This is a limited edition of 750, printed on archival watercolor paper.
The size of this print is 13 x 19". Each print is signed and numbered in gold.
The print is shipped in a sturdy 3" mailing tube.
Mother of Runes was commissioned for the Magic the Gathering card indicated below.
Set: Elspeth vs. Kiora
Card Type: Creature
Creature Type: Human Cleric
Card Text: Tap: Target creature you control gains protection from the color of your choice until end of turn.
Oracle Text: Tap: Target creature you control gains protection from the color of your choice until end of turn.
Flavor Text: She will not touch a weapon, yet she is the greatest protector her people have ever known.
Story Behind the Art
Before I start any piece, my art ritual always begins in my little library nook within my studio.
I will oftentimes just sit quietly, sipping something warm and staring deeply at some ethereal zone several galaxies away.
I’m not sure how much time passes, but afterward, I find myself drawn to reach for particular books to cradle and pour through. In these moments, I’m looking for anything… a composition, a color palette, an energy, a symbol, a style, or a way to handle a face, or a particular area… I’m never sure.
Regardless, little mini Post-Its start peppering the pages of many of the books, and soon the floor is heaped with a compost of inspiration. Out of these fertile elements sprout several tendrils. Somehow I come out of this meditative process knowing the next step in designing the piece.
For this new iteration of Mother of Runes, as much as I would have savored the opportunity to illustrate a matriarch, kissed by time and surrounded by books… one whose power and influence “protects all families”—that was not what I was asked to do. My job was to portray “a beautiful young noblewoman, wearing a brightly patterned dress, standing before a stone wall inscribed with runes.”
This description sounds gorgeous to illustrate, yet it’s entirely different from the original illustration. In honor of Scott Fischer’s version, it was my deepest desire to imbue the new “young” mom with the energy of our beloved, older matriarch. I reached for an essence of ageless, noble, beauty.
As a side note… Mother of Runes was the last piece I created in my California studio before packing up my home of 20 years (where we raised four children) and moving to Nevada.
In many ways, art pieces are journal-like. I can look at most of my paintings and remember what was going on in my life then, and what mood circled around me at the time. When I think back on the creation of this piece, I like to think there’s an essence of me, as I, too, am stepping into my older matriarchal years. I wanted to anoint this young noblewoman with a soulful countenance of lifetimes of experience and wisdom.
So, while creating this piece, during my creative ritual of leafing through tomes of artistic reference, I came upon Fredric Leighton’s exquisite painting, “Pavonia,” and stopped and stared for quite some time. There was an essence in his painting that that I wanted to bring out in this piece.
When considering the composition, I wanted to stay away from a static, predictable, straight-on “offering” to the viewer. I opted for a twist I had her turning toward us, as if the energy came through her, supported by the history of the runes behind her. An inherent “read” of a woman turning back toward the viewer, looking over her shoulder, can be a “come hither” look.
I very much did not want that look, and knew I would be walking a careful tightrope to be able to weave in all of the elements I wanted, without falling into a trope, suggestive, appearance of beauty.
After mulling around the straight-on poses that I didn’t want, and feeling like I wanted somewhat of a looking-over-the-shoulder pose, I grabbed my Olympus and daughter Kristi, and started shooting photos and moving lights around. I then deliberated over them to choose the various parts of several shots that I felt were the most effective and dramatic.
I designed the sketch using the photos and Leighton’s painting as a springboard. After the face, hands, and general pose were worked out, I designed the runes and Klimt inspired clothing around that. The runes loosely echoed Egyptian hieroglyphs mixed with symbols from the earliest recorded history through the Middle Ages.
The sketch was completed and submitted. The only request from the art director was to pull back a bit from the Egyptian feel of the runes, which I resolved in the painted stage.
The sketch was then printed out on velvet fine art paper, wet stretched, and stapled onto a piece of drywall. After it was done drying, I taped off the edges with painter’s tape and then immediately washed and splattered in the basic background colors and textures, as well as loose colors within the figure.
I continued to apply textures with an old toothbrush, and glazed in values and color variations with the airbrush. At this point, all the white of my paper was covered.
I then went back in with a dark colored pencil and reestablished my drawing, tracing, refining and carving out edges and details. Then richer and more intense colors were worked in and built up, still mostly with acrylic.
This process is very much a back-and-forth, push-and-pull with color, value and details using acrylic, airbrush and colored pencil. I continue to toggle between these mediums, building up details, colors and values. When it came time to render the face, I pulled out the palette of oils for the smooth, soft, detailed transitions.
Towards the very end, the elements of 23K gold leaf and gold paint are added. It’s the final decorative, ornamentation… the areas I wanted to ‘pop’ and elegantly lead the eye through the piece.
Oftentimes the gold can be just a bit too “ shiny,” so I’ll use a light-handed glaze of oil to gently knock it back and harmonize the piece a bit.
After all of that, somehow I end up with a painting that is ready to submit for publishing and payment. Our reveries together come to an end, and yet the dance we have shared in my studio will always be a part of me.
This was even more meaningful when I caught wind of the new flavor text. I couldn’t have resonated more deeply when I read, “She will not touch a weapon, yet she is the greatest protector her people have ever known.”