A Merrow is a gentle Irish mermaiden in Celtic folklore.
I painted this romantic watercolour painting , “Merrow Kiss” quite some time ago, and released it in a limited edition run of prints. It is definitely one of my favourite paintings; I love anything to do with these mysterious mythical creatures whose bodies – half human, half fish, symbolise the feminine connection with imagination, love and sensuality. The prints sold out quickly and due to requests by a number of customers recently, I am releasing it as a limited edition poster print.
This poem by W.B Yeats was my inspiration ~
“A Mermaid found a swimming lad,
Picked him for her own,
Pressed her body to his body,
Laughed; and plunging down
Forgot in cruel happiness
That even lovers drown”
The print comes signed and titled by me with a certificate of authenticity. For a limited time I am able to offer it with free shipping anywhere in the world. You can find it for sale in my online shop Here.
Recently I received a very touching email from a young painter who wanted to know more about me and my artwork. She was especially interested and inspired by my painting technique and use of colour to express the elements portrayed in my work. Many people ask me where I learned how to paint the way I do – and the the basic answer is that I taught myself.
This will be the first of a few blog posts where I will endeavour to share my knowledge and experience painting with watercolours, acrylics, pen and ink, and maybe a few other things as well!
To start at the beginning of my artistic career – I was an obsessive drawer from the age of two, and by about 4 years old I felt a very strong urge to create images from my very active child’s imagination in any way that I could; luckily my parents, being artistic themselves, encouraged and nurtured me all through my creative journey. Drawing came most naturally to me, but soon I intuitively began to experiment with colour, design and composition.
An elderly lady with whom I attended some after school art guided me to growing confidence in expressing my inner artistic vision, with the use of pattern, complimentary colours, symbolism and playfulness in art. I will always be indebted to Mrs. Smith in Johannesburg for the joy she instilled in me for the creative process that all humans inherently posses.
In grade 2 I traded a drawing I made of 2 giraffes kissing, for a chocolate bar, and from that time on I knew my art was worth something. I sold my first painting of a fairy holding a peacock when I was 15 years old, then when I was 19 I embarked on starting my own arts business, beginning with screen printed t-shirts of my fantasy drawings with unicorns, mermaids and cats. Here are the first commissions of that time:
My style was still very linear and graphic, but later that I year I completed work for a more painterly, dreamier commission, combining the subject matter of a cat with a passion for the colour green:
Green Cat 1995
This Green Cat was done on canvas board, using a technique which I had developed in my final year at school for my art exam – a self portrait painted on stretched canvas using pen & ink, watercolor and acrylic. I found that the best way to learn to blend watercolours was the hard way: use a very difficult surface like canvas (primed) , to develop a respect and understanding of the more watery aspects of paints and how to make them work for you. The trick is to begin with a light wash of whichever colour will be dominant in your painting, and then work over that in gentle layers as your vision unfolds.
Self Portrait 1992
Mostly, however, I was doing very intricate black and white drawings using a technical Rotring drawing pen with archival pigment ink, which are great for steady line drawing because they steadily dispense the ink through a precision point with a continual flow, making the lines even and smooth and easy to fill in. Below are examples of this type of drawing, which were for a series of 3 commissions. I started with the faces and a rough idea in pencil of what the composition and organic shape of the composition would be, then just drew straight in ink using the process as a form of meditation. I still use this technique today, and never fully sketch my paintings or drawing out. I find it is much more authentic and spontaneous to rely on what comes naturally from one’s imagination through hand and instrument, than to relay on sketching everything out first.
Here is a later example of this process at work in Fairy Cat:
Later, well into my 30′s and living in Australia running a business Redwhisper Studio co-owned with John Robson, many customers there asked if I had been to a “Steiner” or “Waldorf” School because my artwork was so much like what the educationalist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner taught. This was completely fascinating to me: that I had never hear of him until then, but upon further investigation I realised that my intuitive painting was very much like his artistic educational vision – very dream-like, with bold and emotional use of colour and delicate blending of thoughts, impressions and the very colours themselves to convey the essence of the artist’s inner world.
Ceiling, First Goetheanum, by Rudolf Steiner
What this said to me is that everyone has innate creative ability, and those of us who choose to express it through painting need look no further than our own intuition and imagination. Of course, this does take discipline, hard work and inspiration, but the tools are there inside us, just waiting to be unlocked and used.
More on how I explored this in the next part…..Thank you so much for visiting my creative blog, and please feel free to share your own creative thoughts, I would love to learn and share with you!
” I realized that all the really good ideas I’d ever had came to me while I was milking a cow. So I went back to Iowa.” ~ Grant Wood ~
Last week we visited the lovely snow-dusted Mississippi river city of Dubuque., Iowa. We decided to drop into the wonderful Dubuque Art Musem a regional art gallery I was delighted to find had some works of this great iconic Midwest American artist.
The painting that particularly captured my imaginations was “Appraisal”
It is exquisitely painted, with tender, delicate detail and gently humorous symbolism.
The other painting that struck me was his eerily gothic and deftly satirical “Victorian Survival”
The first time I learned of Wood was as part of our cursory study of American art in a South African school curriculum. We briefly investigated “American Gothic” as an example of Depression-era painting, with its wonderfully subtle parody and gentle realism. I was lucky enough to see the original at the stunning Art Institute of Chicago
Wood was also an amazing print maker, his lithographs are dreamy, whimsical and surreal and have his characteristic delicacy and attention to the evocative landscape of his beautiful native Iowa…his childhood country school is also depicted on the 2004 Iowa State Quarter.
Wood’s colour schemes, his sensitivity to his subject matter and the magical elements that sparkle in his work really inspire me as an artist. I would love to hear any comments others may have of their favourite American artists – I love discovering new work!
This is a good link to visit for more information on this quintessential American artist:
A moment shared in Love will linger in our eternal memory…
The Masculine and Feminine revolve
through nature and life as One.
The Sun and Moon symbolize a great
power of love and balance…
Throughout my artistic life I have been drawn to expressing the beauty and power of romance between Feminine and Masculine elements. The Lover Archetypes are inherent throughout all cultures, religions and mythologies, and is woven deep within our collective consciousness and the very laws of Nature herself. Here are some of the paintings that I have been inspired to create in honour of the love that man and woman have spun together in the timeless dance of sacred love, union and deep mutual fascination that is the basis of the creation of human life…
you can click on the images for more information
I have recently finished this lovely commissioned original drawing of the Tree of Life for a wonderful customer in Germany. It has been done in pigment coloured pencil (I use Swiss made Caran d’Ache) and pigment ink pens and measures 6.5 x 6.5 inches. She loved my original pencil drawing of the Tree of Life with a sun and moon in the leaves and a dryad or tree spirit subtly portayed in the image which had been sold, so we decided to do one just for here with slight alterations and in vibrant greens, purples and blues:
I am currently accepting commissions for paintings, tattoo designs, business logos and wedding invitations to name but a few of the artworks I do as custom orders. You can view a selection of my previous artistic commissions here!
This is my completed owl artwork, as begun in the previous post.
Owls are such enigmatic creatures, and I have done many paintings, drawings and also an etching of these fascinating animals which you can purchase here. I enjoyed using plenty of gold pigment ink and pigment based coloured pencils on Stonehenge paper, thus creating a very decorative folk art style reminiscent of the naive artist Henri Rousseau and also traditional icon art.
My fascination with owls continues….
Here, I am using beautiful Swiss made Caran d’Ache colored pencils on my favourite Stonehenge paper. I am inspired by the work of the Primitive / Naive artist Henri Rousseau and his rich, textural and beautifully illustrative images. I have briefly sketched the outline and then layered the colours as I go, including pigment gold and silver ink for decorative highlights.
This is my completed Art Nouveau style Cat painting. It is watercolor with gold and colored pigment ink and is inspired by folk art as well as the illustrations of the Art Nouveau period which had a wonderful flowing style and often incorporated natural elements within the diverse themes depicted.
I have a fascination with red poppies and with cats, and have often portrayed them together in little montages and pieces of art, but have never done a full painting of these two lovely themes together.
