Category Archives: Column: Pagan Artist of the Month

Every (first of the) month we try to interview and present a pagan artist to the world.

Featured artist – Katherine Soutar

Katherine 3Katherine Soutar is an artist who has been well known in Pagan circles for some time, for her gorgeous unicorns and dancing cats. She has recently created an extraordinary set of covers for a county by county series of books on the folktales of the British Isles.

Katherine Soutar’s work for the History press is a unique collaboration between illustrator, storytellers and publisher. She reads the entire manuscript of each folk tales book and crafts the perfect cover image based on its content and her own extensive research.

Katherine 2She has supplied the cover artwork for every title in the Folktales series, now at over 70 books and still counting, she is also responsible for the covers for the newly commissioned Ghost tales series.

Katherine Soutar (Caddick) lives in Shropshire with husband Bill Caddick who is a songwriter and musician and son Tam, an aspiring writer. She is a member of the Association of Illustrators and has been working in collaboration with storytellers and musicians turning their words into images for many years.

Katherine 1She also works in an academy school part time, introducing students to warm glass techniques, animation, illustration and printing

‘Transforming words into pictures is what I love to do most’

Katherine said, “I have recently started to think about some of the universal stories that appear in many different cultures across the globe and ways that I could explore the connections between us that we so often miss whilst we are focusing on our differences, I would like to produce some work that expresses this and see this as a project I could perhaps work with international storytellers on. Watch this space.”

Katherine 4You can read a Folklore Thursday interview with Katherine here – http://folklorethursday.com/creative-corner/interview-katherine-soutar

Facebook: Katherine Soutar Caddick Artist

Twitter: @kate_dancingcat

website: katherinesoutarillustration.com

Jacqui Lovesey – Artist and Illustrator

Our featured artist this month is Jacqui Lovesey, whose work features witches (of all sizes), magical hares and an enchanting, animistic sort of reality

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I have been working as a self-employed artist for the last thirty years in many different media.  I am not ‘formally’ trained, but have drawn and painted for as far back as I can remember, starting as a child, keenly sketching birds, animals, flowers and insects… My father was passionate on nature and instilled in me that same  lifelong love of the natural world from an early age.  However, having been brought up on a 1970s estate, I also longed to grow up, leave home and find somewhere in the contemplative quiet of the countryside in which to live and work.

And so my travels began…leading quite a gypsy life, moving many times but always finding each place had something new and inspiring to offer, an excitement I was keen to pass down to the younger members of the family.

But that’s not to say that it’s all been idyllic! Working as an artist has its ups and downs, mostly the making-ends-meet part, the main, familiar problem for most self-employed creative folk!  However, for me, the ‘ups’ easily outweigh the ‘downs’. Most importantly, you’re more or less continual master of your own destiny – who knows what amazing project or idea is just around the corner?

Then there’s the ‘motivation’ question I’m often asked – where do I get if from? I always reply bills are a pretty-good motivator – and that there are never enough hours in the day!

At present I am illustrating the Matlock the Hare trilogy of books with my husband Phil, a writer.  It’s been a four-year project of blind faith and dedication, only made possible with the support and loyalty of our many ‘Saztaculous Matlock folk’ who keep us going by buying the artwork, supporting our kickstarter projects and providing endless valuable enthusiasm and encouragement.  The books feature a green-robed majickal-hare who lives high in the Derbyshire Peaks, and have been a joy to illustrate, as I can create the images totally from my imagination – always fun!  Phil and I work well together, neither of us getting in the way of the other, as we have own roles within it. Besides, I’m dyslexic, and he can barely hold a paintbrush without breaking it, so it’s probably better we stick to our own skills!

With two feature-length novels in the trilogy already published, and the third and final instalment due out in October this year, it will soon will be time to put down the brush and go out blinking into the light with our  ‘baby’  and say to the world, “Hey! Look what we’ve done. Now you can all share this too!”  As an artist this is always the hardest part, as we’re almost always happiest creating, not promoting, and this awkward transitional time leaves you wanting to pid-pad in the other direction entirely. However, it’s  a vitally important part of the process and putting on a coat of creative armour to face any critics and naysayers is a given. However, at the end of the even’up you can always go to bed knowing that, if nothing else, your brush and pen are already waiting for you to take them up again all too soon!

Who knows what’s next? That’s always the most exciting part!

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You can see more of Jacqui’s work and discover more about the ‘saztaculous’ world of Matlock the Hare at www.matlockthehare.com

Or, please follow her Instagram account for latest progress on her current artworks, exhibitions and forthcoming publication days at

https://www.instagram.com/jacquilovesey/

 

June: Pagan Artist of the Month: Willow Arleana

Interview by Brandi Auset

Willow - Fairy Tree

Willow Arleana is an artist, healer, energy psychotherapist, and proprietor of the Dancing Willow Tree Mystery School. Her artwork can be found in metaphysical shops and galleries across the country, and she is the co-creator of the immensely popular Tarot of Transformation. You can view her portfolio HERE.

I had an opportunity to connect with Willow, and discuss the beauty and wisdom behind her art and practice.

