The Book of Spells - A watercolor painting for the Month of Love

The Book of Spells - A watercolor painting for the Month of Love

A watercolor painting for the Month of Love challenge theme "Secrets".

This year I will be creating art centered around my foxdragon character and exploring more the relationship between it and a little girl and more my fantastical environments. "The Book of Spells" was created for the challenge theme secrets. I loved the idea of these two friends meeting in a vast leafy jungle, hidden under layers of monstera plants.

"The Garden Path" A Watercolor Painting

I have a rare treat for you today. I've begun filming my watercolor paintings! Look for more in the coming weeks over on my youtube channel.

"The Garden Path" is my latest watercolor painting and is available on EveryDay Original.

When I visit a garden one of my favorite things are stepping stones, meandering or overgrown pathways. A cloaked statue is watching over this particular garden path.

I created this piece with spring in mind. I don't know about you but during this time of year, I really miss the sunshine. We've been getting a lot of rain recently and so I decided to paint a piece to cheer myself, and hopefully others up.

Details:
6 x 6 inches
watercolor & micron pen on watercolor paper.

"Dream" Watercolor Painting

"Dream" Watercolor Painting

I wanted to take the time to share with you a little of my process and thinking behind my most recent painting "Dream".

As with much of my work recently it was created from my inspiration and a desire to incorporate pieces of my life while living in Asia. Many of you know that I grew up in Indonesia and also spent some time in Japan. There I found lush Japanese gardens with beautiful temples and arching bridges. A harmony between man and nature.

"First Kiss" - A painting for the Month of Love challenge

First Kiss Fantasy Month of Love Naomi VanDoren
“First Kiss” by Naomi VanDoren | Digital Painting

“First Kiss” by Naomi VanDoren | Digital Painting

We are nearing the end of February and also the end of the month long challenge I've been participating in - the Month of Love (an art event featuring a selection of artists and a new challenge/theme each week). This week's theme is "Fantasy" and I knew from the beginning of this month that this was a week I was definitely going to participate in. Here is our prompt:

“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality.
 It’s a way of understanding it.” -Lloyd Alexander 
How does “fantasy” (in any definition) relate to love or affect the meaning of love for you?

I decided it would be a fun challenge to integrate my linework style from my traditional watercolor paintings into a digital piece and this was the result. I picked one of my favorite color schemes from a previous watercolor painting, "the Albino FoxDragon". While this whole piece was quite experimental I felt like I achieved the balance I wanted with rough, watery-smudy paint and glowy color with the structured, whimsical linework I so love.

For those curious (below) is an early digital sketch of the piece. I like to keep things loose and "find" my lines as I go so you can still see lots of sketchy faint layers underneath.

Be sure to check out the rest of the submissions from other artists on the official Month of Love website. Prints (and more!) of "First Kiss" can be found in my print shop.

First Kiss Month of Love Fantasy Naomi VanDoren WIP

 

 

"The Gift" - A painting for the Month of Love challenge

As we begin the second week of February I am also starting the second week of the Month of Love challenge; a month-long art event featuring a selection of artists and a new challenge (theme) each week. This week's theme is "Lost in Translation".

The Language of Love has many dialects. Sometimes we’re fluent and other times… it’s all Greek. 

Among many ideas the one that stood out the most on paper was this one, a little girl sharing a flower with a robot friend. I can't imagine what this giant metal automaton must be thinking but I imagine it isn't "I like you".

Be sure to check out the rest of the submissions from other artists on the official Month of Love website. And you can find prints and more of "The Gift" up in my print shop.

Digital sketch.

Digital sketch.


"Courage" - A painting for the Month of Love Chellenge

Naomi VanDoren Courage Month of Love Header

I've been invited to participate in a challenge this month called "The Month of Love". Each week will have a different topic and anyone is welcome to join in. You can check out more of the art and the next challenge topics on the official website: monthofloveart.com. This first week's challenge is "Heroes" (February 1-7)

Heroes, Protagonists and Idols. Who do you love to see kick ass and/or chew bubblegum?
Naomi VanDoren Courage illustration

Courage

When I began brainstorming ideas for this first week's topic of "heroes" I kept coming back to the heroes nature and not to one specific person. In many of my ideas and word lists the theme of a hero being someone who protects the innocent, regardless of their own abilities, kept coming back to me and stuck.

I started with a quick sketch of a woman with a child fending off a dragon and went from there. Initially, the woman was going to be a knight but I decided early on that I wanted to make her more vulnerable and also a part of the larger world I have been creating (more on that later).

You can find this piece up as a print in the usual places: InPrint and Society6, as well as my new Redbubble store.

A WIP stage. I decided to ditch the bundle she is holding onto and the cape was still leftover from my early knight idea and didn't fit the character I was now creating.

A WIP stage. I decided to ditch the bundle she is holding onto and the cape was still leftover from my early knight idea and didn't fit the character I was now creating.

"Priestess" - Digital Painting

I've got a bit of catching up to do in regards to updating you on the paintings I've added to my portfolio recently. Currently I have one to share with some progress shots along the way.

PROGRESS SHOTS. The idea was developed really quickly and came together in a matter of hours. I made a quick sketch of a girl and liked her expression and outfit. After my value thumbnail was finished I began experimenting with layering images of colored texture over my painting to produce the color scheme I wanted. It was a fun way to experiment. That, and paying with settings in Photoshop, allowed me to create this varying blue background that I so love. Much of my time went into painting her face. I liked her so much I even included her on my first banner for events and shows. You can find her here in the print shop.

Priest-thumbnails-naomi-vandoren.jpg
priestess-naomi-vandoren-800w-detail1.jpg

A Farewell to Life in Japan

Our time here in Japan has come to a close. Before I go I wanted to write a bit about my time here and reflect on the things I’ve learned about myself.

