Imelda Almqvist About Painting

September, 2017

Imelda Almqvist About Painting

People often ask me about painting. I teach courses in making art internationally and do a fair amount of public speaking, as well, so I am often asked questions about my own process and my relationship to my own paintings.

Over the years, as paintings have gone off to exhibitions and galleries and I have hosted many Open Studio Days, I have written my artist’s statement on many occasions, as artists are supposed to do. I observe constant shifts in my own consciousness bringing fresh insights. I doubt this journey will ever end! (it will probably continue beyond my departure from the earthly realm!) This means that I am always engaged in re-writing and trying to find even better words for processes that happen in the place beyond words! Today those earlier artists statements are interesting artifacts because they track and map my personal creative journey over a period of three decades.

(Sadness, monoprint 1997)

The Encounter with White Canvas

For me every painting starts with an encounter with a blank canvas or white sheet of paper.. There is a seed concept: an idea, a colour, a shape, a piece of music, a sudden insight, often a possible marriage of two unlikely things.

Once I start the process of painting I am in dialogue with the spirit of the painting I am working on. That which seeks coming into form and embodiment through art actually guides the process. 

In shamanism we call this hollowing out or being a hollow bone for Spirit, for luminous beings from other realms. Beings more evolved than myself come forward offer a higher perspective on events on Earth and a glimpses of other worlds behind the Veil.

( UNDERTAKING Oil Painting 1994)

About Selling Paintings

Do I sell paintings? Yes. Will I sell any painting to absolutely anyone who expresses interest in it? No!

In our culture we often rate artists (and authors!) by their sales The selling of work means that other people put value on what we do. To be “successful” we need to regularly sell paintings or sell many copies of a book. My younger self, fresh out of art school, “bought into this”. School instils a very particular idea of what it means to be a professional (and commercially successful) artist!

Over the years my own helping spirits have taught me many powerful lessons and my perception has shifted completely.

Once someone got in touch about buying a painting. The spirits said  no, it is a piece of your soul they are trying to buy, don’t do it!  

Another time I promised someone a painting of a very powerful goddess. This painting went missing for two years and only reappeared recently. She was not willing to go and she was angry that I had not consulted her before making the promise. Rightly so! Lesson learned!! OUCH!

However, most of the time when people get in touch about buying a painting, the spirit of the painting is thrilled and very excited. Everything flows very smoothly and all arrangements fall into place easily. Then I say my goodbyes and the painting starts a new life in a new home. 

(While I was at art school the teachers warned us against people “choosing a painting to go with the colours of their sofa”. In truth I have not seen too much of this over 30 years of selling art!)


Painting title inspired by a paper on Therapy)

Paintings as Trusted Allies and Teachers

In November 2016 I gave a presentation at “Threshold“, the annual conference of The Gatekeeper Trust. There was a beautiful audience of about 100 people. I had a made a power point presentation in which many of my own paintings (inspired by spiritual work done all over the world) appeared.

After that talk (and the reactions I received from many people) I could put into words something I have always known, on some level: the spirits embodied by my own paintings are my trusted allies and teachers. They go wherever I go. They will often go on missions too, performing healing work for a person, family or location or appearing in someone’s dream to provide important guidance on a big decision or career move.

In that moment I realised that for me painting is about a life led by and dedicated to Spirit. It is about an intimate relationship with powerful beings that come forward  to help those on Earth – but they can only do so if we invite them and welcome their help.

It was not just me giving a presentation: it was me and my whole team, all of us doing this! It was not nervous, only overjoyed. You can watch this presentation on Youtube:

“Gods of Portals, Life Transitions and Liminal Spaces”

I feel I need to write this article (as adapted from the About Painting page on my website) as it might be a powerful message for other artists: moving beyond this paradigm of measuring success by sales and paintings sold! It has given me an immense sense of peace and soul purpose, working this way. And this is the way of working I teach my own sacred art students on different continents!

(GUARDIAN ANGEL   1997  Oil painting)

FAQ – A few more answers to questions I am asked very often


What materials do you use?

Before I had children I loved using oil paint on canvas (though, also, made mono prints and mixed media artwork on paper). However, oil paint is quite toxic because metallic resins are used to create the different hues (Cadmium Orange and Yellow, Zinc White etc.) and so is turpentine. For that reason I switched to acrylic paints months before even trying to for a baby as I did not want my unborn children to be exposed to these resins and fumes.

In recent years I have developed a particular fondness for making short art films because this allows me to blend paintings, digital photographs, myths poems and stories as well as music and moving images all at the same time to arrive at one seamless creation. 


This process has also brought a revival of working in black and white to create print-like stark images. I am greatly enjoying the multi-media experience that new technology makes possible!

