[Today, we sit down for an interview with artist Beth Hansen. Here, she discusses her devotion to the Divine Feminine and the Welsh Goddesses; her Nature Goddess paintings; and her upcoming projects and appearances.]
ev0ke: How do you describe your personal spiritual tradition? Does it have a name, or is it more eclectic and intuitive?
Beth Hansen: When I first started down the metaphysical path, I was always attracted to Celtic Gods and Goddesses. One of the first books I received was Ladies of the Lake by Caitlin and John Matthews which has guided meditations, and it clicked with me. Over the years I studied and circled with Druids and Wiccans, and even started and ran a coven myself. It was a wonderful experience, and I learned that I really connected with Goddesses more than Gods, and I love the energy with an all female circle. My personal practice is very much focused on meditation and pathworking.
A couple of years ago I discovered the Sisterhood of Avalon, which works with five Welsh Goddesses and I knew I found my spiritual home. I continue doing my morning meditations and I am also a Reiki Master Teacher and use that to keep myself grounded.
ev0ke: Which Deities, Spirits, or other powers are honored in your tradition?
BH: In the SoA we honor five Welsh goddesses: Branwen, Ceridwen, Rhiannon, Arianrhod, and Blodeuwedd. Each have a focus based on the myths that have come down surrounding them. Through the year we practice a Cycle of Healing and work through our shadows to become sovereign in our own lives and practice. We also honor the sacred places and wells in Wales, and the mythical island of Avalon itself.
My personal practice outside the SoA also includes The Morrigan, who called me to her many years ago. I do have personal guardians and guides that I meet with during meditations and are very dear to me. Whenever I feel lonely as a solitary, they remind me that I am never alone.
ev0ke: You have planned a series of one hundred Nature Goddess paintings, which will be available as prints and necklaces. Why one hundred? And which Goddess did you start with, and why?
BH: My focus on the Goddess came after years of not drawing and painting. Throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s I was an oil painter of fantasy art. I showed my work at Fantasy Conventions and Renaissance festivals across the midwest part time, and went full time in 2003. After years of hard work, and the recession of 2008, I could no longer afford to continue with art as a business, and got a day job. This broke my heart, and in my mind art was my crazy ex-girlfriend who took all my money and left me an emotional wreck.
My creativity was poured into my spiritual path, doing Reiki and tarot and Faerie Oracle readings, and also learning to play and sing folk music. Drawing and painting was not something I wanted to do, it just hurt too much.
Over time I started doing some sketches just for myself, and played around with watercolors, a medium I had always loved. It was after going to Paganicon and a wonderfully healing ritual there that I decided to experiment with intuitive images of the Goddess. Rather than painting realistic faces and figures, I wanted to explore a more symbolic way of portraying the Goddess.
The first painting was the Sun Goddess, and she was an experiment in watercolor for me. I chose the Sun because it was Spring in Minnesota, and I loved the way she turned out and realized how much joy it gave me to connect with the Goddess through aspects of Nature. The ideas just started to flow after that, and the number one hundred seemed like a good goal that would keep me focused for a good long time.
ev0ke: Which of the Nature Goddesses took you the longest to create, and which was the most satisfying?
BH: The Star Goddess was especially challenging for me. My first attempt at portraying her was as an 8×10 inch painting, and was too complex for that small of a space. So I scrapped the original sketch, found a new pose, and went up to 11×14 inches. Starting over was the best decision for me, and now she is one of my most popular pieces, and is my signature work that I use on my business cards and website.
ev0ke: Which Goddesses can we look forward to seeing in the future?
BH: My list is quite long, with mini-series under the umbrella of the Nature Goddess Theme. I’ve started working on the four elements of earth, air, water, and fire, and hope to have that collection ready for release this fall. After that, there are a few other series bubbling away in the cauldron of my subconscious. Whichever one pushes it’s way forward will be next.
ev0ke: Is everything in-house, or do you use a service to create the prints and necklaces based on your original paintings?
BH: I outsource my prints, because I learned the hard way that creating the prints myself was too expensive and time consuming. In my previous art business, I did it all in-house, and it was very costly to buy the equipment, paper, and inks. Plus the time it takes to do test prints, balance the color, et cetera would take time away from painting.
For the pendants I hand tint and assemble myself, as something truly hand made. I also have created polymer clay beads and love working in that medium, as well. Jewelry making is a rabbit hole I could certainly dive down, and have, but my purpose is to paint Goddesses so that will continue to be my focus.
ev0ke: You originally used oil paints but now work in watercolor. What do you find most rewarding about watercolor as a medium?
BH: Hmmm, interesting question. I love the delicate transparency and the ability to let the watercolor flow and create random textures. The longer I work with it, the more I love it. Plus the cleanup is much easier!
ev0ke: As someone who has been a professional artist for many years, what advice can you offer other creatives who are on the edge of burnout, or who no longer feel that creative spark?
BH: Burnout is real, and I lived through years of it. My advice would be to take a break and put your art supplies in a drawer or closet for a week or two, and nourish yourself in other ways. It’s OK to take up a new hobby; for me it has been music and knitting.
Also, I don’t paint every day, and I try to take my weekends off. I am an artist, but that is not all that I am. When you are your own boss, it’s up to you to create a work/life balance.
ev0ke: Where can people find your artwork?
I will also have original artwork in the upcoming Paganicon Art show which was rescheduled to September of 2020.
ev0ke: What other projects are you working on?
BH: I have a private facebook group to connect with my collectors, which I refer to as my Peeps. It’s a positive space to celebrate the divine feminine, and just have fun and get some sneak peeks of upcoming collections. We have a nice little community and it’s a bit of a haven for me to hang out on. Anyone is welcome to join.
My newest project for the summer will be my Patreon page, which will allow me to do some experimental pieces and continue building a community and offer readings and reiki, as well.
[Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine, Eternal Haunted Summer. A complete list of her published poems and stories can be found there.]