Skylandialon (Watercolor Painting)

“Skylandialon” 13″ x 13″ watercolor

The people of Skylandialon had once lived on the ground but that was a long time ago. Longer than anyone could remember they had lived in the clouds with the birds and other flying creatures. In their scrolls there were tales of the mighty wizards that had been employed by the king to find a way to raise the royal city up high into the air. The wizards had found a way to do just that. It was done for two reasons; the first being most important, was to live as the birds did. And second it was to protect the city from any encroachment from outside forces. Both were achieved and Skylandialon enjoyed a peace and prosperity for millennia. Though other kingdoms sent spies and hatched plots to take over the kingdom, the magic that had been woven was so strong that none succeeded. For the wizards had wisely fueled the spells with the power of contentment and love. They had instructed the king and his people that so long as the citizens of Skylandialon were treated well and had the freedom and support to create any kind of life that they wanted, the city would remain floating and protected. The wizards also knew in their infinite wisdom that there would be those who would be unhappy no matter what they were given, and so the magic only depended upon the majority being content. The king was therefore always obligated to be a caretaker instead of a power hungry despot.

The drawing the painting is based upon

"Skylandialon" 12" x 9" graphite.
“Skylandialon” 12″ x 9″ graphite.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved Ann Gates Fiser


Bath Tub Serenade

Petrius P Pandymon was unusual even for a citizen of Annaria. He was wealthy, and to be sure the wealthy can assume the title of eccentric rather than buck-ass crazy, but Petrius was beyond the pale. He started living in a tree after falling in love with the dryad. Liliah, to whom the tree belonged. And being so very rich meant that he could have the tree outfitted with all of the modern conveniences that Anarians are so very fond of. In spite of the fact that he loved the Dryad so very dearly, she finally had enough of Petrius’s attentions and forsook her tree to go and live with her cousin, a lake sprite, who assured Liliah that lake dryads were allowed to drown their lovers when they grew tired of them. As for Petrius he loved living in the tree so much that he never again ventured out of it, not even for the Empress. I believe that she even visited him a few times, but being as it hurt her neck to crank it upwards to talk to him, and that it was beneath her dignity to climb up in a tree, she declined any future visits.
This is the original pencil sketch that the painting was based upon.
Copyright 2013 All rights reserved Ann Gates Fiser

The Wyrd Sisters and the Gift of Prophecy

The witches of Macbetth were based on earlier references such as The Fates, and Holinsheds Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland* (1587) which described the women as “three women in strange and wild apparell, resembling creatures of elder world,”  who gave their prophecies and vanished immediately our of sight. Holinshed observes that “the common opinion was that these women were either the Weird Sisters, that is… the goddesses of destiny, or else some nymphs or fairies embued with knowledge of prophecy by their necromantical science. **

In other words, magical creatures, maybe even fariy kind.  It was only in Shakespeare’s time that the three women were described as ugly, dirty, old hag witches. At the time he wrote his masterpiece,  there was great superstition and fear around witches and the gift of prophecy.

Those who can see the future are often blamed for  making happen what it is that they’ve seen. The people that they predict the future for, often don’t want or can’t see that their own actions are leading to outcome in their future. A seer simply follows the lines into the future and tells what they’ve seen.Is the future indelible? Is it written in stone? Why have someone tell you your future if you can’t do anything about it? The truth is that, at each and every moment in our lives we shape the future with our thoughts. feelings and actions. If you don’t like what you’ve been told then change your thoughts, and more importantly, your feelings, so that your actions lead to the outcome you that you do want. And please don’t blame the messenger!The_Wyrd_Sisters

In my painting, the woman on the left looks inward to see what thoughts and feelings of the past that have inspired actions. The one in the middle looks at those past actions that have led to this nexus, and finally the one looking into the crystal ball follows the lines to the probable outcome in the future.

Holinsheds Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, is a collaborative work published in several volumes and two editions, the first in 1577, and the second in 1587.

** ^ Nicoll, Allardyce; Muir, Kenneth. “Shakespeare survey”. Camb

A Dark Current- A Step by Step Walk Through

This painting was done for Enchanted Visions which I was recently invited to participate in. Enchanted Visions was started Amy Brown and Jessica Galbreth  who  both agreed on a title for an image and then created their own interpretation of that title, not seeing the other’s work until done.  Coriander Shea Detwiler contacted the two artists and asked if other artists could also participate.

