We also wanted to share some enchanted new artwork from Erin Ewer of Liquid Fae Studios. Isn’t that so lovely? Below, we ask Erin a few questions about her process, her studio, and enchantment generally:
What inspires you?
I draw my inspiration from the natural world and the imaginary space within myself. Nature gives me a wonderful place to start, and build new concepts, ideas, and creations that don’t exist in our physical space. My imagination has always been extremely active, and as a child that was what drew me to art. There were so many thoughts and ideas muddling up my head, and I wanted to make them real. Art was the only way I could pull my ideas out of my head and make them a real thing that I could look at and experience.
I discovered watercolors when I was about 14, and just fell in love with the look of them. I’d given up trying to paint years before, because I could never seem to get the paint to work for me. So I used colored pencils, chalk pastel, and other dry mediums instead. I decided to give painting another shot, so I pulled out my old acrylic paints and just added water. I was surprised. My first attempt was actually pretty good. Turns out I could paint after all.
I used this method for about a year before I asked my mom to buy me some real watercolors. I never dabbled in the cheap paints after my year of watered down acrylics, because tube watercolors mimicked the method I was already using, and cake pallets seemed like a whole new animal. My mom bought me 10 tubes that day, many of which I still have and use.
When I attended the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, watercolors didn’t seem to exist. We used every other medium in the world, but only twice did we pull out watercolors in my 4 years of attendance. Of course, that didn’t stop me from doing them on my own time. I spent those 4 years learning more than just mediums, however the ability to learn and use all the other options only pushed me further back to watercolors… Nothing can make that same look, where the light radiates within the paint.
How do you come up with ideas?
Often, an idea just comes to me. An image flashing in my head, that is as far as I’m concerned already complete. The trick for this one is getting it onto paper correctly Alternatively, I often have ideas that are just concepts, or I have a single piece of an idea that I think is really great, so using that I build around it.
Other times, I’ll just sit down and begin to draw things I like. I’ll start with a mushroom, jellyfish, or moth. Toss in some flowers, a woman, a bird etc… Building compositions is something that comes naturally to me, so I simply begin building with the pieces and blocks that I enjoy using the most. From this I refine the shapes, move misplaced things around, maybe add another moth. Now with a more solid conceptual sketch I use my light table to trace over the rough lines, and create a full drawing. I sometimes refine it one more time, especially if I plan on including it in a coloring book, and repeat the process with an ink pen, detailing the drawing even further. From here I will scan the drawing into the computer and scale it to the size I intend on painting (which is often larger than my drawing) and I transfer the design to watercolor paper.
What materials do you use?
I use watercolors, cotton rag cold press paper, and opaque white or china white. I am also a color-collector (I think a lot of us watercolorists are), as you can see by my pallets. My collection has grown so large that I have had to organize and label my pallets in order to know which color is which. These are only the colors I use regularly. I also have metallic watercolor pallets, and a few liquid watercolors. My color swatch sheet is how I distinguish between the colors that look so similar in the pallet, especially reds!
Where do you work? Can you describe your studio?
I collect many items and curiosities that I use to turn my studio into a space that encourages my creativity. Many of these things are found objects, nests that have been blown out of bushes during wind storms, stones, crystals, bones, seed pods, mushrooms, and numerous other things that the outside world leaves laying around. I feel like each item I collect brings the spirit of nature with it into my space, and allows me to draw on its energies to aid in my work. This is only a tiny portion of the things I have collected, and I love to stand and examine each piece. No matter how often I see them, they always seem to draw me in.
My studio is a strange mixture of business and personal. I try to keep my collection separate from business material, but you can see where plastic cubbies with framing supplies have weaseled in along folders and personal items. My “inspiration space” consists of found objects and curiosities, as well as small sentimental items, usually things gifted to me be friends or things I’ve had since childhood. I also keep artwork from other artists, and even my own work that has significant personal meaning. This little space is where I keep everything that creates that spark of inspiration; the connection and awe from the natural world and the memories of childhood and loved ones. When I feel restless or am struggling with work, I often sift through my things on these shelves. I look through the books, review the cards, pick up and hold various items, and tidy and rearrange some of the displays. This seems to help me focus, and calms anxieties or restlessness. This is a personal, almost spiritual place for me. It’s almost like walking through a magical forest without having to leave my home.
This is the space in the house where I live. I spend work and recreation time in my studio, its where I have my morning coffee and where I eat lunch. For me, this space is my comfort zone, like my bedroom was as a child. It’s my personal space, my escape space, as well my work place. Most people often feel stressed in their work place, but even when work itself is stressful, the space never is.
And, finally, how do you stay enchanted?
A big part of my everyday life is my animals. I have domestic and wild animals in my life every day, and I am lucky to live in an area where I have the opportunity to walk outside and meet one of our local opossums, or discuss local affairs with our family of crows. All of the creatures that visit my yard are wonderful, and I have never met an unfriendly visitor. In the evening as the sun sets I enjoy watching our collection of orb weavers come out to spin their webs, and in the morning finding the many different and beautiful moths that have hunkered down, or watch the bumblebees enjoy my garden.
My garden is full of medicinal and magical plants, and of course your standard edibles and herbs. Toxic plants are a hobby of mine, so I have a lovely collection of nightshades, hellebores, aconites, and others. I draw a lot of inspiration and wonder from these plants.
My other hobby is mycology (the study of mushrooms), and I am always looking for mushrooms to collect, identify, and sometimes eat!
I find that being openly connected with nature and welcoming it not only into my life but into my home helps me maintain an overall feeling of enchantment. Outside of my studio I have a huge indoor plant collection, and my home is filled with images of nature, stones, crystals, shells, and numerous other items that won’t fit in my studio space!
Here are some natural creatures flitting their way into Erin’s work, via these luna moth enamel pins: