Ardent Shadows

Gothic Fantasy paintings by Jemima Mantle



Mindfulness Monday 36

Whilst I really love the whole design this week, a sort of female greenman, what I like the most about it is the filigree. I feel that I’ve really improved this drawing style drastically. It felt very natural and flowed perfectly as I was drawing.

 It took a long time to complete this week’s because I drew the face in mainly a 0.1 pen and then went back and thickened lines as neccessary. I was so happy with the way the face turned out that I couldn’t imagine anything else to go with it that would be quite as lovely. Filigree was the only thing coming out of me this week so I decided to continue across the page in the same style but with the green pen, which was also thicker. A decision which has created a really beautiful drawing which gave me a lot of very satisfying practice this week.

Mindfulness Monday #20 – Mathematics, biology and art.

First, a brief note about this weeks drawing: This is the first week where something’s gone wrong in an unsolvable way. I had initially hand written the text but it had not worked well and I felt that it was certainly beyond saving. That is why the text this week is added by computer. It’s disappointing but better than the alternative.



I’ve always found the relationship between the natural world and mathematics fascinating. Relationships between mathematical theories and art are already well documented. If you’re an artist, you’re probably familiar with the Golden Section and other related composition theories. But there are also undeniable relationships between organic structures and mathematical patterns which feel almost magical; an awareness of which gives such a profound respect to the natural world around us. Of course mathematicians and scientists would emphatically disagree that there is anything magical about this, but I’ll leave you to make up your own mind.

It was thinking back to a video that I watched, about how the Fibonacci series relates to a spiral growing pattern shared by many plants, that prompted me to explore whether there are any mathematical systems which I could incorporate into my mindfulness drawings. As I love drawing botanical inspired shapes it seemed like a natural progression. It’s something that I felt was particularly relevant to a botanical heart which I had already started to draw.

I found the solution to this desire in the exploration of fractals. This is something that I’ve been vaguely aware of for some time, largely due to my brothers impressive and extensive interest, however the equations and mathematics of fractal digital art go far beyond my understanding. I was however very pleased to discover that there is an application for freehand drawing. Whilst not precise it allows me to capture the essence of this mathematical drawing technique. Essentially for us laymans, it’s drawing using the same shape over and over again which vary in size but not in construction. In this way the relationship of the straight lines create curves. A more official definition is given as:

Fractal art is a form of algorithmic art created by calculating fractal objects and representing the calculation results as still images, animations, and media.

Here’s some drawing I did to explore the theory, how it can be utilised within art and my exploration of how far the theory can be pushed.


Anyway this is all getting me a little of topic but if like me you love nature, have an interest in biology or simply have a mathematical mind I would wholeheartedly encourage you to watch the ‘Doodling in Math Class’ video that got me hooked:


Anyone who’s bought my colouring book will have seen the large skull I did for the cover. I loved doing it so much I just had to have another crack at another large skull. I love this!!!! I’m so pleased I started this project.


Beltane brings the passion to grow
To reap the benefits of seeds we sow

This should be the last text week for a while. Love this text though! Think the rose worked really well too. Altogether just loved it this week!

(Thanks to my hubby for helping with this week’s photo.)

Mindfulness Monday #14

My main focus this week has been to get back the flow I missed so much in last week’s drawing; not my mindfulness flow, but rather the flow of the patterns around the page. I began by drawing long curved lines almost sectioning of the page. I haven’t started a page in this way since the early weeks of this project. It was nice to get back to this structure and reconnect with the initial concept of the project. Anyone who has worked on a weekly project will know that there is a natural growth and progression that develops week by week. In many ways it’s like writing an essay. You may have been carried away in the research but you have to keep coming back to the initial question you want to answer. This weekly project  is very much the same.

Am I unlocking my creativity by doing this practice? Am I achieving a mindful state of calm? Is this project still benefitting me? I am very happy to say that this project is definitely helping me reconnect with myself and is an important part of my mindful practice. I am not sure that it’s really helping my painting but in general it definitely stimulates my creativity and can give me the same sort of emotional satisfaction I get when I can set in front of my easel.

Finishing my first book has also been hugely satisfying. I’m really happy that my mindfulness practice will be able to help others in search of theirs!


