Orlee Stewart, artist, witch and exorcist
Orlee Stewart, 27, is a Sacramento-based artist and self-described witch, priestess and exorcist. Stewart moved to Sacramento from Toronto, Canada, in 2014, after meeting her husband—a native Californian—through a mutual interest in art and the occult. Stewart works primarily through a paint medium, using oils and brushes to bring visions she says she obtains through occult scrying using the traditional techniques of Western magick. Stewart’s subjects have a unique style, and feature depictions of demons from medieval occult literature such as the Goetia, as well as depictions of archangels, tarot and abstract ethereal beings she draws from the depths of her own mind. A member of the Society for Art of Imagination and art group Collective 777, Stewart’s has seen her work featured in galleries alongside H.R. Giger and Alex Grey. Most recently, her art was featured in the book Lucifer: Light of the Aeon.
What role does magick play in your painting process?
Magick is my greatest source of inspiration for painting. It has allowed me to train myself to be able to see beyond ordinary reality. Through the techniques that I’ve practiced I’ve been able to work on the ability to have visions. Through having those visions, I’m able to pull images of creatures and places that don’t exist in a world that we can normally see, and things that I try to evoke that are not things I’ve ever seen before. That all comes from the great deep and the great unknown.
Do you feel like the occult and painting naturally go together?
Absolutely. I think magick is a form of art. It’s like any other kind of artistic skill you can work on and develop and make stronger. I think that they do go hand in hand because every aspect of magick that comes to my mind involves some sort of artistic merit—be it the beauty of the tone of a vibration, or the grace of moving an object from one place to another on your altar, all those things are like a dance, or some form of artistic expression. Even things like drumming in ceremonies and things like that, that’s art.
Do you feel like people value art?
I think people think they value art. But in a lot of cases they don’t realize how much art is being taken for granted.
Do you feel that social media has cheapened art?
I actually don’t. I feel it’s helped art become more accessible to a lot of people. I think that myself and a lot of other artists rely heavily on social media to survive nowadays. But there’s this aspect of it that can become kind of soulless when the image is taken out of context and people’s signatures are cropped out and people just use it for their banner, instead of appreciating art for its greater purpose in its full form as the artist intended.
What’s the strangest commission you’ve received?
The strangest commission that I ever did was a … portrait of [a] demon. I [was commissioned] to do it for someone as part of a magical ritual that they were doing. Basically I had to conjure the demon using its evocation prayer and get an image portrait of this demon and paint him. This is a demon from the Goetia … I evoked a demon using this grimoire and painted a portrait of him. The demon, apparently, was in love with the recipient of the painting. The person who commissioned it … was mailing it to her. The demon asked (the commissioner) to paint this girl a portrait of himself and send it to her. The two of them had evoked him together in the past and she had given him some gift and he had fallen for her.
Do you have a favorite demon?
I definitely have a favorite demon. It’s such a hard choice to make, but just in terms of the amount I’ve worked with this demon I will have to call him my favorite. That demon is Seere. He is pretty cool. He moves things from place to place across the earth in the twinkling of an eye, he can help you find buried treasure … he always comes through with the things that we work on together.
What was it like being featured alongside H.R. Giger and Alex Grey?
It was the greatest and most surreal moment of my life. The whole time I was there … I could barely comprehend the immensity of how important that moment was.
What’s your favorite subject to paint?
My favorite subjects … are ethereal forms because they don’t really have a stable form. That’s something that’s kind of hard to capture. That’s one of the things that spirit scrying really helps with, because you try to see things that the eye can’t normally see. Painting those types of creatures helps me to understand more about what’s going on in other realities and dimensions around us.