Will-O'-the-Wisp Painting Process

Progress photo of Will-o'-the-Wisp Painting fantasy watercolor by Johnny Perez
Progress photo of Will-o'-the-Wisp Painting

In folklore, an enchanted forest would easily prey on wanderers through its dark midst.  There would be no reason other than malicious intent.  Neighbors to the dark trees would warn travelers, but some wouldn't listen.  Such a traveler would end up lost and soon abandon hope when the path only led in a circle and the sky was nothing but branches. The growing darkness causes despair and fear to creep in.  


Suddenly a light gives way to hope.  Is it divine intervention, or a malicious trick the fairies play?  Either way, the lights are comforting and hypnotize the wanderer into drifting further.   It is the will-o'-the-wisp,  and it cares not to help.


These "fire-lights" are some of my favorite to illustrate and see in media.  They are mysterious, yet dreamlike.  Haunting, while comforting in the piercing darkness.  A flickering lamp that is said to recede if approached, drawing travelers from the safe paths.

This was a fun painting to make as I'm often hypnotized by pretty lights!  I blame the neon city lights for luring me away from my country home.  In this work you find the emotions of hope and fear intermingling.  Its an easy metaphor for going through life, being led by shining examples of "winning", while still not knowing where our next step will lead.  When lost we can also lose faith in ourselves and our own judgement and will follow anything that looks better or is perhaps, "too good to be true."

While I struggled to gain my footing in the new city after college, I was desperate to feel the comfort of something familiar.  I had very few friends that lived near me.  I always thought of myself as independent but I never truly embraced what it meant to be happy with one's own company.   I went down a familiar road with a friend where I became enamored for the second time, and realized too late that I couldn't go back.  I followed what seemed like the right path.  But I soon found myself even more lost and had to cut ties altogether.  I was saddened by the experience, but I grew so much from it!


This one took me quite some time to complete as I was in the midst of moving while painting it.  It got put on the shelf for a while, and once I came back to it, I was filled with ideas on how to complete it.  Check out some of the progress photos below!

I'll be putting the final photo up in my portfolio soon, so please check back!  And as always, if you like what you see here, please consider supporting my vision by joining my newsletter I send out twice or so a month.  See details here.

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About the Artist

 I would call myself a Jack of all Trades, but mostly because I'm interested in many areas of art if not all!  I graduated with a BFA in Fine Art from the University of North Texas with a focus on Watercolor.   I always had dreams of creative writing, and in 5th grade I wasn't too bad!  Art clearly won out for my attention, but writing will always have a place in my heart!

What better way to write, I say,  than to share a blog, and practice my second love while talking about my first! With that said, I hope you all enjoy my ramblings and please hit me up with any questions.  :D  Contact me!

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