Friday, 7 March 2014

Protector of the Wild

Protector of the Wild
I spoke about my "accidental" start on a Tarot project in my last post. This is the artwork that started off that process. Protector of the Wild is also my "Strength" card. I intend for all of the "cards" to be stand alone artworks so they are all titled differently. When I complete a bit more of the spin off deck I will design a layout & back plate for the cards too.
My intention is to have a long term project that I can dip in and out of and return to for inspiration. I don't intend to set a timescale to finish, just allow for things to unfold. It will be interesting to see if some of the other "cards" reveal themselves to me in this way or if I plan them (I imagine a mixture of both).

A little bit about the "Strength" card -
Traditionally the woman would be shown taming the lion/lioness by holding its jaw and standing above it. The card represents overcoming strong negative emotions such as anger and jealousy and the situation may be a test of the strength to remain calm and in control in a difficult situation.
My take on this card was to give it a more external meaning and it represents for me the approach required to protect and preserve our wildlife. Nothing arouses emotion in me more than the destruction of our wildlife and the disregard of life. I chose to represent "Strength" as the ability to protect and control what is happening through kindness, education and understanding. The woman is cradling the young lioness in my piece, she is at one with her and has found the balance needed to gain power from their alliance. The monkey for me represents communication and the bees are the givers of life, so tiny, yet hugely importance in our ecosystem. I hoped in a reading this card might help someone look within to look outwith (if that makes sense).

"Protector of the Wild"- Ink on Illustration Board by Anita Inverarity 
Available at Gallery Q Dundee until March 15th

Flora's Garden

Flora's Garden
I set out to create a piece with some of my favourite things to draw- beautiful maidens, cats, birds and florals. It was to be a simple thing really, something decorative and pretty.
Whilst drawing this piece a little chain reaction happened and it became something more. I had always wanted to create a Tarot Deck and after a false start about 5 years ago I felt I had developed the style now to embark on this project (a huge undertaking but with no timescale set, just purely for my own enjoyment and to explore my fascination with it's symbolism further).
Whilst drawing "Protector of the Wild" it suddenly occurred to me that it was my "Strength" card, so I started the project by accident rather than design. Similarly this piece revealed itself to be my "Empress" half way through drawing her. I had to ponder on that possibility for a while but the more I looked the more I was sure. Just after she was completed I was invited to join an international collaborative effort on a Tarot project called 78Tarot (you can find us on Face Book). The card I will be drawing for that is the 4 of Cups and this seemed like a wonderful coincidence and opportunity for me to start thinking about the minor suits.
The other really strange bit of "sync" was the drawing of the Bullfinches- for me they were a sign of strength and beauty with their vibrant colours and sturdy little attitudes. I'm not sure why I chose them for this piece but just after I dropped it off at the Gallery a pair of Bullfinches visited my garden. I have never seen them before here or in person anywhere for that matter, so it was a magical moment for me. They have returned every day since and I'm taking that a sign that I'm on the right track with the Tarot Deck (or maybe they just like Phil's new bird cake recipe- who knows.......but I'm being a little artsy and romantic about it for now).

So a little about her alternative guise of "The Empress"-
She is often depicted as a beautiful woman in a rich and fertile environment. She can be associated with Motherhood or pregnancy or just the need to nurture. She signifies deep contentment in her spiritual and physical self and in her relationships so enjoys bestowing acts of generosity and kindness on others. It is enough for her to surround herself with nature and beautiful things and to enjoy the company of others. She represents a peaceful & benign femininity.
I hope I represented her surroundings well and to her liking. If I were the Empress I would most surely own a cat and enjoy watching the birds in my garden. I gave the cat a little toy of course to distract it from the birdies, which I'm sure are far to clever to be caught. Sometimes I include something personal in the piece and her winged bracelet is something I received from a generous & kind friend.  

     "Floras Garden" Ink on Illustration Board (Framed) 
Available at Gallery Q until the 15th March



Aife is the sister of Scathach (see my previous post). Aife is a very interesting character to me as the "underdog" in this Scottish myth. I see her as both vulnerable and misguided- her perceived wickedness and competitiveness are very human traits and I hoped to bring a little sympathy and understanding into the artwork. Aife founded the school for warriors along with her sister and although she was a skilled warrior she was the weakest of the sisters, living in the shadow of Scathach. The deities gave Aife the power of Healing and Divination but never bestowed on her the strength and leadership qualities of Scathach, the chosen one. The two sisters were reported to have fought many duals in their tussle for power and Aife was often the challenger- always to be beaten down.
Despite the conflict between the sisters they resided together on the Isle of Skye and led the Scots into many great battles, putting aside their differences mostly when required. Aife gave birth to a son as the result of an affair (or possible rape) by a trained warrior. Whatever the circumstance Aife was consumed with hate for the father of her child for many years and when her son was old enough she had trained him carefully to kill his father in a dual. This hugely backfired on Aife as her son was slain by the older man- she had underestimated again her sisters teachings.
As punishment for this and her many misguided follies the deities turned Aife into a Heron- She is said to haunt the Scottish countryside in this guise for evermore.
My inspirations for the piece were Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye. The sisters had strong links to Skye and were reported to live there as their main stronghold. Aife's story reminded me of the first time I saw a Heron in the wild which just happened to be at Dunvegan Castle many moons ago.
We were on a rowing boat in the inlet at the back of the castle headed out to view the seal colonies there when I spotted a huge Heron, still as a watercolour painting amongst the reeds on the bank. It was so beautiful and indeed a haunting sight- I was transfixed for a minute or so until I heard our guide announce its presence.
Many years later another Heron would give me the fright of my life. I was working late at my office in the Bridge of Don, Aberdeen and decided to go out for a break. It was pitch black and as I stood at the front of the building something rose off the ground a foot away from me- A huge dark shape rising into the sky, almost silently. I felt the breeze of two huge "flaps" and realised it had wings. Looking up I noticed the "scary thing" had landed on the roof (it only seemed to flap twice to get there) and there was the unmistakable outline of the Heron. I thought of both these encounters when drawing my Aife.
Dunvegan Castle is also host to the legendary Fairy Flag- I gave a little nod to this with her working on her tapestry and I like to think her spirit has found a little peace there on the Isle of Skye. Other little details include the Amethyst Quartz pendulum that the Heron is holding as a sign of her healing & divination skills. Her jewellery includes a Witches stone and a little Ankh as a nod to her sisters Egyptian linage. The Ankh is the most ancient of cross symbols and is said to form the basis of the Celtic and Christian Crosses- I thought it would be a powerful symbol of protection and feminine strength for her to wear to help her in the afterlife.    

"Aife"- Ink on Illustration Board (Framed) by Anita Inverarity 
Available at Gallery Q Dundee until the 15th March



My Blog posts are a bit like buses at the moment. Nothing for a while then several all at once :)
I thought it was time to share some of the stories behind the larger pieces I was completing at the beginning of the year. First up is "Scathach". The original is currently available at the wonderful Gallery Q in Dundee until the 15th March.

Scathach is the legendary Scottish Warrior Woman. What I like most about Celtic/Scottish and Nordic Myth is the sense of "reality" about the subjects- One can imagine them as real people with interesting back stories and although they are steeped with supernatural and otherwordly elements there is much to relate to and these myths draw me back time again, often putting a twist on the subject which reflects their humanity.
So Scathach was said to be the daughter of a Pharaoh and skilled in ancient knowledge, battle strategy and martial arts, she must have been widely traveled and highly regarded at a young age. Together with her sister Aife she set up a school for warriors in Ireland. It was peculiar in that the male warriors could only be taught by female teachers and I'm wondering if the subtle effectiveness of the martial arts teachings were part of this, the ying and the yang. The famous Scottish battle cry was said to be a trademark of Scathach herself and linked to ancient martial arts.
The sisters eventually settled in Scotland and have strong links with the Isle of Skye where the resided. They led many great battles when they were not bickering amongst themselves or fighting duals, for the sisters were also great rivals with Aife constantly feeling she was in the shadow of her elder sister. I guess she had a lot to live up to as "Scathach" was reported to have given her name to "Scotland" itself. Supernatural elements are associated with both sisters and in Scottish Myth there is reported to be a "Land of the Giant Women" in the underworld or land of the Fae/Sith Folk. These deities had great power to shape the land and control the seasons and destiny- both sisters were said to consult with and serve these deities in exchange for superhuman powers. Scathach was able to roam the country in the guise of a giant, covering vast areas of ground with one stride.
My painting was inspired by the thought of what she might be like as a regular "human"- what she might be thinking in her "downtime". I imagined that she might be drawn to cats and the region of Caithness (Cait-Ness, The Kingdom of the Cat) with her Egyptian roots so I was inspired to include Keiss Castle as a nod to the area- It is a loose interpretation as the castle is set on the rugged landscape of the cliffs and I think it is one of our most spectacular historic sites.Her traveling companion I imagined to be tamed wildcat with a hint of Sith-Cait- Both Scathach and her feline companion are wearing Scarab Beetles for protection. I have also included a little personal touch in the painting with the rings she is wearing, both are from my own jewellery box- A silver and coral ring from Cairo and a plain Celtic band. I think her roots were the most fascinating part of her story and mysterious past. I hope you like my interpretation.                       

