Haunted Holidays: Secret Door

Haunted Holidays: Secret Door

Posted by Robyn Wall on

Week One
October 3rd through the 9th

Welcome to the Haunted Holidays art challenge! Over the next three months, you can expect some eerie and beautiful work from me following the prompts and exploring the limits and capabilities of this new style I discovered at the end of my Witch Challenge over the summer. 

I plan to push myself in terms of concepts and ideas but try to always use this style of minimal color pallet, smokey backgrounds blending with the subject, and stark contrast lines that create separation. Please also expect a little more brevity with these posts, as I have a lot more to manage during this time of year than I had during the summer. If you have questions about a piece that I do not cover in my blog, just leave me a comment at the bottom of the page. 

Don't forget that you can take part in this challenge along with me! Tag me in an Instagram post or story with your concept for the week or use #hauntedholidayschallenge and you could even be featured on my blog.

To kick off this themed challenge, we begin with a Secret Door. I have been excited about this prompt as it immediately made me think of The Secret Garden, which means I was envisioning lots of moss and ivy for this piece. 

The hunt for inspiration began. Let me just mention that I have loved the “door aesthetic” for some time now. Interesting doors give me life. And that means I found so many inspiring images with ideas flowing to me as I looked at each one.


The idea of a Secret Garden Door was prevalent, yet I also had more grandiose ideas in mind. Magical glowing archways, floating doors in the middle of a forest. And some chilling concepts like doors made from bones and creepy ‘haunted house’ type doors.

I sketched a lot of ideas, but two really stuck out to me. 


A winding pathway with lots of forced perspective leading to an archway. I wanted to use watercolors to paint this and then take the finished piece into Photoshop to add an ethereal glow effect and a galaxy to another dimension inside the arch. 


And the original concept I had in mind of a moss-covered door hidden away by ivy. I knew exactly how I would incorporate my new style into this piece, painting the elaborate door frame in black and having it 'dissolve' into smoke at the top and right side. Then painting the ivy abstractly, splotches of green blending into the smokey technique I so adore on the bottom and left of the composition. It would need lots of white space to lend a forgotten feeling to the piece, so I knew I would need to complete this on a large piece of paper. 

Yet, the magical archway kept calling to me. And you know I always try to listen to my art when it speaks to me. 

But alas, attempting to use masking fluid to protect the archway while I painted the background resulted in a catastrophe. I can’t say why this occurred, but I could not expunge the masking fluid. Devastated and excessively annoyed, I completed my other concept instead.

I promise, though, it does not disappoint. 


Executing the smokey background gives me such excitement now that I have developed this interesting style.


Painting the door frame was incredibly meticulous, but it seems I am getting more used to tolerating meticulous painting tasks as I did not loath it as much as I may have in the past. Creating the old wood texture on the door was very interesting. I would apply paint to a section and then dry my brush off before using the length of the brush on its side to drag the paint up or down, which produced a cool random texture. 


The ivy certainly started out kind of rough, but I expected this would be the most difficult hurdle to conquer, as I had done nothing like it before.


The ivy turned out well, though, despite all my concerns. Something was still just a little bit off about it. 


It was not until I had added this delightful mossy color to the door that I realized what was missing. 


Duh. *Rolls eyes* The piece is missing shadows. 


The depth created by adding shadows made the ivy (and the lock on the door) infinitely more convincing. 

So then the last thing to do was add the line work. 


Even though the beginning of this challenge had me considering abandoning the entire thing, I am so pleased that I pushed through because I love this finished piece.

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