I learned a lot doing my "due diligence" research on the circus idea. I learned a lot about interesting people--some with abilities to deceive, some with abilities to sell, some with great slight of hand and fakery, and some with sad physcial conditions that this was the way to have a life, to get about and to exist. I learned about Melvin Burkhart, the first human block head, who perfected this idea of pounding nails into his head (working on the concept that one's nasal cavities actually instead of going up, go back--and identifying where this cavity is...would allow him to place a nail in it). Of Dolly Dimples and Baby Ruth, two fat ladies who were always posed like little babies...with frilly, silly dresses, big bows in their hair and these simpering, coy expressions on their faces. Or of Sword Swallowers, of which there are many (as noted on a website committed to their history and for the current practitioners of this activity). I even found an xray of a sword swallower--a clear picture of how they do it. I love the analogy of sword swallowing--as its not about a freak of nature, or intelligence of any kind(maybe lack thereof?) but of a knowledge of technique/skill and how it is then rendered, not to fool--but to present a fearful thing--that is a considered feat.
This stuff could be infectious. But, it did not force me to open my notebook and start running ink all over the pages. However, my creatures already are in sketch phase with over a dozen mermaids and a few harpies to get going. I also love my list as there are earth, fire, water and air creatures...so the elements could fold into this along with my desire to do patterning in the background that could be inspired from this...moving the look and feel from Memento Mori, combined with some of the stuff that is coming on with the Carol Elizabeth work, and my adoration of medieval/manuscript (even Islamic art) detail and orientation. This is getting me jazzed. So, a swan dive into decorative illustration. Here we go.
I did find a cool manuscript online:
the Aberdeen Bestiary>> (1542)--with some nice images and content on phoenixes, basilisks, dragons and nice marginalia. They show the small paintings up big and often reference the page to see how it sits within the copy, the marginalia and detail that surround them for fun. Take a look. Its nice to go back into this stuff. Roots, you know.