Descants

Descants watercolor art by Stephanie Law

Descants watercolor art by Stephanie Law

Descants
Medium: Watercolor & gold leaf
Size: 12×18

Original painting is available via Tighnabruaich Gallery.

There were a number of paintings I did in the past month that led up to Descants, where I was exploring various aspects and elements of the painting in a smaller or more isolated form. Some pieces I was playing with texture, or exploring color combinations. But I finally felt ready to tackle the painting in its entirety that I had imagined.

Descants watercolor art by Stephanie Law

After scribbling out and settling on a thumbnail, I transfer and finalize the sketch on my final painting surface.

Descants watercolor art by Stephanie Law

And then begin the background textures. This is the tricky phase as I have to struggle with the chaos that my chosen medium presents me with, and my urge to try to contain it all and control things. It’s impossible to do so, but I try anyway. I lay in some gold leaf in the upper right areas, and the webwork texture of violet shadows in the lower left is created simply by using very liquid washes of Daniel Smith’s Lunar Violet. The natural quality of the pigment is to granulate. Many of the other Daniel Smith pigments also have this quality, and I love to experiment and use the resulting textures.

Descants watercolor art by Stephanie Law

The granulated pigment provides a nice base texture to work from, but afterwards I built up on top of that, pushing the shadows back with more glazes, and pulling out highlights by either lifting pigment or applying sparing opaque whites. Foreground elements that are darker can be painted on top as well (the bugs), and I avoid as much as possible the larger light foreground areas.

Descants watercolor art by Stephanie Law

After the background is mostly established, I start pulling out the foreground elements. The poppies are painted mostly with Cerulean Blue and Cobalt Blue. I have to be careful to keep my brush, water, and palette very clean when I paint these in so as not to dull the pure brightness of the colors.

Descants watercolor art by Stephanie Law

I also continue to develop the background as I work because sometimes the colors and values of the foreground inform the surrounding and change what needs to happen with those elements.

Descants watercolor art by Stephanie Law

Finally I get to the sylph. I start with her skin tones. Mostly very light washes of some Quinacridrone Coral, Quinacridrone Pink, Yellow Ochre, and very light touches of Burnt Umber.

Descants watercolor art by Stephanie Law

The hair is blended into the surrounding areas very carefully with a dry brush, and then all of that smoothed over with a larger brush and clean water to soften the transition. I do this for the other wispy tendrils all over the piece as well.

Descants watercolor art by Stephanie Law

And then her dress and wings. I went over in detail on a previous piece about dragonfly wings how I do that, and you can see it -here-.

Descants watercolor art by Stephanie Law

The final element that pulled the painting together was the bright crimson bits. I didn’t know what the title to this piece was going to be until those fell into place, but as soon as I did them, I knew. All the elements of the piece — the poppies and the creatures, and even the swirls of the background — these were visible symphonies that existed in their own space and for their own purposes. But tying their world together is an rhythm, a hidden descant. Separate from, and yet integral to creation of harmony.

Descants watercolor art by Stephanie Law

{ Leave a Reply ? }

  1. Terry

    From my bugs eye point of view Steph … Intoxicatingly beautiful, almost falling into Art-nouveau genre … Love the gold 🙂

  2. Robin Kowalski

    Before I read the rest of the information on this piece, I kept thinking why would you name this piece as such but by the time I went through from beginning to the end when you explained why it all makes total sense. You are such a soulful sensitive spirit. The motion you have in your paintings makes me feel like I am right inside of them at times. I’ve been teaching myself with all of your tutorial books since 2007.it was on and off painting and drawing etc until I became sick and had to get on disability, which now I have more than enough time in my day for because of my physical limitations. My art is what has saved me from going off the deep end as they say. You have inspired me all this time. Even more now. Viewing your paintings literally relax me. Through your books and this blog you have inspired me to the point of being able to take even negative emotions from physical pain, and dive into a world of good feelings that I create with my art. Again, for probably the hundredth time, Thank You, for your teaching, your thoughts,and of sharing parts of your life with all of us through your wonderful, exuberant creations. God Bless

    • Stephanie Stephanie

      Thank you Robin, for your wonderful support through the years. It is very rewarding to see people who have followed my art for so long, through the various developments and changes my work has undergone in that time. And it is doubly rewarding to hear that I can inspire someone else.

  3. Jagoda

    Oh, wow! This is so amazing. Your art is magnificent” To me at least, you make it even more wonderful by sort of making it ‘real’as you explain how you make the background and paint the skin, and so on. It really makes it even more precious, more valuable because I can understand how much work has gone into creating it.
    I would love to learn about ‘creation stories’ of some of your recent characters. It’s like reading stories of how something magical was created. <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *