Interview by Brandi Auset
Artist Russelle Westbrook of California is creating beautiful pieces of feminine art. Her website “The Forgotten Goddesses” is a splendor of color, imagination, and magick. ___________________________________________________________________
Are you Pagan? Do those beliefs inspire your fabulous art?
R: First, thank you for your kind words, they are greatly appreciated. I try never to label myself in any way. I have always been interested in the whole of humanity: our diversities, our moral concepts and compasses, and how we define our senses of personal integrity.
When did you first discover your talent?
R: Pretty much everyone in my family has been artistically inclined as it runs in our genes. I discovered my own personal voice in 2004 when I started painting for myself instead of painting for others. I discovered that in being true to my own inner voice – others responded.
What is the process behind most of your art? What mediums do you use?
R: Aside from the fantasy portraits that I do, I am not sure that I have a “process” anymore. Since I paint for myself, I may be inspired by a suggestion from a friend, a concept (such as “The Scared Heart”), or a simple blank white canvas. A sunny day will inspire me to take my paints outside and start painting. If there is anything that defines me, it is my attention to the eyes, the “windows of the soul”. I start there first, and if I don’t get what I want I scrap the canvas. I work outwards from the eyes, and most of the time finishing the rest of the painting is the process. As for my medium, it’s oils.
Your work focuses on women, goddess, and the Divine Feminine. How do you feel your subject matter reflects/affects society?
R: I know my work has a profound affect on women for which I am incredibly grateful. As mentioned, women really respond on an emotional level to my work and are not at all put off by the wounds and the scars. Women seem to instinctively understand that I am painting from the inside out. As a woman living in a Patriarchal society, I am fascinated by the way most women, myself included, subjugate themselves without even knowing it, in almost all avenues of their lives, but especially in regards to their relationships. I am also fascinated by the differences in how women and men deal with matters of the heart. Grief. Anger. Wounding, past and present. Of interest, is that my male friends appreciate the visual imagery in my work almost exclusively, but are most often puzzled and/or frightened by the wounds. These differences fascinate me also.
What artists and or musicians–and songs– if any, inspire you and why?
R: The visual artists that inspire and guide me most are the Pre-Raphaelites, my favorite being William Holman Hunt. I also enjoy, and look for guidance, in the works of Mark Ryden and Kinuko Craft. I have all my old fairy tale books and re-read them regularly. I also look to them for reference. Writers give me sustenance and inspiration as well. I have about two thousand books and re-read them all the time.
If the world was created in the image of your imagination, what would it be like when we woke up tomorrow and seen it with new eyes?
R: A world where everyone treated every living thing as they would themselves be treated.
If someone would like to commission your talent, where can they find you? What are you open for—Book covers, Graphic Novels… what?
R: I would love to do book covers, tarot cards, graphic novels, a line of furniture, woman oriented home / sanctuary accessories, a women’s clothing line, children’s books…..
Any new projects in the future or plans?
R: I am currently working on several fantasy portraits, a “Hel”, a “Lilith”, and “The Snow Queen”. I am also currently working on a series of paintings dealing with Mary and “The Sacred Heart”. I collect old lithographs of Mary with the Sacred Heart, mostly European, and am fascinated they the image of the heart with the flames and the sword passing through. Purity and Sacrilege all in one image. I am always fascinated by dichotomy – and how we manage to live with it.
You can find Russelle Westbrook’s work on her website http://www.theforgottengoddess.com. All her prints are available to order, and Ms. Westbrook also works on commission in addition to helping children find their artistic talents.
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