Art Process

I’m working on art daily again, even if it’s just a doodle. I’m always working on writing, but I find that art helps with that process by keeping my mind active even when the story is stubbornly blocked. And it makes me happy. For reasons, right now all the happy things are good things. So even if I don’t make it the entire year, I’m in a group where there are prompts, which I mostly won’t follow, and I can get non-judgemental support for even the doodle days.

But the first day of the year was a prompt I wanted to do. Paired with a day where I actually had the time to draw and color and even gasp research my art, well, I went to town on it. I didn’t quite manage what I’d planned, as I really wanted to paint this. I may still paint it, a different day. However, as I was in one place, and my art supplies miles away, when I had the time to draw, I went with the paper I had. Which was not paintable paper. Hence, colored pencils. I’m not a huge fan of them, although I’ve seen some amazing work with them. I need to work more with them, I suppose.

The finished work, “Phoenix Rising in Torch Lilies”

I said research, and I meant it. I knew I wanted to do a phoenix, and I wanted Torch Lilies (sometimes also called Poker Plant) as that seemed appropriate with the fire bird. I’ve done phoenixes before, in various styles. I wanted to created something that evoked Chinese or Japanese art, this time, as I recently acquired a massive, beautifully illustrated book of East Asian art. I started paging through it, slowly. I always find new and beautiful things to look at in it, but I was on a mission. I found what I wanted on the neck of the so-called David Vases, created in 14th century China.

Rough sketch, and the source image.


As you’ll see, I redrew the sketch on a larger drawing pad, along with the torch lilies, and then inked. The Torch Lily is an interesting plant, originating in Africa, and has a striking cluster of flowers that begin in bud a deep red, fading through orange to yellow when they finally bloom. Tritoma, now Kniphofia, species in the garden reach around three feet in height and carry their ‘torch’ of blossoms high above grasslike foliage, but in the wild they can be over five feet tall. This year I plan to take my botanical art to another level, so each day I’m focusing on another plant, flower, or fungus.

The linework for the Phoenix rising from Torch Lilies. I had planned other flowers in the lower corner but ran out of time.


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