Do you undertake a shamanic journey before you make a painting?

No, the process of painting IS the journey! Only better because I get to stay “in the zone” for a whole working day! (Say 8 hours rather than 30 minutes!) A journey can easily be the starting point of a painting. For instance in 2014 I did one journey where I was told that I “am an Apprentice of the Waning Moon” and that led to a painting by that title. 

(Apprentice of the Waning Moon)

How do you work with dreams?

For me keeping a dream journal is a daily practice. My husband risks his life if he talks to me in the mornings before I have written up my dream notes! I do oneiric work (shamanic dreamwork) with all my students as well.  Many of my paintings were inspired by dreams.

(The Mother of Dreams 2013)

I hope that this article will inspire you to get out some art materials!

Imelda Almqvist, 23 August 2017, London UK


About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon on 26th August 2016.  She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally. 

For her courses in Norse Shamanism (in both Europe and soon coming to the USA as well) please visit the following webpages







Forest Moon Grove Church

October, 2010


I sit here baffled at the condition of the world and Pagans in general. I told Jennifer I would carry on my column for Forest Moon and am getting to it now after some irritating discussion seen on facebook. Pagans telling other Pagans they weren’t Pagan. Hmmm. Titles are the killer of any group or culture. Why can’t people just be happy on their own little path. The answer can be varied but boils down to individual. Some are unhappy or not very secure in their own path so they must drag everyone around them down. Some are the all-knowing control freaks that know all and anyone that disagrees with their concept must assuredly be wrong or ill-informed. As the quote goes, “If Paganism is whatever you want it to be, then it is nothing” Andras Corban-hen. To me a Pagan is an umbrella term for all Traditions of earth-based religions. Be they Wiccan, Witches, Druid, Asatru, Shaman, Shinto, and some that only work with energies. There are new forms of Paganism every year and that’s fine too if it’s what makes you comfortable and has an Elemental basis.  If everyone looked at the basic framework of their beliefs they should see a similar structure of poly-theism, reverence of nature, working within the elements or energy, and a following of the earths cycles as seen as the Wheel of the Year. Someone on this discussion board actually thought the Wheel of the Year was fluffy, hmm then call it the Cycle of the Seasons, it’s all the same. Even the Native Americans followed the earth’s cycles as seen by harvest, winter, spring, and summer. All seen by the sun; and its long and short days, and the lunar cycles. In the days of old a witch was someone who was taught by oral teaching passed down from generation to generation, not by picking up a book at Barnes and Noble, or googling witchcraft. I do firmly believe in life teaching you lessons through destiny and karma and books or others guiding you or mentoring but not in teaching per se. I also see Déjà vu as reliving the past from a former life which should be a warning that your repeating what you did before. Another problem I have with titles is hierarchy. I knew a Soldier in Balad that was with Desert Moon one week. He came to the group claiming he was a 3rd degree High Priest from a group I won’t mention. He went to this group at the age of 18 and was given his status of 1st degree after a year, ok that’s fathomable, but then they gave him 2nd degree for joining the Army and were jumping him to 3rd degree after his Iraq tour….no mentoring…..just automatic.  I’ve also seen others pay 3,000$ to an individual for the status of High Priestess, wow, titles really irritate me. Life is my teacher and courses I do take for counseling and clergy refresher but I don’t call myself Reverend as I don’t believe in status. Status is earned, not schooled or demanded. Now on to another topic on my mind. Disabilities.

A fellow Pagan emailed and asked me to join her blog on Pagan and disability. It made me think of a conversation I just recently had with my mate, Issy. I was medically retired from the Army in December after 19 ½ active years. Yes I know, 6 months and it would have been a 20 year pension but they med-boarded me thus taking away my pension and that can be a rant for another rainy day. I filed my social security disability and was given a 90% rating from VA for PTSD and some medical issues but nothing completely devastating. I have my memories and nightmares, I despise stupidity and have no patience with people anymore, and I stay away from crowds and noise most of the time, which keeps me home. I’m unemployable due to the anger I have, my memory loss, and my attention deficit all caused by PTSD. I take my medication faithfully which keeps me on an even keel and keep focused on projects I maintain. We will be focusing on Forest Moon Grove as a legal Pagan Church here in Mount Vernon, WA and working on Pagan events and coffee groups we will maintain on a monthly basis. I have a baby coming in November as well with my mate, Issy and we are excited about her arrival as well and she will be the one to carry on the Forest Moon after we pass. What will she encounter in 2031 will be anyones guess but it will be your kids and grandkids that will be handling that by then, have you been teaching them the Olde Ways? I hope so. Until next time. Blessings. Email us anytime and we’ll see what rant I have then.

Eric and Issy