Here are the beginnings of a watercolour based painting that I have been working on, Art Nouveau style, with pigment inks and white gesso highlights. The paper I use is Stonehenge cream paper – great for mixed media and especially good for etching and watercolors. I painted a yellow wash with touches of orange for a base design of colours to set the tone for what looks to be a folk-art kind of painting. ~ More photos as I go along !
I finished this last Friday, and am quite pleased with the flow and expression of what is really a homage to the great Alphonse Mucha, the beauty that is Byzantine and Orthodox Iconic Art and, of course, fantasy art. The Luna Moth is a fascinating creature whose colours and ethereality also inspired me…
You can purchase a beautiful print of this painting in my online shop Here.
This is how my new Art Nouveau inspired fairy painting is looking so far…
I have been painting it on Fredrix watercolor canvas, which is proving to be somewhat of a challenge as it is very slippery and I am finding that the water-based pigments do not adhere too well on the specially coated canvas. it is also very sensitive to any natural oils that come off one’s hand whilst painting, making in effect waterproof! I will be using acrylic to give this painting more adhesion and substance – will post the next and final stage in the next 2 days…
Thanks for looking! – You can see the first stage of this painting Here
I have been experimenting again with various natural elements and media to create a wonderfully evocative painting full of the Archetypal symbolism of Love, reminiscent of the beautiful romantic paintings of Gustav Klimt and Marc Chagall.
Here I explore the promises, dreams and awakening spirituality associated with the profound union of a man and a woman, the merging of two kindred souls. Below is a detailed image of this collage, with the poem that I wrote which is featured in the painting.
I have painted it on beautiful ivory coloured smooth Stonehenge watercolour paper, using a mixture of watercolours, gouache, gesso, wax, coloured pencils, gold and silver pigment inks, mosaic slices of copper, pewter and brass and dried pressed flowers that I collected whilst living in various countries. This picture mostly has pressed poppies – I also did a Fairy picture a few years ago with wild flower collage and watercolours which you can see here available as an art print for sale: Flora Fairy Painting
This Lovers painting is available as a Limited Edition print at my shop Here: ~ I will only be making 50 prints in 7 x 10 inch size and I have the first artist’s Proof for sale. I feel that some of the more personal paintings I have done deserve to be released as small runs of limited edition prints – this means that there is only a certain number of these prints produced in a particular size – after they have all been sold no more will be ever produced.
You can see more of my Lover Art if you click on the menu to the left.
Thank you for visiting my blog, and may you walk in Love : )
Recently I found a beaten up old edition – from the end of the Second World War – of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (or What You Will) and the same day I rediscovered a little owl painting I had painted some time ago. You can see it here.
I was intrigued by the idea of placing this lovely whimsical owl over the delightful words of the great Bard, creating a mixed media original yet very affordable piece of artwork. The result is what you see below. Each creation has been hand painted with acrylic upon a different page of the play, over the original print. The colours are fantastically vibrant, with highlights of gold and silver pigment to further enhance this little ACEO collectable work of art.
If you would like it purchase one of these delightful original pieces of mixed media artwork, each one created individually costs US$7.50, plus shipping – please contact me!
I have realised that I have a fascination with throwing cats and fish together.
It started with one of the first etchings I ever did, in London where I learned the craft 14 years ago; for some reason I was compelled to portray a little black cat swimming merrily along with some goldfish:
I hand coloured it with gouache, loved the result, and put out an edition for sale, which you can find at my Online Shop.
The image of a cat’s fantasy underwater realm stayed with me, and a number of years later I painted a whimsical watercolour and pastel of the same topic, only with added water nymphs and spirits:
A gorgeous Print is for sale here.
Yesterday, I found myself in one of Johannesburg’s quirky bead shops, where I picked up a wonderful stash of gorgeous Czech glass beads and findings with which to play and create, and the result, unsurprisingly was this:
I had such fun making these, and have decided to start a few themed jewellery pieces along these whimsical lines. This pair and other lovely creations can also be bought in my Shop!
….with more to come soon….
Here is the completed painting. It has been such a wonderful experience doing this commission: thanks to my patrons for their creative support encouragement! Here is a shot with my Dad who helped my with the construction of a shippping box and a large board on which to paint. It measures nearly 2 meters x 2 meters (6 foot x 6 foot) and has been painted in acrylics. See the posts before this one for a step by step journey through the painting process.
