Pre Christian Celtic Art

These are some of the illustrations I did for my  thesis on pre Christian celtic art from the fifteenth century BC to the first AD.

Sorry they are not beautifully photographed  but it’s 3.30am and I was excited because I found it and it’s the first time I’ve seen it for about 38 years!

I see now where I get my love of patterns from and that I could do some of these drawings now.  I don’t know where I started with some of them…. Oh the confidence of youth.

There are photographs in the thesis but I haven’t included them as they were taken by a friend. They are starting to fade but surprisingly the pen and ink drawings I did seem to have stayed stable. Probably because it’s been stored in a drawer…

Right. Bedtime I think.

Celtic art

I recently looked through some old sketchbooks. These drawings are from one from the 1990s.


I have been interested in Celtic Art for a long time. I wrote my thesis on pre Christian Celtic art and I think these were drawn a while after that. I know they were drawn in  the early 1990s as I found a drawing of one of my old cats in the book.

Drawing knotwork is not easy, the trouble is getting the pattern right. Weaving the lines is quite difficult and I think here I was practicing the positions of each line. There are other circular patterns where two or three parts interlink. If I remember rightly these can be used on brooches and sheild bosses.

I still try and do this kind of pattern occasionally, for example a painting of a snake recently which had this kind of feel. I  also like the animals that are used as terminals to the knots.

Recently a hoard of jewellery, armoury and gold peices were found in Staffordshire. This was a Saxon Hoard but you can still see the influence of knotwork in the peices. I want to create something like the figure of a woman (see top of page ) as a painting.


How to paint Snake and Ladder

What a random painting!

It started out as a series of splodges. I was not sure what it would turn into. I am interested in Celtic knotwork and also Saxon metalwork. The Staffordshire hoard of Saxon gold was found nearby a couple of years ago and there are many animals and monsters found in that kind of art and craft work.

Suddenly the idea of a snake popped into my mind so I added scales and a head to the pattern, but why would it be there, what was the reason behind it. I remember being intrigued by Snakes and Ladders when I was little. I always landed on a snake and slither down to the foot of the board .

I decided to add the ladder, but the background was too dark. I was modelling the 3 dimensions of the snake with dark and light paint but the snake was merging into the background. What to do!? I tried a green, but felt that was not the right colour. …why not a bold red? I had got a bottle of glittery deep red and I tried that. Bingo I’m pleased with the result.

That’s how you paint a Snake and Ladder. ….