Artist bio

Karlee Lillywhite, the artist behind Hiraeth Illustrations, is a pen and watercolor artist who is passionate about stories and creating images that are inspired by literature, history and theology. The influence of her appreciation for medieval art is evident in the gold leaf that she often incorporates into her paintings. She also finds the medieval concept of illuminated texts to be inspirational and her art seeks to introduce the senses of her viewers to the abstract ideas with which their minds may already be familiar. She chose the Welsh word “hiraeth” (pronounced HEER-eyeth) for her illustration practice because it refers to a deep longing of the soul for a past that it has not yet experienced. Karlee is inspired to make art that both satisfies and awakens the spiritual homesickness of hiraeth that resides in each one of us.





Artist Statement

This piece is an original 8" x 8" pen and watercolor painting gilded with genuine 24k gold leaf. It is painted with professional grade watercolors on 72 pt cotton illustration board. I begin my process with a pencil sketch before inking the line art and adding the watercolor. Lastly, I apply a gilding medium with a dip pen to the areas where I want the gold leaf to adhere. After letting the medium dry, I reactivate it with a warm breath and gently press the transfer gold leaf to it. Finally, I brush off the excess gold leaf, revealing the defined shapes you see in the final piece. Like most of my work, this piece features a female figure surrounded by a wind that symbolizes the Holy Spirit. The floral halo and gold elements represent the unseen spiritual components of her story.

How it fits into contest

The Armor of God offers invisible safety against an invisible enemy. Followers of Jesus are not promised freedom from harm or affliction, but rather freedom from fear and despair. The woman in this painting is spiritually safe although she is physically wounded. Rather than depicting her protection through objects of leather and steel, it is a wreath of flowers that guards her mind and extinguishes the “flaming arrows of the evil one.” Using the traditional symbolic language of flowers, each plant represents a different piece of the armor described in Ephesians 6:10-20. White chrysanthemums for the Belt of Truth, thyme for the Helmet of Salvation, orange blossoms for the Breastplate of Righteousness, chamomile for the Shoes of Peace, sage for the Sword of the Spirit, and wallflowers for the Shield of Faith. Their fragility and tender beauty depict how God chooses “the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27). Though the figure is safe from the golden spiritual arrows that assail her, a physical arrow has left a wound in her heart. Jesus was a man of sorrows and his followers are assured similar fates of danger and pain in this life; as his mother Mary was told, “a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:35). Emulating the vulnerable strength of her flower-armor, the figure in the painting knows a peace that “transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) and smiles serenely at the wound that she bears. As Peter warns, she is not “surprised at the fiery ordeal that has though something strange were happening” (1 Peter 4:12). The Spirit of God moves about her in the form of a wind and a golden laurel wreath crowns her with paradoxical victory. Jesus’ triumph over death and decay lay in his willingness to submit to all the pain, danger and vulnerability of being human. This victory is not only symbolized by the empty tomb, but also by the broken and bleeding body of our crucified God. This paradoxical reality, which is exemplified in the Armor of God, empowers us with the hope that when forces of darkness attempt to destroy, God is working a glorious victory in and through the pain they cause.


Karlee Lillywhite: Artist

How to Purchase this Artwork

This 8" x 8" original pen and watercolor painting gilded with genuine 24k gold leaf on .064" thick illustration board is available for purchase for $500. Visit to contact the artist about purchasing.

Other Goods & Services Available from this Artist

For direct commissions or to view prints and originals for sale by this artist, visit

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