Thursday, July 31, 2008

Notes: Comic Con 08

Slowly but surely re-integrating into this sphere after a very exciting and inspiring Comic Con. Highlights this year included many of the same as last year:

  • Seeing and meeting our friends and fans, as well as creating new ones.
  • Show & Tell on our part and our fellow creative spirits.
  • Attending a few panel discussions in “fan” mode.
  • Observing with awe the full spectrum of what Comic Con holds, it’s pretty mind blowing.
  • Forging new relationships.
We arrived Wednesday afternoon just in time to get the booth set up for the special attendees of Preview Night. The air conditioning was at an all time high blowing down on us like a blizzard. We could have used scarves and mittens. With all the wild costumes around no one would have noticed. As you can see from the photo below Greg had on a wool sweater and hat.Each day was begun very early in the morning with a big hearty breakfast and arriving at the hall to get the booth re-organized for the busy day ahead. The booth was located in the Illustrators section right across from Greg's rep Allen Spiegel. Down the same aisle from us and around the corner were all our fellow artist pals.

It is a joy to see everyone each year. We noticed that Comic Con is a marker for us, where the year is defined by that event and seeing our friends.

Rick Berry was disappointed I hadn’t exhibited or brought any of my visual art with me. In the past I didn't see my illustrative work matching the energetics of Comic Con. However, after seeing our artist sister buddies and the response to the jewelry featuring my imagery, I am reconsidering.

After each day we would drape the booth and head on out to dinner with a large group of friends, usually the group numbered about ten. We met and got to know martial arts expert, writer and philosopher Ric Meyer the first night. Getting to know the artist Justine Sweet a bit was fantastic. After dinner the artists would all gather in the lobby of a local hotel for more concentrated bonding time. Unfortunately we missed the wrestling matches Friday night culminating with two of the women winning! Darn, I would have liked to witness that.

We didn’t see Holly Black this year, not sure if she attended. Orson Scott Card was there leading a panel on writing and signing his new book with TOR. He graciously stopped by the booth to say hello.

To my surprise Chaparral was the most popular fragrance in our collection this year. Q and Vespertina hold there own, however the aromatics of the Chaparral were what really hit a nerve in the collective at the event. The second edition of Chaparral is currently in formulation, so I did not have samplers or bottles on hand to sell, only for sampling on the skin and inhaling. I have come home with a long list of orders for this perfume.

On Sunday afternoon Deepak Chopra returned to Comic Con. A couple years back we heard him speak and were in awe that he was at Comic Con. The panel was moderated by Deepak's son, Gotham. Grant Morrison and Deepak shared their definitions of certain words and ideas on the changing world. Including their thoughts on the the similarities between superheroes like Superman and Batman the spiritual masters like Buddha and Jesus. They reminded us that all four of these archetypes are within us. Deepak spoke of the necessity of both dark and light, that both of these forces are essential to life. It is so fantastic to see this type of dialog occur at Comic Con. Deepak refers to the event as a "carnival for our collective imagination."

Photo of Greg at the booth and Deepak Chopra by James Spalenka. The photo of the extra large ugly doll was taken by me as they were escorting Wage upstairs, that was for Eve. Image of Chaparral and the original Tithe book illustration ©Greg Spalenka.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Greg Spalenka

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Perfume at Comic Con

Roxana Illuminated Perfume will be at the upcoming Comic Convention in San Deigo. The massive event features many notables in the storytelling genre.

The booth number for Greg and I is 4704 in the Illustrator's section near Hall G. We will be there with our perfumes, artwork, and music. Possibly the largest convention for popular art culture in the world, Comic Con continues to grow yearly with 150,000 fans attending the four day event. It's a phenomena you can only truly grasp by attending. The San Diego Comic Convention opens to Industry Professionals this Wednesday evening, July 23rd, and to the public Thursday morning. The show and events continue all weekend long, wrapping up on Sunday, July 27th.

Concept designer Greg Spalenka, the artist creating the visuals for our perfumes, has been attending Comic Con both as an exhibitor and fan of science fiction and related arts since he was a young lad. This year he will be featuring a 2009 Calendar of his artwork published by Amber Lotus titled Divine Nature.

Tickets are sold out, so, probably not a good idea to venture down that way unless you are one of the visionaries who got their ticket(s) in advance.

