Mini Solstice Canvases

I am working on some new mini canvas images. I am hoping to do a series for each of the Celtic festivals. The idea is that they are small enough to fit on a shrine or alter, without taking up too much space. Being only 7cm (2 3/4 inch) square, even the smallest area would hopefully have space for them.

The Winter Solstice ones are almost done, I have some additional tweeking I want to do before adding them to my Etsy shop, but I thought I would show you how they are going : )


The Little Solstice Wren

The other Winter Solstice one is of  a magical woodland door


The Ancient Druid’s Doorway

As I said both of these need some finishing touches : ) I have made 2 or 3 of each. They all have minor variations which make each one unique.

I hope you like them : )


There we go, light levels a bit low for definition, but these little pictures are ready to go. I will put them up on Etsy in the next day or so (when I get better light for close-ups : ))

Yule is coming!

Oh dear, yes it is true and as such I have been working on some suitable images.


I very much like the old vintage style Christmas cards, some of them are so cosy and echo a simpler time. I wanted to make them acceptable for Yule or Christmas without being exclusive to either. For example there is the Oak as well as the Holly in the “Grandfather Christmas” card and is the traditional Holly King green rather than red. The gifts in the sack are of happiness, peace and love, with a gingerbread man for physical well-being (from the corn harvest of Lammas). The “Christmas Night” card has a rising sun painted on the sleigh itself, there is red in the sleigh for fire, but again the robes are of the Holly King. Some oak leaves just hanging on in the Winter’s night. And of course there has to be a standing stone or two in both of them somewhere!


These cards are available from my DeviantArt page, and soon to be available in ACEO and other formats from Etsy and possibly Ebay.



Above is a piece entered for a competition at a West Wales gallery in 2010. I found the image the other day whilst desperately looking for a magpie card image I have designed. This is typical for me, I have so many files and occasionally they get slotted into the wrong folder : )

It isn’t a great shot as the light was bouncing of the glass in which it is framed, but lacking an A3 scanner it is the best I could do to record it.

The entry was to be based on a verse from a romantic Welsh poem from the 1900’s. Classical Welsh poetry is remarkably strict in style and format, it takes great skill to to compose a poem within the boundaries of the form. This piece won the poet the Eisteddfod Chair in that year, the only time in his life that he did so I believe. After this piece he went to fight in the WW1 and needless to say much of the romanticism captured here left him.

The poem is about a young man’s recollection of a romantic summer day. He is sat by a fire in a village near the sea on a stormy winter’s night and looking at the embers he drifts into day dreams about a beautiful girl and the idyllic day. It is obvious from the poem that it was a love that faded away and he wakes to a colder, clearer day with the mist retreating and the vague hope of early flowers encouraging him in his belief of a new dawn. I found it very much a poem about young lust mixed with love, and so I chose to represent that in my piece.

The idea for the image was to create a panel from an old gilded book. The margins contain the day before (left) and after (right) and at the bottom sits the poet in reflection. The central image is filled with the passions of that summer’s day. The landscape itself echoes the female form, the dolmen on the hill is passed through to the enlightenment of the new day represented in the right margin by a single stone. The sea spray reaches across from the stormy night of the left margin representing the passionate memory of the encounter. The rose and it’s hips represents the woman and her ruby lips and the sad decay of this young love. On the left there is the pillar of an old, aged winter tree similar to an oak. On the right the white pillar of a silver birch coming into leaf, representing rebirth. The idea was to echo the pillars found in the tarot, through which we must pass to evolve.

The fire of his passion and thoughts rise from the bottom panel and this fire is transformed into a sacrificial image of a man and woman and what might have been and is consumed by the heat of the sun. The strong, viscous thorns and the twisted nature of the rose plant were to convey the poet’s struggle with this poem’s success in his later life.

I was happy with the piece on the whole, though my inability to render fire in daylight (hmm, not the easiest thing to convey : )) left the flames far to clunky and badly angled in the end, so generally that area ended up “heavier” than I wanted. I also couldn’t confine myself to the one verse, I felt compelled to tell the whole story, not exactly the brief : ).  Never mind that is the joy of creating and learning and I only had the one shot at it.

