Tag: Art Inspiration

Movies That Make Me Want to Paint – Part 1

Rather than always throwing art at you guys and running, I also hope that I’m inspiring you to create as well, if you are so inclined.  For that purpose, I thought I’d share a few of the movies near and dear to my Muse. No matter how low or art-blocked I am, putting on any of these movies always lights me up again. In fact, they are often playing in the background while I work as inspirational background noise.

Before we dive in though, here’s a quick reminder to Patrons to check this Patrons-only poll.  My Patreon will be changing themes in the near-future and I want Patrons to have a say in which path I choose for this place next!  Go throw in your votes before the poll closes at the end of February.

Now, on to the list!  I picked 10 of my favorites, but I’m splitting that up between two posts so this doesn’t turn into a book.  One day, I’ll figure out how to include clips from movies in a video version of this post, but for now, enjoy the written version!

Crimson Peak

Synopsis:  Our protagonist, a young writer with the ability to sense ghosts, finds herself caught up in the orbit of a mysterious baronet.  Eventually, she must use her wits to survive the haunted house she finds herself in after their marriage.

I just have to be up front with you guys and admit I am a huge Guillermo del Toro fan.  I love just about everything in this director’s filmography, so apologies in advance for much of this list being del Toro stuff.  Del Toro isn’t lying when he says he he believes in ‘eye protein’ and not just ‘eye candy’.  Or rather, packing every inch of his backdrops and costumes with details that support his central theme.  That kind of thought process really appeals to my artistic soul and it reflects in nearly all of my visually stunning movie choices, not just Del Toro movies.

Crimson Peak blends Victorian decadence with a Bluebeard fairy tale in a haunted house for a riveting feast for the eyes.  It’s dark, glittering horror and Gothic Romance at its finest.  Plus, there’s a banger reference the heroine tosses out referencing the badassery of Mary Shelley when other women try to insult her reclusiveness as a writer that makes this a movie a win for me, on a personal narrative level.

(The house full of secrets the protagonist must uncover before she, too, becomes a ghost in its halls.)

Del Toro’s audio commentary about all the tricks they used to convey atmosphere in this movie (including interesting tidbits such as a chair that has the word ‘fear’ inscribed into its decorative tracings) is fascinating and inspiring for the director’s thoughtfulness and thematic visual saturation. I came away appreciating that ‘Eye Protein’ even more.  Do recommend it and the movie’s wonderful art book, if you can find it!

Pan’s Labyrinth

Synopsis:  In a wartorn Spain, a little girl must survive coming to live with the terrifying captain that has married her mother.  However, the maze outside of their new country home offers respite in the form of helpful faeries promising a cure for what ails her sick mother.

I know, I know. Another Del Toro movie already? But y’all, this movie was a formative, heartbreaking masterpiece for younger me.  The first time I saw this movie, it sparked a revelation that this blend of dark reality juxtaposed with the hopeful beauty of fantasy and the catharsis of horror was exactly what I wanted to do with my own art (and writing, for that matter).

(The titular faun and Ofelia.)

This movie moves fluidly from a dark world to one touched by magic as Ofelia endures challenges set by her new fae friends in order to unlock objects to heal her mother.  This is dark, magical fairy tale imagery at its finest, including one of the most iconic monster designs I’ve seen in horror.  It’s not for the faint of heart. I swear there’s always at least one gorey flinch-worthy moment in every del Toro movie, but the rest of it is glorious dark fantasy at its finest.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Synopsis:  A retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula through a stylized gothic romance in which Dracula stalks his re-incarnated love through London and actors have terrible British accents.

Of all the Dracula movies out there, this one remains close to my heart.  As an artist, I appreciate Coppola’s dedication to using practical FX where possible and making everything about this movie feel enthralling, otherworldly, and vintage in a surreal way.  This movie takes much from the Symbolist movement of art and literature, which sought to capture deep, emotional expression through highly symbolic, dreamlike works.

(One of the very pretty frames showing off the gorgeous lighting of this movie.)

