Allow (Don't Plan) Evolution

You've heard me talk quite a bit about the Dancing Uniquorns, right? Mostly because I'm extremely proud of them. Not the technique, but the pure innocence and joy they naturally evoke.  I've been able to bring them through without distortion, so more magic can be experienced.

But believe it or not (do you?!), my first Dancing Uniquorn wasn't even a "Dancing Uniquorn" (a name given to me mid-2016 by brilliant copywriter Tania Dakka - I frequently mention her for good reason!).

"Embrace the Mystical" was a simple unicorn added to a many-layered canvas. She was also the first painting I sold. And she was quickly followed by two more unicorn paintings ("Dancing with the Magic," one of my favorite paintings to this day, was gifted to the spunky Shari Teigman last summer):

Click for prints and products of this piece in my RedBubble shop!

Click for prints and products of this piece in my RedBubble shop!

Find prints and products of this piece in my RedBubble shop!

Find prints and products of this piece in my RedBubble shop!

Yet before ANY of these unicorns existed...

I had my signature HeartFULL Pet Portraits style (always linework in Sharpie ink and filled in with watercolor). I had developed my style gradually over a year or so by drawing coworkers' pets. I had a job just outside of Philadelphia as a Website Operations Manager and Designer at Pet360, and there were always animals around the office!

I also expanded my pet portraiture into two oracle decks - Messages from the Dogs and Messages of Meow - because I absolutely loved interacting deeply with animal medicine this way (and still do!).

Fluff of @gingersgeorgefluffcalicoizzy on Instagram - a custom cat pet portrait which I also used (with permission) in my Messages of Meow Oracle Deck

Fluff of @gingersgeorgefluffcalicoizzy on Instagram - a custom cat pet portrait which I also used (with permission) in my Messages of Meow Oracle Deck

Having already developed and honed my signature style of pet portraiture, I soon began to play with applying my mostly-dogs-and-cats pet portrait style to 1. horses and 2. mixed media (mainly acrylic). "Wild at Heart 2" was the second painting I ever sold; "Wild at Heart 1" is currently hanging in my living room.

None of this evolution was planned.

While I adored unicorns, they weren't yet a consistent subject in my artwork. I wasn't yet confident enough to claim my (lifelong, to be honest) unicorn obsession publicly.

Thus far, my pet portraits had only been created with Sharpie and watercolor (or Sharpie and colored pencil for my pet portrait charms). I wasn't yet confident enough to fully branch into mixed media, and the arising possibilities with the idea of using a variety of media in one piece both overwhelmed and paralyzed me.

So, when the Dancing Uniquorns finally began to emerge in the early fall of 2016, I stuck (mostly) to what felt safe. Granted, I always follow my joy (that's the clearest signpost you can ever pay attention to!), but a formula quickly emerged.

Here's a video (about 20 minutes; you can watch it later if you prefer) where I was first realizing that the unicorns had become a "thing" and the Dancing Uniquorn Oracle Deck was on its way to being birthed:

The "formula" that arose (and still largely exists) was:

  1. Multi-layered abstract water color background +
  2. Sharpie-drawn linework in HeartFULL Pet Portrait style +
  3. Pearlescent ink mane and tail +
  4. Winsor & Newton gold ink horn and hooves +
  5. White Sharpie paint pen outline +
  6. Intuitively chosen uplifting (and often double entendre) "mantra" +
  7. Lettering hand-drawn in white paint pen (by looking at type rendered in WordSwag) +
  8. Lettering outlined in Sharpie

This entire process took a good 3-4 hours per piece. Hardly simple, but quite powerful!

See THE RESULTS:

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The Uniquorns became comfortable. Delightful, but comfortable. And once the oracle deck was completed, they continued to ask to be created, but I became afraid of varying anything about them.

For the Dancing Uniquorn Oracle Deck, it made sense to have consistency. But once the deck was complete, there were no more limits. There was no "reason" to stay the same. So although it was terrifying to stray from the now "tried and true," I slowly began to listen to my impulses (otherwise know as intuition) and continue my favorite playful exploration game of "What if..." - that, and following the JOY.

