Ardent Shadows

Gothic Fantasy paintings by Jemima Mantle



Mindfulness Monday #34

I love my mindfulness drawing this week. I feel like it ticks all the boxes for me. It’s serene, beautiful and quirky enough that it still feels like something that belongs to me.

The face is probably the most successful so far being simple and attractive. My biggest love this week has got to be the peonys though. The little black heart-filled centres just give it a little hint of something girly and gothic. They’re also an example of where I have been able to create something using some very loose flowing lines whilst having some fun giving them a more stylised twist. The stripes in the background also make it feel very much part of me. Sometimes there’s nothing more beautiful than some simple black and white stripes.

At several points in the creation I felt that the outline of the composition was creating something beautiful in the negative space of the white page. The beautiful empty shapes and balanced perfectly across the page. The striped areas have done a nice job of keeping a sense of what I loved about the negative space but everything considered I feel that I could have left these white areas blank. So far I have been stuck in the concept of completing a full double page each week. Perhaps it’s only natural that the parameters of this self-directed project will continue to developing as I move through the weeks?


Mindfulness Monday #33

The problem with drawing mice is that whilst I know what they look like, and had some experience of drawing them before, knowing how to stylise something in an attractive way is an art in itself. I feel like this week’s drawing waould be a lot more successful if I felt the mice were cuter, more attractive. It’s a drawing to me which encapsulates a huge variation in success. To put it plainly parts of it look great and others do not.

Subject wise, I’ve continued to indulge my most recent themes; creating images which are more entire pictures which present a particular idea to the audience. I like the balance of the composition, particularly having a huge sun front and centre. I feel that similarly to last week’s drawing I have created somewhere you could travel to in your dreams.

Mindfulness Monday #30


‘I shall never be a morning person, for the moon and I are too much in love.’

I think this drawing totally sums up how I’ve recently been feeling – a gothic soul giving off hippy vibes. This mindfulness project has all been about my journey in reconnecting with myself, my art and my inner peace. I feel that it’s not so surprising then that I’ve reached a time in this project where some reflection is in order.

When I was a kid, back before I discovered black as a teenager, I had a dark blue bedroom with glow in the dark stars stuck to the ceiling and sun and moon print bedding; so I find myself so happy that along with my tie dyed t-shirts and other grunge apparel, it all appears to be back in fashion. It all seems to have grown together with a huge revival of interest in the occult which is particularly apparent in alternative fashion. Perhaps it’s fortunate timing, perhaps I would have found my way here on my own, but I finally feel like I am connecting the dots and rediscovering me. That’s what this weeks drawing is all about. Finding the balance of all the things I love about nature, love, life… and finally being able to express that visually through my work.

So this week I will not be dissecting what I like and don’t like about this drawing, what’s worked well and what I could improve, but rather offering it to you simply with love. Aware that this weeks offering means much more to me than you, I would like to encourage anyone who’s enjoying this project or is on their own journey, to come forward and chat with me. Leave me a comment or direct message me your thoughts.


Mindfulness Monday #29

Another week, another experiment with colour. I like this a lot less than last week’s but it’s only through experimentation that we can develop and improve. This might be the last time I use colour for a week or two. I feel that the colour is taking me away from my aim in this project. In its simplest form it’s an experimentation in escape and finding peace. Loving how something looks at the end is a wonderful side effect but none-the-less something I have become to value as much as the activity.

The background this week is my painting ‘The Seeker’.


Mindfulness Monday #28

This week I feel like I’ve really used the coloured pens to maximum effect. The foreground in black and then fading through blue into the background. I decided to try finding some new ideas for drawing patterns and the flowers and leaves are actually inspired by a 19th century Mason’s plate. It was really fun to have a loose reference for a different type of pattern but  I still loved being able to draw the border at the bottom from my imagination as normal. And as I’m sure you can see I returned to my familiar drawing style for the background. It’s been an interesting experiment this week and one that I feel has been most successful.


Mindfulness Monday #26 – YouTube Video

This week is a rather special one as this is the first time-lapse mindfulness drawing I’ve done and I’m so pleased with it! It could have been twice as long as when the video plays slower you can really see the heart of the process; all the little pauses where I’m deciding where to place the next line and there’s something so satisfying about watching the long flowing lines take shape. In these moments you really connect with the pressure of your hand on the pen as it slides over the paper.

Together with the totally gorgeous music of Rue Sibelius by Tom Vedvik and Martin Tillman, I hope that this video brings some peace and happiness into your day. Please comment, share and give it a ‘thumbs-up’ for me!

There’s so much I could say about this video I think I could have almost done a commentary track but I’ll start with what I think everyone should know.

This drawing is entirely free hand and unplanned – as are all of my mindfulness drawings. Other than knowing I was starting with a skull, I honestly had no idea where this week’s drawing would take me. I’ve watched a few ‘doodling’ videos on YouTube where you can see that the artist has drawn out a design first in pencil. To me this is totally against the purpose of the activity. You should be able to get lost in it and I believe it should develop in an almost ethereal way. Until I finished the skull I hadn’t decided on acorns and oak leaves and until I had done that I had no idea I was going to include a hare skull. I think you can see the unplanned nature of this drawing best in the acorns. At first I drew them quite loosely and gradually added to them, thickening some lines and adding pattern and texture later on. When I decide to add some additional acorns later on you can see that I draw them from start to finish in one go. This is possible because the decision making process had been done earlier in the drawing.

Mindfulness Monday #25

This week I experimented with the use of coloured pens for my mindfulness drawing. Although I was quite excited to play with this, and enjoyed slowly shifting the colour across the page, I am not totally in love with this week’s drawing. I still think there is potential for these coloured pens but it will require some further experimentation to confirm this.

My least favourite part of this experiment was that I could not thicken lines as I usually would as it made those lines appear almost more saturated making one colour stronger than the others. An effective and gradual colour change, which I had been aiming for, requires a more balanced and less varied approach which you can see in the lower drawing included in this photo. I see this as a serious limitation in working with these pens. It might be that working with one colour and black, or just two colours may allow me to work passed this issue but only further exploration will answer this query.

What do you think of this week’s colour experiment? I’d love to hear your comments!



Mindfulness Monday #24


I’m totally in love with this week’s photo. The dappled sunshine amongst the cornflowers is a perfect setting for one of my favourite Tolkien poems and some folk art inspired flowers.

I feel that the drawing itself this week is particularly successful. The text is really strong and sets a standard for any future use of text. This week I formed the letters using solid lines rather than outlining the letters first creating white space inside. I also love the border I’ve created around the text, I’ve never had much success in the past with designing borders but something this week has clicked into place. I’m looking forward to using this again in the future.

This photograph totally brings back all the calm and happy feelings I created when drawing it. It’s the perfect reminder of why I started this project and the mindful meditative state I was trying to connect with.

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.)

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