Creative Pathways

There are many types of creativity and many faces of a creative personality, hence it’s rare to find a creative who only paints, writes, designs, makes, performs etc. In the words of the acclaimed American poet, storyteller and activist Maya Angelou, as well as singer, dancer, composer, actress, writer, editor, producer:


’You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have’.

We love hearing from the Perthshire Artisans about other ways they explore their own creativity. Combine this with various life and career experiences and creative collaborations, and there’s always an interesting story to discover. Jewellery designer Derek Allan has been exploring how he works with paint and how this can influence his approach to designing and making his jewellery. Here in his own words is how he sees the merger and development of craft and art, and here on Perthshire Artisans we have a selection of Derek’s paintings available for a limited period.

For over 7 years now I have been designing and making jewellery in silver and gold, copper and bronze. Often, I use precious and semi-precious stones in the design, a desire to introduce colour and impact in the piece. Most of my influence to date has come from Scottish and Scandinavian culture and history. Recently however I began landscape painting again - a lockdown inspiration combined with interaction with artists on Perthshire Artisans. One of the benefits of being a member of Perthshire Artisans has been the opportunity to hear other makers/artists stories, see their work and be inspired by it.


My love of colour and the desire for the freedom to create at a larger scale was also a factor in starting to paint again; I hadn’t used a brush in anger in 30 years! I have had no formal art training, although recently I have been working with fellow Perthshire Artisan, Karenina Johnson, to improve my technical and painting knowledge. My father was an architect and I used to be roped in to helping with some of his drawings and plans. It’s where my obsession with scale and perspective comes from as anyone who has worked with me knows!

At first picking up the brushes and painting was a satisfying goal in itself, an extension of the desire to create albeit in a different medium. Honestly, I could mix paint and create colours all day

However, recently I have started to explore how elements of the painting process, the designs and shapes that are created within the painting, can be interpreted and developed in a three dimensional way to create new shapes and designs in jewellery.


Two different examples of that are the use of paint on silver, creating miniature abstract paintings at a jewellery scale. This has proved quite popular at craft fairs. Secondly using elements of a finished painting to create a three dimensional interpretation. In the example below, the sea colour and rock formations of my Cornish Coastline painting are being used to influence the design of a free form pendant using a Larimar gemstone (literally ‘colour of the sea’) found in the Caribbean together with silver wire and silver grain to represent the rocks and the lines of the coast.

Image show Derek's Cornish Coastline painting and the jewellery piece inspired by the work


And now the circle is becoming complete as I have started to draw and paint my jewellery designs. It could make for an interesting purchase; buy the necklace and a painting of the same to hang on your wall!


For me the two art forms have become interchangeable both in terms of interpretation and influence but at the same time allow me to create works which are very different in terms of how people view, interact, and relate to them. My goal this year is to continue to paint and draw and to make one off designs in jewellery which can stand-alone but also to create some works which are a marriage of the two forms. Exciting times.


Visit the Shop to view Derek’s paintings and latest jewellery pieces.

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