Brandi Auset: Are you Pagan? Do those beliefs inspire your fabulous art?

Willow Arleana: I believe that all spiritual traditions can lead to an experience of the divine, so in that sense, I am a Universalist. I spent many years in the Buddhist tradition, and a result of all that meditating was awakened to the life force flowing through nature, and to the intelligence of the beings of nature. I began to channel nature spirits and do energetic healing with nature spirits. This led me to research Pagan mythology, particularly of the goddess traditions. Currently I am writing and illustrating a book on The Seasons Around the Tree of Life based in the lore of the goddess. It will probably take me 3 or 4 more years to finish it. Many of my images are inspired by the beauty and wisdom of Nature. If I had to define my spirituality, I would say I am a Universalist with a strong Neo-Pagan/Buddhist focus!

Brandi Auset: Could you tell our readers a bit more about the book you are working on?

Willow Arleana: The working title is SEASONS AROUND THE TREE OF LIFE: AN ECLECTIC JOURNEY ROOTED IN THE GREAT GODDESS TRADITION. For many years I have lead rituals following the Celtic cycle. For these rituals I began researching goddesses from around the globe. At one point I realized that almost all god and goddess archetypes emerged from the energy of nature. When we look at the world’s religions from this point in time, they all look very different from each other. If we look at them from their origin, they are all quite similar: they all grew, like branches, from a culture’s relationship to the natural environment around them. In addition, every tradition that I explored had a myth about the Tree of Life, that is every tradition had myths about the mystic center and the life force emerging from it, usually symbolized as a tree. Likewise, every tradition experienced the cycle of the seasons and other cycles. Even traditions based in the tropics or desert where the yearly cycle is not so pronounced worked with the lunar cycle and the daily cycle. I came to the conclusion that the expansion and contraction of the flow of life force energy, which cycles around the mystic center, and one’s relationship to both the cycle and the mystic center, are the fundamental concerns of religions. My book will be a user’s manual for people to find a greater attunement to the seasons. I describe goddesses from numerous traditions, as well as significant god archetypes that emerged in the pagan world and grew in prominence dung the patriarchy. I also provide meditations, awareness practices and journeys for each season.

Brandi Auset: When did you first discover your talent?

Willow Arleana: I knew if fourth grade that I was going to be an artist. I have been an artist in many past lives and mastered many artistic skills then.

Brandi Auset: What is the process behind most of your art? What mediums do you use?

Willow Arleana: I have worked in many art and craft media, including watercolor painting, fiber wall hangings, costume making, mask making, and jewelry making. I have always been interested in ceremonial or mythical content. For the last 20 years or so I have used acrylic painting as my primary medium, embellished with hand-made paper collage for the textural element. It took me many years to develop my painting technique that utilizes layers of translucent paint.

Brandi Auset: What artists and or musicians–and songs– if any, inspire you and why?

Willow Arleana: When I was first developing my art I wanted to incorporate the fluidity of Van Gogh, The transparency of various mystical artists, and the decorative design of ethnic art. Later I added the feminine line quality of Art Noveau. As far as musical inspiration, I tend to listen to mellow New Age or World Beat music. Lorena McKennit or Snatam Kaur are often playing in my house. I like music that sooths my nervous system and creates a sense of flow that I can ride upon as I paint.

Brandi Auset: 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?

Willow Arleana: The world would be luminescent with high-frequency colors and shimmering light. Objects would be transparent, because they are more energy than matter. Spirit beings could be seen. The sound vibrations emanating from life forms would create rippling patterns through the colors.

Brandi Auset: If someone would like to commission your talent, where can they find you? What are you open for—Book covers, Graphic Novels… what?

Willow Arleana: All of my images and contact info is on my website . I am open to book covers, divination sets, mystical logos, soul paintings, etc.

Brandi Auset: You also run the Dancing Willow Tree Mystery School in Colorado. What exactly is a Mystery School, and how did the project come about?

Willow Arleana: In ancient times spiritual practitioners would gather in schools to study and experience the workings of subtle energy and other dimensions of consciousness. These mystery schools were highly secretive, or esoteric, because their knowledge could be dangerous in the wrong hands. In these times this esoteric knowledge is available for all that are interested. I started my school because the many offerings I provided could fit under the umbrella of a mystery school. I offer local and long distance psychic readings, Archetypal Energy Psychology, coaching, various energy awareness practices and other related mystery studies. For more information about DANCING WILLOW TREE MYSTERY SCHOOL, visit www.designsbywillow.com

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Everyone at the Pagan & Pen would like to thank Brandi Auset for another fabulous interview AND Willow Arleana for taking time out of her very busy schedule to be our June 2010 Pagan Artist of the Month. Through this month, we will be showing sample works by Willow Arleana –here or there—with out daily Ancient Calendar posts. So make sure to keep a look out and be ‘wowed’ by her wonderful talent!

For more Pagan Artists, check out: Artists of the Month

May: Pagan Artist of the Month : Russelle Westbrook

Interview by Brandi Auset

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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.

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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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See more articles by Brandi Auset