Image above is the cover of the 2009 Spalenka Calendar titled "Divine Nature" ©Greg Spalenka.

San Diego Comic Convention
Greg Spalenka
Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hydro Sol

I believe that water is the only drink for a wise man.
~Henry David Thoreau

The steam, or in some cases water and steam, that passes through the plant material during the distillation process is referred to as a hydrosol or hydrolat. These healing waters are rich in hydrophilic components not found in essential oils. These elements are referrred to as “weak acids” and occur in trace amounts, similar to the energetic blueprint in homeopathic and flower remedies.

Uses of hydrosols are similar to those of essential oils such as applying them to the skin and through inhalation. Hydrosols have been found to work on all the systems of the body from strengthening immunity, calming the spirit and focusing the mind. Here are some suggestions:
  • Drinking: Add approximately one teaspoon per 4oz glass of chilled, purified water. Before drinking give thanks to the plant spirit and ask for its guidance. Close your eyes and receive the blessing. This is terrific for group gatherings where intention or spirit is invoked, and for celebrations.
  • Add to the bath water and/or inhalations.
  • Spritz on the face and or body: Use as a toner on the face. Spritz before applying moisturizer, after shaving or to cool down in the hot summer months. Can also be applied just after applying make-up. Hydrosols are soothing to the skin and can alleviate itching. Use on the delicate skin of both babies and the elderly, as well as animals.
  • Add to your lotions and potions.
  • Add to food preparation. A common practice in the East where the waters are utilized in both food and drink.
  • Excellent as a compress for the eyes and or skin applied locally.
  • For magical purposes use hydrolats when you want to bring in elemental water. The different hydrosols can be aligned with the vibrational aspects of different plants, for example Jasmine for invoking the feminine and the moon.
  • For the perfumer, especially those interested in the healing aspect of botanical perfume, hydrosols can be added drop by drop to perfume formulas and colognes.

Dr. Emoto has some interesting thoughts on water. Watch the extended version of the film “What the Bleep” to see his experiments and hear his theory.

“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”
~ Lao Tzu

Inspiration for this post come from the Jan Kusmerik article titled “Exploring Floral Waters” in the Aromatherapy Journal from Spring 2000, Volume 10, No. 1. Thank you Jan for sharing your immense wisdom and inspiring my path!

Suzanne Catty has an excellent book out titled “The Next Aromatherapy” where you can read more about the healing aspects of hydrosols. Take a look at the list on her website where you can view the therapeutic action of the different available hydrosols.

The Fragrant Earth Company
Suzanne Catty
Dr. Masaru Emoto
What the Bleep

Images © Greg Spalenka, see them and more at his website here.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Six Degrees

"Every person is a new door to a different world."
- from the film Six Degrees of Separation

I had the pleasure of spending some extended quality time with a group of women I hold dear to my heart. We’ve been gathering for about seven years now. At first we came together under the auspicious energies of the full moon, often incorporating ritual. As the years have progressed the initial idea has morphed a bit as our love has deepened. There are seven of us, each as different as our seven chakras, yet connected by a common silver cord. We are all mothers of a child or children that currently attends or attended the same Waldorf School. I came to the group one moonlit evening to teach aromatherapy and facilitate the creation of a sacred anointing essential oil blend.

This past week we had the opportunity to gather at M’s glorious home in the foothills of the Los Padres National Forest over looking a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean. We strolled her abundant orchards, spoke for hours under the cool light of the moon, inhaled the fresh air and deepened our bound with each other.

Each of these divine ladies of this sisterhood are committed to living consciously. It is inspiring and uplifting to be in their presence. We are all mothers living in our art spirit.

Image above "Women with Child" © Greg Spalenka. This commissioned piece was an original painting was on board. See more of Gregs work at

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Modern Bards

The bards have begun descending in Southern California for the biggest event in popular art culture in America, Comic Con. The excitement is building, I can feel it in my bones. Dave (McKean) contacted Greg to let him know he would be in LA this week for an opening at the The Merry Karnowsky Gallery. The show opens this Saturday evening, July 19th from 8-11pm. An exhibition catalogue will be published along with the show.

In my opinion Dave McKean is a master of storytelling, a true visual bard. A bit dark, yes, but definitely a master. I was introduced to his work about nine (?) years ago through Greg. There are influences of both Greg and Matt Mahurin in the work, yet, Dave transcended their styles into his own definitive voice.

Daves artwork has graced the covers of comics, many of the works of another master bard, Neil Gamen, and music albums. Mirror Mask, his first feature film and a collaboration with Neil, was released for worldwide distribution a few years back. It is currently available on DVD.

Dave will be at Comic Con this year, you might catch a glimpse of him at the Allen Spiegel Fine Arts booth. Allens booth is located just across from us. Our booth is 4704 in the Illustrator's section near Hall G.

Dave McKean
The Merry Karnowsky Gallery
Comic Con
Images are ©Dave McKean, see more at his website.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Drawn to Flora

"Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light"

A few months ago I came to the realization that I’ve been so focused on perfume and the business of perfume that I had stopped drawing regularly. Thus, I set the intention to pick up the pencil at least once a day and draw.

Almost all the imagery I create has a human interacting with nature in some way. This is where my passion lies and becomes an evident symbiotic relationship in the visual and aromatic arts.

The drawing above is of a complex root system for a tree. In art school, after reading “Drawing from the Right side of the Brain” I became addicted to sketching the intricate folds of the brain. During that first year in college my brother was diagnosed as schizophrenic, which caused me to be even more intrigued by brain function.

Over the years I’ve noticed that complex rendering of intersecting curved lines shows up in my work often. The concentration involved in the drawing these forms relaxes me. I can sit happily for hours drawing, completely oblivious to my surrounding.

I’m not sure where this drawing will go, the root ball is based on a previous drawing for an illustration for the City of Hope Annual Report. The ideas sometimes begin in my minds eye and at other times manifest themselves as I work. In some instances a combination of both. This root ball may be for a magical Celtic tree or a fantastical flower. We will see what kind of journey and outcome the muses intend.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Queen of the Night

At the last minute before heading out the door I chose to wear pure Jasmine sambac absolute as my perfume to the film screening in Hollywood. It seemed an appropriate way to honor the small little fragrant flowers that have been strewning themselves in the walkways around our home.

Whither dost thou hide from the magic of my flute-call
In what moonlight-tangled meshes of perfume, Where the clustering keovas guard the squirrel's slumber, Where the deep woods glimmer with the jasmine's bloom?
~ The Golden Threshold by Naidu

Jasmine sambac, the sibling of Jasmine grandiflorum, has a heady floral quality which moves into intensely green notes, somewhat animalic. Its origins began in eastern India and the southern Himalayas, finding their way to China. In fact some source China as the point of origin. The small, waxy florets are found in the fragrant gardens of royalty: sultans, emperors and kings both past and current.

Jasmine is a white floral note found in oriental perfumes classified as florientals. Synthetic Jasmine was perfected in the early nineteen hundreds and continues to be an important floral note in main stream perfume. The botanical perfumer utilizes the essence from the actual plant in a variety of forms, sourced from many parts of the world. Often referred to as sweet, floral, heavy, fruity and herbaceous. Jasmine sambac, however, has an added green note.

I adore this heavenly fragrance, much more so than the other available Jasmines. Most of my custom perfume clients opt for the traditional Jasmine note of the grandiflorum. The luscious green fairy of the sambac makes an appearance in the sweetest and most floral of our perfumes. She is also prominent in a series of signature floral accords in my perfumers palette.

In aromatherapy Jasmine is considered a euphoric with applications for treating depression, anxiety, sexual challenges and facilitating greater creativity. Within magical circles Jasmine is associated with the moon, the feminine and elemental water.

For promoting prophetic dreams:

  • Use a dab of a botanical perfume containing Jasmine or a dilution of the pure extract just before sleep.
  • Place a few of the little Jasmine sambac flowers on you nightstand.
  • Use a few drops of an essential oil synergy containing Jasmine in a warm bath.
  • Create a small herbal with dried Jasmine flowers.
I have used Jasmine sambac hydrosol at festivities for invoking higher states of consciousness and uniting us with our joy filled heart.

The photograph above is a closeup of our little Buddha in front of our front door with Jasmine sambac flowers in his hands, ©RoxanaVilla.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A dance

My very old and worn out Merriam-Webster Pocket Dictionary defines the word evolution as:
A movement forming one of a series of related movements, as in a dance.

