The Birth of the Phoenix

February 10, 2012

A few weeks ago, I decided to participate in a homeschool art show. I was just going to enter some of my graphite drawings, but then (me being me, which means I have no idea why I was this insane) I decided to do a new peice to enter. Something a little different. Something outside of my comfort zone.



I decided to do it a week before the deadline. (I did mention my insanity, right?)

Some of you may remember my little drawing of a phoenix. This post has pictures and an explanation of my fascination with this legendary creature. I decided to base my project off of that paint-sketch, except I would make the phoenix a baby one since it doesn't make sense for a grown-up phoenix to be rising from its ashes.


The first two days were spent planning (and researching! I wanted to base the drawing off of illuminated manuscripts-- think the Book of Kells-- but I wound up making the drawing in a wildly different style.) Then the sketching and inking.



I always like looking at "behind the scenes" shots of other artist's work to get a feel for the way they go about their techniques. So I took pictures of mine. Not that anyone can learn much from them; I seriously just winged the whole drawing, and the watercolors in particular. I've been working with watercolors sporodically for less than a year.


I'm honestly quite proud of the little knotted phoniexes in the corners. This is a place where I put my research to good use! This is a "zoomorphic" knot, based on the animal-like interlacing done by the Vikings and by the early monks in the British Isles. I found a couple pictures of zoomorphic peacocks from the 9th century that I studied to see what was characteristic of this kind of design. There is a surprising dearth of images from manuscripts on Google...



I spent every ounce of my freetime that week working on this picture. And some. I stayed up past my bedtime and was cranky in the morning (nobody likes being around an obsessed artist...).


Inking a drawing using calligraphy pens and an inkwell is surprisingly calming.


Working with watercolors is also calming! (This comes as a surprise to me, after months of rebel watercolors dancing around in my palette and screaming, "We hate you! We won't do what you want! We won't cooperate! We're eeeeeevil!").

Well, I'll retract my statement. The watercolors got really opaque and covered up my pen lines, so I had to trace over the entire finished picture with more ink. Also, my Bristol board buckled really badly. Thankfully I was able to save the paper by dampening the back and putting it under 50 million textbooks (rinse and repeat. It took me three nights to mostly-flatten the paper).


I can truthfully say that this is the most detailed drawing that I have done in a long time (possibly ever!). It is certainly the most wildly-colored ever, unless you count my grade school notebooks full of rainbows.



I'm fond of taking little abstract looking photos of detailing.

Anyways, that's what I've been working on lately! I wound up finishing the project in time and got a pretty red ribbon! The first place winner's piece was an astounding graphite drawing. Now I'm going to be obsessed with graphite... I want to learn to be that good.

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40 COMMENTS

  1. This is so pretty! I love all the detailing!(:

    ~Vicki
    deckedoutinruffles.blogspot.com

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  2. This is beautifull! Love the colors you used and all the details. I cann't stop looking at it.

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  3. My oh my I adore all of the intricate details. You have such distinctive style. Beautiful work!

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  4. Talk about AMAZING. That's lovely Shaylynn!

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  5. Wow, that's so lovely! I have been inspired...I must wander off to find my watercolors now...

    How long do you think it took you?

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  6. lovely patterns, they look great both in outline and with colors.

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  7. WOW! I'm very, VERY impressed!!! That painting is gorgeous, and thank you SO MUCH for posting pics of your process.
    Man, I hate watercolors, but I guess if I work with them long and hard enough, MAYBE I might be as good as you. ;)

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  8. What job so laborious and complicated! the result is very nice.Saludos

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  9. That is a brilliant picture. I must learn from you. :) **goes to find something to draw on**

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  10. Absolutely incredible and beautiful painting!

    Wow!!!

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  11. This is so impressive... your work is BEAUTIFUL. i love how you shared the steps and yes, it does help to see the process. The final piece is amazing. Really beautiful & so vibrant & expressive. i love it. Thanks for posting! xoxo

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  12. This is amazing! And I do not say that lightly. I love the style of art you are developing here. Seriously, you should consider doing children's book illustration - you're that talented.

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  13. OHHHH so pretty! You do beautiful work Shaylynn!! I would love to see more of your drawings!
    ~Lena
    P.s. so glad you changed the way the comments work. I almost could never comment for some reason...?

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  14. I am in awwww of your painting! Amazing! I truly love it! You are very talented! Thanks for taking pictures through your different steps! Have a lovely day! "Stacy"

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  15. this is amazing and so glad to have found your blog... nice to meet someone else who has that insanity that manifests as setting ridiculous tasks and deadlines... this is really beautiful and I loved all the photos and different angles so we could see the delicious details...xx

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  16. wow-- i can't believe you were able to do all that in a week! it would have taken me a year. so much beautiful detail work that comes together so beautifully. And your colors are so arresting. Very beautiful!

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  17. This is just beautiful, all that detail and colour!

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  18. What a masterpiece!! I'm a Celtic mythology and history fan and I love their interlacing creations.
    this phoenix is wonderful!!!

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  19. The detail is fantastic...beautiful :)

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  20. Awesome creation ~ Well done ~ glad you got the 'ribbon' ~ Also love the legend of the Phoenix ~ fascinating ~ from SS ~namaste, carol (Share the Creative Journey)

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  21. GORGEOUS!!!!!! amazing details...beautiful color!

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  22. Wow! Beautifully Brilliant work..such energy and presence...wonderfully gorgeous!
    Victoria
    Happy SS!

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  23. Oh my gosh, this is completely stunning! Look at the detail and colour. Wow. You did a wonderful, wonderful job. :)

    Happy SS!

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  24. Oh my gosh, this is completely stunning! Look at the detail and colour. Wow. You did a wonderful, wonderful job. :)

    Happy SS!

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  25. I just love this. To me it looks like tattoo art, and very detailed expensive work at that. Great job on the details, especially all the knot work.

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  26. this is an amazing piece, i love that you shared all the details! I have never inked with a pen like that, will have to give it a try. So glad you could flatten it out. Time to learn to tape a paper so that doesn't happen again. Gorgeous in every way!

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  27. ahhh , the obsessed artist - i love being around them.. we have a few hear in our home, tantrums, cranky yes the whole gamble! Zoomorphic is a wonderful idea, a wonderful word.. detail is splendid!

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  28. First timer at your blog and this painting is simply stunning. Love the detailing too!

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  29. Wow!!! This is gorgeous. The illuminated details are just amazing.

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  30. such beautiful drawing, gorgeous painting, the shading is just amazing, so intricate, wow, can you tell I love this,, lol

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  31. This is insanely amazingly cool! I love the knot-work in the flames, It is unusual and so neat!

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  32. It's gorgeous, Shaylynn! The colors and detailing are just fantastic! It's fun to see your process pictures as well. Wonderful!

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  33. I absolutely adore your art. This is brilliant
    Nicole/Beadwright

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  34. Amazing! And the intricate details are wonderful.

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  35. Beautiful work. Love celtic knots!
    Happy PPF!
    Sheri Cook
    Happy Horse Studio

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  36. ......you DID that yourself?! Seriously, when I first saw that I thought that the phoenix was printed out from a computer or something.... I am just in complete awe of your art skills!

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  37. I love this picture. It's beautiful. Wow.

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  38. That is simply astonishing. Incredible. Wow.

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  39. Painting is the art of creating pictures by applying color to a face. Also Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface. I get pleasure the information you are providing in your website about painting. Thanks
    phoenix painting

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