Fairy Art has existed for centuries cited in the Druid, Nordic and Celtic cultures. The celestial figures and mythical creatures of the fairy art genre flourished through the Middle Ages and The Renaissance, and continue to inspire modern day artists to add their own imaginings to the Art’s tree of life like Romantic painter Jacqueline Collen-Tarrolly.
“My father says I came out swinging my hands around,” Jacqueline relates to her need to have a paint brush in her hand and her desire to always want to paint something. “I don’t have any real first memory of painting. There has just always been painting, drawing, scribbling of some sort. I did win a 5-12 year old art contest when I was in kindergarten though. I painted a tooth fairy.”
Similarly, Jacqueline’s fairies today are delightful nymphs designed as sprites, elves, pixies, goddesses, and mermaids traipsing through forests and taking pleasure in living freely to enjoy earth’s beauty. Some of Jacqueline’s images are also mythical creatures like dragons and seahorses or earth’s friendly animals such as horses, swans, frogs, and butterflies. Her Romantic series include Fairy men embracing their lady love in sensual poses. The long flowing lines of her freehand brush strokes and the lively movements of her figures are natural and exude warmth and project an empyrean femininity.Jacqueline has come a long way since her childhood drawings. “I grew up in a very small town in Colorado,” she reveals. It was “Very conservative, very boring. They were none too thrilled with a wild child with fairies and Greek Goddesses and talking animals on the brain.
My sketches started reflecting all of those things since I didn’t feel safe talking about them, and that, they seemed to like somewhat more so I just kept doing it.”
“There were no real art facilities there,” she tells. “Nothing apart from junior high and high school art. The only real help I got was from my junior high school art teacher, Mr. Mark Snowden. He saw something in me no one else did, not even myself,” she admits.
“I ended up staying with him in independent study all through high school as well, because I didn’t click with the high school art teacher,” she explains, “and Mr. Snowden convinced the school board that I should continue with classes which he knew I would not do if I could not stay with him. I wish I could tell him now where I’ve gone with my art.”
It could be very likely that Mr. Snowden has attended any one of the Renaissance Festivals that Jacqueline participates in and frequents. Her booth for Toadstool Farm Art, the name of her art company, continues to expand and is a member of The Fairy Court www.thefairycourt.com). In the years since Jacqueline’s childhood drawings and the formation of Toadstool Farm Art, her energies were dispersed as she dabbled in modeling and acting which all influenced her to be the person and painter she is today.
It was at 17 years old when Jacqueline’s opportunity to become a model entered into her life. “I just sort of fell into it,” she says, “I had dropped out of college and was waitressing and a friend hooked me up with his agency, a little agency in Denver. They had a New York and Paris scout come out one day and they asked me to show up for it, so I did and felt totally out of place but the guy liked me and sent me off to Paris a week later.”
While in Paris, Jacqueline found comfort after meeting and marrying her then husband rock guitarist Phil Collen and became Jacqueline Collen. They had a son which gave Jacqueline stability when modeling as she expresses, “It was okay. Not something I would want to spend my whole life doing, but it was certainly a great opportunity for a 17 year old who was really wondering what to do with her life. It got me out of Colorado too, which I am forever grateful for.”
Like many models, Jacqueline garnered her modeling skills into acting. Acting, she claims, “It’s such an easy, logical move, really. I moved from New York to Los Angeles not long after my son was born. I wanted to get back to work when he was about two years old and out here, acting is a much bigger industry so that’s where I went.”
She declares, “Again, acting was not meant to be my lifetime passion. It was fun while I did it, and the work itself, I loved, still love. The craft of acting is addictive. What I did not like about it is the politics and a*kissing that goes on, and unfortunately, that’s about 90% of it.”
Some of the television series which Jacqueline appeared in were fantasy shows like Hercules and The Adventures of Sinbad and a stint on Baywatch. “Funny enough,” she chimes, “I really enjoyed working on Baywatch. They treated me really well and I had a tone of fun. Hercules was a blast too. Kevin (Sorbo) is such a great guy.”
When Hercules ended in 1999, acting seemed less appealing to Jacqueline which sent her mind wandering into new professions. The new millennium marked a change in Jacqueline’s course. She remarried to her present husband actor, Dean Tarrolly and the couple purchased a beautiful home which they named Toadstool Farm in California and recently they gave birth to their first daughter in November 2005.
The scenery brought out her artistic nature which inspired her to form her own company, Toadstool Farm Art. “Toadstool Farm is in actual fact, the name of my house and really it’s the name of the house I had before the one I currently live in,” she describes. “We named it that long before I bought my first horse as an adult. It’s a 2,100 sq. foot house on a 9,000 sq. foot lot in the San Fernando Valley. We had a lot of dogs and cats and bunnies and I was always taking in wild birds and squirrels and rescue things so a farm seemed more appropriate than cottage or something like that. And I’ve always believed that the house is built on a fairy mound so toadstool just jumped out at me, so Toadstool Farm it was. The name has stuck and now wherever I go it’ll be Toadstool Farm.”
Toadstool Farm is also where Jacqueline Collen-Tarrolly creates her paintings. She was magnetized to Fairy Art she elucidates, because “I just always painted fantasy things. I mentioned how my hometown was very conservative and I was always a wild child and a misfit. It was just natural for me to start doing that.” She glows, “The art has just taken over and I don’t have time for everything anymore.”
