I have always loved to paint and from the first time I started formally studying art, I explored the esoteric through goddesses and faery women. I had also always found comfort and connection in the water and the energy it carries. The water sings to me, it asks to be painted, to paint water spirits; mermaids and images that flash across my mind from times long before we can remember or even comprehend; of worlds of water and Priestess that tend mysterious sacred water sources. Always having water, always connected to spirit.
I never was formally trained in watercolor, in fact I didn’t take one class at the university and only one short on in High school. I never intended on working with water colors. I was trained in sculpture how to mold with clay, solder copper, weld steel, and print with large lithograph stones we pushed about on lifts and set upon antique printing presses. I learned how to set stones, cast in gold and paint in acrylic and oil.
One day I was working with watercolor pencils and began to add water and watch as the colors moved over the wet paper. I decided to get a few tubes of watercolor paint and see how it would look to add paint to my pencil drawings. It wasn’t long after, that I was painting water goddesses, mermaids, splashing water, and sea weed in my paintings.
While living in Phoenix Arizona , I co-hosted the mid-day ritual at Pagan Pride Day with my Circle, Circle of the Rambling Rose and the lovely local Witch Dineta. We did a healing ritual invoking the energies of the water and the energies of the sacred healing springs of Glastonbury. Water was used from the two sacred wells and added to a large silver bowl of water. When the ritual came to an end we gave a significant portion of our sacred ritual water to the land spirits.
After the ritual was complete a wonderful human and talented artist came up and asked if he could have some of the water that was left on the altar space. We found some vials and corked up the water for him. I inquired what the water would be used for. I thought perhaps he would continue the ritual at home on his own altar or be using it in healing spell work. But he surprised me, he said he was going to use it to paint with. We had a quick discussion on how he used it with his acrylic paints to create esoteric art. I was so thrilled! We chatted about how working with water from a sacred well or even water that had been charged with stones, or under the moon and how they might make a difference in the outcome of the painting. Click here to see his work!
Working with the Water
I began to experiment and saw my art change. It moved from what it was into something deeper and it changed the way I approached my art. It wasn’t long after that I found myself re-locating to Oregon. My ritual and art space was now combined into one room, The temple taking up ¾ of the room and the art space taking up the remainder. I began to build a shrine on my painting table to watery muses, and worked on ways to keep my art station clean and in “Ritual Order” and while I am still an artist with pencils, brushes and scraps scattered on the table there is something more sacred and more connected about it. It feels right.
I found that taking a sacred approach to my art not only connected me to the element and the sacred but it took me deeper in my own spiritual work and devotion. One day I began to push the jars around in the cabinet under the Traditions Altar and Shrine space, stacking jars of water and sliding them about trying to decide what water I would choose, and what I would paint with it. I grabbed the water from Bath, home to Sulis’ temple in the UK’s Roman Ruins. I sketched out the outline of her temple, where the waters hold the mint green waters and where the waters flow over the rusty orange gap and into the old temple ruins, I sketched her out, sketching out a roman hair style, dress and her arms and face. I hold the water dish in my hands, whisper her name and charge it with the intent of painting her. I ask for the water to guide my hands and place the colors where they should be. I pause for a moment and set the dish down, grab my brush and dip into the water. I lay stroke after stroke painting what the water wants.
I did this again, not too long after but I worked with less pencil marks and more organically. I left out important details of her temple and tried to capture the energy of the flaming sun, the warm waters and her goddess nature. I wanted it to be a reflection of her spirit, not of a reflection of her in human form in her temple pouring sacred waters from her vessel.
I did this two times for Sulis with water from Bath, each with a similar technique but with different results. I allowed the paint to be my guide but I used less pencil and “factual detail” in the more abstract version. I was very pleased with the results on both of them and they are now used in our Tradition to represent Sulis one of our Deities of the lighter half of the year.
Since I first heard about working with magical waters in art I have created several Watery Goddess and Spirits with water that has been charged or is from a sacred source. Today I always take great care with the water I am using for painting. Being sure to start with charged or sacred water and to change it out often and repeat the process. Since I started working with these waters I have seen a major difference in the ease and success of my pieces and they are fished with an understanding that the spirits of the water had a hand in the process.
More about Annwyn here