Captivating Kelpies

Kelpies have long since held fascination for me. Tales of demonic spirits appearing as beguiling, charming horses or ponies which then dragged their victims to the bottoms of pools, rivers and lochs was both the stuff of nightmares and captivating too. A shape changing aquatic spirit of Scottish legend, these creatures were said to be especially enchanting for children, but once on their backs their hides would turn sticky, stopping anyone from dismounting so they could plunge you into the water. 

Kelpies have also said to have appeared as beautiful women, hoping to lure young men to their deaths and in some cases has also said to have appeared as a creature covered in hair which has attempted to strangle it's victims with a vice like grip. Both of these accounts reminded me of the mythology surrounding mermaids, selkies and sirens and the other fae creature such as trolls. There is also another similar water spirit in Scotland, the Each-uisge, which is professed to be far more vicious than the kelpie and is said to dwell among the Highlands of Scotland. 

All of these tales and accounts of creatures have always sent my imagination running wild and whether true or not, it's certainly fun and terrifying to imagine creatures such as these could share our world, and it's often made me think twice when out and about on my own near a large body of water; could there be a kelpie nearby, watching me?

With this in mind, and it nearly being Halloween, I wanted to paint a kelpie to round off my creative posts for Halloween before we move into November. I've sketched out a kelpie before which can be found in this post here, but I didn't have my watercolour set at the time and it was always something I wanted to do with some more colour and depth, so I sat down to paint the other day and was very happy with how it turned out. 

I wanted to stick to a simple outline with minimal detailing for the kelpie as I wanted the focus to be on the colours, especially the mane. I also wanted this to be a little rough around the edges as kelpies are supposed to appear beautiful before manifesting into something altogether more terrible. I started off with a grey wash on the body and added in black to create some shadow and a few details, such as the nostril. I then added in blues and greens in varying shades over the grey and then painted on the mane. The idea was to make it look like the kelpie was dripping in blues and greens, as if the colour was running off it. 

I'm linking up with Stella and Sarah for Two Uses Tuesday today.

Hope you're all having a lovely day.




  1. This was so interesting to read! I love such mythical stories xx



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