Random thoughts and bits of life of a coffee loving artist

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Meeting of Artistic Minds: Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

Changeling: Dusk by Stephanie Law
White Wolf's Changeling Book - Dancers of Dusk
The wait is finally over for the next installment of Meeting of Artistic Minds. Today we spotlight a long time friend of mine, the wonderful water-colorist Stephanie Pui-Mun Law who has done work for several games including Legend of the 5 Rings and Blue Rose, book covers for White Wolf, her own publications and the creation of the Shadowscapes Tarot and Dreamdance Oracle. Having a chance to catch her during a rare window of free time in her busy schedule, I was able to ask this creator of mesmerizing worlds a few questions. 

With so much of your work focusing or inspired by fables and mythology, what type of stories catch your attention the most? 

I enjoy stories that have subtle elements of the fantastical. I like to have that connection to a familiar reality, an anchor, but then to have something that transcends. I think that's what I enjoy about mythology and folklore. Much of it is based on deep seated desires or needs that people have always had. Dreams, yearnings, whether for the physical, or for the less tangible in the form of rationale for the inexplicable and sacred experiences. Myths are especially appealing because these are stories that have captured the fascination of people for thousands of years. They're in our core, because they appear over and over in different forms, in different cultures that never had any contact. They speak to people on a level that goes beyond the surface words, and into the archetypes that are represented underneath. By tapping into the imagery of mythology, you can speak about a whole array of things that go beyond just the veneer of the painting. 
'Meditations of Beauty' by Stephanie Law

An example is where I was recently invited to participate in a gallery show with the theme "On Beauty". Creating in image of just simple Beauty seemed to be a very simple endeavor, but as I sketched, I quickly found that I wanted to go beyond just that word in isolation. I wanted a painting that could speak to my viewer on what beauty is. Snow White was an initial idea that came to mind, with her pristine beauty that engendered jealousy and fears of aging within the heart of her stepmother. Or Eris, throwing her the golden apple among the gathering of gods, to spark the competition between Aphrodite, Athena, and Hera, and which lead to the Trojan War. Beauty enthralls, enchants, incites, blooms and fades....  I found myself almost incapable of approaching the concept in a void -- I wanted and needed to put a framework of an archetype around it, and in that way, make the painting speak to me, and hopefully touch my audience as well.

Even though you have a FAQ section on your website answering the most common questions that you've received over the years, what has been some of the strangest or oddest questions you've had to answer from a fan? 

'5 for Silver' by Stephanie Law
I was at a convention once, and I had a girl walk up to my table, and flop down across it exclaiming, “Will you marry me?!” We laughed about it, and in future years whenever she saw me at a show, she introduced herself again as “the girl who asked you to marry her”, though the reminder was not necessary (it stuck the first time)!

I have my art spread out across many artist sites, and so sometimes people aren’t aware that it’s me behind the accounts, and they write or comment on images, “That looks a lot like this other artist. Are you familiar with Stephanie Pui-Mun Law?” Sometimes it’s hard to tell on the internet! But on the other side of that as well, I’m often notified by my attentive fans to illegitimate usages of my art as well, and I am very grateful for all those extra pairs of eyes out there looking out for me!

Not questions, but sometimes I have been told very intimate stories from people of their lives, and the way a specific image has touched them, and that's always an honor to know that a painting has delved that far to connect with that unknown part of another person.

Like so many artists, balancing family and business along with many long nights of working on projects, what do you find helps keep your creative focus and awake? 

I actually had a very hard time with the transition. And still do at times.  I'm a night-owl by nature. When on my own, I end up staying awake far into the night, and often it would be the slight lightening of the sky that would startle me and send me hopping into bed! Since becoming a mother though, that's not a lifestyle I can maintain, and I've had to shift my most productive hours from twilight, to daytime.
'Where the Shadow Used to Fall' by
Stephanie Law

If I try to paint too late at night now, I find I'm too exhausted to do good work. I need my brain to be agile and active enough to participate fully. This does mean though that my painting hours are a bit more limited than they used to be, as it was limited in the early years to when my daughter napped, and now is slightly expanded as she goes to preschool. But I find that 4 hours during the daytime when I am On, is MUCH more effective than twice that amount of time in the middle of the night when I’m too tired to create art productively. So now, I use those night hours to unwind instead, so that I can be relaxed when I do have the blocks of time in the day to fully take advantage of them.

Do you have any major projects currently lined up that you wish to announce to your fans so they can be prepared? If not, what new publications have been released recently that they can add to their personal libraries? 

Dreamdance Oracle: Communion Card
by Stephanie Law
Well, the most immediate project on the horizon is my next Dreamscapes book that is due to be released by my publisher, Impact Books, this winter. Dreamscapes is my series of watercolor technique books, and this next one will focus on fantastical landscapes and settings. I’m very excited about it, and am in the final stages of proofing the initial draft that my publisher’s graphic designers have put together from my manuscript.

My other projects are a bit further out on the horizon. One of them is an oracle deck (the Dreamdance Oracle) that is about a third of the way to completion that I am working on as a collaborative venture with Satyros Phil Brucato. We have worked together over the past decades a few times when I was still heavily involved in doing illustration work for the gaming industry, and we quickly discovered his writing and my art were very compatible, and that we had a shared love of dance as well. Hence the theme for this deck.

Other projects are a bit more nebulous at this time, and I can’t say much yet, but one of them I’m hoping for is another collaborative project featuring a book of Chinese folktales, and another being the illustrations for an herbal guide for Llewellyn Worldwide.

Thank you so much to Stephanie for taking the time to give us an inside look of her busy life and share such delightful tidbits of information. If you wish to follow her via social media, you can find her here: 

Facebook: The Art of Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
Website: Shadowscapes.com
Blog: Midnight Ramblings
deviantART: puimun.deviantart.com

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