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Going to the Magic Forest

Updated: Mar 21, 2018

This class, Magic Forest by Cristin Stevenson, has allowed me to dip into my imagination in a way I haven't before.

Intro page

Since I did not make a separate journal for this class, which was one of the lessons, I decided to delineate the class in my art journal with an opening page.

I did this spread after a few of the spreads below, so I was able to add elements that I have from those paintings, like the 3 figures.

The Portal To My Forest

Painting intuitively, my portal became a rainbow swirl and a bit like a mirror. These three figures appeared and feel more like emotions I wanted to bring to the forest with me than actual traveling companions. The quote is "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately," by Thoreau. It felt appropriate.

The background was doodle-y fun. I started the layout with ink sprays and I've always had issues with them bleeding through to the next layer. You can see some of the white dots appear pink because the colors are bleeding up. I was inspired to use them because Cristin uses them to do such amazing things in her paintings. But I always have trouble sealing the sprays. So for the next layouts, I skipped the sprays even though I love the colors.

Inside The Magic Forest

This is one of my favorite layouts from the entire class. I watched Cristin's video, then went my own way. The 13-hour clock embedded in the tree is a nod to The Magicians. The mountains told me they wanted to be there. A cute little building where some residents of the forest reside didn't want to be left out either. I'm sure that house is bigger on the inside.

My 3 figures showed up again for scale under the massive tree. And I also added collage elements with papers from Jane Davenport's collection. I love the ghostly/magical aspect they add to the whole spread. I wanted the sky to be dusk or dawn, that in between time when the sun and moon occupy the same sky. It feels magical to me, so of course, that is the sky all the time in my magic forest. The swirls are molding paste through a stencil and I love the movement they add to the sky. Sort of a sweet breeze.

Messenger of the Forest Portrait

The messenger is a resident of my forest and told me "You are enough." The 3 figures hang out on her shoulder. She has branches for earrings, a nod to the suit of wands in the tarot. The owl was borrowed from the mother of swords card from the Wild Unknown Tarot deck. I used a Dina Wakely stamp to draw her.

I added elements that spoke to me, such as the spirals on the messenger's throat and in the center of the moon - as if her truth (throat chakra) is tied to the moon. If the tree painting above is Autumn, then this painting feels like winter. I love that some of the collage elements still peek through the layers, like "witch" in the left corner, and "live it, love it" at the top.

I started with a lot of collage from my stacks and stacks of magazines. The lady was actually pulled because on the back was a nice pink flowing scarf, but I dropped the piece of paper and she was staring up at me with a flower in her hair. So, yeah, obviously I had to use the image. So paint over collage it was! Above, you'll see one of my in-progress shots where I've added my circle cheeks and widened her face. I like the shading in the photo, but ended up going a different way with her face.

I used gesso to complete her face and edge in her features. I only used the image for a bit of reference. Apologies for the phone pics!

Tell The Wolves I'm Home

This is another spread I'm totally excited by. The background shimmers and shines.

Again, I took notes while watching Cristin's videos and then went my own way. I believe this to be the best way to take in the inspiration, but use your own imagination for the actual painting. I grabbed the wolf off of pinterest and painted over him.

I used Sarah Trumpp's eye stencil to add to the weird factor. And this time decided the tree was pink. so fun.

The three figures show up again as riding on the wolf, which I love, too. Adding some other symbols, dots and triangles, this one is done!


I loved the technique Cristin used to make her mandala. I did mine a little differently, so as not to copy her spread. I love mandalas as a way into my inner wisdom.

Once I'd finished the mandalas, I realized I still needed to add the 3 figures, so into a mandala they went! I pulled The Magician the day I did this spread, so it felt like a message for this spread. I used inks to color in the mandalas, added some leaves, dots, triangles in white and this one was finished.

When You Are Here

In this lesson, Cristin teaches us how she draws mushrooms. Well, I've hated mushrooms for as long as I can remember. So there was no way they were going in my art journal. Maybe one day I'll rise above, but for now, nope. lol

I was really inspired by the poem that Cristin introduced me to in this lesson, by Nayyirah Waheed. And wanted to dive into what it meant for me. These ladies, especially the jumping one, seemed to work really well.

Let me back up. The first layer is a stencil with words on it, and then I used stencils for the ladies. You can still see some of the letters in the silhouettes. I also added more molding paste and a moon. The 3 figures wanted to be inside one of the ladies, so I granted their wishes lol. The purple of the background makes me so happy.

Elemental Portrait

The last lesson is another portrait, this time of an elemental. I imagine that she lives in the forest. Using the same layout as the messenger seems to give some continuity to the series. I painted the background with black gesso, and added iridescent medium to it for some sparkle. I added a headdress of natural elements to her hair and instead of using a normal skin tone, I went with green. I think it really makes her look otherworldly. This quote by Mary Oliver shouted to me when I went looking for a quote on Pinterest, so I decided it needed to be on this spread, too. I really love how this turned out.

Final Thoughts

I am so in love with the process that Cristin teaches and how she teaches. I would highly recommend this class as a way into your own magic forest.

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