Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Art of Stephanie Pui-Mun Law: The Dreamer of Dreams

I have been familiar with Stephanie's work for a very long time. She has been a regular in the game industry, illustrating for games such as the Forgotten Realms rpg, and the popular card game Magic: the Gathering. She was part of a retrospective publication called The Art of Faery, which gave us a glimpse of the woman behind the art. When this book came out and I received my copy, I remember being taken by her work, and honestly, a little jealous as well. I wasn't doing so great in my own illustration career at the time, and although I was also featured in the book, most of the work was older and I was dealing with a devastating artist block and unable to produce much of anything but tears. I knew that the Amy Browns, Linda Ravenscrofts and Stephanie Pui-Mun Laws were on the rise, and while I appreciated the work, I wasn't exactly thrilled.

I managed by ignoring the "fairy art" and artists for many years, tuning out for the most part, until a meeting with Tara Larsen Chang changed my point of view. The reality was that I loved this kind of art and this genre, and with Tara's help the FAERIE show of 2013 was created. Tara insisted Stephanie Pui-Mun Law be involved, of which I agreed. Stephanie sent us her lovely piece, Firefly Hunters, to exhibit, along with several prints and books.
Firefly Hunters
I didn't realize how many Law fans there were in Seattle. Her prints sold like hotcakes and the response to her painting was impressive. The piece itself was large, in watercolors and very well done. The amount of control and restraint in managing a temperamental medium such as watercolors was apparent in her work, and her soft palette of blues, greens and pops of warm reds and yellows was very effective. She clearly knows what she's doing, and seeing her work in person confirmed this.

I was surprised at how easy going Stephanie was; I expected a wishy washy entity behind the work, but was greeted with professionalism, warmth and enthusiasm. Seeing how well her prints and books sold, I asked if she would consider showing with us in 2014. She quickly agreed, and from there we began building a relationship that I have come to really appreciate and enjoy.

Stephanie is prolific; she has brushes for fingers. She is one of the few artists that has created a full deck of tarot cards (called Shadowscapes Tarot). She has completed several books in the last few years. The woman is a machine. And yet, in her busy schedule she was inspired to produce new work for this solo show at Krab Jab Studio, thirty pieces in all, many of the pieces never before seen. None of them look rushed or slapped together, and yet, many of them have been completed in the last few months.
Legato; this piece's light areas are embossed, adding natural shadows to the antlers
Her new work employs the use of metallic inks and methods of repelling watercolor by use of salts in a method of controlled chaos. The result is beautiful and textural and difficult to reproduce in print and digital image. The original work, in this regard, must been seen in person in order to be fully appreciated.
Her imagery has been inspired by the world of dreams. Her work is already dreamy, misty, and ethereal; now it embodies a depth of the human psyche that is the artist herself. In reading her artist statement, I was forced to revisit her work in a new light. She claims that until recently she could never remember her dreams - and yet, I see in all her work the Dreamer. There is an element of searching in her pieces, iconic elements appearing again and again in the form of totem animals (the fox, the fish, the bird, the stag), willowy figures gliding through impossible landscapes lit by golden balls of light. The nautilus appears, that object of perfection, and pools of water, the depths of which are filled with fish and other creatures, repeat in her work. Ancient trees sprout everywhere in bursts of shadowy blues and dusky greens, twisted, dark, and yet strangely inviting.

Nocturne Visitation
Stephanie is a romantic; this in itself is clear. She is a riddle - her Magpie series (think of the Counting Crows poem; it's actually based on the Magpie) bears witness to her interest in the world of divining from nature. She is not literal with her work, but at the same time it's intensely narrative.
Magpie Series: 8 for a Wish
In working with Stephanie, I have come to really love her work and I find the woman behind it equally wonderful. She is a real dream and an incredible artist. We are very honored to have this solo show with us in the month of Pisces. I no longer envy this artist: instead I find her to be an inspiration, a beacon of light in the peculiar darkness of our sleeping selves.
Veil of the Night
~Julie Baroh, March 2014