memories and dreams.”
Furthermore, both the Under the Stars and Forgotten Realm series include something extra special. Each painting includes metallic paint or gold leaf. Foksynes muses over the materials:
I liked it, I but wasn’t a true admirer of Gustav Klimt’s work until I saw his paintings in the flesh in Vienna. That magic feeling of another dimension and luxury materials is overwhelming.
But you can’t find a book on how to do the same. So, it takes a lot of research and experimentation, as well as back-and-forth email communication with the manufactures. Gilding was, for a long time, a secret trade of guilds. So it’s no wonder there isn’t that much trustworthy material made public, even now.
The result is a host of immersive, beautiful paintings, full of treats to identify and contemplate.
Art is a bit like life
Learning to work with new materials is always a gamble. One wrong move with a yet-unmastered technique, and an artwork could be ruined, hours of work and materials down the drain. But Foksynes thrives not to be held back by such worries. Indeed, she relishes change and experimentation. While many artists have their favourite materials, Foksynes loves to jump from one to another, each new material bringing with it a host of unique experiences and ideas.
Well, art is a bit like life here, right? You can eat the same food, talk to the same people and do the same routine each day, but it wouldn’t be a thrilling life experience.
“From time to time, everyone wants to try something new. And if you ruin your artwork, well, the failure is part of the process. It sounds cheesy, but failure is part of everyone’s life. It’s like bad weather: you can complain but can’t do anything about it. It is difficult to accept, but I’m learning to do so.”
Foksynes special: online courses, tips and tricks
One of the things I find most uplifting is watching Foksynes’ tutorial videos. They are elegantly put together, and effortlessly soothing. She is an avid believer in online education and is working hard to contribute to this highly accessible avenue. Especially in our current climate, when many of us are being forced to spend much of our time at home, it feels like this is a new dawn for online tutorials.
Her Youtube and website are only the tip of the iceberg, as Foksynes has much more available to Patrons. However, the road is not always easy:
Right now, I have only a tiny audience [on Patreon]. When I do post, I try to fill it with as much information as I can. And it’s a pleasure to talk with patrons!
But I feel sad that just a few people will see this. So, I think about how I can share my experience with more people in other ways too. I have wanted to create an online course on how to incorporate gold and metal in your art as it seems like the right thing for me to talk about.
Thankfully, Foksynes continues to look forward and focus on the bright things in life. “My social media growth is slow. But when I let go of some of the expectations of what real art should be and started to paint what I like, surprisingly, I found people who want the same aesthetic. I am thrilled to get to know my tribe, finally!
“I’m more on the introverted side, and it’s hard for me to go around and talk to as many people as I can to find like-minded ones, so each personal connection is precious for me. And thanks to the Internet, I can have more of them.”
Keep up to date with Foksynes, her adventures and tutorials by joining her Patreon below, or subscribing to the newsletter on her website.