Henwen, Step By Step


I know some of my followers are breathing a sigh of relief… “We’ve finally gotten back to talking about art!” I do like writing about music, but my meander down the dark alleyways of Greenwich Village and into the trippy streets of the Haight took a bit longer than I expected. And there’s more to come… but I just finished a painting, so let’s talk about that.

Henwen (Welsh: ‘Old White’) is a Welsh creation Goddess of whom little is known, other than a creation tale involving bees, cows and barley (read her Wikipedia entry here).As anyone who follows my work knows, I paint a lot of mythic Goddess figures, usually on 12×36 canvas. Especially with Celtic and other European Goddesses, there isn’t always a lot of information to go on. We have the name, or a pseudonym (for instance, Cernunnos,  who is thought of as a Celtic antlered God: the name Cernunnos simply means ‘horned one,’ and is a pseudonym for one or more Celtic antlered Gods). Then we may have some obscure source material, perhaps even merely referenced in a tale of a different diety. So to create the image of a particular Goddess, one must apply research, intuition and in some cases, a bit of artistic license.

To create my interpretation of Henwen, I used a photo of model Hazard–Kitty from Deviant Art. I’ve used this model before in my paintings: she’s one of my favorite Internet models. I love her look, and she has very British features, perfect for Henwen:


Headlights by hazard Kitty. Photo credit: W4Pictures (as credited by the model).

Acrylic paints. Colors used:

Ivory Black, Titanium White, Vermillion Hue, Windsor Blue, Windsor Violet, Red Ochre; for the eyes, Chromium Oxide Green, Permanent Green Light, Green-Yellow; for the bee, Yellow Ochre, Lemon Yellow.

henwen brushes

Brushes used: 10 Filbert (my go-to brush for nearly everything!), 12 flat with a slight curve, small edger (I think an 8), teensie angled brush, and a fan brush for details in the hair.

Canvas size, 12×36.

I started with a drawing using willow charcoal:

henwen 1

Note that I always have a color wheel handy when I paint. It saves a lot of time and brain power. Next I outlined the eyes and nostrils with Ivory Black, and began to fill in areas of shadow in the face, using Red Ochre:

henwen 2

I began to develop the eyes, using Chromium Oxide Green as the base color, and moved on to shadows in the body and hair as well, using Windsor Violet and more Red Ochre:

henwen 3

At this point I’ve got the basic form of the figure outlined and shaded. I usually take a break here and wait for everything to dry. Acrylic paint darkens slightly as it dries, so to really get a feel for the color, I like to wait for the shading paints to reach their end colors. Here’s a close up of development on the face:

henwen 4

After looking at the painting the following day, I decided I was not happy with the left eye (viewer’s right), or the placement of the left breast. I went back in and began to correct those. I also began to outline the bee that would sit on Henwen’s chest, using Ivory Black and some Windsor Blue:

henwen 7

She looked kind of creepy and cool with one developed eye eye and one white-out eye, and I did think for a moment of keeping her that way. But no; a definite maybe for a future painting though.

henwen 8

I began to develop the bee, and finish her eyes. For the bee I used Ivory Black for the outline and for the darkest areas, Windsor Blue to develop the dark areas, Yellow Ochre as a base color for the light areas, and Lemon Yellow. After those colors dried, I used Vermillion Hue for some veins in the wings and some color in the eyes, and began creating a shadow with Windsor Violet and Windsor Blue.

Finally I developed the bee a little more, and added a hint of barley stalks to the bottom of Henwen’s hair. Here is the finished painting, as seen above:



Thanks for looking! Please “like” and comment.



One comment

  1. Kellianna · April 10, 2016

    Hello Kenny from Massachusetts! Chris and I really like Henwen. Thanks for sharing! Kellianna


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