Yesterday I closed our house up and left the key with the realtor. It was a pretty surreal experience having lived there for over 2 years. It truly became home. Most places we’ve lived I’ve left and haven’t looked back. But this place was special and I believe, in some ways, it was meant for us. Atop our windy hill, sweeping views of the valley and nightly sunsets it was the perfect place to spend our time here. I still remember the first day we saw Fuji from our office window on a clear day, massive on the horizon.

Our cute little yellow house on top of the hill.

Our cute little yellow house on top of the hill.

Sunset from our office window (Fuji is hiding behind clouds).

Sunset from our office window (Fuji is hiding behind clouds).

Becoming an Artist

Most importantly it was a time in my life where I began painting and calling myself an artist. Perhaps it was the views and feeling like we were on top of the world. Or perhaps it was because I was in a new place and ideas flowed with every new experience.

Prior to moving to Japan I hadn’t taken seriously the idea that I could learn to paint and create something impactful. I played with acrylics during college and through high school manipulated images along with drawing in art class. I’ve always been creating but it was here, in Japan, that it all came together. The just in first fall of 2013 took my first online art course, bought my first Wacom Intuos tablet (an upgrade from my Bamboo), and I attended my first show as a vendor.

"The Highland Girl" one of my first paintings in 2013.

"The Highland Girl" one of my first paintings in 2013.

My table at my first craft fair, a fairly casual event. Displaying my photography and siamese cat illustrations.

My table at my first craft fair, a fairly casual event. Displaying my photography and siamese cat illustrations.

My booth from my most recent and largest show, Design Festa in Tokyo.

My booth from my most recent and largest show, Design Festa in Tokyo.

Living in Asia Again

As some may know I have a strong connection to this part of the world growing up in Indonesia. Ironically the Tokyo timezone is also what we use to set our clocks to in Papua, where I spent my middle and high school years. Japan shares many similarities with Indonesia, both being asian countries. The bustling streets, bright lights, some similar foods, even smells, and the general hubbub of an asian city all give me hints of home.

On a crosswalk overlooking one of the main roads in our city, Yokosuka.

On a crosswalk overlooking one of the main roads in our city, Yokosuka.

A New Culture

Japan allowed us to experience a new culture. While I compare it to other parts of Asia it still is a very unique country with it’s very own unique people, traditions, food and culture. Living here for so long, out in the community, really allowed me to integrate myself into it, to learn first hand what it was like rather than reading about it. Knowing little of the language and less of how to read it brought it’s own frustrations and challenges early on but we met them head on and are the better for having figured it out on our own.

A beautiful letter as a gust post from Anson as he leaves for deployment.

A beautiful letter as a gust post from Anson as he leaves for deployment.

Learning to live alone

Living here also meant that I had to learn to live alone. For the first time in our relationship I wasn’t with Anson, my husband. Having him gone for 6 months at a time was incredibly difficult so I learned to cope and be strong. I developed good habits to keep me busy and friends to keep me company.

 

International Travel

Living also allowed for more international travel. Because we are very close to so many places and right near a huge international airport we ended up traveling quite a lot. Some of the highlights were: Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Swimming at a waterfall near where I grew up in Indonesia. Anson is sharing the video he got of them jumping in.

Swimming at a waterfall near where I grew up in Indonesia. Anson is sharing the video he got of them jumping in.

I would like to end by saying that goodbyes get easier, but they don't. I’ve lived in 4 different countries and have moved to each multiple times and goodbyes are just as hard each time. People and places change and the sobering fact is that it will not be the same when you return. But don’t let that stop you from going! Living here has become apart of who I am and I would not trade those experiences for a less painful parting.


More Blog Posts about Japan

"Fen's Forest" Watercolor Painting Process

Fens Forest Naomi VanDoren Watercolor painting Process

I wanted to share with you the progress images from a recent watercolor I completed back in July. I've been so thoroughly engaged in the painting process, and new projects, and packing that I've neglected to share with you some of my watercolor paintings from the last few months. I'd like to remedy that now.

I would like to start with what is still one of my favorite paintings, which I'm calling "Fen's Forest".

I started this piece while flying back here to Japan after a 2 month stay in California (more on that adventure later). On my 8 hour layover in Hong Kong I was determined to be productive, so I sketched for a chunk of time and here was born the idea for this piece.

It is also important for me to mention that up until this point, in my still very young watercolor painting pursuits, I had only been painting landscapes, and two heavily referenced portraits. Never have I attempted creatures in this medium and rarely in my normal sketching. So it was to my own surprise that I came up with a creature there on the spot. He was sort of born out of a personal love for foxes and dragons.

At this point in my process I take a clear photo of my line work into Photoshop and experiment with color schemes before moving on to the actual watercolor part. It can get very experimental, often resulting in inverted colors and hue/saturation mixing. This process for me helps alleviate some of the stresses and uncertainties that come with the watercolor medium. And while I don't try to copy exactly my color reference when I am painting it goes act as a general guide for color mixing.

Fens Forest Naomi VanDoren Watercolor painting Process

As a challenge to myself I decided to try to paint glowing bioluminescent water. I feel like the effect is believable. The waterfalls are becoming a common theme in my work as of late. And you will see this little creature reappear in several new paintings as I share them throughout the weeks.

The Art Shop Is Live

watercolor prints & originals

(Edit 9/27/205: the art shop is now live! Check it out) I have in the works plans to offer some of my watercolor paintings as limited edition prints. I already am starting to set up an art shop with plans to open the first week of September. In the meantime you can follow me on Instagram for all of the process pictures in real time or check out my watercolor page if you haven't already.

Naomi-VanDoren-Imaginary-Watercolor-Landscape