The Art of Fae Nouveau (Part 1)

Fae Nouveau

Once upon a time there was a man named Alphonse Mucha. He was a Czech artist who came to Paris in 1887 to make his name in the art world. He in fact made it synonymous with an entire genre of art that defined the ambiance of the turn of that century. It’s an ambiance that I have always been attracted to, defined by organic forms and idealized figures. It’s the look of another time, and another visual philosophy, one that draws upon and emphasizes the forms found in nature, an attempt to create a sense of harmony with that natural world.

Alphonse Mucha - Dance

Alphonse Mucha – Dance


Another genre that has always attracted me is fairy art, which aspires to a similar sort of harmony with the world of nature. It seems somewhat ironic to me that Mucha never really explored that world within the context of his art, which would seem to me to be a logical place to take it.

So I set out to do just that, filtered of course through my own artistic sensibilities, my color palette tends more toward the brilliant hues found in stained glass, which is yet another art form I’ve always loved. The final and by no means least important element in this cocktail, with both Mucha’s and my own work, is the love of line, of which he was an undisputed master. For myself, it’s something that has always come naturally to me, the fascination with drawing.

Fae Nouveau Coloring Book by Herb Leonhard

Fae Nouveau Coloring Book by Herb Leonhard

It’s also funny how projects have a tendency to evolve in-process and eventually grow into something much larger than one’s original vision. For the most part, this particular collection began as a single coloring book, but has become over time an ongoing series of full-color paintings that celebrate that original homage to Mucha and also serve as a tribute to the various models who participated in creating the images.

© Herb Leonhard

Princess Lolly & Racing Snail
© Herb Leonhard

Most of the fairies involved are actual people I know or who are in some way inspirational to me, primarily family, friends and fellow artists. Some I was fortunate enough to have model specifically for this project and others utilized existing photos, but with all I tried to capture something of their personalities as well as featuring their interactions with the various flora and fauna that accompany them. I remember telling at least one of those friends that this is as much an excuse to paint those flowers as anything else. I also just thought that it would be a fun experience, both for me and for them. I sincerely hope that I was able to deliver that all around.

Dragonfly & Daisies © Herb Leonhard

Dragonfly & Daisies
© Herb Leonhard

Eventually I collected the project in an art book as well as this little music video, for which I also did some rudimentary animation in the title sequences:

The entire collection can be seen here

And of course there’s no place like home:

© Herb Leonhard

One thought on “The Art of Fae Nouveau (Part 1)

  1. pan

    Hi Herbs!
    Keep blogging, you’re good at it!
    And its always a treat to see your fairies!

    : )

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