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Artist Spotlight: Maxine Whittaker

Artist Spotlight: Maxine Whittaker

Maxine Whittaker – The Woman behind The Shivlings

Maxine Whittaker is a self-taught artist currently living in Berkshire.  Born in 1971, Maxine grew up in a small Derbyshire village. Her love affair with art started at the tender age of eight when she created her fantasy friends ‘The Shivlings’, since then her talent has blossomed into a career in art.

Taking inspiration from the wonderful world of female life and all that it means to be a woman, her captivating collection of decorated pen and ink artwork represents Maxine’s own interpretation of women worldwide. Femininity, sensuality and the sheer energy of womankind are captured in Maxine’s fascinating femme friends, frequently for her, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality.

To Maxine, The Shivlings are imaginary friends that come alive, to the extent of them becoming a part of her life.  As a child she would imagine a Shivling character, draw it, make a paper doll version and play with them endlessly.  Through The Shivlings, Maxine has recorded creatively, her own challenging, and often complex, journey from childhood to womanhood.  Even today, her drawings continuing to document her own personal path.

Travel has been fundamental to Maxine’s development as an artist. Originally trained at Laine Theatre Arts and London Contemporary Dance School, she worked for many years, as a professional ballet dancer with dance companies throughout Europe, including Japanese cult figure Saburo Teshigawara’s ballet company KARAS.

Her passion for the Orient, also a big influence on her art, evolved further whilst studying to become a 3rd degree black belt in the Korean-style Kuk Sool Won, ultimately achieving Grand Champion status and enabling her to open her own school.

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Now Maxine is a professional stuntwoman, working on many blockbuster movies including The Descent, Stardust, X-Men, Harry Potter, Batman and recently World War Z, taking her around the world to places such as USA, Africa, India and Asia, feeding her creative appetite along the way.

Inspiration for The Shivlings is drawn from Maxine’s own personal memories, daily experiences and feelings, as well as her surroundings, a passion for movement and the beauty of the female form.

Starting with a paper base, Maxine creates an initial pencil outline, developing the body of the artwork with black and red fineliner pen and ink. Using a variety of drawing, inking and delicate decorating techniques, Maxine then multi layers and lightly textures with hand crafted decorative paper.  She applies cut-out shapes traced from the original image to bring colour and pattern to each of The Shivlings.

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  1. Mal & Alan

    Love the pictures Max xx