Mindfulness Monday #10

This is my favourite drawing so far. It’s the culmination of so many styles and influences but is still true to myself. Skulls, flowers, filigree… I’ve also managed to achieve my goal of quickly accessing the state of calm and happiness that I’ve developed through this regular drawing practice. I’m finding it so beneficial that I carry my book and pens around with me.


Mindfulness Monday #8

Are two pens better than one? Last week I started coming to the end of my second Pentel EnerGel 0.7 pen, so I decided to experiment a little with different types of pen. I stood in front of rows of gel and ink pens and was so drawn to the array of possibilities. It’s so tempting to take my drawings into colour but I resolved that I don’t want to do too much too fast. So instead I settled upon a 0.5 pen and a 1 – essentially a thin pen and a thick pen. Both are from the Pilot range, Pure Liquid Ink. You’ll notice the difference it has had in the image below. I now have areas of high detail in contrast to thicker border lines and solid black fills. It’s been an interesting week incorporating these changes.

My only negative experience this week is something that may seem a little strange to some. There’s a lovely tactile quality to these drawings. With my old pen it was a smooth and steady texture where you could feel the slight indentation of leading lines, the ones which require more precision and consequent pressure. My new pens however are rather displeasing to the touch. Each pen has a different texture when the ink is dry. There’s also a slight difference in the opacity of each ink but it’s the touch which bothers me. I’d got used to slowly gliding my hands over pages and enjoying the feel of the patterned paper. I wonder if this will always be lost to me when using two pens or whether there’s a better combination I could use.

The positive outcome is that I could feel myself getting lost in the rhythm of changing pens. This feels like it’s adding to my flow but it also exercising my concentration as each change is a little moment that takes me away from the paper. I’m also feeling conscious that each development is taking me closer towards my normal artwork. I haven’t decided whether that’s a good thing or not…



Mindfulness Monday #7

After MM:5 I decided I wanted to play around with incorporating text as a focus into these drawings. This week I chose a relatively long word, but something that is most important to mindfulness practice, breathe. Your breathing is such an important tool, not just for mindulness, but for any sort of work where you’re trying to instill a sense of calm. You can even use your breath as something to be mindful of. So I drew the word first then formed the rest of the piece around that. The first time I used text I just left negative space amongst the patterns whilst I was drawing. There was no plan to include text at all which created something very organic. This week’s differed quite dramatically in my experience which consequently effected my ability to remain mindful whilst drawing.
I felt quite limited this week. As it’s quite a long word, which ran the length of the page, I felt like I spent a lot of time working on the letters themselves and the space immediately around them. Furthermore the position of it across the page was not very pleasing to my eye. It wasn’t quite in the center of the page, but too far down it to think of the area under it as a separate space. Whilst I think the finished piece is visually pleasing and ‘breathe’ is certainly a word I connect with, I’m not sure I enjoyed the activity as much this week.
I will endeavour to create another piece with text to see if there’s an alternative way I can plan an element of the design whilst removing the difficulties experienced this week.

Mindfulness Drawing 7

Mindfulness Monday #6

This week’s pages were started in a different way. The binding shows on these pages and I thought that instead of trying to hide them or work round them, that it would be interesting to highlight them using negative space. I then used these shapes as the starting point for the whole design. It was fun to work on something that grew from the central point of the double page. I always try to start in a different place so that I vary the experience I get from the exercise. I’m very keen to avoid these drawings becoming in anyway planned or predictable. I want to ensure that they continue to demand my full attention. I feel that if my approach becomes systematic, I will lose a lot of the freedom and mindfulness which I’m currently enjoying.

The choice to draw more hearts is something that I think has come out of allowing myself to add my husband’s name last week. It’s always something I’ve doodled absent minded in notebooks but it was lovely to incorporate it into a mindfulness drawing and reconnect with what it really symbolises. If mindfulness is about calm and focus, shouldn’t we also find a way of celebrating love and happiness. I don’t know why it’s only just occurred to me. Of course these things go hand in hand. Is there anything in this world which makes us feel more calm, and more ‘in the moment’ than love. Whether that’s love for a partner, your family, your pets or just looking at a stunning view and connecting with how that makes you feel. I certainly feel that love is something I will be connecting with a lot more in my mindfulness drawings from now on.


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