Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Still and Silent Places

Size: 18x23 inches
Medium: Watercolor on illustration board
Originals, prints, and closeup views available -here-

From the sketchbook:
And some more:

Mixture of stuff in the sketchbook.  It's because I had two separate painting ideas floating around in my head at the same time. For this particular piece though, the initial inspiration came about from an impromptu ink sketch I did in someone's book.  This piece:

The shape of the tree in the page, and the birds crowded into the hollow of it started tugging at my brain, and so I wanted to develop that concept some more. After a couple days of sketchbook scribbling, I pulled the disparate parts together digitally to create this composite sketch:

Refined, finalized sketch that was transferred to the illustration board. It took about 7 hours to do this. The size is 18x22 inches. Changed the girl's face a bit, but aside from that, stuck pretty close to the initial sketches.

Color rough. Playing around in photoshop with possible colors for the piece. Set the sketch on a top layer, set to Multiply. Then I paste in some background watercolor textures from other paintings, and fiddle with the color levels and balance to get the tones I want. This took approximately 3 hours.

Early stages:

About 7 hours into the painting process. Still building up the background tones.

After painting most of the background, I used Daniel Smith Watercolor Ground on some of the branches that had gotten too obscured with blending background colors. This is the first time I've used the watercolor ground. A blog reader recommended it to me some time back, and I bought it, but hadn't had the opportunity to try it out until this piece. Unlike other white options for watercolor (like using gesso, or whiteout, or acrylic, or my favorite gel pens), using the ground essentially gives you a white paper-like surface to paint on again. It takes the pigment as paper would (the main purpose of the ground being that you can actually use it to prepare non-paper surfaces for watercolors. Like a canvas, or glass, or wood. Something else I do want to use it for in the future!)

The palette:



  1. The rich warm tones in the background are absolutely stunning. Not a color scheme I usually see from you, but so beautiful!

  2. Yeah, I don't think i've done anything this bright red-orange before!

  3. Beautiful, amazing gorgious!
    I wish I could come up with some new words for your art...
    Just out of curiosity, how many sketchbooks have you collected through the years? Do you save them all?

  4. A couple dozen by now. And yeah, I do save them all!

  5. What an incredible treasure! :)

  6. So glad you shared your experience with the watercolor ground from DS. I've been wanting to try it out too. Not in my studio yet, but never thought of it as a replacement for the white acrylic or gel pen. This piece is very misty to me with those heavy oranges and reds. Feels like a dawn morning but with passion. Lovely concept.

  7. It does have a very rough kind of grainy texture, but it absorbed the paint nicely. I do like it, and will be using more of it!

  8. What a beautiful painting! all I know is you must be truly beautiful inside too, because your art is so beautiful and I believe that only someone wonderful inside can create something so breathtaking, ALL THE TIME!!!!! You are truly a wonderful gift to all of us. Thank you also for the information that is so useful. Your blog and all your instruction books have helped me in my art so much. I used to be so afraid of watercolors but after I bought your first Dreamscapes I started getting more enthusiastic and now truly have fun painting and drawing.Your instruction books are definitely a "must have" on any artist's shelf beginning or professional. Not only do you help with fantasy art but you teach so much more in those books that pertain to any kind of genre of painting. I think I commented on one of your blogs that after my daughter showed me one of your paintings in the "Art of Faery" I became addicted to your style and art. I love love love fantasy art and your art just takes it way beyond the next level. Anyway, I always like to give credit where credit is due and here is yet another gorgeous painting. I definitely want it for Christmas. I'll have to leave hints around the house such as leaving little notes saying "I WANT STEPHANIE PUI MUN LAW'S NEW PAINTING!!!!" just little hints....anyway You go girl!!!! by the way, (I got way off track of what I was going to write) I really want to try that ground you posted about. Does it leave a noticeable mark or texture when you paint over paper that already has been painted on? If not it sounds like something I would truly need. (I'm still learning, I think you never stop learning in art). Have a very very Blessed Christmas and New Year.

  9. Thanks for the enthusiasm Robin! :D

    As for the ground, it's noticeable to touch. Not noticeable visually, at least on the smooth illustration board I paint on. Not sure if it would be more visible on a more textured watercolor paper though.

  10. I've seen your works on DeviantArt, but I've just discovered your blog, and I'm so glad I did. I love your artwork, it's just so ethereal, elegant, and absolutely exquisite. I hope you don't mind, but I'd like to include you in my list of inspiring artists on my website. In any case, I thought I'd let you know how amazing you are as an artist. Cheers ♥

  11. I can see a person in the bottom left corner of your palette, she wears a fluffy white dress =)