For the last two days I’ve been working on this new painting to submit to a local art gallery. They’re holding a show themed around “Visions & Shadows,” and “explorations of the unknown.”

So of course I had to make something for it. (The show is also set to open on my birthday, so that motivated me, too. But shhh – don’t tell the committee that.)

painting in progress
Step 1.

I’ll be showing the step-by-step process of how I made this painting during the course of this blog post. Of course I made an initial sketch in my sketchbook of the idea, but I didn’t scan that in or take a photo of it because… I didn’t think to.

Anyway, I also had to work this without the benefit of liquid frisket – a masking agent used by watercolor painters to keep sections of the paper/board white while you paint.

Knowing this, I drew the figures onto the watercolor illustration board and got to painting, starting with the background. Always paint backgrounds first.

watercolor painting in progress

Next was the cape – I knew that would give me the most trouble so I did it first. To my surprise, all I had to do was dilute the pigment with water to get my desired shades. (It also helped that I kept scrap paper beside me to test the colors before applying to the surface.) I didn’t mix any colors in with the pigment – it’s straight Indigo Blue with differing degrees of water added.

Can I replicate this again? …I’m not sure I want to answer that.

watercolor painting in progress

Then I took care of the larger swaths of color and started adding the detail to the background. The idea for the background was to make zentangle-esque swirls, dots, and lines weaving like chaotic energy until it combined in the grand picture to make something solid.

Ok, I should tell you what I’m painting so that choice makes sense.

The two figures are spirits from a work-in-progress of mine, The Legend of Jamie Roberts. In this story, there is a realm of spirits and demons called “The Way.” The two figures in the painting are higher spirits of The Way: The bird-like figure is The Voice, or Dwendaj. Dwendaj speaks to two-spirit people (or people who fall outside of “male” and “female”). The sneaky figure is Pata’klun – a trickster figure. Pata’klun can help spirits communicate with the living, and vice versa, if a proper tribute is given. If the tribute isn’t given, Pata’klun may just conveniently mis-translate the message or just not deliver it.

Since this painting is supposed to depict a spirit world, a world with potential, possibility, and chaos that leads to order that leads to chaos, I drew the zentangle-esque background.

watercolor painting in progress

By this point in the painting it was night, so I started doing the details but saved the rest for the next day.

watercolor painting in progress

Just filling in more of the background, then switching to the detail work on the figures – with exception to the cape, I took a fine line pen and drew outlines to the details on the figures to help them pop and add more definition. It also added to their characters.

watercolor painting in progress

It took a day and a half to do the background, but FINALLY it was done. Then all I did was take white Copic ink for touch-ups and voila! Done!

the voice and the messenger painting

I couldn’t scan this in because the piece measures 16 inches wide and 20 inches tall, which is too big for my scanner bed. It’s still something I’m quite proud of, though.

It occurs to me that, outside of school, I’ve never had my art hung in a gallery space before. I hope this gets accepted into the show!

Thank you for reading.

You. Are. Awesome.