"Scathach" by Anita Inverarity- Ink on Illustration Board (Framed)

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Aesops in Colour & a Big Reveal

2014 is off to a flying start with some pretty *heavy* deadlines already. Sometimes it does me good to work under pressure as I don't over-think things. I'm trying to tell myself that each day at the moment so I don't panic (wink).
As well as my little solo coming up in February I have added 2 new & wonderful galleries to my representation who kindly invited me to show with them. My Aesops Fables series from 2012 are finally being coloured and will head up to Beauly Gallery nr Inverness this month. I just have 2 more to complete (The Tortoise & the Hare and The Lion & the Unicorn) but here is a sneak peak of the pieces so far.  I really want to add The Town Mouse & the Country Mouse next, possibly as 2 separate small works.  

I am also really excited to be back working on some large scale pieces which I started last year & have been hanging around in various stages of completion. At least 3 of these with be headed to Gallery Q in Dundee at the end of February along with some smaller ones. I am currently putting the final details onto the first piece but will be revealing them all together mid-February so stay tuned. I can't wait to share the stories behind these new works and you can be sure of a bit of Scottish Myth & Legend being included, in the spirit of "Whisper of the Sith".

Anita xx  

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Holiday Drawings

I am really enjoying my holiday drawing spell. It's more like a mammoth colouring in session now as I have prepared a few ink pieces for colour. Here are the first 3 which will probably end up in my little Solo show in February- Just need to choose the framing.

 Tea Jenny- A little play on words with a Scottish expression. We call someone who loves to drink tea a "Tea Jenny" and of course the nickname for a Wren is Jenny so I thought I'd combine the 2 things here. I have been called a Tea Jenny many times, a cuppa is never far away. 

 Tea Jenny- Ink on Illustration Board

And this one is just good old Jenny Wren holding a little love token in her beak  

 Jenny Wren- Ink on Illustration Board

This one is Young Majesty. Ever since I drew my Sovereign Peacock last year I have been wanting to do some "royal" themed wildlife pieces so I guess he is the first of these new ones. I also have an inkling to do a set of birds based on the characters in Cludeo, this has been buzzing around my head for ages so maybe they will manifest in 2014. More colouring to come this week and I think my next drawing will include some Hares. 

  Young Majesty- Ink on Illustration Board

Thursday, 26 December 2013

All is Quiet & Still
I love the days after Christmas. There is no pressure to do anything or create anything yet probably for that very reason I find myself drawing like crazy with one eye on the box and one hand in the (chocolate) box. It's kind of perfect really. I hope everyone had a lovely festive time.
Currently I have 4 new pieces ready for colouring, not sure how that happened but I'm very pleased. There will be 2 new Wrens and a Fox Cub to come plus this one which is untitled at present. Here is a peek of it in progress, now fully inked & ready for colour as the next stage.
Untitled WIP

I have a lot of exhibitions booking up for 2014 already. The first will be mini Solo Exhibition in February at the lovely Newton Dee Village Cafe which is one of my very favourite places for a coffee or light lunch. It will be a nice ease into the New Year and many of the new pieces I am working on will end up there. 
I am also participating in a Gallery Show in downtown Salem US with the Bad Apples Artist Collective in March. I just completed a couple of new minis "Radar" & "Ritual" which will join "Remember" & "Release" from my "Familars" series for the show. 

Ritual- Ink & Silver Leaf- One of the pieces heading to Salem 

Off to enjoy some colouring, will post again soon. 

Best Wishes 
Anita x