Art Feature: Modern Lore

Art Feature: Modern Lore

Art by Sylvia Strijk
Feature by Rob Carroll

The visual beauty of Sylvia Strijk’s artwork is undeniable, and her talent and technique are extraordinary. But it’s her mastery of style, theme, and motif that I enjoy the most. Her work is like something you’d find in an illustrated book of fantasy and folklore—a whimsical study of different cultures, countries, and chronologies—but with a distinctly somber twist.

Her haunting, surrealist exploration of humanity’s spiritual marriage (and sometimes divorce) to nature is also what made her the perfect cover artist for Dark Matter INK’s forthcoming anthology, The Off-Season: An Anthology of Coastal New Weird, edited by Marissa van Uden. Read on to learn more about Sylvia’s fascinating artistic philosophy, and for an exclusive first look at The Off-Season cover, featuring Sylvia’s artwork, “Sereia.”

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DARK MATTER MAGAZINE: Your artwork has such a strong visual and thematic identity. What inspires your work in this way?

SYLVIA STRIJK: My art is inspired by a whole bunch of different things, like mythology, fairy tales, the beauty of nature, and portraiture. These elements form the foundation of my work, allowing me to create enchanting and otherworldly realms within my paintings.

At its core, my muse is storytelling and the magical allure of mythical worlds. While I may not be a master storyteller myself, I am deeply fascinated by those who can weave tales that transport listeners to other realms. This fascination influences my artistic approach, leading to creations that resemble fragments of half-remembered dreams. Each piece becomes a personal voyage into the realms of imagination, guided by the enchantment of mythology and the allure of the fantastical.

DMM: Your style expertly captures the feelings associated with magic, mythology, and enchantment. Can you provide some insight into your artistic process?

SYLVIA STRIJK: My technique is a blend of traditional and digital methods. This allows me to easily switch between mediums to achieve my desired aesthetic. The process typically begins with quick doodles and thumbnails, either on paper or my tablet, to explore composition and flow. Once I settle on a sketch that resonates, I transition to the painting phase on my digital canvas.

When painting digitally, I always begin with a black-and-white version of the illustration. This allows me to focus on values, textures, and composition, without the distraction of color. I layer watercolor textures during this phase to give a more tangible, organic feel to the work, all while gradually refining details. Around the eighty-percent-completion mark, I introduce color to breathe life into the painting.

Recently, I’ve embraced a return to traditional media. In some instances, I scan my traditional painting and continue refining it digitally. This approach serves to create a hybrid aesthetic, blurring the lines between traditional and digital, offering more depth and textures.

DMM: Your strong artistic voice is one of many the reasons Dark Matter INK asked you to be the cover artist for their forthcoming anthology, The Off-Season. What ideas or emotions are you attempting to express through your work?

SYLVIA STRIJK: My work is an expression of the feminine spirit and the transformative power of nature. Through my art, I journey into a realm where the boundaries between reality and imagination dissolve, where things are inspired by enchanting beauty. I create ethereal female figures that seamlessly blend with their surroundings and that beckon you into their worlds of wonder.

I aim to evoke a sense of serenity and tranquility, while also acknowledging the complexities of life. I often explore the delicate balance between beauty and the macabre, the allure of the mystical, and the cycle of life and death.

Ultimately, I yearn to expand my artistic language. I want to enrich the visual narratives I weave with a deeper emotional resonance. I seek not only to capture the beauty of myth but also to evoke more complex emotions within my viewers.


Art copyright © 2023 Sylvia Strijk

The Artist

Sylvia Strijk

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