The wardrobe is also fantastic and again so many little narrative details work their way into both clothing and set design, from the foreshading of Dracula’s ‘flesh armor’ to Mina’s scarlet gown mirroring her past life.  This attention to detail and otherworldly atmosphere are what get my Muse going the most with this movie, whether you dig this retelling’s narrative changes or not.  I’m here for the dresses, which were stunningly designed with Klimt-esque flavor by brilliant designer, Eiko Ishioka, in what was one of her first major outing in working on movies.

The Cell

This movie is another visually stunning, but a tough watch!  Content warning especially on this one for mature themes, violence, etc.

Synopsis:  The FBI track a serial killer down, only to realize they cannot save his latest victim trapped in an automated cell without first diving into his mind using cutting edge technology.  Psychotherapist, Catharine Deane, volunteers to venture into the killer’s mind to see if she can help save the killer’s last victim and finds herself in a dark wonderland.

I will say this movie makes perhaps a better music video than an actual movie, but it fascinates me as a dark Alice in Wonderland type of story.  Every frame and detail is arranged to hint at the layers of the mind and the dark and sometimes beautiful visions the mind is capable of.  

I still feel like this movie did the concept of a mindscape better than Inception, which felt too mundane and real-world in its mindscape sets, my opinion, while The Cell tricks the senses and conveys the unsettling nature of a dream world outside of logical time, place, and directional orientation.

Eiko Ishioka also had a hand in designing the wardrobe for this movie.  It’s fair to say following her filmography is another fun minigame of discovering inspiring surreal movies to watch!

(One of my fave shots from The Cell.)

It’s a brutal film, but an oddly beautiful one with a sense of catharsis in its ending.  Recommend it for visual inspiration, if dark, trippy, and briefly beautiful appeals to you.

Prince of Egypt

Synopsis: The biblical tale of Moses’ time in Egypt told through an animated musical.

Last, but certainly not least, I’ve not seen an animated movie with more of a sense of framing and atmosphere as The Prince of Egypt (aside from maybe the Arcane animated series).  You could pause any moment of this movie and frame that still as a painting.  It’s gorgeous, and every second of it is thoughtfully composed.  

According to behind the scenes material, the art direction when we’re in Egypt mirrors the beautiful stylistic aesthetic of Egyptian art, while the art becomes more naturalistic as we leave that locale behind.

(One of the most awe-inspiring moments and images of this movie.  It still takes my breath away.)

I do not consider myself very religious, but there are so many moments of sublime awe captured in the imagery of this movie, from the whispering flames of the burning bush to the majestic shadows of sea creatures lit by the glow of a storm in the distance as the Hebrews cross through the mystically parted sea.  Whether you’re religious or not, this movie inspires with its effective storytelling and artfully rendered scenes.


I hope this gives any of my fellow creatives some fuel for the inspiration tank!  Bulk up on some eye protein and create your innermost dreams, nightmares, and everything in-between.  I’ll have part 2 of this list next month.

Let me know how you end up liking any of these movies, if you haven’t seen them yet!  Or are there any I am missing out on that I should see?  Suggest some Movies for the Muse in the comments!

– Ang

Inspiration Trip: Myrtle Beach + Ripley’s Aquarium & Odditorium

Last week, my husband and I took some time off to enjoy the beach, which was a very big milestone for us as we’ve never taken a vacation together!  We’ve always done staycations and convention trips, but never anything like a complete escape thanks to the pile of medical bills that have always thwarted us in the past.  This was our way to celebrate Kev’s career change, our new home, and so many little and big victories that have been happening for us over the course of this year and last!

It was a lovely time spent walking in the sea breeze, catching dinner shows, and spoiling ourselves!  We went to a Murder Mystery dinner where we had to solve a series of murderers by dessert.  We also set sail with a Pirate dinner show with dancing skeletons and aerial acrobatic mermaids in a water-filled stage.

It was an awesome time and after the rough start to 2023 I’ve had, I’m happy for a reset button!  Taking time away to actually leave the house reminded me how important it is to do these things before the burnout catches up with us, which it has for me for years now for a multitude of reasons.  I’m very happy to be able to just enjoy myself and get outside of my own head for awhile!  There’s so much more to life than angsting about my projects, skill level, and existential threats like AI and I really needed this break away from the anxiety of it all that’s quadrupled over the course of the pandemic.

