We are delighted to share this guest post written by one of our contributing artists, Jen Delyth. Her intricate Celtic illustrations have been included in some of our best-selling calendars and cards for over 10 years. Here she shares more on her process and love of Celtic culture:
For many years I have enjoyed creating original Celtic art to communicate the ancient symbols and archetypes that still speak to us today. I use the ancient language of Celtic patterning to create new work, rather than reproduce the designs from antiquity, as Celtic art is a living tradition that continues to evolve into our time.
This is exciting and challenging for me—and I feel so lucky to have found this path—as an artist, and fulfilling my love of mythology and folklore, of exploring symbols and how to communicate their meaning through a visual form.
Growing up in Wales, my mother encouraged us to explore all the many wonderful ancient places around us. They were full of history and resonance that inspired and formed me. It often seemed as though the land itself was haunted by the long-ago people, and I could sense the mythic quality of things even as a young child.
I became a self-taught artist, drawn to the folk art of my own culture as an authentic medium to express the beauty and mysticism of nature—the mythic archetypes that continue to speak to us today.
I have enjoyed the creative partnership with Amber Lotus Publishing, creating a line of “Celtic Mandala” calendars, journals, greeting cards, as well as publishing my book, Celtic Folk Soul: Art, Myth and Symbol, which I wrote and illustrated. It has been a wonderful opportunity to publish my paintings and artwork with a company that appreciates and supports their artists as well as the creative and spiritual community, and to be an author, sharing my love of the Celtic mythic tradition, the symbols and archetypes that we find in the old stories, songs, and poetry.
Inspiration comes from many sources; for me, it is from nature—the mythic, magical connection we have with the living world. The lives of the ancient Celts were intricately entwined with the spirits of the land, more than may be true for many of us today. But the universe—with her creatures, plants, and elements—continues to be our home, and our connection to the beauty and spiritual life within all things is still our heritage.
It is often a design puzzle to create intricate patterns and stylized abstractions that include mythic elements drawn from the Celtic tradition, as well as to depict universal archetypal symbols drawn from within the natural world—the Celtic Tree of Life; the Triskele and spiraling forms; the creatures, plants, and deities that represent aspects of our psyche, such as the owl, the raven, the fox, the Selkie (seal woman, Anu), the Earth Mother, Lleu, the Warrior. I try to balance complexity and detail with simplicity and clarity to create designs and artwork that communicate the essence of the symbol in a two-dimensional form—the third dimension being the meaning, or our resonance with the symbol somehow.
In my book, Celtic Folk Soul: Art, Myth and Symbol, which was a labor of love and learning, I enjoyed collecting my artwork into one body of work, so the mysticism, mythology, and symbols could “sing” together—tell their larger story, connecting to an ancient thread and journeying into our times. I also had the opportunity to explore word craft—deepening my studies through Celtic mythologists, poets, storytellers, scholars, and archeologists—most especially listening to the voices of the people from at least the turn of the century and before, who still had a living connection with the Celtic tradition. The book became a deeper immersion into my process as an artist.
My creative process spirals between different mediums and methods, depending on what pulls me toward it at the time. I most love painting with egg tempera on gessoed birch boards, making my own “paint” from egg yolks and ground pigments. This is an ancient method, although traditionally the Celtic artists used egg whites with pigments and painted on thin vellum (calfskins) to create the luminous manuscripts, some of which we can still see today.
I also enjoy using the tools of our time—digital drawing and painting—and collaging sketches, paintings, and photographs together in an organic style that I have developed over the years. I print my own limited-edition fine-art prints in my studio and enjoy making jewelry and textiles as well as working with publishers—such as creative collaborations with a wonderful team at Amber Lotus Publishing, who are incredibly supportive and know how to channel the creative forces of the artists they work with.
I prefer to communicate directly through my work, rather than “discussing” my work, so I have chosen an excerpt from my book:
“The Celtic Folk-Soul dances at the heart of a living tradition, representing the vitality of her people, their stories, their land, and their memories, from the early tribes to us today. An ancient thread weaves back through art, myth, and poetry, connecting us to a complex mysticism that expresses the interconnection and balance of all things.
Celtic Art speaks to us through an intricacy of symbol and form, that enchants while it mystifies, and yet is somehow the perfect way to talk about that which is abstract, sometimes invisible and yet essential.
Throughout the many challenges and migrations of the Celtic people, the Folk-Soul sings of the beauty of life, even within the darkness—perhaps particularly then. This is the language, the poetic key to the Mysteries, that is the source of my inspiration and journey as an artist.”
Jen Delyth is a Welsh artist whose work is founded in her deep connection to her Celtic heritage. She creates intricate paintings and illustrations using traditional egg tempera and contemporary digital techniques. Her original, iconographic style is inspired by the Spirit in Nature and expresses our mythic connection to the natural world. To see all of Jen’s products with Amber Lotus visit her Artist’s Page. For more information on all of Jen’s tapestries, jewelry, and more, please visit her website.
Sale ends at 10:00 a.m. (PT), Saturday, December 13. No coupon code required.