Tilly’s SoulScape

Tilly’s SoulScape

Tilly is the inspiration for this Soulscape.  Only 10 years old, Tilly is wheelchair-bound because of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).

This is one of the most powerful SoulScapes I have ever been commissioned to paint, purely due to the beautiful sense of power that Tilly embodies.

In May 2010, an anonymous donor paid £120,000 for the original work during a charity auction at the Butterfly Ball in London.

I had the profound honour of meeting Tilly last week to paint her SoulScape.

All of her achievements, are the result of an incredible, unassuming, faith filled, hugely resilient Soul, and the support she receives from her parents, friends and support network.

I asked her what made her feel alive, what she would love to see in a painting, she gave very thoughtful answers, and a little insight into her interior world. But it was Tilly’s presence that spoke louder than words. In Tilly’s presence, you feel awake, alive, and free. She is a true delight to be near.

She lives 100% every single day. She takes nothing for granted.

I was moved to tears when I read what Jackie (her mum) has written on the blog:

“As Louis entered our home he brought with him a wonderful sense of passion and excitement about the project. Tilly took to Louis instantly and they were soon talking together effortlessly, with Tilly telling him all about her favourite things in life. Louis took notes and by the end of the session had made a sketch of what he has in mind for the oil painting he will create. It was beautiful. Louis said to Tilly that he thinks that this will be the coolest painting he will ever do and I believe him – his deep commitment to it is palpable and quite awesome.

As Tilly’s Mummy I find it an incredible honour and quite overwhelming that my little girl’s spirit will be captured on canvas by Louis as an eternal inspiration to others. As Louis left last night, as this remarkable project begins, I knew that Tilly’s spirit is safe in Louis’ hands, for he already has her in his heart.”


So, where do you begin to paint this. Well, Tilly is not “confined” at all. She is free spirited. She loves to dance, and so she does. She loves mermaids and dolphins, and one year, at The Caudwell Childrens ball, she described that her new wheelchair as making her “Feel free, like a butterfly.” This is what I am attempting to capture in oil on canvas.

It will be a huge canvas, as she has a big Soul!

How did you capture her essence in oil on canvas?

Here is a short video taking you on a “private tour” of Tillys Soulscape.

My first thoughts on creating the piece:

“Tilly loves pink and purple. Which little girl doesn’t?!

However, pink is the colour of comfort, and Tilly makes people feel comfortable around her. Also, purple, in some cultures, denotes royalty, and connection to the divine.

In Tillys little wash room, she has two stain glass windows, donated by a local builder. One is of a dolphin (a symbol of free spirit and playfulness) and the other of a Mermaid. Tilly loves mermaids! As a diver myself, I ca appreciate this feeling of freedom that comes from being able to propel yourself through water, as fast as you like. More recently, Tilly has been able to swim without the aid of her flotation device.

There certain times of day when the room is filled with little rainbows as the sun glints off the glass. Tilly calls these “Happies”. Im going to paint lots of “happies” on the piece! Light also connects with freedom. Our essential nature is light, and we all know people who have a special “glow” about them. Tilly is no exception.

I can see a form emerging from the centre of the first sketch that I have created. It’s a combination of an angel, a butterfly and a mermaid, built of flowing radiant light. This will represent the spirit of freedom and life that Tilly radiates, especially when she feels particularly happy, especially when she dances.

There will be a little figure at the bottom of the piece with its arm in the air, representing Tilly as she dances in her chair.”

What did Tilly and her family say about the SoulScape?

From Tilly’s blogspot:

Tilly was to be presented with her Soulscape that Louis Parsons had painted for this year’s Butterfly Ball. This beautiful 5′ by 4′ masterpiece was purchased for a staggering £120,000 for the Caudwell Children to buy powered wheelchairs for children with mobility needs like Tilly. As the picture was carried into the room, the air was charged and the room fell silent. It is an awesome piece of artwork that commands attention and wonder. The owner believed that the artwork belongs with Tilly. This priceless act of generosity left me speechless – there can be no more precious a gift than a representation of your child’s soul.

Tilly is thrilled and Candice thinks it is ‘cool’. Daddie tried to rearrange the Hannah Montanna posters around Tilly’s bedroom to accommodate the artwork there, but he eventually reorganised the dining room; allocated an empty wall; and now Tilly’s Soulscape stands in pride of place for all to see. Our B&B guests can’t believe their luck that they too get to enjoy such a remarkable piece of art. “