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The artwork for the Self-Love Oracle came from over 15 years of painting. When the first version of the oracle deck was created in 2016, the sketches and work-in-progress photos of those paintings were on my phone or laptop more than on social media. I’ve collated a selection for those who curious about how the paintings were created.
Media and process: Pencils, watercolours, colour pencils, calligraphic inks on watercolour paper, and some markers in newer works. Most of the pieces had digital clean-up and colour correction in Photoshop after they were scanned.
The cover for the deck started out with this sketch, so it’s fitting to feature it first:
“Heart of Creation”, the artwork for the cover and Card 44, was the first of a series (yet unfinished) of paintings based on the 7 chakras. It’s around 14 inches square, and on the larger side of most of my paintings on paper. Watercolour pigments, due to their transparency, lend themselves to be layered to create deep and complex colours. Luminosity is easier to create in this medium than darker hues.
“Sacral Waters,” the artwork for the Create card, was the second painting in the same series.
Horizontal to Vertical
One of the big changes between the original deck and the 2021 version is that all horizontal artworks and cards were switched to vertical to make the cards more consistent.
Creation / Dream Bigger
“Creation”, the artwork for the Dream Bigger card, started in the definite horizontal format and as a “science fantasy”/alternate mythology piece. It was about 12 by 8 inches. This look is for those who haven’t seen the horizontal format!
A Healing Place (The original Heal card)
The original Card 40 (Heal) was a painting from 2013 and my first attempt to paint tree-dappled light with an initial wash in phthalo violet. (Permit me to geek a bit here: phthalo pigments are highly staining, and when watercolours artists need a layer of pigment that won’t “move” or muddy with subsequent paint layers on top, phthalo colours work well. The next 3 progress photos show how the watercolour painting developed from light to dark with more layering of pigment onto paper.
The Reading Tree (the original Learn card)
The painted version of the Reading Tree is not in the 2021 version of the deck–a whole new (vertical) painting was done the Learn card (“The Stars Have Names”, sketch below). Here’s the work-in-progress photos and original Learn artwork.
The leftmost photo above shows the painting with a layer of tea stains on the paper–I had been experimenting with red rooibos tea for staining paper. One of these became what the Reading Tree was painted on. Dark areas relied a lot on indigo and phthalo violet.
The new Learn artwork for the 2021 deck was a realised painting of this sketch from 2011:
Rooibos tea stains aren’t the only trick a watercolourist can use–introducing salt and rubbing alcohol into still-wet areas make for some cool textures, and these were employed in “Vesica Pisces” and “White Dragon Rider”.
Rubbing alcohol splashed in with watercolours creates white bubbles or “white out” areas with interesting fluid edges beyond the usual dynamics of watercolours.
With salt, mottled areas of concentrated light and dark colours are clustered around the salt crystals, while backwashes may be created farther out because salt slows the drying process of watercolours.
Tributes to beloved paintings
I started collecting examples of Pre-Raphaelite art from age 14. “Flaming June” (1895) by Sir Frederic Leighton was inspiration for “Tangled/The Dreaming Dryad”, the artwork for Break Free.
Below, from left to right: Initial sketch, digital colour trial in Photoshop, and the real painting in progress.
And that’s my little show-and-tell for the paintings behind the oracle deck! And yeah I had been painting for more years than I had been thinking I was going to be a mind-body-spirit author or spiritualist of any kind. Thanks for visiting “Behind the Scenes” and if you’re curious for more, there’s definitely bits to explore on this site. To catch all my current work as I post about it, be sure to follow me on Instagram or Facebook.