Metanoia by J B Wiskey

Very soon after I began to paint, and the large early paintings of Icsius and Traele began to emerge, I had a vision of a set of vast paintings that I wished, and very much needed to paint. Comprised of eight large galleries that would take viewers through an intense inner journey.

As I developed as an artist and as a young man on a spiritual journey, I continued to nurture my vision and at some point came across an ancient Greek word; Metanoia/μετάνοια, which describes a spiritual transformation through changing the way one thinks. Not a change of opinion, but a radical alteration of how one thinks. To not use the habitual way of mental thinking, but to think with the heart. A form of repentance in the original meaning of that word.

In order to make these paintings, which will be larger than Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, I will need a much larger space to work in than I presently have, and I estimate it might take between 5 and 10 years to paint them.

I am currently working on the preparatory drawings.

Icsius the Ballet by J B Wiskey

He who searches for his heart's truth, faces a difficult journey.

Heart Without Measure 2002

Heart Without Measure 2002

In 1984 I began drawing and then painting the story of Icsius, though at the time, there was no story, just the images I saw when I closed my eyes, which were then converted into the drawings and paintings. A process that continued over a number of years.

Some eight years after the initial drawings were made, I attended a weekend workshop run by Pomme Clayton to begin learning the great art of storytelling. By the end of the course the numerous paintings I had already made, began to pull themselves together in my mind to form the bones of the tale of Icsius, Traele and Cur-Verity. As soon as I got home I wrote down the beginning of the story and sporadically over the next 20+ years, I added more scenes and chapters, fleshing out the bones of the tale.

In May 2016 while putting on a large retrospective exhibition in London, of my head and figure paintings, including most of those describing the Icsius story, I remembered that in 2008 my friend Denise Mangiardi had composed a string quartet for the painting Heart Without Measure (above), and that we had staged the World Première in Highgate. 
The memory that the following year my friend Dane Hurst had suggested he choreograph a dance piece inspired by the same monumental work, also dropped out of my memory banks, leaving me no option...

I decided to produce a full length ballet of the story of Icsius.

Dane's enthusiasm had not dimmed, and I asked my old friend Sacha Puttnam to compose a full score.

My first task was to finish writing the story itself, which still had gaps and which I hadn't worked on for a couple of years. That process is finished and now I'm preparing to paint seven new monumental canvases that will be the backdrops for the seven scenes of the ballet, while at the same time, working towards getting the book published.

It is a long and stimulating process.
If you'd like to be kept up to date with what's happening, and not miss the première whenever that comes about, please sign up to my mailing list on the Get in Touch page.

Femininity by J B Wiskey

While I had my tremendous studio in Stroud I was able to get back to painting on a grand scale. In 2002 I conceived a new painting that would be thirty feet wide and ten feet high. This was to be a fierce painting, portraying a group of men and women all staring strongly at the viewer with a look of deep existential questioning; 'why are you alive?'

After calling upon the help of a number of yoga friends to be my naked models, I made the photographs I would then paint from. It was while looking through the contact sheets from this session though, that I noticed one particular shot of my friend LH that changed the original concept in an instant.

The initial idea had been that these fiercely demanding characters should all be standing straight on, facing the viewer in a confrontational way. But this one shot of LH had her with her knee crooked, accentuating her hip. I was interested to see that my male and female subjects, who had all felt quite gender-neutral while standing tall, could so easily be transformed with the smallest relaxing of my imposed postures. LH with her crooked knee, was suddenly the essence of femininity. My initial idea of the fierce painting was replaced with the need to paint femininity. A painting from which one would be impressed with and feel the feminine presence. 

I began working at both preparing the huge canvas and getting as many women as I could, to take their clothes off and be photographed for this painting. Many fascinating conversations ensued as well, about the nature of femininity and what its place in the world is, and so the scope and importance of such a project began to reveal itself.

With sadness, my studio tenure in Stroud ran out while I was still in the early stages of preparing the whole work, and the canvases have remained unpainted until now, for lack of a studio large enough to work on such a scale.


Mindful Drawing Classes by J B Wiskey

My enquiry into the question of how to make sacred art has led me to see that the preparation of one’s materials is secondary to the preparation of one’s self. I believe this actually holds true for any art.
These drawing exercises have been developed to address and explore this primary requirement of the artist.


After participating in an acting workshop in the 1990s given by Peter Brook, I returned to my studio to continue painting, alone. The profound experience of having worked directly with other people in the workshop inspired me to devise an on-going series of simple drawing & painting exercises that bring two or more people together to share the making of an image in a way that more traditional art education doesn't offer, and which also demands an attention of a different quality than is usually required by our practices, and which needs to be deliberately nurtured.

The making of sacred art, or any work of sincere depth, is not left to the laws of accident.

We do not rely on happenstance to bring together the tools and materials for making a painting, print or sculpture, and neither should we leave our inner state to chance, if our aim is to make something of any real value.

Traditional and sacred art are not purely external forms. We acknowledge that the artist or craftsman is himself a vehicle of communication and that his own energetic state while making his art is therefore crucial.

How can we attend to this fact through the act of drawing?

My drawing exercises are designed to increase awareness of both the external and the internal worlds, to concentrate the attention and quieten the mind of the participant. The overarching aim is to develop the faculty of bypassing the ego and opening the self to the influence of the force of Creativity that lies outside us, but which wishes always to manifest itself by flowing through us.


Classes begin with the continuous drawing of a circle for 10 or 20 minutes (or much longer, depending on the potential abilities and experience of the participants), focusing the attention, under the direction of the guide, on the grip of the pencil, the point of contact with the paper, the movement of the arm, the quietening of the mind.

Listening is the essence.

There are many variations & developments of the exercises, including using brush & ink, painting with colour, and working in pairs & larger groups. Workshops can last anywhere from 1 hour to a few days or even be made into an on-going course. Classes are therefore tailor-made to suit the requirements & abilities of each group.