Tag Archives: Column: Pagan Artist of the Month

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

Scherazade_small

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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

April: Pagan Artist of the Month: Margaret Shaffer

birds in flight

April’s 2010 Pagan Artist of the Month is Margaret Shaffer.

The picture to the left is called Birds In Flight. The piece of art made Today’s Best Award for 1-22-10 on Zazzle.

Margaret seems to have a story behind every single one of her pieces of Art and she was a joy to interview. So please keep reading so you can discover Margaret’s talent through her eyes the way I did.

The Interview with Margaret Shaffer…

C.H. Scarlett: First, welcome to The Pagan and the Pen and thank you for agreeing to be our April Pagan Artist of the Month.

Second, tell us about the Pagan that lives inside Margaret Shaffer and do those beliefs inspire your fabulous art?

Margaret : I personally follow a path based on a blend of Greek and Celtic wisdom. I follow the Greek Pantheon but incorporate elements of Celtic traditions to honor my ancestry.

Yes, my beliefs inspire my art but I find my self trying to find the words to explain how, so I will try by explaining the samples I sent to you.

My “Birds in Flight” piece is an illustration of how beautifully birds coexist with the element of air.

“Dragon Smoke” is an ode to my totem animal. I choose a dragon because it symbolizes wisdom and all five elements working in harmony.

“Moonlight Dolphin” is in tribute to the sea goddess Amphitrite

C.H. Scarlett : So with so much spiritual/magical/symbolism and intent pouring into your creations, whoever buys and or wears your art might bring a little bit of that to them, correct?

Margaret : True, but it also boils down to what the symbolism means to the individual. For example Moonlight dolphin to any one else could represent any other lunar / sea deity, childish whimsy, or a dolphin totem. Like the old saying goes “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and so is the power of the symbol.

C.H. Scarlett : Your art being something like Kitchen Witchery, except where they work with food and herbs, you work with art and the supplies to create it. The designs and drawings themselves have deep meaning, therefore, something like a spell, that meaning is blessed to the purchaser. Would you agree?

Margaret: I never thought about it in that way but yes I agree. When you combine any symbol with the power of colors and positive thought then yes you are creating a talisman.

C.H. Scarlett: When did you first discover your talent?

Margaret : To be honest I have always drawn but I usually just shoved it in a box or threw it a way. The only reason I decided to do anything with my pictures was because a friend caught me throwing some of it away and he dove in to trash can to rescue it and lectured me about wasting my talents. With a lot of encouragement from my husband I entered a few pictures in the art show at a Sci-Fi / Fantasy convention and over heard a professional artist complement my style. That was the boost of self-esteem I needed to motivate me to share my art with the world.

C.H. Scarlett: It’s amazing what we don’t see in ourselves, yet someone else can home in on it right away, especially where talent and such exists.

Margaret: Well as my husband is always telling me “The artist is their own worst critic”. For this reason I make him help me pick out what pieces I make public because where I see flaws he sees a masterpiece.

C.H. Scarlett: What is the process behind most of your art? What mediums do you use?

Margaret : Well I usually start by staring at a blank piece of paper till I get inspired. I then sketch it out with a pencil and then go over it with a Sharpie marker, but some of my best work starts out just doodling with a Sharpie. I just love the sharp contrast between paper and ink. After the art is done I scan it in and touch it up using an art program called Gimp.

C.H. Scarlett: What artists and or musicians–and songs– if any, inspire you and why?

Margaret : Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh is my primary inspirations, but I am also fond of Celtic Knot work and Tribal Tattoos.

C.H. Scarlett: 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?

Margaret : It would be a lot closer to D&D.

C.H. Scarlett: Very cool. So tell me a normal day if the world reflected something of Dungeons and Dragons. What sorts of creatures would I meet when trying to hop over to a grocery store, or would there be markets for bartering and so forth?

Margaret : Well you first would get up in the morning and converse with your familiar about how much it wished it had thumbs so it could make its own breakfast so he would not have to wait on you. After breakfast you two go to the local market to do some shopping. On your three block walk there you pass by a poster advertising a griffin race this weekend unfortunately you can’t go because of your job helping an elderly dragon write his memoirs.

When you get to the market your cat reminds you that you promised him trout for dinner. So you make your way past the venders selling fresh vegetables, bolts of silk and magic items to find the fish venders. On your way you stop by a merchant selling scribe supplies because you need some new quills. You decide to splurge and buy a beautiful pale blue one made from a Pegasus feather.

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

Margaret : I can be contacted through my Zazzle web site http://www.zazzle.com/magikosstudios

The few things I have been commissioned to do in the past were tattoo designs, but I am open to expanding my horizons.

C.H. Scarlett: Any new projects in the future or plans?

Margaret : I am currently focused on scanning in and touching up a pile of art that I’ve create over the last five years.

