Updated: Mar 11, 2021
The Request: A repeat client wanted a special gift for a family member. I love it when clients give me some basic parameters to make sure I fulfill their vision while also giving me creative freedom. She liked the symbolism of the phoenix, but was open to suggestions about the details. I sent her some concepts to get an idea of what she liked. After about 3 attempts, I finally got it the way I imagined it, and sent her photos along the way to make sure I was on the right track. In the end, I ended up doing a burned version as well because I thought it would translate perfectly to that medium.
The Meaning: The phoenix is a mythical bird symbolizing birth, rebirth, renewal, hope, and resurrection. The phoenix rises from the ashes the way humans can after facing adversity and loss. Like the phoenix whose feathers are made of flames, our adversities become part of who we are and who we are becoming. The phoenix is a reminder that we, too, can rise from hot, yet purifying fires, to become better versions of ourselves.
The Process: This piece was done on repurposed oak boards that were joined together in a staggered, rising pattern and burned to bring out the natural grain of the wood. The Prussian blue sky lightens towards the top showing the brighter skies the phoenix will reach as it rises further away from the fire. The dark blues at the middle provide a cool contrast to the fiery flames below and the rising embers. The phoenix is layered with thick layers of acrylic paint to mimic the layering of feathers. The flames below were created with a brushless acrylic pour technique that allows the paints to swirl together while still keeping their individual colors. Within the flames is the word “Rise” as a subtle reminder of the phoenix’s ultimate goal. The paint is also touched with a light torch to create some bubbling and cells for texture and contrast. The final coats of water-based polyurethane bring out the paints’ natural brilliance while giving in a light sheet and protective coating.