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Sunset dragon, Canyamel.

Sunset dragon, Canyamel.

It was such fun discovering how to paint. I loved wet into wet watercolour, the looser the better. And tricks like using cling film to create water and the texture of rocks. It was fascinating to see what developed: faces, flowers, shamanic animals. The method is called involuntaryism and it is the ultimate surrender to the process – and to serendipity making itself felt. You can see it best in the picture above and two of my earliest paintings: the ‘Goddess Stone at Glastonbury’ and ‘Spirit of Portland’ bewlow (which have a few extra reflections as I couldn’t take them out of their frames to photograph but you’ll get the idea.) Then I discovered water-soluble acrylic. Joy of joys. If something really didn’t work, you could simply paint over it or take it out altogether. I used it for the basis of ‘Shamanic Paradox’, and added collage to good effect. A technique I’d learned from Marilyn Allis and put into practice for ‘In the arms of Ma’at’ which exactly captures the heat and the claustrophobic effect of the rocks towering above the Egyptian temple. Collage takes all the anxiety out of not being able to paint precise representations. You want a soaring eagle? You simply cut one out and stick it on.

Smiling dragon.

Smiling dragon.

As you can see, dragons were my inspiration. This was the view from the house in Mallorca. The picture that started it all. A kid’s paint set, dodgy brush, but away I went. The photograph is a bit dark but you can see how it developed into the sunset dragon that opened this piece.

When I painted the one below in an art class the tutor was disparaging: ‘I’ve never seen a sky quite that colour’. But it didn’t matter. I was using up colours on my palette and it was fun, fun, fun.

Gaining control?

First challenge, draw your crystals.

But what had formerly been loose and involuntary should have been controlled and precise when I went to West Dean recently to learn how to paint crystals. The tutor used tiny brushes, stippling, and endless patience. The dreaded p word is something I’ve been learning all my life, so is it any wonder I did four pieces compared to the one or two most people created using the technique? I soon found that I could mix the two approaches. Naturally I used two of my favourite stones: Brandenberg Amethyst and both sides of a Celtic Healer. Great fun and a deep meditation headspace created to boot.

I held my crystals in my hand to draw them. Then had to stick them on the board to paint them, which changed the viewpoint. As did the ever changing light. Interesting and a great way to stay flexible.

The models:

The finished playwork:

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