Fine Art Witchery: Where the Arts & Magick Meet

An exploration of the metaphysical intersection between the Fine Arts & Witchcraft: including history, current usage, and practical application.

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Laura Tempest Zakroff

Laura Tempest Zakroff

Laura "Tempest" Zakroff is a professionally trained visual artist, designer, writer and a Modern Traditional Witch. Her artwork explores the realm of Myth and the Esoteric and has been featured in numerous publications and shows across the world. She is also is a world-renown belly dance performer and instructor, focusing on sacred and darkly inspired fusions that pull from the traditions of North Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. She is based in Seattle, WA.

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5 Ways Art is Magick

 

Not all art is a work of magick, but there's certainly a correlation between magick and the process of making art. We can also apply these considerations to other daily tasks that we do, adding another layer of meaning and power to them.  But for now, let's talk about art and magick! 

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Form Following Function

When you publish a book, you discover all sorts of interesting things you probably didn't even think of. Even for me, and I'm an aggressive over-thinker. 

Coming up this week, my second book "Sigil Witchery"  will have been officially on the market for two months. I say officially because technically the publisher release date was 1/8/2018, but it came back from the printers a couple weeks early, so we all got an early Solstice present!

It's been extremely well-received, including spending over a month topping the New Releases in Witchcraft and Magic Studies charts on amazon.  I was prepared for a much larger backlash about the method, or other content aspects of the book.  But really, there hasn't been too much of that (that I've seen.) 

But the thing that has surprised me probably the most? 

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Pumping & Churning Out Art

A while back, a good friend of mine posted where he was in overall word count on his book project to his personal Facebook page. Someone thought it was their place to tell him that he should be more concerned about content than quantity, and that he was "in danger of churning out too many books." 

"Too many books" was approximately one a year apparently. 

I've seen the same criticism leveled at musicians/bands that produce perhaps a CD a year. 

I yet to have that same crap thrown my way about my art or more writing - but it could be that they're just not going to say it to my face or post it where I can see it. I imagine it's only a matter of time, especially with how my own publishing schedule seems to look like from the outside.  People do express a bit of incredulity at what I am able to do/create, which can be a bit awkward at times. 

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  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    LOVE this, Laura! So true. (I'm an obsessive creative who's writing/creating is a part of my spiritual path).

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Making Dark Art

"I really like your artwork - it's beautiful and powerful.  But it's too dark for me to hang in my home." These words came from a middle-aged woman (my guess), standing in front of my table at a recent art show.  While most of the other attendees were in some form of fandom or cosplay attire, she was in regular clothes - well put-together, conservative yet confident, reminiscent of my mother in style.  

Though none of that really matters, it was just a quick observation on my part while trying to come up with a response.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I wouldn't really call your artwork "dark" (although I'm happy you are willing to own that.) More like fantastic, astonishing, and

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Art is Temporary, As Are We

"And they painted on cardboard, because it was new, cheap, and affordable. But they didn't know it wasn't archival, so very little of that work remains intact."  -The words of one of my art history professors, talking about a group of abstract expressionists or similar genre of artists from the 40's-50's. 

It sounded like some sort of moral failing - that these artists had abandoned expensive, time-tested techniques of canvas or wood panels to try something they could afford and was plentiful.  

Having been in art school for a good chunk of my life, as well as a professional high-end picture framer, I have come to see how much museum-culture of the last 300 hundred years has had an effect on the modern art-making process.  That we must work with archival materials, watch out for UV light and dampness, preserve, preserve, preserve.  Think about the future of your work.

The other week while finishing up my book tour, we stopped at Mt. Rushmore, as well as watched the 15-minute film about the making of it. I believe it was in part of a speech from FDR where he talked about the world 10,000 years from now, and what future generations of Americans may think when they see the monument, worn by the weather and time.  In that moment I was thinking two things: if there are even human beings on this planet then - and the condition of the giant sphinx in Egypt.

