Painting Mythical Creatures with Watercolor and Gouache | The Water Phoenix

Water phoenix painting

Today I want to share something a bit more…mythical!

The phoenix is a mythological birdlike creature that is known for it’s ability to burst into flames and then be reborn in its own ashes, and seemingly immortal.

A friend of mine has commissioned many pieces of phoenix art over the years, and I have enjoyed playing with the fiery colors and textures. This time I decided to go in a different direction.

Taking inspiration from the very wet spring we’ve been experiencing in the Scottish Highlands, I had been playing with the idea of a phoenix born from water. The whole idea of elemental phoenixes fascinates me, and perhaps I will explore it more in the future. Imagine an earth phoenix born from moss or emerging from within a massive tree?

Anyways, in order to tackle this concept, I did several studies of birds in different forms, but always settled on eagles. I like their sharp beaks and predatorial spirit. In my mind the phoenix is strong, cunning, resourceful.

The painting features the phoenix emerging out of the mist at the base of a waterfall, something that my friend is also very much a fan of – and when he visited me in Scotland a couple years ago I made sure to take him to as many waterfalls as I could. 

I wanted to represent the powerful force of water, but keep the phoenix as the main focus. 

A silver moon shines through the forest, drawing attention to the head, as the waterfall then pulls the eye downward and allows space to explore the soft feathers that emerge from the mist.

The background features the textural effects of a watercolor salt wash as a way to signify the water phoenix’s ability to control moisture.

Water phoenix painting with gouache and watercolor

The painting was created in several layers spanning a few weeks of time.

Sometimes we need a reminder that we were born of the earth and we will return to the earth. What we do with the time between then is up to us.

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I'm an independent artist living in Scotland. Always chasing the light, and painting the beautiful highlands.

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