We’d like to thank Margaret for allowing us to peek into her world. It was a honor having her here at The Pagan and the Pen.

C.H. Scarlett

March: Pagan Artist of the Month: Nix Winter

When I first met Nix Winter, I knew him as an Author, but slowly, I began to realize that’s not his only talent. Then, once someone suggested I contact him for the Pagan Artist of the Month, I became floored—literally—at just how much of an Artist he is! Nix Winter is an artist by natural means (drawing, painting, etc) but also, a photographer, a photo manipulator, and a digital master.  So this month, I will be proud to show off Nix’s talent (his many pictures) in our Pagan Holiday posts…so make sure to catch those as we move towards April.

 

The Interview:

C.H. Scarlett: Tell us about the Pagan that lives inside of Nix and do those beliefs inspire your fabulous art?

Nix Winter: Labels are so limiting. They give us comfort as they define our world like borders on a map. I started my spiritual path as a Christian. It was so constricting, so linear. There is so much guilt in my experience of that path anyway. I found a book by Starhawk and my life opened up!

Over the nearly two decades since then, I’ve found I don’t believe in a particular deity. I believe in a connection to the universe, to energy that binds us all together. What brings me good, is good for the community. When I give to the community, it comes back to me.

Lately I think.. that I am a song, my being physical and soul, the path of my life. All the parts, living brings forth a kind of song, like whales or the harmony of stars.

C.H. Scarlett: When did you first discover your talent?

Nix Winter: I don’t know that I’ve discovered something within myself that isn’t with anyone I just love trying things, seeing beautiful things. Maybe there’s something in all of us that strives be bright and vivid so that other people can see us.

C.H. Scarlett: What is the process behind most of your art? What mediums do you use?

Nix Winter: My process is incredibly varied. At the most basic, I’m just looking for some way to say what I need to say. As for mediums, I use all different kinds. I’ve enjoyed photography, digital art done in Photoshop, Painter and Manga Studio. I work with acrylic, water color, pastel, Copic markers, colored pencil, ink and brush, and even a little air brush.

For me creating some visual representation of an idea or a feeling is about trying to be one with it. I guess I’m trying to turn my soul inside out, leave a print of it like with Silly Putty getting an image off of a cartoon strip. It’s really easy… just put color to surface, let it tell you where it should go.

C.H. Scarlett: What artists and or musicians–and songs– if any, inspire you and why?

Nix Winter: Oh I love art! I love Georgia O’Keefe, Degas, Monet, Kishimoto, and Clamp. I saw an exhibition of Micheal Angelo at Seattle Museum of Art. Amazing stuff, not because it was so perfect, but because it was pretty normal, way been than I can do, but still sketches. He tried to burn up all his sketches and drawings at the end of his life to help the myth that his work was inspired by God.

I saw this amazing piece by Yoko Ono that bent my mind. It was so simple. Just a block of wood, a hammer on a chain and a bowl of nails. The art formed as viewers took a nail and banged it into place. It was ever changing, always unfinished. All art, if we know it or not, is like that…. we make something and we show it to the viewer and in the viewer’s mind new concepts, meanings, understandings are added, deleted, shifted.. and this piece of art becomes born a new for each person that internalizes it.

I love Japanese art a lot and I listen to mostly Japanese music. Sometimes music gives me ideas for stories or art, but mostly it’s my buffer, my protector.

C.H. Scarlett:  That’s awesome. I haven’t heard anyone mention Georgia O’Keefe as being an inspiration in forever. I adore her work too. Everyone you mentioned, is fabulous—and sadly, some are not spoken of so much anymore with artists. Refreshing.

Now, tell me, 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?

Nix Winter: Oh goodness! You’d probably have to read my books for that. It’s changing, growing. Sometimes my imagination is pretty dark, so it might not be so nice. I think the world we’ve got is very fantastic and we don’t use half of what we’ve got!

C.H. Scarlett: If someone would like to commission your talent, where can they findhousesilver you? What are you open for—Book covers, Graphic Novels… what?

Nix Winter: I do a lot of book covers 🙂 I used to have a commission page up on my site, but I don’t now. I work mostly through loveyoudivine for cover work, but I’ve done one cover for Freya’s Bower too. If someone did want art from me, they should write and ask. 🙂

C.H. Scarlett: Any new projects in the future or plans?

Nix Winter: Oh yes! I have a cover I’m working on for Jaime Samms. I need to finish covers for Cain and Shelly, The Pet 11. I want to work on a graphic novel and I have so many candidates for what I should do. I just got my copy of Immortal Fire. I was really proud of that project. I did all the covers and wrote a short story for it as well.


www.transformation.com
My work: www.nixwinter.com

 

 

 

I would like to thank Nix for allowing us to show him off!!!

C.H. Scarlett