Amy and Jessica graciously accepted the request, and Coriander set about finding and inviting like minded artists, which is how I became involved. The theme chosen for March was a “A Dark Current”.

My idea from the start was to paint a mermaid underwater. What switched in the process was the concept for how I would paint it. I first pictured very dark blue and purple water. But after thinking about it a while I decided to make it about the mood of the mermaid, to invite the viewer to wonder what the mermaid was thinking about; what she was feeling.

I started with a warm blue wash. Since this would be a painting of a mermaid underwater I wanted her skin tone to have a blue cast to it. It’s very easy to get muddy tones when using a blue undercoat, because the pinks and reds of the skin tone can combine with the blue in ways that can be less pleasant because of the transparency of watercolor.

Next I sketched in my mermaid sitting on a rock, giving her webbed hands.  I only drew in one fish, because I didn’t want a lot of activity around her to enhance  her isolation.

Already she has the beginnings of a dark expression.

Next I started painting the skin tones using raw umber with a touch of Quindacrone Coral (Daniel Smith).  It was important to leave the blue undercoat unpainted in areas where there would be shadow or reflected light.  Using the same coral I painted in her lips, and gave a warm blush to her cheeks.   Her eyes were defined with sepia and Thalo Turquoise.

Taking ultramarine and manganese blues I started painting in the water. Ultramarine for the water closest to the bottom and manganese for the water closer to the surface.  Ultramarine is a cooler blue and is a good choice for the deep water that is further from the surface light and therefor less warm in color.  Taking the same shades I painted the tail in.  Using the cooler toned ultramarine for shadows and the warmer manganese for highlights.   With both the water and the tail I went back several times gradually building up the color. When I was a beginner one of the mistakes I would make was putting paint on the paper at near full pigment strength.  This tends to make the colors dull. One of  the most important characteristics of watercolor is it’s transparency. The white paper underneath is what gives it it’s glow.  If you add color too fast you lose the transparency needed for the white to show through.

At this point I needed to use masking fluid on some of coral. You can see where I’ve circled some areas a shininess. That’s the mask. You use a mask when you need to wash in an are with color that and you have delicate areas that take too long to paint around.   When you have to take that time, your paint edges start to dry and you will get rings. Not an effect that you are shooting for.  So use masking fluid.

Now the fun starts.  I’ve now laid in all the color wash layers of the water and I’m ready to paint the sea weed. For the I used jadedite green (Daniel Smith).  For the rock she’s sitting on I used burnt umber, burnt sienna , and Van Dyck brown. In the shadow I added some of the manganese blue to cool it and because it added a bit of the local color from her tail. Light reflects color from one adjacent thing to another. I used the same colors on the rock below her and used cadmium red deep for the coral.  Lighter washes for the highlights and stronger washes for the shadows.   In the background of the water I took a slightly damp brush and lightly scrubbed out lines to indicate places where the sunlight penetrated to the ocean floor, and added some very pale blue  green seaweed. Using a pale wash in that way  makes the seaweed appear further away and like you are viewing it through the density of the water.  And then I added a light wash of yellow ochre for the sand. I added some fish with cobalt blue.  The rocks behind the seaweed on the right were painted using the same blues that I used on the water but in stronger tints, using the same idea of cool blue for the shadows and warm blues for the highlights.  So using predominantly warm colors in the background and warm colors in the foreground gives the illusion of depth and dimension.  So just to recap cool makes things recede and warm pushes things forward.  Things seen through an atmosphere, whether water or air,  will always get bluer and have less value.  This rule and good perspective will give a painting its depth. In this photo I had already started drawing in the scales on her tail.

Next I  started adding more details.  On the rocks this included shadows using carbazole violet (DS) and creating more texture and patterns with the same colors I used earlier (burnt umber, burnt sienna , and Van Dyck brown).  I painted black sea urchins on the rocks. For the brain coral I used buff titanium (DS), raw umber, and violet in the shadows.  At this point I worked a bit more on her face to define it more with shadows.  I darkened the shadows on her tail and started painting in the scales that I had drawn in earlier. Also using shades of blue to define the bottom of her tail.  I added even more shadowing to the big rock- both under her tail and on the side,  and the bottom rocks.

