Have you ever wondered about HOW, exactly, Juliet Schreckinger creates her incredibly intricate and realistic stippled artworks? Look no further! Because lo and behold we have managed to convince Juliet to lift the veil and share an insight into her process. Impressively, stippling takes hours upon hours of patience. And while this mind-bendingly accurate technique is centuries old, Juliet Schreckinger brings it fully into the modern day with delightful renditions of her favourite animals.
Impressively, Juliet celebrates two solo shows this year; a huge feat for someone who is only 22 years old. In her most recent solo show “The Midnight Moondance” at Antler Gallery, Juliet created five of the largest scale artworks she has ever created. One of these was “Moonlight Flight”. Read ahead to learn about Juliet’s process in making this significant piece.
Juliet Schreckinger: the making of “Moonlight Flight”
I always like to start my pieces with a rough concept sketch, and then refine that until I am happy with the overall composition. Once I have a completed final sketch, I project it onto my good paper and trace my original sketch so I have a complete map of what the drawing will be.
I also write a short story about the piece, and try to get in touch with that narrative as much as possible when giving the characters their expressions.
After I have my pencil outline, I begin the VERY long stippling process. I always start with the main character’s eyes, as I find if they aren’t just right it will set the wrong tone for the entire drawing. If the eye does not come out how I wanted it to, I will start all over again and repeat step one with a new piece of paper.
I also write a short story about the piece, and try to get in touch with that narrative as much as possible when giving the characters their expressions. Once I ink the eye and I am happy with it, I draw the rest of the face and move down the body.
The next stage of the process is really just rendering out the figures. I work in a unique way in the sense that once an area is complete, I don’t really have to go back over it or work in layers. I will add finishing touches, but my stippling is more like a “printer” in the sense that once I am done with an area, it is pretty much done.
I am using a .003 Sakura Micron pen, so the tip is extremely small and therefore takes a very long time to cover large areas. At this stage, such as the process on the owl’s wing, I will put on an audio book (usually something in the horror or mystery genre) or an interesting podcast or music. I love this part because I really get lost in my work and get to know the intricate parts of my characters.
The next stage
Once I have finished the main wing on the owl, I move on to the back one. I will usually do the darker area first in a situation like this (in this case the front wing was darker), so I can use it as a value scale for the lighter one. The whole time I am drawing this, I am referring back to my original finished sketch where I figured out how I wanted the characters to look, and constantly checking my lighting.
If the lighting is wrong, the whole piece will lose its realistic qualities, and once I am so many hours into a piece I do get a bit nervous about making an error. There is really no fix for a large mistake with black ink on paper!
When I finish the owl and I’m satisfied with it, I move onto the next character – which is the heron. The good thing about working like this is that you constantly have a value scale based on the last section you did, so I always refer to the previous character to know how my values should be for the next one. For this piece, I just went in size order, starting with the owl and working my way up from there.
Stippling complete! This is always the BEST feeling, because at this stage I was 267 hours into this piece (yes, I log the exact hours spent on each piece in a little notebook!). Putting those final few dots always feels so good!
From here, I will then add my graphite background and any final touches needed to the piece. I will remove the tape from the edges, scan it, and send it off to the framer where it gets protected behind UV glass and then shipped off to the gallery!
A short story about “this piece”Moonlight Flight”, by Juliet Schreckinger:
Waldo the great horned owl has always considered himself to be an explorer. He has spent his time on this earth learning and visiting new places, finding so much joy in the different landscapes he has seen. He had always traveled alone, not minding the time spent exploring in solitude. Lately though, his eyes seem to not be as good as they once were, especially at night. He was always able to see everything so clearly, but he recently has had trouble navigating after the sun goes down and only the moon is there to give light to the darkness.
On his most recent travels, he met a toad named Seymour. They got talking, and Seymour shared his secret dreams of being able to fly. “It is that amazing, there is nothing better than flying through a cool starry night sky. But I am afraid that was my last flight, as my eyesight has become increasingly bad at night and I am scared I will get lost. I can no longer navigate as I could when I was young,” Waldo explained.
They sat for a long time in silence, when finally Seymour said, “What if I am your eyes?” He paused, looking at Waldo. “What if you take me with you, and I help you navigate? I would get to experience flying, and you would get to continue exploring at night as you always have!” Waldo adored this idea, and immediately wanted to try out Seymour’s plan. Waldo helped Seymour onto his back, and took off into the night sky. It worked; Seymour navigated them both perfectly while Waldo glided through the crisp autumn air. They picked up more friends along the way, and soon there was a whole crew of nighttime explorers, all helping to navigate the beautiful old owl, who thought that he would never be able to explore like this again.
More to see
Interested in seeing more of Juliet’s latest works created especially for her solo show? Head to Antler Gallery’s website to see all the works from “The Midnight Moondance”!