Another highlight of the trip was visiting the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Aquarium and Odditorium buildings, which are the source of the reference photos I’ve collected at the top of this post.  Atlanta’s Aquarium still reigns supreme, but there’s something nice to be said about the quieter Ripley’s Aquarium where we could take our time without a huge crowd.

IMAGE CAPTION:  My fave souvenirs from the trip – a tiny stone turtle which supports conservation efforts and a mug to fit all the matcha!


IMAGE CAPTION:  My husband, Kevin, and I at the Ripley’s Aquarium.


I’m already missing that calming breeze, but I’m also excited to get back in the studio!  We finally had our chance to properly rest and now begins the efforts to re-organize my new bigger studio space and also to start fixing up our new home the way that we want instead of living out of boxes as we have for the past 3 years.

Now that I’m back home, that also means I’ll be working to re-launch this Patreon and  learning how to use the Merch system, which I think will be fun and easier for you guys to use than my Backerkit Secret Shop for those merch tier rewards.  I have some exclusive goodies coming that I finished before vacation that I’m excited to share the big final reveal of!

More soon!  Till then, enjoy the pics and feel free to use any of the animal and beach images as you like for your own projects.

♥ Ang

Inspiration Reference Photos: Spring Flowers in Georgia

As you know, nature plays a big part of inspiration for me, especially for my Birthstone Goddesses.  Part of the joy of moving to a new place is seeing what new flowers will emerge in spring!  Now that it’s started to get warmer here at our new home, our house and neighborhood have erupted with blooms.

We have Spring Stars, beautiful starlike blooms that range from purple to white. I’ve never noticed these blooming here before!  I’m definitely saving them for fantasy landscape inspiration, as I can imagine them twinkling like little stars in a night scene.

We also had daffodils and narcissus all over, though they’ve sadly withered by now.  I was so happy to see a line of daffodils pop up lining our driveway on both sides!

Next, we have what I thought were Snowdrops, but are actually a smaller, more  delicate flower called Summer Snowflakes.  The little green smudges on the petal tips make the designer in me very happy, it’s such an elegant little detail!  They’re like little fairy bells.

Finally, as we were wrapping up our walk, we spotted this feathered friend who was powered by bird screams.  A red-shouldered hawk, I suspect!  We have a lot of hawks and owls in this neighborhood, which points to a healthy ecosystem.  I enjoy living in our shaded little patch of forest and am so happy we’ll be staying for the foreseeable future after our past few years of home-hopping.

If any of the images here might make good reference for you, feel free to use them!  I’m looking forward to seeing what summer will be like here and taking a trip to Gibbs Gardens for more reference hunting.  I hope you all enjoy the beauty of nature as much as I do.


Unknown Nouveau: Gaspar Camps

While I’m busy grinding away braincells on Lady of July ‘s many flower buds, I wanted to introduce you to another Art Nouveau artist I had never heard of!  Gaspar Champs hailed from Spain and spent a large part of his career in France.  He was very heavily influenced by Mucha, so much so that he became known as the ‘Catalan Mucha’.

Like my previous feature of Élisabeth Sonrel , I love how Camps brought his own unique flair to Alphonse Mucha’s line style.  At times, Camps’ work feels more abstract with his figures melting into the details of his images.

I also love the sense of light bouncing in his more painterly work.  What a joy it was to discover him!

If you want to see more of these art features, view them all at once here .

UNKNOWN NOUVEAU: Élisabeth Sonrel

While I’m busy working on Lady of July, enjoy a look at this stunning work by female Art Nouveau artist, Élisabeth Sonrel!  While she was active at the same time as other artists of the movement, I had never heard of her until recently. 

She reminds so very much of Mucha with her line work, but has a sense of decorative layout that feels more detailed and layered at times.  Definitely check her out for a lovely array of painterly and graphical work!

If you want to see more of these art features, view them all at once here


I plan to start doing these little ‘Unknown Nouveau‘ entries, so I have something to share during those slow times when I’m busy working and don’t have much to show yet!  The art keeps me inspired and is something I love sharing with you all. What do you think?  

Also, do you know any other Art Nouveau artists I might not have heard of?  Let me know in comments!