Creative Process for A Dewlike World

Shortly after finishing A Windbell, I knew I wanted to continue with another haiku Japanese style painting. I had just the haiku in mind, because I had an image of the calligraphy, and the translation was quite beautiful.

The haiku reads:

This dewlike world,
Indeed fleeting like dew;
Yet, yet..

I just needed an idea of a subject to paint. Let the creative process begin! I had sketched a couple of ideas, but they never tugged at my heart, so I continued brainstorming until I remembered how much I loved dogwood flowers.

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

Photo courtesy of Warren Photographic

Immediately I went onto Pinterest and started looking up dogwood blossoms and dogwood flowers. These are some of my favorite flowering trees. It brings feelings of being in a quiet misty spring morning when there is still a chill in the air. The blossoms on the still nearly naked tree stand out, and the small spring leaves accessorize the show-stopping blooms.

The photo above fits the composition that would work with my canvas size.


Sketching out a composition idea based on the source image

Then I sketched out an example of what I’d want on my canvas, altering the image so it would not be an exact copy. I had eliminated a few blossoms and twigs so that it would fit well and not be too crowded. Then I had drawn it out on the actual canvas, already painted with a green tone from leftover paint from my previous piece.

I decided that the dew, rather than try to make it look like drops of water, should be more representational and be small circles of origami paper floating down the painting.  I also made room in the upper-left for the haiku calligraphy.

Next I had to decide on a color scheme. Big bold bright colors attract me initially, and I tend to go for those colors most often. But for this painting, I wanted something soft and magical. I needed some extra guidance, and since I have an entire Pinterest board on calm, relaxed color pallets, I decided to start there and I found this:


I would use the white, obviously, for the blossoms. Then the Jargon Jade and Oakmoss greens would comprise the background. The reddish wood color in the photo is not included in the color swatches, but I like the way it pops, so I would use that reddish brown for the tree stems. The Lemon Verbena was used for the center of the flowers. Since there is no rule that says I had to use ALL the colors in this palette, I didn’t really find anything for the Festoon Aqua, so I skipped it!

Now one thing I like to do is lay down an opposite or complimentary color underpainting, that way any color that might show through the top layers will pop!

However, since my canvas was already green, I didn’t have that option for my background this time. But I did paint the flowers and stem colors that would pop through and enrich the top layers of paint:



I also adhered the origami circles and the haiku text. It is starting to come together!

In the darkest part of the lower background, I used a wash that incorporated an iridescent cooper, so for the edges and lower part of the painting, the pop of opposite color showed through with the copper. The upper portion of the background needed to be dulled down a bit, so I added a wash of light grey.

Over the haiku text I adhered tea papers to give it an aged look.

The blossoms don’t have that much pure white in them, most of the color is a lightened version of the background! I had tried using an aquamarine blue, but it just didn’t look right. Lesson learned, stick with the color pallet! Just make it darker or lighter according to your needs.

Now for the parts of the petals that were white, I added a pearl iridescent paint to make them glow. And boy did that work. The flowers leap out of the painting!  Here is the final piece:

Dewlike  World - Japanese Style Painting by Amy Tanathorn 24x30 acrylic on gallery canvas

A Dewlike World is available for your collection. Click here to acquire it for yourself.

I could not be more pleased with the end result. It has that deep foresty feel to it, that same feeling you get when you enter a sacred, serene, quiet wood where you imagine fairies might be real! The dewdrops floating down add to the magic. It has an element of peace and tranquility to it that goes with the haiku’s meaning.

Every painting I create lately has been getting better and better. I feel more confident with each piece I complete and so honored to put it out into the world and offer it to you.



No comments yet.

Leave a Reply