Project: Enchanted Forest Mural

The “Enchanted Forest” is a bedroom mural on all wall surfaces, and the ceiling as well, featuring glow-in-the-dark painted fireflies and a plethora of flowers. The setting is intended to feel like twilight in a magical forest garden with a limited, soothing palette.

Enchanted Forest: I designed the room with the position of the bed in mind. If you are sitting on the bed, or laying down looking toward your feet, this is the main wall. It’s also got the least furniture, so it contains the most detail. 

A progress photo showing my eventual containers of color. I mixed small batches of paint that I could use as a mixing shortcut and to keep my colors consistent from wall to wall. I wanted to create harmony by using a limited color palette especially since it's a bedroom mural.

A progress photo of the left lily pond showing my paint set-up.

Because there is a huge closet on one end of the room, windows opposite, and a door in a certain configuration, there is only one way that the furniture can be arranged in the room.  That made it really easy to plan the optimal vantage points, and to know where to lavish details that were not going to be obscured by furniture.

I never did share all my photos from the Enchanted Forest Mural before this, because it is being renovated and the moulding isn’t up and new windows are pending as well, but it’s time to share it anyway. I used a lot of tips and tricks for this mural that I learned from Mural Joe, one of my favorite teachers on YouTube.  I highly recommend his videos – they are wonderful!  Recently I posted on his channel to thank him for his help and he asked to see the mural.  Even though the photos show that the home was/is in renovation (there is a lack of moulding and lightswitch panels, etc…) you can see the painting well.  I will post again in a few months when all the finishing details are in place.

Enchanted Forest Mural: A palm painted over three surfaces to soften the corner

A palm painted over three surfaces to soften the corner

This photo tour will travel clockwise, through the room.  The prior three photos display the main wall – the wall with the lily pond and waterfall.  This is the wall seen when lying in bed.  It has less furniture than any other wall, so it needed the most lavish details.

The second wall spans the door and is mostly a narrow two-foot-wide panel because the entire rest of the wall is a big closet. These photos show the transition from the lily pond and waterfall wall to wall #2, the lilac and iris garden.

Clockwise: A detail of the right end of the lily wall wrapping around to the lilac garden – there is a closet next to the lilac garden.

Enchanted Forest Mural The wall with the massive tree and and a view over a misty cloud forest

The wall with the massive tree and and a view over a misty cloud forest

The third wall is the one behind the bed. Because of this, it has the most furniture obscuring it. I kept the bottom of the wall very simple, but I still made it beautiful because the furniture might change someday if it turns into an office.

The room also needs to have visual interest that extends onto the ceiling so that there is something to look at while lying in bed staring at the ceiling. I love to relax under a tree in the summer – I do not do that very often, but I wanted to give this room that illusion of looking up at the tree canopy when the viewer is lying in bed.  There is a beautiful fan that echoes the style of the room, so I didn’t want to compete with it. The tree ends before conflicting with the fan, but allows for a lot of detail on the sweet spot of the ceiling over the bed where the sleeper will end up staring a lot.

Detail of the right edge of the massive tree, looking off of a cliff over the forest canopy

Enchanted Forest Mural: The massive tree. When the bed is in place, the viewer is lying directly under the tree. The perspective is designed to make the tree look like it is disappearing up into the sky. It is surprisingly effective in person!

The massive tree. When the bed is in place, the viewer is directly under the tree. The perspective is designed to make the tree look like it is disappearing up into the sky. It is surprisingly effective in person!

An ancient path to a mysterious door in a tree. This part of the mural is between the two windows in the room.

Enchanted Forest Mural: An ancient path to a mysterious door in a tree

The final wall is a mysterious ancient path to an archway door.  The door is set into a tree that appears to be hundreds of years old.  Hopefully it prompts an imaginative journey – where does the door in the old tree lead? To the right of the path, the edge of the lily pond begins, and the mural has fully wrapped around the room.  On every wall, there are fireflies painted with the strongest glow-in-the-dark water-based pigment money can buy.  It is really cool to turn off the lights and see the fireflies glow green.

Enchanted Forest Mural: The massive tree and the ancient path. The old windows are in the process of being replaced.

This photo is from “in progress” when the  massive tree was 70% complete (no branches on the ceiling yet) and the ancient path walls complete.  I computer-generated “moulding” to mock up how it may look someday, but I like this photo because it shows the transition of the massive tree to the ancient path.  In a few months I should be able to post an update with all the finishing touches, but it will look a lot like this.

The base color for the room was a blue I mixed up from other paint cans I had around the house. We had moved a lot, and I read that as long as the paint is all the same base (you cannot mix latex and oil) and if it hasn’t mildewed, it’s ok to take old paint and mix it with other interior house paint to make a new color, keeping in mind that I always choose eggshell paints, the  resulting gloss was going to be what I wanted for durability vs. glare. I spent some time and testing mixing up a nice mid-tone blue with a touch of green and black to muddy it up a bit and keep it from overpowering the room. From an interior design standpoint, the colors of a room make a big impact on mood and the feeling of space – does the room look large and spacious or small, or cozy – exciting or soothing? That is what color can do for the interior. I wanted the blue to be soothing and mid-toned so the space would feel meditative and spacious. I knew the mural’s illusion of depth would help make the space feel larger if I did a good job on the perspective. I chose for all the lighting to come from the direction of the windows. Everything I painted, I made sure it had the same lighting direction – I often had to change it in my head from a reference photo with the wrong lighting – Joe’s videos were very helpful in this aspect as well – knowing how the light changes as it reflects and diffuses through foliage was really a huge help for me. I imagined the light coming from  the top center of the “window wall”.

The other trickiest bit that I knew the least about before starting this particular mural was the perspective. Unlike my prior murals which were much simpler, this one was quite a complex undertaking with a lot of imagination-fueled components. Thinking about perspective was really important to make it all feel like a real setting.  I needed a true understanding of how to place and convert each element to be the right size in the right place.  I averted a couple of total disasters using Joe’s trick of “halves and doubles”, plus estimates of how tall I thought each item would be and a little simple math in order to place some of the most intricate parts of the mural in the right places at the right sizes. With a little practice, I was able to make hundreds of elements come together into a plausible world. Thanks Joe for all the great instruction! I couldn’t have done this mural without your awesome videos!

Shama Thrush in a Mountain Apple Tree

Shama Thrush in a Mountain Apple Tree by Wendy RobertsShama Thrush in a Mountain Apple Tree
Oil on Canvas
12″ x 12″

Under-painting progress of Shama Thrush in a Mountain Apple Tree

Under-painting progress

Today I have finished a painting that I shared the early phases of on my Instagram account. 

Halfway done: progress of Shama Thrush in a Mountain Apple Tree

In-Progress view of Shama Thrush in a Mountain Apple Tree

I completed “Shama Thrush in a Mountain Apple Tree”, a piece meant to share the best aspects of one of my favorite hikes deep in the shade and protection of the lush Ko’olau Mountains.  In the background, you can see the same waterfall I featured in my prior piece, Sacred Space.  I love this waterfall because the rocks have a lot of character.  This time, the falls are not the star of the piece, but take a supporting role as the very real location where many white-rumped shama thrush live.  The shama thrush, its flowing tail a visual echo of the waterfall, perches in the branches of the mountain apple tree.  Here I have recreated the magical experience of finding the bright pink flowers of the mountain apple in full bloom.  If I could show it all in the same painting, I would depict how the petals carpet the ground with a layer of vivid pink, and I would paint the smell of the cool moss and the sound of the water.

 Shama are very curious birds and will often follow you, gliding from branch to branch for a long time as you hike, watching and listening to you as you walk through the trees.  As highly intelligent birds, they are not only keen observers, but also mimic birds to a limited extent, capable of learning short calls if you whistle to them repetitively.  If you are lucky, they will whistle the song back, quickly evolving your small tune into their own variation (4 or 5 notes is a good maximum if you are trying to teach them).  They may add clicks, chatters, trills, and melodic chirps until it blends seamlessly into their own repertoire.  Their voice is one of the sweetest of the island, with a clarity I would compare to the Meadow Larks of my childhood.  Some of my most unusual experiences with wild birds have been with shama thrushes.  If you are quiet and still, they will venture extremely close, and examine you carefully with their shiny black eyes. Unlike Snow White, I haven’t managed to convince them to help me with my laundry…yet.

