The Art of Religion
A move away from art commissions and towards imaginative realism has been a steep learning curve in business and a truly exciting foray into the mystical and magical.
I’ve always had an interest in religion. Perhaps because I’ve been an atheist since I was very young, all religion fascinates me – the stories, the crossovers, the symbolism. It’s just all so spellbindingly exciting. Don’t get me wrong, when I say I’m an atheist, I mean I don’t believe in organised religion. Sun worship makes sense to me (yes, even as a pasty ginger) and the importance of the seasons. Connecting with nature and its significance to mental health is a no brainer. Treating people how you wish to be treated… well, that’s just common sense and human decency. But the rigid and, in some cases, quite harsh rules written by men with an agenda many moons ago are, to me, just fables of their time. Interpretations of former beliefs, layers and layers of Chinese whispers passed down along the generations and twisted to suit the whisperer. But I love all of it; love tracing the journey through each religion as it evolves and adapts. Love the stories and the buildings and the drawings and the sheer, overwhelming art of it all. The art of storytelling is an enviable skill, and good storytelling has a moral wrapped up in an engaging yarn.
So my vague leanings towards semi-fantastical paintings at the beginning of 2020 have inevitably taken me down a path I never envisaged and through gateways I didn’t know existed – oh the Wiki holes I’ve fallen down. And oh the wonderful people I’ve met!
Life Begins Again in Art
The celebration of Imbolc is upon us. The festival from the Pagan wheel of the year that marks the beginning of spring. It’s more commonly known as St Brigid’s Day, especially in Ireland, but Brigid was actually the pagan goddess of healing and poetry – a goddess so beloved that her lore had to be woven into the Catholic faith in order to get people to adopt Catholicism.
Imbolc marks the end of winter and the stirrings of new life, and although February does seem early for that, when you actually reach this time of year and look around you, you see snowdrops beginning to break through, and the odd colour-splash of a crocus steadfastly breaking the hard winter soil. The days are getting longer and February is the time that it becomes really apparent. The world begins to awaken around us.
The dark time between Christmas and spring can be hard to cope with in the Northern Hemisphere, so I love that the space that’s equidistant between the two equinoxes is celebrated in the celebration of Imbolc. Traditionally, the celebrations would take place around the fire and Brigid knots would be created. Crafting and art permeate every aspect of folklore; just another reason to love it. The fire represented the return of the sun and with it warmer times. The Brigid knot has three or four arms with a woven square in the middle and represents the rays of the sun; it is said to symbolise creativity and harmony.
I Have No Imbolc Art to Show You, I’m Terribly Sorry
I hit a wall at the end of last year. I hit it hard. Over the course of 2020, I rebranded, built my own online art shop, rehashed my business model, put in place a comprehensive marketing strategy and worked some crazy hours, so by the time December rolled around, I was too tired to even think straight; I would avoid my studio at all costs and my usually busy mind was drawing a blank on concepts. I was genuinely starting to worry I’d never get my mojo back… and then I started reading about pagan and wiccan traditions again and my brain began whirring. All this is basically my excuse for not having some Imbolc art to show you. But it has given me some wonderful ideas for next year and, when you look at my latest pieces, you can see some influences of goddesses, nature and symbolism already. When I painted Ritual, I felt like I’d come home – it was a joyous awakening.
Summoning Spell was also a bit of a turning point for me. That was the painting that made me realise my RSI was getting unbearable… and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Something had to slow me down – remember the wall I just mentioned above? I realised that I needed to reconnect with the things that had fallen by the wayside. I stopped reading and I’ve been an avid reader my whole life – escaping into a book is my meditation. I couldn’t relax to watch films or TV series and instead sat with my laptop on my knee missing important moments while Netflix burbled on in the background. The outside world had become a distant memory (and I live in Yorkshire, Goddess’ own country, so it’s a crying shame to let that go to waste). Maybe it was recreating the gloriousness that is Loch Lomond, or the overall feeling of goddess power I felt while painting that picture, but it almost feels like my witch was summoning me back to myself.
Of course, I ruminated on it until I got to the wall, but I can feel that same enthusiasm coming rushing in once more. Just in time for Imbolc and everything.
Like this blog post, this year will no doubt be a whirlwind of emotion and a meandering journey into the unknown. But here’s what I do know – I have direction, I have a determination to reconnect with nature, and I have a newfound love of all things pagan. I’m excited for what 2021 will bring and I have some wonderful, magical art planned in. I can’t wait to share it with you.
Happy Imbolc everyone. May the spring bring with it new beginnings and fresh approaches all round.
Purchasing and Prints
You can purchase my art direct from me, or you can head over to Saatchi and see what works I have exclusively through the art gallery.
I also offer free zoom appointments for people who want to view their art from all angles before they buy. Buying art is an investment, so you have to be completely secure before you spend a penny. Contact me to book a viewing and watch the video below to find out more.
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Luxury framed or canvas prints are available from Saatchi.