Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fabled Earth: The Art of Emily Fiegenschuh

It wasn't terribly difficult in choosing Emily for our August 2013 slot, despite the fact that she only had about six months to prepare for her show. Six months may seem like a long while, but for a busy illustrator, balancing a gallery show with commissioned work can be a daunting task. But Emily is upbeat and was willing to take it on, although she confessed she was worried about how to present herself.

She didn't need to worry.

We first met Emily last summer, when we hosted our Art of Roleplaying Games show. I had never heard of her, much less pronounce her name (it's Fee-gun-shoo), but she was referred to me by senior art director Jon Schindehette as a local illustrator to contact. Emily responded to my query with a link to her site, and I was floored by her talent. Chris Pramas and I immediately accepted her submission.

With her bubbly personality and Tank Girl coif, it's hard not to like her. She is a Midwest native, married to fellow illustrator Vinod Rams and both recently bought a home in the quaint area of Edmonds just north of Seattle. What else do we know about her? She bakes damn fine cookies.

But really, she produces incredibly smooth, detailed works in the difficult medium of gouache (which is an opaque waterbased paint). She has worked with Wizards of the Coast, Cricket magazine, and covers for the popular Practical Guides books (Mirrorstone), still available on Amazon. Recently she released the beautiful hardcover The Explorer's Guide to Drawing Fantasy Creatures, which displays in full color her techniques for rendering her various creatures from beginning to end. (available at Krab Jab)
The Faerie Locket

After meeting Emily at the RPG show, I invited her back to display her Faerie Locket painting for our February FAERIE group show. Her work was a nice, sweet note to the otherwise slightly dark display of the Fae, and her prints (which she produces herself) were a hit with the visitors. Our August slot was open and I proposed she show a collection with us. She quickly agreed despite her worry, which seemed to mount as her move from Seattle to Edmonds manifested soon after the FAERIE show.

The Sun and the Moon

I understand her worry: she doesn't work digitally. Emily paints traditionally, and her washy, layered paintings are quite large (the average size of her work is 11 x 14"). She works in gouache, which can be forgiving if you paint it opaquely (in thick layers), but she paints "the wrong way" (her term), very wet on wet, much like watercolor. The effect is translucent and luminous, and she has mastered her technique in the last ten years. Yet even as a master, working in this fashion takes time and patience. Time wasn't on her side, she lamented.

However, she still managed to pull together a cohesive collection of over a dozen originals for her show, doll herself up for the opening AND bake some mean chocolate cookies to boot. August is a traditionally slow month for us, but she received a good sized audience for the evening, including newcomers to her work. The collection consists of originals from her Explorer's book as well as several book covers, and all the work has been published. The work will be up and available for viewing (including private viewings) at Krab Jab Studio until September 5th.

The Explorer's Guide to Drawing Fantasy Creatures cover

Want to see more Emily? She will be joining us in upcoming shows through 2014! Until then, visit us or our Exhibition page (up until Sept 6th), her website ( or our Books and Prints page. -Julie Baroh