"Every Lightworker has a unique expression of creative energy to give. That unique expression of energy is your source of joy in the world.

"Forget about everything that has been programmed into your energy body as the things you are meant or supposed to do and focus on the remembrance of who you are through joy… even if it means going back to your childhood years. Find the things that brought you peace, freedom and joy...

"To be the healer that you are and step into the lightwork you came to do, you must first allow yourself access to joy."   --Jeremiah via Micheila Sheldan

 If I was no longer committed to an oracle deck, "What if" I could make the unicorns simpler? Or more complex? What if I weren't limited to watercolor? What if I didn't HAVE to have follow the formula in its entirety - or at all? How fun could THAT be?!

The first evolution of the Uniquorns post-oracle deck (as always, unplanned, but obvious in hindsight) was mixed media. Instead of sticking to watercolor-only backgrounds, I began playing with color and texture. Oil pastels. Chalk pastels. Gelato pastels. Globby acrylic paint. Drippy ink.

I then used either Carbon Black, Payne's Grey or Prussian Blue fluid paint to create the unicorn form, and Titanium White fluid paint to create the outline and words. I kept using the Pearlescent acrylic inks for the mane and tail, but switched from gold ink to Golden's Bright Gold (Fine) acrylic paint for the horn and hooves.

Mixed media Uniquorn in progress:

mixed-media-unicorn-artwork

Once mixed media had become a "thing," my next progression was scale.

I thought, "What if" I used one of my large unfinished canvases and got a little bolder? Let the Uniquorns REALLY take center stage? So I brought the mixed media evolution to a larger format, and amplified the unicorn magic in this way:

dancing-uniquorn-oracle-deck-mixed-media-original-art-mellie-test

I've since created a number of these large-scale Dancing Uniquorns, because BOLD turned out to be REALLY FUN (and remember - joy and play and fun are THE signposts to follow)!

intuitive-painting-unicorns-oracle-deck
unicorn-art-oracle-deck-mellie-test

And then, realizing that these complex, multi-multi-multi-layered backgrounds and large pieces took quite a bit of time to execute, the unicorns' next evolution was to become more simplified.

For whatever reason (synchronicity, divine nudges - you get the drift), my mind wandered to Facebook's birthday notifications. And I started to to wonder "What if" I could create something relatively quickly that would be a fun and personal touch to say "Happy Birthday" online?

By starting on plain white watercolor paper, I didn't need to spend time on a complex, layered background. By using my new brush pens instead of a Sharpie, thickening lines and varying weight was much quicker. By using a (mostly) solid watercolor background after the unicorn herself was complete, I didn't need to take time for the white outline the way I did when a background was super busy with all sorts of color and marks. By taking a photo and using WordSwag outright for the text, I didn't need to spend time carefully lettering and outlining, either.

Et voila:

happy-birthday-unicorn-mellie-test-illustration
Original birthday unicorns for Hillary and Ina.

Original birthday unicorns for Hillary and Ina.

Which brings us to this past weekend, where I drew another unicorn on white watercolor paper, then used my new Greenleaf & Blueberry Sky Tones mini palette (real gemstone pigments - Azurite! Malachite!) to create a more textured background. And then - because "Why not?" (as good a question as "What if?") - added the white Sharpie outline back into the mix:

unicorn-watercolor-greenleaf-blueberry

 And then spent the rest of my Sunday just drawing different unicorn poses!  I wonder where they'll evolve next?!

And isn't that really the best part? 

Not knowing, but Knowing that paying attention to - and acting on those nudges (no matter how small or "insignificant") - WILL lead you to the next step!

Evolution happens all by itself - when you allow yourself to listen!

unicorn-illustration-original-art-mellie-test

Send me a note if you'd like to commission your own original magical Dancing Uniquorn piece! Let me know your preferences (medium, size, colors, budget), and we'll work something out!