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Beasts and Beats – A Conversation With Magical Drum Artist Laura Daligan

Beasts and Beats – A Conversation With Magical Drum Artist Laura Daligan July 22, 2021

Image credit: Laura Daligan

You may recognise Laura’s distinctive artwork style from the covers of my books, Laura is a renowned illustrator and psychic. Today however, I sat down with Laura to talk about her work as a drum artist.

Laura’s drums have an otherworldly quality to them, they seem to almost be alive. I wanted to find out what goes into their creation.

As a long-time practitioner of paganism and witchcraft, Laura trained in shamanic journeying. As part of this training she learnt to work with animal spirits and drumbeats. So why drums in particular?

She explains, “naturally as an artist, I saw the drum and thought what a beautiful canvas to put my spirit animal on.

Animal motifs can be found in lots of spiritual art, and Laura pointed out the Celts and Sami would decorate many of their tools so would have been likely to decorate their drums too. The Vikings also decorated everything and enjoyed using animal motifs (although there is as yet no evidence to suggest the Norse used drums, no evidence doesn’t necessarily mean no chance).

As an art student in Falmouth, Laura studied illustration, and this is clear in much of her art style.

I asked her what she believes makes her work so distinctive.

“It’s always the eyes which draw me in. You can have a still image, but the eyes will bring it alive by telling a story through the expression and personality.

When I was a teenager I always painted rock stars and people like that, it was their eyes which told the story.”

Looking at Laura’s work I agree, the eyes really do focus the viewer’s attention, particularly within her drum commissions. The animals look out at you and their eyes draw you in.

We talked a little about how she feels she achieves this, but it was when I asked about her construction process it became clear.

Image credit: Laura Daligan

Every time Laura takes on a commission she spends a considerable amount of time working with the animal or deity (or concept) she’s been asked to paint.

Often that takes the form of a full shamanic journey. Other times she will spend time learning about them and sitting with images.

For many artists, learning about the form and shape of the thing they’re painting is standard. But for Laura it goes further, she creates a spiritual link and instinctively channels the energy into her paintwork.

“There has to be a connection to whatever it is I’m painting”, she explains.

 “The last drum I painted was of a Tawny Owl. I didn’t have a lot of information when I started the commission. As I painted I became really aware of how messy my room was. I paint in a corner of the main living space and day to day I kept looking at the owl I was painting. It just felt as though it was judging me.

I mentioned this to the person who had commissioned it and she said the owl motif was in honour of the spirit of her gran. Her gran had been obsessed with cleaning.”

Laura also works as a psychic so her ability to instinctively guess and channel the intent of the drum is no surprise.

As a TV psychic she works with the public, but she also has a base of regular clients and does occasionally take on new.

She feels her natural instinct to tune into people and their energy when she communicates with them means she picks up on things other craftspeople may not.

She also points out, “When you do readings, it’s often for people who are searching for something to help them move forward in their life. When I paint a drum I naturally consider what that person might need, which helps me create something to become a power object rather than simply art.

Image credit: Created on Canva using original portrait by Gordon Burns (copyright holder = Laura Daligan)

As a lot of Laura’s work is around shamanism and animal helpers, I ask her how she feels about cultural appropriation.

“You have to walk the line between being really respectful but not cutting off your own spiritual connection in order to do so,” she says.

“Every culture naturally tunes into the elements and nature and to what’s around them. Within our own lineage the words to describe this has been lost. But the Anglo Saxons would have connected with guides and nature spirits.

We should avoid words like totem or power animal but it’s hard sometimes, because when you use these terms everyone knows what you mean.

Same with drumming, if we use the term ceremonial drum or ritual drumming it opens it out for everyone. Drumming makes you feel something, it calls to you, that has to be a good thing.”

The Norse also had a concept of spirit animals within the Fylgja.

With such beautiful creations, I asked Laura if she had a waiting list.

She admitted that yes, she does have a small one due to the amount of work which goes into each drum. This means she can only take on a couple of commissions at any time.

You would expect, as a customer, to wait a couple of months before Laura would start the customisation process with you.

But, as she states, “that means you can spend some time getting your ideas together and allowing them to grow and develop.

Deciding what animal or deity you want on your drum is only part of the process. Laura also provides drum options. You can request a vegan drum, or you can request a specific skin and ask for it to be cured in a specific way, growing the link between the animal guide and you.

You can also send your own drum.

“What about if you want to paint your own drum,” I asked

In non-pandemic times, Laura ran workshops on drum painting. Within these she insists the most important thing is to be brave and trust your ability.

“Sometimes people worry they can’t do it, but they can. The important thing is to trust the journey.”

Luckily, for those of us (like me) who struggle with the practicalities she also summed up exactly what you need to do to paint specifically on a drum.

“You can use Acrylic paints or things like wodes and herbal dyes. But my tip is acrylic works much better because it stays on better. You’ll need to mix the acrylic paint with a small amount of water, but not too much.

When you’ve finished painting use spray varnish. If you paint thick varnish the sound of your drum will dull.”

What advice does Laura have for those who want to start a pagan craft business?

Whilst much business advice falls under the “look for the gap in the market” theme, Laura believes that can only take you so far.

“Follow your heart and do what you love. I never expected drum painting would become such a big seller. If you look for a gap in the market you won’t have the same vibe. The love you put into your work feels magnetic and that’s what attracts people to it.

I’ve been doing this for nearly a decade and I still feel inspired to do it every day.”

How can you commission a drum from Laura?

The first step is to take a look at her website and get a feel for what’s possible. Then get in touch. Often people find it easier to message via facebook or Instagram to start with.

However, I also recommend looking through Laura’s Youtube channel which has some excellent videos explaining how to connect with the energy of your drum.

 

This series of articles about pagan craftspeople and artists is purely for my own enjoyment. I have not been paid by anyone to advertise their work.

This series only features those who I personally admire and enjoy the work of, I don’t take influencer style requests. I do however love discovering new artists. If you want to use this post to publicise your similar creations please feel free to leave your links in the comments.


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