Alchemical marriage of the stag and unicorn

Two trendy animals, the stag and the unicorn. Even back in the middle ages, when alchemists mixed metals in hope to make gold. The unicorn stood for mercury and the stag sulfur. But it wasn't just about metals, it also had the psychological meaning of uniting opposites (and bringing change in the process).

Most stories use this as a plot device, mixing characters with completely different personalities and taste. Or placing a character in an opposite situation. Change doesn't happen overnight, but through stages. And in alchemy each stage has its animal: crow (breaking down of old structures), swan (emotional cleansing), green lion (reclaiming the true self), unicorn (integration of the feminine), stag (integration of the masculine), phoenix (rebirth of personality), and ouroboros or snake eating its tail (integration of the shadow self and union of opposites)..

Making art is also a process of transformation and I go through its stages pretty much every time: 

  • this is going to be awesome, 
  • this is hard, 
  • this sucks,
  • I suck,
  • hey, not bad,
  • that was awesome!

As I evolve and try new techniques, what I once though was an awesome piece no longer seem to be a few months later. Like this one. When I made it I was constrained to a vertical format and the possibility of gold foil. Now I look at it and it's hard not to cringe. 

I still like the design though, and I figured with a facelift it could come back to my portfolio. It's now a large size too, 28x20 (click on enlarged details below). I've been testing my new Pencil and iPad pro, and how to paint digitally. Which is a huge step for me, because I have been scared of it for some time. Well the Pencil and this Atly photoshop class helped a lot to make the plunge. (Note, the plants are still originally painted by hand).

So there you have it, a transformation of an illustration about transformation.