Fine Art Prints ~ Shamanic Art

Purchase a fine art print of the shamanic art of Kristen Scholfield-Sweet. Enter the spirit- filled landscapes and stories of these visionary art works.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Paint a beautiful picture of nature

Here is a beautiful picture of nature.  Autumn leaves amid birch trees in Nova Scotia. Something about this image compelled me to paint it, but how?

 I use acrylic like watercolour on paper and so I anchored a large sheet of Arches watercolour paper to a board and began painting leaves.  How disappointing and frustrating!  My attempts looked amateurish and so I cut off the top several inches of the paper and began again.  Again with the disappointment and frustration.  More cutting.

On my third attempt I  asked myself, "What am I really seeing?"  What a discovery--I am not seeing a leaf at all but a brown shape with this slightly darker area near the lower edge. And so I painted that. No attempt to name the shape, or render what my mind was saying this was--just paint the brown shape.

And suddenly the leaves appeared in all their usual magic.

The lichen on the tree trunks came alive with shadow and shine.

A complexity emerged without my emotional engagement.  Indeed, it emerged because I was't emotionally entangled in "getting it right."  I was just painting what I saw.

This painting is titled "The day I learned to read."   I remember that day more than 60 years ago.  I was sitting in bed on a Sunday morning with my Mom and Dad, insisting  that I could read the funnies by myself.  And as a little kid I was quite insistent.  I think to humour me Dad propped the paper in front of me...and I could do it!  The black squiggles in the balloons made words.  I didn't get every word right, but suddenly something clicked and I was reading.

This ability has extended  into all my art.  My paintings on the frame drums I make emerge from the patterns in the skin, and not from my imposition.  The oracle cards images I painted for my Journey Oracle deck were seen in fossil shells, dried rawhide, and slices of agate.

Perhaps in this way everything seen is given the respect of being able to name itself.

I have fine art prints available of many of my realist paintings of nature.  Contact Kristen at to receive an annotated list of works, or visit my Etsy webstore.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Shamanic lessons from a photo-realist painting

I started my artist’s life early in watercolor classes after school, and the flow of paint over paper enchants me still.  I see the magic everywhere without making it up anywhere.  

Every shape and tone and shade really existed at the moment I saw it in nature, so when I paint every part, and every part between the part, is whole. 


A “big” painting in acrylic on matte board takes me a year to complete.  An underpainting of Hooker’s Green and Prism Violet creates a foundation of detail.

Ten or more layers of complexly mixed colors are laid over this foundation, like building a symphony of color above the base notes. 

Broad washes of color tone the temperature and emotion to finish the work. 

Luther Burbank said; "Nature is an exacting mistress and a jealous teacher; she does not reveal herself wholly to the amateur or the dabbler, and she will not cooperate fully and generously with the man who takes her lessons or her work lightly."

Such is the shamanic lesson of a bank of ferns and brush beside a gravel road.  It asks of the student, "How do you like the Underworld?"


How do you like the Underworld?

please visit my Etsy webstore for price and shipping information. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

How I paint a photo-realist painting

It may seem odd to those who appreciate my shamanic paintings, but I think that like an architect, I build a realist painting, rather than paint it.  Although I begin with a photograph which is akin to seeing a finished house, many steps must happen before the space, or the vision, can be occupied,

My first step is to draw a light web of detail, indicating where the major shapes are, and more importantly, how these hook into the shapes already painted and yet to come.

 I then mix acrylic paints into what I think of as the "base."  Usually a combination of Hooker's Green and Prism Violet. Although this reads as dark grey, it has the ability to shade to the warmth of the violet, or the coolness of the green, depending on what brighter colors are laid over it.

This painted sketch mostly helps me find my way as I glance between the photograph and the painted forms.  This ability to rapidly "find" the area I am working on is the single most important skill contributing to the success of the painting.

As the painting progresses, this technique is like a colorless image gradually taking on life and light. Like a house is first a shell of framing timbers, and slowly receives a skin of sheathing.

While I am painting the monochromatic sketch, I am also painting back into the surrounding areas.
First with pale washes of color which build in intensity and richness.

Every overlaid color washes back into an area already painted with the base color, just as the interior wall treatments and trim layer onto the basic construction of a house.

Eventually the intensity of form and color become a place worth living in.  So what am I painting?
A painting of this scale and complexity takes me about a year to build, and the construction is not yet complete so you will just have to wait a bit longer for the open house.