Sacred Space

I have been quiet.  This is a sure sign that I have been working on something very large.  I am happy to unveil my latest piece: “Sacred Space” measuring 30″ x 48″ and what makes it such a large project is the level of detail.  Murals are larger, but they also get painted with large brushes.

Sacred Space by Wendy Roberts

Sacred Space complete with a frame from Brilhante Framing of Kailua

The idea for this piece hit me like a bolt of lightning 4 years ago when I had just watched “Secret of Kells” for the third time. “The Secret of Kells” is a cartoon so beautiful it should be thought of as a moving piece of art rather than what you would typically think of with animation.  It is about Celtic illuminated manuscripts and if you haven’t seen it, you should set aside a movie night to take a look.  It is a beautiful story with amazing animation. After viewing the amazing animated manuscripts once again, I wondered what tropical illuminated manuscripts would look like, and then after a few odd sketches of extremely stylized Hawaii scenery with a Celtic knotwork spin, the thought pushed into its final form: “What if I used metal leaf like paint to add movement to the water and the leaves – the sunlight dappling, changing, shifting like the light on the leafing?” I knew this had a potential to add another element to the painting, allowing me to more fully express the sense of awe felt while secluded next to a stunning waterfall. I had to learn how to use metal leaf and get good enough to apply it smoothly. That took about 2 years. Then it took a lot of time and care to work my way through the details on the canvas. I set it aside a few times to work on other things and allow my brain time to solve some quandries by passively working on them in the background.  I always returned with a fresh point of view. This will certainly not be the last “tropical leaf” painting! I am really interested in using the dynamic shimmer of metals in my work. I had to adjust for the variability of the silver leaf’s changing values, but the final effect adds motion and life that is impossible to show in a photo but I’ll try anyway by posting a detail from different angles.

Here is the ie ie vine in the painting, a woody endemic Hawaiian flower in the pandanus family, shown from two angles so you can see how the silver picks up and reflects light dynamically. You can also see a small portion of the waterfall’s silver leaf.

Giclees (durable canvas prints) of this piece will be available soon. It won’t have the leafing unfortunately since it has to be painted and blended into the rest of the piece, but when I get the final scan, I will be posting it on my “Giclees Available” page.

This piece will debut at the Punahou Carnival Art Show along with two of my little birds:

Akepa With Orange Ohia

Akepa with Orange Ohia

Saffron Finch In A Cannonball Tree by Wendy Roberts

Saffron Finch In A Cannonball Tree

A carnival?  You might find that odd.  Let me explain.  Hawaii has a handful of schools that function more like colleges.  They are rigorous, demand excellent grades, and inspire the kids who attend to really strive for their best potential.  Punahou is one of the largest of these.  They have a great scholarship program so that the school can admit kids who can benefit from the challenging education at a rate of payment their family can afford.  Every year, Punahou holds a carnival to bridge the gap between what the kids are able to pay and what the school demands to keep the facilities top notch.  Oddly enough, they have developed one of the largest, most prestigious art shows in the islands.  I am pleased to be participating. If these pieces are sold at the carnival, half the proceeds will go to the Punahou scholarship fund.  

Miniature Shows for November/December 2017

This November and December, I am getting a chance to show my works from September’s miniature work frenzy.  I had 4 pieces accepted into the AHA Miniature Show which ran throughout November, and 3 were juried in are still on display at the Koa Gallery.  Details are here for the Koa Gallery Show which is still on display:  http://www.wendyrobertsfineart.com/event/mixed-media-miniature-show/

At the AHA Miniature show:

Akepa With Orange Ohia

Akepa with Orange Ohia

Hawaiian Moorhen

Mynah Bird in a Coral Tree by Wendy Roberts

Mynah Bird in a Coral Tree

Violet Vanda Orchids

Violet Vanda Orchids

Mixed Media Miniature Show 20th Anniversary:

