The gallery of J. Joel Blackwater's amazing Pagan paintings.
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST.
James Joel Blackwater was born half a century ago in Yorkshire.
His abiding passions from an early age were drawing, then at a slightly later date witchcraft. Still to this day his Art reflects his Craft ( Craft being his prefered term for his particular brand of pagan spirituality. ) and his Craft reflects his Art.
He studied Art at Sheffield and then at the Central School of Art and Design in London during the early 1980's, exhibiting in London Galleries shortly after leaving before deciding to go and 'see the world'.
He has since lived, and exhibited his work, in San francisco, Los Angeles, Edinburgh, Spain, and Norway.
He eventually moved back to the UK almost 15 years ago and, humouring an 'almost pathological' ( quote ) love of nature, spent some time in the Derbyshire Peak District, probably his spiritual home, before living in a tepee up a mountain in Wales for six years.
At this time of writing he is now living on a 70 foot narrow boat called the
"River Witch" with his partner Michelle Axe, a cat that is mostly called furball, somewhere on a canal in the South West of England.
Amongst other things, as a VERY 'old school' hereditary witch he teaches 'Craft' to a select few pupils and is helping his partner to run the Spirit of Awen Camp.
His paintings are mostly votive in content harking back to much, earlier cultures where Art, nature and spirituality were far more closely entwined.
His work mirrors advanced magical states, recreating the adept's vision of an animistic landscape seen to exist, at the same time, in other realities and the beings that inhabit those spaces between them.
The paintings are fragmented by design, not as the Cubists did to show 'around' an object but to see 'through' the fabric of conventional reality, hinting at worlds yet to be discovered.
Most of his more recent work is painted in oils on canvas, as he enjoys the variety of control possible with oil paint.
At times the paint is applied thickly in an impressionistic way. At other times as a barely perceptable wash, as if it were water colour. His technique is a complicated one, sometimes working on as many as five paintings at the same time, building up multiple layers upon layers as each one dries. Masking and adding paint, masking and more paint,building up depth and texture that, sadly, cannot be fully recreated vertually here. The originals need to be seen to get the full effect.
He starts with very realistic drawing in paint on the canvas,( rarely sketching anything on paper beforehand. ) Then with each layer moves either towards or away from abstraction until the image is simplified but still powerful.
He says his main influences, amongst many, are Jasper Johns for his obvious love of paint for paint's sake, Claude Monet for his almost scientific perception of light and Henri Rousseau who showed how a simple, almost childlike representation can have amazing spiritual power and grace.
J. Joel Blackwater continues to paint his spiritual reality, the liminal spaces between the realms of magic, and the Old Gods and Goddesses that still inhabit therm.
Artwise he is currently, as well as the pagan portraits, working on a large scale,( 10 foot plus ) multiple canvasses of the Triple Goddesses and other larger scale 'doorway' pieces for larger exhibitions.
When he isn't painting or doing witchy stuff he enjoys long distance walking, his old motorbike, malt whisky and gardening but not allways in that order or at the same time.
Interview; Ursus Cremorne. November MMXII.