So then, let's take a new perspective on our current environmental challenges as a dance. For example, this morning I received an e-mail from one of the visionaries in my local community which has been instrumental in protecting our native oaks and the land. It is a very short video about plastic bags. I knew most of this, but, not all. Click here to watch it, it's very short and has the potential to evolve each of us a little. Interested in evolving?

I've been using canvas shopping bags at the market for over a decade. Recently I've been keeping one in my purse whenever I do any type of shopping where bags might be needed. The shop keepers in some cases look at me a little weird, but hey I'm an artist, I've always been thought of as a little weird. After so many years on the planet I've come to accept weird as a positive term.

Choosing to take eco-measures in our daily lives can be challenging, sometimes they feel inconvenient because we have become so accustomed to doing things one way. Seeing change as a dance, a chance to evolve makes things a little easier.

More people in LA are riding bikes...they have been forced to because of the fuel prices, this is a good thing. Now, if LA could restore the transit system they had back in the 1940', we would all be dancing in the streets.

Image above ©Greg Spalenka

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cooking with Eve

I've been teaching my daughter Eve to cook. She's been out of school for her summer break for about two weeks now, going on three. We started with apricot pie utilizing grandmas fresh fruit from her tree. While we were looking for that recipe we came across a pumpkin lasagne recipe that looked delicious. Thus we picked up fresh lasagne noodles from our pal Giuseppe over at Cafe Carolina and got to work. Following in the orange color theme, she made a delicious orange juice salad dressing that has come in handy just about everyday. Broccoli quiche and french fries, actually the french fries have been made a few times, they're pretty yummy. Yesterday was traditional potato salad and today stuffed portobello mushrooms with feta cheese and walnuts.

Whats next? Well, I'm working on a large supply of the vanilla room spray that Greg adores and contemplating wood notes for Chaparral. Eve has her heart set on crumpets with clotted cream. That will go nicely with a cup of black tea.

The supermarket is a great place to test out your sniffer skills and pick out different notes. How many floral notes do you sense in the fresh flower section? What about all the fruity and vegetative smells in the fresh produce area? Fish, meat, soap, bread, chocolate...see, lots of opportunities to enhance your note identification skills. How vast is your vocabulary of scent? As perfumers, we do this constantly...obsessively actually. It's similar to how visual artists perceive color, shapes, patterns, etc. Deeper awarenesses into everyday life.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Soul Cracked Open

My roots as an artist were first nurtured by the visual arts. Artists creating fantastical visions delving into other realms of the psyche, many from Europe, were what fed my creative appetite. One such artist is now featured in a new documentary, he is the French artist known simply as Moebius, his real name is Jean Giraud. In the field of SciFi, Comics and Fantasy arts he is considered one of the Gods, in fact he was deemed The Pope of Comics. Besides being a "drawing machine" as Gieger refers to him, he is a visual storyteller and contributed visual production for film including The Fifth Element among others.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

New York, New York

I took my hearthrob, aka Greg, to the airport last night. He caught the red eye into NYC. He invited me to come along, now I am rather thinking I made a mistake in not going with him. I chose to stay and focus filling orders, custom perfumes and the second edition of Chaparral. After all, we are going to be in San Diego soon and Mexico after that. Still, New York beckons, it's in my blood.

Shortly after graduating from Otis Art Institute I moved to the big apple. I was fortunate to get freelance illustration work immediately. My first apartment was in the Cobble Hill district of Brooklyn. After a few years, with the help of my mother, I purchased an apartment in Brooklyn Heights. The building had once been a hotel right on Montague Street a few blocks from the Promenade. An old brick building featuring apartments high ceilings. I loved it there and still regret selling the apartment with the view of the Statue of Liberty from the balcony.

I also shared a small studio space in Manhattan with a painter. The studio was for my rather large and cumbersome Van der cook letterpress. More on this soon.

{{{{ sigh }}}}

Greg is in New York for ICON, the illustrators conference. He is the moderator for a panel discussion called "Moving Imagination: Concept Design in the Film and Gaming Industry" with his buddies Stephan and Barry. Ugh, I'm getting really jealous just keystroking this information, best focus now on what I stayed here to do...perfume. Comic Con is right around the corner anyway!

Greg Spalenka