Java Sparrows in an Avocado Tree by Wendy Roberts

Java Sparrows in an Avocado Tree

Iiwi on Blue Lobeliads by Wendy Roberts

Iiwi on Blue Lobeliads

Saffron Finch in a Cannonball Tree by Wendy Roberts

Saffron Finch in a Cannonball Tree

Inktober

Inktober: "Teeming"

Inktober: “Teeming”

I wanted to at least do one day of Inktober, the seemingly ubiquitous challenge that has a list of prompts and is an great reason to hone skills with ink drawing.  Today I had time to create something, so I looked at the official prompt.  “Teeming” – what a fitting prompt for me lately.  My mind has been swimming with thoughts that flit like fish, unpredictable emotions, and a feeling of drifting like a school of fish.  It’s been a tough couple of weeks.  I decided to use this as a therapeutic exercise as well as a technical one to express that dreamy, lost quality.  Utilizing memories and a photo from my latest scuba dive, I delved into a inner self-portrait of sorts.  There is an odd photo after scuba where my hair was tangled and wavy, and I started with that as inspiration, knowing I was going to weave fish between the locks like tessellations.  From there, I let myself wander. 

If you want to draw for part or all of Inktober, here is the site and the prompts and “rules” (follow them if you want, or just be joyful and don’t worry about it) are below. 

Enjoy!

 

30 in 30: Highlights to Date

As the official 30 in 30 wraps up on Leslie Saeta’s site, I have gathered a set of 16 paintings to make a collage of my highlights to show for her conclusion posting.  Having most of the challenge complete, my daily painting habit is strong. An artist can only improve with time spent at the easel, so it’s good to hone habits and make an effort to paint as often as I can.  I will end up with a little less than 30 paintings because some are taking more than one day, but it won’t be far off. I am feeling very productive and definitely took the challenge seriously.  I spent significant time at the easel every day.  I opted not to show some pieces that need more work, but I have them behind the scenes waiting to emerge after finishing touches. 

With so many shows coming up, these little paintings are coming into existence at the perfect time.  I have already sold 6 paintings from this series, so the rewards for my work with the brush have started to flow.  I am very grateful!  My teenage daughter called dibs on the scuba dive painting from memory (“Black Coral Cave” – which I was not planning to sell). Since she was with me when we went into the beautiful caves, it seems fitting to give that piece to her. Seeing her fist pump the air when I told her she could have it was the best sort of payment!

This wraps up the official Saeta Blog timeline of the 30 in 30, but of course I will continue for a few more days to account for starting 5 days later than everyone else. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog – it’s more fun to write if someone actually reads it!

30 in 30: Iiwi on a Blue Lobeliad

Iiwi on Blue Lobeliad Flowers by Wendy Roberts

Today’s bird is one of my favorites that I paint more than any other bird, the iiwi.  I love the bright red-orange color of its feathers.  I keep finding new color schemes I want to try with this vibrant red color.  This time the tiny honeycreeper is nestled on a vivid blue-purple lobeliad plant in bloom, using its curved beak to feed on nectar within the flowers.  Thanks to Kim and Forest Starr for a wonderful series of photos that served as inspiration.  

30 in 30: Day 1 of Shama Thrush in a Mountain Apple Tree

Day 1 of “Shama Thrush in a Mountain Apple Tree” Yesterday’s work was rushed and didn’t turn out well, but you will see it later on once it’s had time to be sorted out. In the meantime, I started a new painting that I will show the daily progress on. I don’t always do an underpainting, but this is a complex scene and I felt a brown undertone would be great for this one.

This painting is part of the 30 in 30 challenge.  You can see the completed paintings to date here: 30 in 30 gallery

30 in 30: Mynah Bird in a Coral Tree

Mynah Bird in a Coral Tree
Acrylic on Gessobord
5″ X 7″

Mynah birds can be trained to talk, and they do not sound like parrots.  If you want to see one that was rescued and taught to talk, I highly recommend this link:  

I love listening to this bird’s voice.  Their usual chatter includes an amazing range of sounds: the soft peep of surprise that sounds like the mew of a cat, loud squawks, shrill dual-tone screams meant to defend territory, and even clicks. I have placed it in the boughs of a lovely coral tree.  They are both introduced species from India that thrive in the mild climate of the islands, mynah birds particularly are one of the most common birds in the low elevations.