Next I pulled off the masking and painted the coral in shades of magenta, and the other sea plant (sorry I don’t know its name) with cadmium orange. I used I used thio violet on the coral on the bottom right and varying shades of blue in the shadows of the sand. I then went back and added more shadow to define her skin even further. I added more coral to her cheeks. I then added permanent rose to the lowest water areas  and painted in the fish.  That ‘s pretty much it for “A Dark Current”. 

Fern – A Step by Step Walkthrough


I started this project on Christmas Eve.  I started with a photo from the Fairy Worlds Festival (which will probably be the case for the majority of what I paint for a while :-) )

As usual I  made my sketch, this time directly onto the watercolor paper. My scanner is only wide enough to capture part of the drawing/painting. There’s about 3/4 inch cropped off on all sides. I will have to have it scanned by someone else for the final.

I wasn’t really sure yet what I wanted to do with the background so I just drew a flower and very vague leaves at the side.  I took the drawing into photoshop and “painted” colors to get a sense of values and large color blocks. I the color study I have ferns surrounding her but I was still not solid on what I would do with the background.

It wasn’t until after I started painting that I got to the point where I knew what I wanted to do with the background. The color study showed me that just having a solid background of green ferns would probably be too boring and left little opportunity to bring colors from her into the background to unify the painting, and help carry the eye around the painting. So I decided to add a Fall colored bush. That way I could incorporate some of the beautiful violets from her skirt into the shadow sides of the leaves. The reddish orange and burgandy flowers in her hair then are used for the rest of the leaves.  I also changed her sleeves to violet from gold to help move your eye up to her face.  And in addition to amke it less blaugh. To start this water color I did an ochre wash everywhere except for her face.  Because I wanted to have a warm feel for the painting. To counter balance so much warm color I used cooler greens on the left side of the painting.

I used a neutral tint wash on her left wing because it’s on the shadow side and I didn’t really want to effect the color too much just make it recede a bit. To help make her wing look like it goes back instead of sticking straight out to her side.

That’s it!  I have to get back to the wizard nap project now.

An Elvish Christmas

For my Christmas card this year I wanted to paint two elves sitting together at the end of the day on Christmas Eve enjoying tea and Christmas cookies. All their hard work is done and Santa has left in his sleigh. I borrowed a couple of photos (my son Josh took at the Fairy Worlds Festival this past August) that served as the inspiration for my elves. The child is the same in each photo.

On the first photo I dropped the hands away from the face and placed her on a footstool and changed her costume. On the second I changed the angle that she was looking down and placed a tea cup and a cookie in the hands. Added legs and made her sit. (By the way isn’t Josh a fabulous photographer!)

I made my preliminary sketch:

Then I scanned it and took it into Photo Shop. Using the brush tool I painted crudely painted in large blocks of color to get a sense of what I was getting. I discovered that the composition wasn’t working the way I wanted so I moved some things around and added another ornament. I would also end up painting some of the colors differently.

I scanned it and in Photo Shop added the type. And since I’ve done that I’ve continued to add a few washes to the deep green background to darken it and also added some more color to the floor and the shadows. Why? I just wanted to make the elves pop a little more and a add a little more drama with the contrast.

That’s all for now. Merry Christmas! Blessing to your household!

Pearl the Mermaid

I painted Pearl about 6 weeks ago but I wasn’t totally happy with the way that she came out. This morning when I got up she was sitting there on my drawing table and I started painting on her again. I added more color to the water and added some red to her hair and added more pearls (mainly on her arms and some in her hair). I then put a pearl interference wash over the whites. You won’t be able to see it in the photo because you have to view the painting at least a slight angle to see it because of the way that the light must bounce off the paint to your eye. I added a blue wash to the seaweed and it made it more vibrant. And I added a bit more value to the shadows. Everything that looked bland to me before now has more punch.

I also added a highlight to the top of the fish. This served two purposes (or I guess I should say porpoises). First it gave them a more dimensional look and it made them stand out from the background.