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  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Well said and thought provoking! Thanks for posting. I have forwaded this to a few artist friends. Namaste, Tasha
The Struggle of Sacred, Sensual, Sexual

In 5th grade, we had an assignment to make art depicting "innocence and the light and grace of God" (or something similar). I chose to draw a young boy and girl standing bathed in the light of the Holy Spirit (in dove form), their backs to the viewer, their bodies lightly covered in transparent shifts.  To me that showed the purity of creation, a clear symbol of innocence. I thought it was a beautiful drawing. 

My classmates called me a pervert and were horrified. My teacher told me they needed more clothes.  I didn't see anything wrong or shameful in what I had drawn.  

I grew up with big books of museum art full of nudes, wallpaper with naked women bathing in my parents' bathroom - which was no different than the metallic lions and tigers in the jungle on the walls of the bathroom my brothers and I shared. Bodies are used in art because they are amazing things.  I inherently understood that being naked didn't automatically mean being sexual. 

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  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Very interesting and well put. I too grew up with an artist mother and parents who didn't hide their bodies. My mom used to invite

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Goddesses Come Knocking

I don't have what many would call a devotional relationship with many of the deities I paint, but that doesn't mean there isn't a divine connection or other kind of relationship.  Often I tap into other people's devotions for those deities, or have an interesting conversation with those gods for a short time. 

Over the weekend, I just finished a series of 5 small goddess paintings, and wanted to share with you all a little behind the process of making them.

First a little background:
Friday (June 16th) is the opening for the Goddess show at Gargoyles Statuary in Seattle. I think it may be the 4th year I've participated in this show, and this one's a little extra special as I'll also be doing an author talk and signing for my new book, The Witch's Cauldron. However, I'm leaving the very next day for a 6 week long book/workshop/performance tour, so I was concerned about getting art done in time.  I had planned to get one new painting done for it - which I managed to finish last week.  But it's a large and highly detailed painting with a very high price point (if I make it available at all for sale at this time.)

Waste Not, Want Not
I was contemplated how to create a few more pieces at a friendly price-point when I spied the small stack of pine pieces I had cut off a recent batch of panels for shrine prints. Under 5"x8" and lightweight, they were a great size.  Even though I was going to be at an event all weekend, I knew from past experiences that this event tends to have slow periods.  So I painted gesso on 5 pieces, sanded them, then did some color washes on each from the leftover paint sitting in my palette from the big painting I just finished. (It's acrylic, so it would have gone to waste.) 

Once dry, I tucked the panels, a couple bottles of paint, some brushes, and pens - to take with me to the event. 

Calling All Goddesses
The next step was figuring out who to paint.  So I put a call out on my Facebook page, asking folks for suggestions on deities that I haven't painted yet, or haven't done in a long while.  From that list, I wrote down about a dozen of the suggestions that stood out for me.  I did some light research on the backgrounds of the goddesses and historical art made for them. 

Once I was situated in my booth, I pulled out the panels.  Because I had done random color washes on them before I left, each one had a different "mood" to it.  I looked at the list, and the panel in my hand, and one name jumped off: Anahita.  And so she was the first painting, emerging out of a wash of deep Prussian blue and navy pen work. 

The next panel I picked up was a mixture of greens and browns, and Pachamama's name leaped off the page.  In the wash, I could see her peeking out at the viewer with a full pregnant body of earth and greens. 

As I was working on that piece, a third panel nudged its way out - the wash looking like a powerful swirl of deep waters.  Yemaya leaped off the list and on to the panel. 

Two panels left.  A warm purple/earthy panel was chosen by Pele. I started work on her before I had to finish for the day - 3.5 paintings is pretty good for one day's work while tending to a booth!

Next Day
In the morning, I finished up Pele, adding a little bronze paint into her skin, and trails of flowers.  I thought 4 was good enough - in fact, I would have been happy with finishing 3.  But then the 5th panel fell to the floor from where it was sitting under the table.  Well, I still had a few hours....

The panel was mainly a light blue wash and didn't speak yet to any of the names on the list, but I still had purples, yellows, and rust left over from Pele. So I did another layer of color washes.  Suddenly, Ereshkigal leaped off the list - I could see her body in a lamia-esque form swirling out of the colors.  

So in the end, I got 5 of these little paintings done, and made contact with 5 very different deities from all over the world. 





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