But like many artists sometimes her muse is dormant and she needs to stimulate that spirit somehow. Jacqueline conveys, “Well, I have a saying When in doubt, get Christensen out.’ James C. Christensen is a huge influence for me and when my muse gets in a rut, I just pull out some of his work and find inspiration flowing like water. I also adore the old masters like Alta-Tadema, Waterhouse, etc. Kinuko Craft is big on my list, Amy Brown’s work is so intriguing and Jess Galbreth. Those two gave me a lot of help when I first started doing this professionally so thanks girls! And Selina Fenech just makes me want to crawl into a hole and die.”
Some of Jacqueline’s artwork has been published alongside these Fairy artists in such books as “500 Fairy Motifs,” “The Art of Faery,” “Watercolor Fairies Book,” and “The World of Faery.” Jacqueline reflects about her first paintings for Toadstool Farm Art, “Sure I remember them,” she emits enthusiastically, “my very first was Rest. The first four paintings I did after I decided to try to make a go of it professionally were all of myself and my horse Pagan or the spirits of us anyway. They were all based on the connection we have together.”
She confesses mischievously that what makes her paint is “My own sick twisted little mind,” which brews ingenious methods of creating images like her homemade Tea Stained Fairies. Jacqueline divulges to her fans on her website that she brews some strong tea or coffee and then places her sketching paper in the liquid allowing the paper to soak for up to an hour. What comes out are stains with varying textures and coloring on the paper and what Jacqueline calls “bits” which inspire her to see the fairy she will draw on the paper. Many of the Tea Stained Fairies are nude and very, very shy much like their creator.
The equipment which she uses for her paintings, she instructs, “I use Arches 300lb cold pressed paper mostly, though I use 140lb sometimes too. I use acrylics for a variety of brands and I toss in some watercolors and markers and pencils and goodness knows what else, but I am primarily an acrylic artist. Everyone thinks they are watercolors but they are not.”
She notes, “I start with a sketch. That can be the hardest part because it’s getting the vision you have in you brain down to the paper. Once it’s there the rest is mostly just coloring.”
Her paintings span four galleries of goddess-like Fairies, a Romantic series and a new section called Past Time Fairies which portray Fairies doing daily activities to pass the time away. Some samples include The Fairy Playing Air Guitar When No One Is Watching, The Fairy of Hiding the Chocolate Bar Wrappers and Ice Cream Tubs in the Bottom of the Trash Can, and The Fairy of Shopping Til Your Credit Cards Are Maxxed Out.
“I’m coming up on my fifth year of doing them,” she cites, “so I guess the response is pretty good or I would not still be doing them.” She establishes, “For one thing, I am not in such a rush to get a decent sized body of work up, so I take my time a bit more and it shows in the amount of detail in each piece. I also think my style has settled into its own recognizable entity. I certainly hope it’s improved.”
Toadstool Farm Art has prospered beyond the sale of Jacqueline’s paintings and sketches, her artwork is also available for purchase on e-postcards, slate stones, bookmarkers, stickers, pickets, patches, and for licensing and cell phone wallpaper. Cell phone wallpaper allows you to view the artwork on your cell paper screen – wicked!
“I have several licensing contracts so I guess the companies that license my work like me fine,” she shows. “And then I do sell okay for most them, so I guess the folks buying the products dig it too.”
Toadstool Farm is additionally where she raises horses and breeds them for families to purchase. Her first horse to the stable was Pagan, the noble Black gelding which she resounds is her dream horse. Today, her stock includes Friesians, Gypsy Cobs, Fell Ponies, Percherons and Arabians.
Pagan is a bit of a star among Jacqueline’s steeds, being featured in a number of her paintings as well as being a model for photos in magazines and in films like the recent animation of the movie The Chronicles of Narnia” The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, an adaptation of the novel by CS Lewis.
Jacqueline recalls about the experience, “It was nothing really. We just rode around in a circle and did some tricks for the folks with cameras. We didn’t even have to go anywhere, just did it in the arena at the barn I board at.”
She told E! Television in an interview, “I have this theory, I believe that when the World of Mortal man and the World of Faery separated and the Faeries left, horses were Faeries creatures that chose to stay behind with us.”
She vows, “My horses are cared for better than I care for myself and it’s all me. I do not have hired hands or trainers or any of that. Not even my husband or son is involved beyond that occasional helping me lead a horse onto a trailer or something. I do almost every single thing.”
That alone is something which most people would be surprised to learn about Jacqueline but she discloses something even deeper about herself that is shared by many artists. “I’m very, very shy and have horrid social anxiety,” she releases. It never showed in her acting roles or hampers her activity in the Fairy/Fantasy Art World. In fact, she welcomes advising aspiring artists and entrepreneurs by sharing,
“Learn the business side of things if you actually want to be able to eat, and watch your back when you sign contracts. Do as much for yourself as you are able to do so that you retain control over your work.”
Its solid advice from a painter who engages in Fantasy Art and the World of Magic. Her visions may be of a celestial nature but her feet are firmly planted on the ground. She is raising families, her own as well as a family of steeds and replenishing her creativity with every new birth, very much like Mother Earth.