Traveling to Helheim

This painting project is the 5th in a series of experimental practice paintings that I have been doing to prepare me for a project that I would like to do concerning Yggdrassil and the Nine Worlds.  So I have developed my imagery of Odin on Sleipnir to my satisfaction, it is simplistic, yet meaningful, but there are these Nine Worlds that one can travel to in Norse Mythology.  I had asked myself what would it look like to travel to these worlds or places, and  I had envisioned a wormhole like gateway opening up and one being able to travel through by stepping into it, but how would one symbolize this in a visual way.   They would all look the same is if I simply painted a wormhole type vortex and that would be dull.   So I needed a way to define each gateway and since painting is a visual medium,  I set off to practice this before I started the real painting project.  No sense in forging ahead without a plan and ending up with a big mess.

First stages of the painting - note the silver paint.

First stages of the painting – note the silver paint.

So I needed to experiment and practice the ideas in my head.  I also needed to decide on how simplistic or how realistic I wanted to be in each of these representations.  They all will have to go well together to be a cohesive part of a final artistic project.  In the Odin on Sleipnir travels to Helheim practice painting, I decided to play with two new elements; value and iridescent paint made by Daniel Smith.  I had been lucky enough to place in the lower ranks of the Daniel Smith art competition last year and received some gift certificates as a prize, which I used to buy art supplies.  And some of those art supplies were the Daniel Smith iridescent paint.   It’s fun stuff, but it takes a while to learn how to use it to its best outcome.  I still need to play with it more to truly discover how I can make it a useful part of my painting projects.


Started to add the blue aura edges around Odin and Sleipnir.

As you can see in the first picture, I put down a silver coat of paint for Sleipnir’s body.  Now according to lore, he is a grey horse, but I like to think about who Sleipnir’s  mother really was and consider that shape shifting ability may have been passed on or  perhaps some image changing skills may have been passed down to the son.  Remember this is a horse with eight legs that has magical abilities and is the offspring of a supernatural being, not to mention that he hangs out with Odin.  This is a pretty special horse, so I wanted to see what would happen if I experimented with my original concept.

In picture two I have kept with the original blue aura outline and placed the runes on the bodies of the rider and horse.  I also used more iridescent paint for the center area of the wormhole gateway.  At this point I am not sure about the paint change, but willing to see it through to the end to see what the results may reveal.  This iridescent paint has to played with in order to discover how useful and how creative I can be with it.  Without trying one will never find out or learn.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

By the time I get to the point of the third painting, the dark Prussian blue background is working well with the iridescent paint and I have started to put the ghost figures in.  The reason for the ghost images is to convey the idea that Helheim is a place to go after death.  Now, Helheim is nothing like the Christian concept of Hell and the only thing in common is the afterlife part.  Helheim is more like the Aleutian Fields in Greek Mythology where regular people go after death.  It’s not a bad place.  So I made the ghost figures giving all kinds of expressions since some may be happy while others may be disappointed that they did not make it to Valhalla, where the Norse heroes got to go.  And then in picture four, I allowed the influence of my last two classes at the Academy of Art University to influence me into trying to give the ghosts value and therefore giving them volume, which I think I like, but I am unsure how well that works with the rather flat looking image of Odin on Sleipnir.

I liked the darker values added to the ghosts.

I liked the darker values added to the ghosts.

And finally looking at the last of the photos which is the final image of the painting, I think I need to consider if I want to experiment more with the image of Odin on Sleipnir.  I still like him, but I don’t think he goes very well with the ghosts.  I would also like more transition shades between the light blue in the vortex and the dark blue of space.  It’s not a bad painting, but I can see where I may need to rethink some areas that require more thought to make all the elements come together.

The final result.

The final result.

G. Winkler ©2013

Gretchen Winkler is a Writer, Artist, Radio Show Co-Host on User Friendly 2.0, Cosplayer/Designer, and ordered Knight. She is currently working on several Star Wars novel projects and does editing and proof reading for Bill Sikkens & KPAM the Answer Portland radio. For the past 20 years she has authored several informational websites, started several technical companies, and has been an avid student of art, literature, history, technology.

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Posted in Art, Asatru, Heathen, Painting
One comment on “Traveling to Helheim
  1. The sense of movement around the portal really works – and I love the expressions on the ghosts faces : )


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