Inspiration in Many Forms | Pagan Folk
As I went to post my latest Wardruna inspired drawing, I realized I missed posting the last two pieces I had done. So here’s me backtracking to a couple of older sketchbook drawings. As usual I’ve been using Strathmore’s Tan Drawing Sketchbook, and I would say after using it for this long it’s the only sketchbook I’ve gone back to over and over again (sadly some of my regular sketchbooks are collecting dust). Many artists, myself included, love the amount of depth you can easily create on toned paper. You already have a working middle ground, so pushing the shadows and highlights comes easier and results in better depth in the overall drawing. At 80lb (118g/m2) I find the paper to be quite substantial as well; I’ve tested out a few markers and microns on it without any bleed-through. I’d be cautious of using things like Copics and Shinhanart Markers however, as those notoriously over saturate most paper (unless you don’t mind avoiding the use of the back of every page).
The Appeal of Pagan Folk
I’m using the term ‘pagan folk’, but sometimes placing specific genres on a musician or band can be a bit vague or confusing to others. People come across bands like Wardruna and Heilung and call them ‘Viking’, or more amusing terms such as ‘demonic’, ‘barbaric’ or the best one of all, ‘is that Ragnar?’. Wikipedia tends to take the more…generic route, and uses terms such as ‘Norwegian music group’ or ‘Faroese singer-songwriter’ for someone like Eivør Pálsdóttir. I think Heilung does the best at identifying their music as “amplified history”, as thematically they tend to gear more towards the Bronze & Iron Age. Where as a band like Faun from Germany, often has a more identifiable ‘medieval tone’ to a general audience. You also have bands like Kalandra who are referred to as ‘alternative Nordic pop’, and singer Aurora thrown into these genres as well; either because of their collaborations, or messages surrounding nature and/or wilderness in their songs. I know I just threw a whole bunch of names into the field, but I thought it would be the best way to explain the difficulty of having to explain to someone that I listen to pagan folk for inspiration, without a whole lot of head scratching.
Although fairs and festivals have been going on in Europe for a while, I think it would be fair to say that in North America at least such events aren’t as common place. The occasional summer music festival usually tend to promote musicians from Hollywood; the mainstream genres of pop, rap, rock, etc. Renaissance, Medieval or Pagan festivals weren’t something you came across, unless you were actively looking for them I suppose. There has definitely been a shift in recent years however, as Scandinavian and other European folk bands have had tours lined up more regularly across major cities in North America.
You also can’t overlook the impact of shows like Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and even Game of Thrones & Outlander for that matter, have had on this growing interest on festivals and activities surrounding historical reenactment. I think the musical aspect goes hand in hand as lot of bands like Wardruna for example, with their track ‘Helvegen’ on Vikings, drew the attention of audiences unfamiliar with pagan folk. Similarly, my introduction to my favourite singer Eivør was through the very first episode of The Last Kingdom, and drew my curiosity into discovering more artists from Northern Europe. Even in adolescence, I think I’ve always had an interest in outside what mainstream music would be playing on the radio. I remember having The Mask and Mirror & The Book of Secrets albums by Loreena McKennitt on an endless loop, then substituting it for tracks like ‘La Notte Etterna‘ from Emma Shapplin.
I think the desire to be closer to nature, live more rural, and escape from the general madness of our concrete jungles is no longer reserved to a small population. It’s also something being translated more and more into different art forms including music, and of course visual arts. You’ll be able to find a lot more contemporary artists across social media for example, displaying work that incorporate nature in some capacity; some approaching it through its beauty and volatility, others through messages for environmentalism and conservation. My work probably encapsulates the former, although there’s no denying it’s a continual effort to try and portray that accurately. I think this is where my interest in pagan folk intersects with the creation of artwork. Inspiration can be found in many forms different from your practice; photography, film, etc, but mine has overwhelming been through music and literature. I can easily get lost in the rhythms and voice of a singer; feel transported enough to feed that imagination and overactive brain, and translate it to paper and paint.
“I think many people who don’t go to church or other religious ceremonies,
I think they miss that solemn, holy place.
One of the goals with Wardruna concert is to actually create that space.
To create that serious space, moment, where you can just get lost into the music.
It’s about communication, back and forth.
About acknowledging things that are bigger than yourself. Remembering nature,
that we are part of it, etc.”
-Einar Selvik with Iron Realm Productions at Midgardsblot 2016.
If you made it this far, thank you for stopping by this longer chatty post and feel free to continue the conversation below. Take care everyone!
The drawings for Kvitravn; the one above and the one with the white raven featuring Lindy-Fay Hella, are both inspired by Wardruna‘s latest album and the visuals from their respective music videos which you can find on Youtube.
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Soul Collector | Watercolour Painting
Testing New Brushes
I’ve been meaning to get some new watercolour brushes, as the ones I’ve been using (although having served well for years) are fraying and/or have rogue hairs going in one direction. Debating on whether or not to invest in squirrel-hair brushes, I decided it wouldn’t really serve me any purpose as I like painting in a particular way; and perhaps even more impractical for those who use hot-press paper. There are definitely a wide range of brushes out there and admittedly quite overwhelming, but after watching some reviews by other artists on Youtube I settled for trying out the Princeton Neptune range. I went for the Round Synthetic Squirrel in 0, 6, & 12 (as they are the sizes I use the most) of the 4750 Series. I’ll provide links below of where I got mine, even though this is not sponsored, and I’ll be sure to provide updates on how they fare with more use. I’m loving them so far, as the handles in particular feel more comfortable than my standard ones from the art stores here like Deserres or Curry’s. If any of you have used brushes from this brand please share your experiences in the comments, or even what your favourite brushes are; I’m sure we could all glean something useful from it. In the meantime I’ll be continuing using these new brushes as I’ve done for this latest piece, and will be retiring my older brushes for inks and acrylic washes.
Princeton Artist Brush | Neptune Series 4750 | Round Synthetic Squirrel, Size 0
Princeton Artist Brush | Neptune Series 4750 | Round Synthetic Squirrel, Size 6
Princeton Artist Brush | Neptune Series 4750 | Round Synthetic Squirrel, Size 12
As usual I started out with my drawing on tracing paper, eventually transferring the finished product with a graphite backing and tracing all the lines and details. I was sharing this thought on Instagram as well but, does anyone else hate ‘transfer’ days as much as I do?! Recently I’ve been laying some scrap paper as masking (as you see on the right side), just so I have less graphite residue to erase off of my watercolour paper when I’m done transferring.
There’s no better feeling than finally getting to put pigment to paper.
You always feel ambitious with the thought of filling a piece with knotwork, until the realization sets in of having to trace said knotwork for a second time accurately. I cheated a bit with this piece as you’ll notice with my preliminary drawing as I drew in only one side; the other side was cheekily transferred by doing a mirror/flip transfer of the paper. I also decided to incorporate some cute little Robins as well; going on themes of death and souls for this painting. You might be wondering what on earth I’m talking about, and rightfully so. I often tend to come by weird articles and stories (go figure), and a few that have interested me are of Robins visiting people in grieve and mourning. One in particular was that of a woman grieving the death of her child at his grave and a robin flying and landing on her. I hadn’t known of the bird’s connection in folklore and symbolism surrounding death. Truly fascinating.
Work in Progress | Watercolours
JUNE | Shop Updates
This week, I thought I’d do something a little different and go with a bit of self-promotion. I’ve been meaning to do an update whenever I have new prints and original artwork go up in the shop, or new pieces added to my jewellery store; although they seem to be out of place on a regular ‘new art’ type of post. If you’ve missed updates on social media or simply aren’t on any, I hope this will catch you up on some newer things going on in the studio stores.
OLDER PIECES LOOKING FOR NEW HOMES
Firstly, the new Etsy store of more art related content has been up for just over a month or so. I’ve decided to relocate some of my older pieces; I think many of my older followers will recognize the different style, as well as the pieces in question. It’s high time I parted with these, or as many as I could locate around the studio. Adding prints (and other miscellaneous items) is definitely on the priority list, as I’ve been wanting to have better quality control over what gets sent out to you guys for a while now (generally speaking I like to keep the process as much in-house as I can). So keep an eye out for those if you’re interested, but for the time being prints of my work can be found through INPRNT.
As you may know, I like to spend my time divided between my artwork and creating handmade jewellery. I’m happy that many of my pieces have reached new homes, as it definitely gives me more encouragement to make newer pieces; although ironically, finding time this year has been the most difficult.
Here’s a quick look at some of the newer pieces that have been added to the collection. I’d say the two brass pieces are probably my favourite that I’ve created so far. Wire-work is brutal on the fingers, but the results are always worth it.
Shop Embers and Stones Jewellery
Thank you for taking the time to drop by the site this week, hope you’re all keeping well. Feel free to drop me a message or email with any questions and comments you may have. Until the next one!
May, in the Sketchbook
Dusk | Watercolour Painting
first of the year.
I guess this really is my first finished painting/artwork of 2021; not counting the Kickstarter group projects. I wanted to start the year off with a smaller piece, before I get underway with a painting I’ve had my mind on for a while. Hopefully, the next piece will have more improvements on anatomy and hair. Speaking of, hair…the struggle. I’ve been looking through as many watercolour tutorials as possible for painting hair in this medium. I’ve grown to dislike the way I’ve painted hair these last few months; mainly the way the strands fall, making it a bit more cartoony/’anime-y’ (for lack of a better word). I don’t know though, the verdict’s still out on this one. It may turn out that I don’t like too much realism after all.
a closer look.
I’ve been getting better at reminding myself to take more progress shots. Honestly, it’s probably one of the reasons I haven’t attempted any more Youtube videos. I mean kudos to all the art Youtubers out there, but having to constantly pull out my camera is a chore in itself; not to mention having to be pulled out of the moment to record every stage. X__X
As usual I started with a drawing on tracing paper, although you’ll notice I didn’t add the flowers. Sometimes with more simpler design details, I’ll go in directly to the watercolour paper. The drawing isn’t really meant to be ‘finished’, just the line-work (the simpler the better) so I can graphite-transfer it onto the paper. I’ve learnt the hard way that detailed line-work combined with the tooth of even hotpress paper, tends to warp the transferred drawing you get. So the solution for myself anyways, is to keep the initial process simple and add details in before painting. I’ve also stopped printing my line-art/drawing, as I used to for transferring drawings. Personally, I haven’t been finding the need to waste more paper; just using sharp pencil over the tracing paper drawing works fine. I’ll usually scan the drawing before I get started on tracing with graphite, so as to preserve all the lines I originally had for reference.
washes and paint | work in progress.
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post. I’ll have the original painting up on the Shop section sometime at the end of the week, and prints should be up by the time this blog post goes live. Take care everyone!
February | On the Easel
Well ok technically I don’t use an easel for my watercolour paintings (or drawings), I’ve resorted to just a Masonite board propped against the table and on top of my thighs at this point. 💁♀️ Small studio spaces.