Local artist creates art with a story


By Emily Reed
Photos by Dawn Harrison

Since childhood, artist Amy Grimes has been captivated by fairy tales and fantasy illustrations.

This love and passion for stories and themes that evoke feelings of wonder, exploration, and creativity, now serves as the primary inspiration for her artwork.

“I have been practicing art as far back as I can remember,” Grimes, an Inverness resident said. “I remember how I would sometimes be unhappy with the cover of a book I would read–maybe the character on the cover didn’t look right to me–and I would make my own cover. Stories have always been at the heart of my artwork.”

It was also the writings of Scottish fairy tale writer, George MacDonald, and other writers such as C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle that were and continue to be inspirational for Grimes.

“Also, ever since childhood, I have studied the artwork of Maxfield Parrish,” Grimes said. “He painted wonderful fairy tale and fantasy illustrations. My parents had a big book of his pictures in their house, and I used to pour over that book. I learned how to draw by copying the pictures from it. And I still go back to it again and again.”

The story paintings Grimes creates often take individuals to a world with whimsical characters that ignite a world filled with childlike wonder and imagination.

“Light shining out of the darkness is my favorite and most recurring theme,” Grimes said. “I believe that artwork that reflects goodness and truth can bring light into people’s lives, encouraging them and giving them hope. My artwork is mystical and makes you wonder, if you could get inside that picture, what would happen next?”

Grimes said she wants her artwork to reach elementary age children the way she always enjoyed “beautiful” picture books, but her target audience is simply: people.

“People who might be in need of hope, maybe wrestling with something hard to deal with are the people I want to reach,” Grimes said. “I try to tell stories of hope. I do want to acknowledge darkness and deal with it the way that George MacDonald did. I think stories that reflect truth about good and evil (light and darkness) can help children and adults to deal with, and push through, the hard and sad things in their lives. Some pain and suffering is almost impossible to face head on, but in stories you get to face pain in a different form–sort of come at it sideways. And, I think you can find new courage, hope and help in that.”

Stories Grimes reads herself serve as inspiration for many of her pieces, as well as prayer.

“I pretty much only read books written for about a 12-year-old or books written a long time ago such as Jane Austen,” Grimes said. “I also go for walks a lot and pray about all the sad stuff going on in the world, and as I pray, wonderful, encouraging images and stories come into my head.”

Grimes’s studio is in her home, nestled in a large basement room that looks to the woods.

“My studio is always cold inside, and people say it is a little dark, but I love it,” Grimes said.

Currently, the artist and mother of two is working on a book, which she wrote and illustrated titled, “Lucilla and the Snarly Skeins,” about a girl who is good at untying knots, but when she encounters one that is too much for her, she ends up getting tied up in it.

Grimes said the main character is helped by a mysterious “Night Rabbit,” that comes hopping out of the shadows and by a magical squirrel named “Inkling,” who lives in a white oak tree in the deep, dark forest.

The book is slated to release in November.

One project Grimes would love to paint if given the opportunity would be illustrations for an Alice in Wonderland book.

“Alice in Wonderland is one of my all-time favorite stories,” Grimes said. “It is like a springboard for imagination.”

Grimes said artists such as Maxfield Parrish, Gyo Fujikawa, Beatrix Potter, Aurthur Rackham, and Kay Nielson are individuals she draws inspiration from, and her favorite fairytale is “The Princess and the Goblins,” by George MacDonald.

“I love it because the good characters are full of hope, kindness and compassion,” Grimes said. “The story acknowledges and deals with darkness too. Even though it is a fairy tale, it reflects truth.”

As an artist, Grimes admits she enjoys the experience of getting closer to accurately expressing the pictures she sees in her head take life on a canvas, and she likes when a painting encourages someone or makes them feel as if they are not alone.

Grimes’s artwork, books, prints and notecards are available for purchase on her website, Storypaintings.net.

Her books and artwork can also be found in The Grand Bohemian Gallery in Mountain Brook, and prints, notecards and books are available for purchase in Four Seasons Gallery and the Briarwood Bookstore.