I have always felt the poet himself regretted this piece, he later wrote a more sarcastic piece in the same style about a duck! It can be hard to known best for a piece so early in life that perhaps later you feel to be very naive…


Life seems to have been a little crazy lately. I am trying to get on top of so many things. One is learning how to draw and hopefully paint characters for a children’s book I want to write. Big dreams, lots of work : )

Another issue I have to resolve is a new photography area. It is not my favourite pastime, processing images, so it tends to get put off as long as possible. As I discovered tonight this has it’s downside as when searching for some photos I thought I had taken I realised I had only scanned the image. Oh well time for some serious thinking!



So how did it go?

Well two of the images in the previous post have been completed. Just thought you might like to see them:



I have made one border that can be used as I hoped (included in above images). I think  I may need more than one for some of the planned images. We shall see…

And I have added another pencil drawing to the large pile of those waiting to be tortured into green man form. May be he looks a little familiar?


Building an image

I thought I would share the slow, sometimes torturous way I go about building an image… I am not the quickest of people when it comes to either sketching or painting and with painting especially I love depth, so a quick light wash or two just won’t do for me (boy do I wish it would, I could get far more work done : D) Being self taught there is much I am still learning and methods I am developing in order to get the finished painting I want.


Right now I am working on a series based on the Green Man. I am going to do one for each of the major seasonal festivals.Holly-King-LASER-WEB2My first painting, the Holly King (Yule) has been available as a print of just the face, but I also have been working on a border, as it was initially designed to go in a frame, but needs to be more complete for any other use of the image. I have created one border already, this one has been designed so it can be rectangular or cropped to a square around the face:


This new look allows me to use the image for either cards or ACEO designs. The border was created on piece of watercolour board with the central area left fairly blank so I could insert the face digitally. I use watercolour board because it is so much easier than having either block gummed pads or loose sheets, for which I have neither the time or room. it is extremely tolerant of reworking in pencil, or in handling layers of acrylic. The only downside is the any reproduction of the work is limited to a flat bed scanner or a photograph, large scanners are costly and well profession photography again is not exactly cheap : ) For now though this method suits me.

So the starting point is a square piece of board on which I tentatively sketch a face with the characteristics I feel I want for the festival. Here for example is the pencil sketch for the Samhain Green Man:


His eyes aren’t quite right, but I am hoping to pick that up when I pen him in and paint him. He is leaf free at this point as I want to be sure all the details are there before I obscure them with suitable Samhain vegetation. The next stage is to reduce it to a penned outlined. For this I use a very fine permanent black pen, so I can freely  paint over it with acrylic washes and still see the basic details. Here is the future Imbolc Green Man, still lacking his foliage, but this can now be penned in on top:


So next comes the foliage, but at this point I do not have one quite in that stage, I shall try and insert that at a later date.

Finally I am ready to paint. I apply several washes to get some depth, shadow and shape, then I add various facial textures. Washes are used to blend colours or to create different highlights. Here is my Oak King (summer solstice) to date:


Each of these images will then have to have suitable borders added. I may also design a multi-purpose border to keep a unified look.




The Work Of Tony Meeuwissen


Once upon a time when I was… sort of young… the work of this artist was extremely popular. I remember seeing wonderful stamps and even TV guides with his playful bold imagery displayed on the covers. Tony Meeuswissen (pronounced Maywissen) had much earlier in his career designed an album cover for the Rolling Stones, but his work had moved on a lot by the time I came across it.

It was a beautiful set of stamps that (unusually for me) I had to buy that brought his name to my attention:


I am not one for collecting such things, but these were so gorgeous I rushed out to the Post Office as soon as they were released. I later used them as the primary inspiration for a wooden plaque designed for the wedding of a relative:


He has a wonderfully concise yet enchanting way of communicating the story that also contains a lot of warmth and humour.  Now in his 70’s I am not sure how much work he is still producing, but an online search will bring up a host of fascinating images.



There are many wonderful artists out there and occasionally I would like to share the odd one or two that have either been a profound influence on me or simply inspire me at the moment…

So today’s magical offering is the amazing Rima Staines:RStaines 2

Her work can be found at The Hermitage

Amazing, kooky medieval characters peep out from her site inviting you to discover their story and explore more. Brilliant and bizarre, well worth a visit!