The Art of Fae Nouveau (Part 6) – Look how far we’ve come

My interest in Art Nouveau and especially Mucha’s work goes back quite a long way, it was probably even there before I had a name that I could put to it. That love of organic shapes in a decorative application and a love of the skillful use of line. I think I first fell in love with the genre in my teens as a result of this piece by Roger Dean, for the album Yessongs:


This inspired a number of pieces based on the music of Yes, including this one, Starship Trooper.

Starship Trooper © Herb Leonhard
© Herb Leonhard

And a series of images illustrating the song Turn of the Century, here is one of those:

Turn of the Century 2 © Herb Leonhard
© Herb Leonhard

In talking about my ongoing Fae Nouveau project, there are two pieces that can be considered the forerunners, or at least older cousins to the other pictures in the series.


Tempus Vernum © Herb Leonhard
© Herb Leonhard

This one features Enya and is inspired by her song Tempus Vernum, (or Spring Time), which always reminded me of a stained glass window.

DIVE (2002)

Dive © Herb Leonhard
© Herb Leonhard

This is very much a companion to Tempus Vernum and features the Angel of Music, Sarah Brightman, inspired by the song and album Dive. The frame plays off of the nautilus shape.

One more noteworthy forerunner of the Fae Nouveau pictures again had musical roots but ended up becoming entwined with the larger project.

THE QUEEN OF DREAMS (1989 version)

Queen of Dreams © Herb Leonhard
© Herb Leonhard

This was originally inspired by a song by the Strawbs and was part of a larger collection of music-themed pieces.

THE QUEEN OF DREAMS (2012 version)

Queen of Dreams 2 © Herb Leonhard
© Herb Leonhard

When it came time to do the Faerie Nouveau Coloring Book I returned to this image and gave it a new lease on life, adding the fairy wings (inspired by Amy Brown’s work) and adapting the frame to better fit the format of the other pieces in the series.


Occasionally I will have an image in my head for years, or in this case decades, before it’s finally realized in painted form. Also, once in a while I will make several attempts at illustrating it over that time. This is one such case. It was originally inspired by a song by the band Genesis, specifically by a concert film performance interspersed with conceptual vignettes. I saw the film in the early 80s.

My first “attempt” at the image was done spontaneously in blue ballpoint pen in 1996.

Entangled 1 © Herb Leonhard
© Herb Leonhard

I always visualized it in a more art nouveau context however and in 2013 I returned to it with that in mind and after 30+years finally created the image that I had wanted to see, or pretty close to it.

Entangled 2 © Herb Leonhard
© Herb Leonhard

The entire Fae Nouveau collection can be seen here

And of course there’s no place like home: