I had the immense pleasure of opening my copy of CODEX: Obscurus this week. This was an artist collaboration of ‘witchy’ and occult themed artwork produced by SPIRIDON; whom I must thank again for including me among such talents. The book itself is quite hefty, and I’m especially loving the texture on the cover and back ̶ not to mention it’s glittery and gold, who can resist that? Each artist has a page dedicated to their work, so you get the enjoyment of seeing the work in proper scale (no small/quarter images). On top of that you have the talents of Viktor Pushkarev with all his lettering, graphic, and calligraphy work. I’m now on the hunt for a proper frame for his lino-cut print. If you’d like to see some more of his intricate-designs, his contribution to Alex Konstad’s Artbook, Obliskura is a good place to start ̶ link here (you’re welcome…it’s mind-blowing).
If you missed out on the original Kickstarter campaign, I believe there are a few copies of just the artbook itself out there for purchase from Liber Distri.
If you’d like to see more about my piece for this artbook, The Ritual, I did a blog post (here) last year which went through some of the process. The original artwork is available for purchase; if you’re interested please check out the Shop section. Thank you everyone for your support in this campaign, it wouldn’t have been possible without you!
Starting with some brief thumbnails in the sketchbook. Going through Nalini Singh’s second installment in the Psy-Changeling series for some inspiration. Admittedly these tiny drawings look like a bunch of chicken-scratch, but it has been enough to save ideas nonetheless.
Starting the preliminary drawing on a sheet of vellum/drafting paper.
Drawing in Progress
Line drawing transferred onto a sheet of Strathmore Bristol paper, followed by light applications of graphite; slowly building up to the darker values.
For this drawing I wanted to incorporate little things here and there from the show. I’ll avoid listing them all out, so as to not put out spoilers for those who have yet to watch the series or read the books. On a side note, drawing skulls, bones and such things haven’t ever bothered me; I’ve got so say I’ve never been more troubled by nature than while studying Snapdragon seed pods.
I went on a bit of a binge-watch in February when I heard good things about Amazon’s Reacher series; starring Alan Ritchson, Willa Fitzgerald & Malcolm Goodwin. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it, dare I say it’s been the best show (live-action) I’ve watched in the last couple years (Arcane obviously did me in with its Art Nouveau & Steampunk visuals). The first 2 episodes of the show sold it for me with some seriously awesome fight choreography, and kudos to Alan all while filming through the magnitude of his injuries; I admittedly squeamed quite a bit this season with every ankle that Reacher broke. Bonus points as well for the mini Smallville reunion; I know both Alan and Kristin have been in other projects, but 2000s nostalgia just won’t let me forget.
I believe the second season will be skipping forward to book 11 Bad Luck and Trouble, so this gives me more of a push to get started on reading the rest of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. Thriller and crime novels haven’t really been on my list of things to read, as I tend to gravitate more towards Fantasy, Sci-Fi or Regency/Victorian titles. Shows like this and Jack Ryan however make me want to pick up some books in this genre. If you have any recommendations please feel free to leave them below.
EMBERS & STONES
I’ve been creating some new designs for the shop with a new toy in the form of a chasing hammer. If you’re new here, thank you for visiting, I also create jewellery and other crafty trinkets which can be found on my Etsy Shop Embers and Stones. I’m enjoying new ways to incorporate wire-work designs. The chasing hammer will definitely require some more experience, not to mention I’m now regretting not investing in a higher quality German brand I decided not to get at the time.
I’m slowly adding pieces to the shop as I get time to make them, and am grateful for everyone who has been purchasing items in the meantime. This time around I decided to go for some Norse and Greek Mythology themed Brass pieces. I’ve been giving my fingers a little bit of a break, but I have to admit I’ve been itching to attempt more complicated weaving techniques. Getting hold of supplies during this time has also been a nightmare.
SHOP | ORIGINAL ARTWORK
I’ve decided to close a few of my stores as they weren’t quite working for me. If you are interested, I now put up new originals that are available for purchase on Big Cartel and other studio clearances (as well as prints) on Etsy | Art of Shaima. A few original paintings and drawings have already found new homes, which I’m so ecstatic about. I think all artists say this, but nothing compares to packing up an order to send to a patron. Thank you very much for your continued support!
I shared a little peek into this piece sometime earlier this year, but with the project now on full swing on Kickstarter I can announce that this drawing will be part of the CODEX Obscurus Artbook. This is a project by Spiridon Giannakis with cover and Tarot deck design by Viktor Pushkarev, and is a collaboration with an incredibly talented lineup of 145 artists and their unique take on witches & warlocks, witchcraft, the occult and various folklore. As a bonus, I along with several others will be putting forth our original artwork (The Ritual in my case) for purchase in this campaign. If you are interested acquiring an artwork please head over to the Kickstarter page for all the info.
The campaign runs until the end of the month & there are just a few more stretch goals to go! If you would like to back this project please head over to pledge.
Limited Edition Prints & Campaign Bundles
There will also be a limited edition run of these amazing hand-made prints by Viktor. Here’s just a little peek at his process, but you can find more behind-the-scenes on the Codex Kickstarter page as well as on Viktor’s Instagram. Depending on the pledge, there will also be different extras from other artists in this campaign from high quality Prints, Postcards, Posters & Bookmarks; with the potential of even more bonuses with the unlocking of stretch goals.
The Ritual: a look into the process
For this project I decided to go with a full graphite piece. I wanted a break from painting with watercolour last year and although I hadn’t touched graphite in while, I felt confident again after laying down the foundation and just having at it. It also helped that I was excited to create something that was very much in line, thematically, to my own work.
I knew I’d be working with a lot of blending and powdered graphite ‘washes’, so I started by taping off the borders for a clean look for the finished product. Once the prelim sketch had been transferred onto the paper, I worked in layers from 2B pencils all the way to 6B & 7B for the darkest as I could go. To achieve the softer appearance I like to create in contrast to the more defined Celtic designs and such, I went to my trusty blending stumps as well as the usual no nonsense tissue paper. This project was also an attempt to improve on metallic elements (or in this case jewellery); working in grayscale and then using an eraser to create effects for a more realistic rendering.
I hope you enjoyed a look into this project and hope you will support our work through this artbook. Take care everyone!
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.”
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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