Here are some detailed shots, and you can purchase a beautiful print of this painting here in my Shop
The painting is nearing completion now, and I have added much detail and flow to the composition.Below is the painting in its entirety, and once finished it will be rolled up, carefully packed and shipped away to be stretched onto a frame ready for hanging. I will post the final photos very soon…..
I have reworked the face of the lower mermaid, and am adding more and more detail and design to the composition, just on a free-form basis with paintbrush and paint – I love this intuitive style of painting and working the form and colour in.
Here is the entire painting, before I reworked the faces. Please click on each photos to appreciate them in their fullness of size – More photos to come soon!
Here are two shots of the progress of my mermaid commission so far – I have blocked in the basic colour and forms and composition, and started on the face details of both mermaids. I always like to do this initially to get a feel of the facial expressions and features that set the tone and nuance of the overall image. I have used acrylic drying retarder when painting in this technique, which gives flow to the polymer paints similar to that of watercolors.
This was my most recent painting for Redwhisper Studio. As some of you may know, I have moved back from beautiful Australia to my homeland of South Africa. John is still running the wonderful business we created together, only he is now the captain at the helm! He is also immersing himself in his music, and you can hear a selection of his amazing original songs here.
I am following my own artistic journey and will still be creating designs and paintings for Redwhisper Studio when I can. Please keep an eye on this, my website, for more of my original art, paintings, etchings, limited edition prints and jewelery designs as well as mixed media and other hand made items and ideas exploring soulful creativity, Archetype energy and the healing power of colour and symbolism.
This painting explores the essence and symbolism of the Unicorn archetype: guardian of innocence, protector and bringer of courage.
You can purchase a beautiful art print of this unicorn painting here.
Recently I attended a mosaic workshop which is something I have always wanted to try out.
It was a whole day Saturday workshop run by the wonderfully creative ladies at Dish in Johannesburg.
I love the textures and colour expressive of this art form, and the hands-on experience really involves one with the media used.
Tiles are smashed or cut or delicately chipped into shapes and forms, mirrors are used with gleeful abandon as well as the odd cryptic word or symbol…
….and little surprises come out with the grout!
All in all it was a very satisfying workshop and the end result captured the mood of the moment.
The first attempt of what will definitely be many many more joyful experiences with mosaic!
Mosaic inspired the likes of Chagall (who actually used it in various commissions) and Klimt. Reminiscent of bygone archaic Byzantine art, it is perfect for capturing opulence and mystery in a highly decorative way.
I am currently on an extended stay in my home country of South Africa, re-connecting with my family and taking in the exquisitely vibrant countryside for inspiration and new developments.
I stopped off on our travels around the beautiful Eastern Cape province into the tiny and little known township Neiu Bethesda in the dry Karoo region. The only reason one would do this is thanks to an incredibly visionary woman called Helen Martins. This amazing but extremely isolated outsider artist lived here up until 1976 when she took her own life due to her failing eyesight and subsequent struggle to realise her creative urges.
Her life here was made known by the wonderful South African writer Athol Fugart in his play (and resulting Hollywood film) The Road to Mecca. Helen left a treasure of art and imagination in her tiny home and backyard, some of which can be seen in the photos below. It is now called The Owl House.
What captivated me the most about her ethereal realm was the care and vivid imagination that went into creating it. She lived this creation every day; she slept and dreamt within its luminescent walls and smiling, whimsical faces of the creatures she had conjured up from cement, wire, beer bottles and pieces of discarded ephemera…and then she gave them life and showed them to us.
Thank you dear Miss Helen for such a joyful gift from such a lonely but inspired heart….
preliminary to a painting
watercolour & pencil.
I was rummaging through some old artwork and found this photo of a commission I did about 16 years ago (I was about 18 I think) for one of my brother’s friends.
It is a large drawing- about an A2 size (poster size) and took a few months to complete. It is extremely detailed, and I do not find the time these days to do such elaborate work but would like to return to this wonderfully meditative process of creating art.
- she is the creation in the centre of her own being and imagination, from which all things are borne like stars in a galaxy….