Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fireflies in the marsh rise...

Inspired by a beautiful Japanese Poem from the 11th Century by Lady Izumi Shikibu, and a recent trip to the States where I got to see fireflies for the first time.

The muse was, once again, one of Marina Bychkova’s dolls.

When I think of you, fireflies in the marsh rise like the souls jewels, lost to eternal longing abandoning my body.
--Izumi Shikibu

I have this poem engraved on a rose-gold bangle (by Victoria Buckley) that I wear every day, and have been wanting to illustrate the emotions it evokes in me for a while. I dreaded starting the background for this one, but I’m so pleased with how it turned out.

If you haven’t noticed yet, I have a strong melancholic streak. The sort of melancholy that intermingles with romance, nostalgia and heartbreaking memories.
Not having fireflies in Australia (at least not anywhere I’ve been, and not in the quantity I saw in Illinois) I have some really delightful memories of camping by a river and looking up into the trees on the opposite shore - and watching this haunting light show of flickering, ebbing and blinking. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
I imagined how I would have felt if no one had told me they were fireflies – I would surely have thought I was seeing ghosts, aliens, or hallucinating.

For those lovelies following my unfinished-work challenge: this is number 11. Only 10 more to go!


  1. oooooh i love love love this piece Monika, it touches my heart, so beautiful.
    the girl, is it Cathedral she is inspired by?

    this is so many kinds of amazing, it makes me miss fireflies even though i havenever seen them in real life yet.

    and please know that you have nothing to worry about with backgrounds, i love your drawings just as they are!


  2. Oh Monika!! You have just blown me away! I absolutely love this! Seriously I want a copy to frame and hang so I can show it to people and tell them all about you! Just amazingly indescribable!! Love love love it! I want one!

    Alanah xx.

  3. She is a beautiful creature, this lady of the marshes, as frail and as magical as the tiny lights in the night.
    I haven't seen many fireflies this years, but I remember many summers ago the countryside in Italy at night was splendid: they were all over the place, so lovely...

  4. Dear Monika, this is my absolute favoritest piece you have ever done ever. And I'll tell you why.

    I lived in Japan for two years as a kid, so the poem and background evoke strong emotions and memories in me--of melancholic nostalgia, just as you said, and longing to go back and visit again. The cherry blossoms are lovely, you got them spot-on.

    Now I live in Mississippi, where anyone can tell you we have fireflies by the storm every summer. When I was little my whole family would get a jar and go into our backyard and see how many we could catch. In fact sometimes I still try to catch a few.

    Apparently my post was too long so I'm splitting it up!

    <3 Love Kimmi

  5. And the girl is LOVELY. I love her pale skin, her gorgeous blonde hair, her flowers, and I seriously want that dress. Her collarbones, her eyebrows, her eyelashes!! So much detail, this really is perfection.

    Will you pretty pretty please make prints or make this into a laptop skin or SOMETHING so I can buy a copy from you??? :)

    <3 Love Kimmi

  6. I cannot tell you girls how much your responses have meant to me. I really cannot.

    This was a piece I really poured a lot of my emotions into, and the feedback has been not only touching, but very warming as well.

    For the darlings who would like to own a print, I put up a blog post about the two types of prints I can have made. Send me an email :-)

    Annina, Astera, Alanah and Kimmi - thank you :-) I am so overwhelmed that you all love this piece so much, and thank you for sharing your own stories - I loved reading them :-)

  7. How beautiful ! Well done Monika, it's a lovely painting. And actualy there are a couple of special spots in Australia where we get fireflies- I've seen them around nimbin. So keep your eyes open, you never know :-)


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