Seven Stages of Grief: Process and technique

Seven Stages of Grief: Process and technique

As I started working on the Seven Stages of Grief series, I learnt Kübler-Ross Grief Cycle  that deeply resonated with me. Inspired by color field artists (Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, Helen Frankenthaler), I wanted to create a series that would guide the viewer on an emotional journey through grief. The concept of the seven stages and cyclical nature of it became a framework for this work. 


Color sketches
  • Proof of Concept: First pieces were done on 9x12” watercolor paper. Since acrylics were the media of color field artists, I was looking to find a way to match the intensity of acrylics with watercolor. Layered look with rich saturated darks was my goal. I chose masking fluid as my main drawing medium which allowed me to preserve more whites and color of previous layers. The brushstrokes are done using masking fluid, while the color washes are applied all over the piece. Once the piece is done, it’s completely covered in masking fluid and layers of paint. The final step usually means removing the mask and unveiling the pattern.


watercolor tubes
  • Media: I used watercolor because it's a versatile and highly transparent media that allows me to work fast and expressively. It creates beautiful layers and can be built up for darker values. I chose highly transparent pigments for the first washes and more opaque paints were applied as the finishing layers. Each piece has at least 5 layers of paint washes. 


Color palettes
  • Color: Choosing color palettes for each stage was the most important task for me. The color scheme needed to work for each stage and make sense in terms of the series as a whole. I was looking for a flow and progression from stage to stage while testing colors. Each stage has a wide range of values and hues within the color family. 


  • Mark making: For each stage I came up with the tool to create the pattern. These tools needed to be suitable to use with masking fluid since once it dries it creates a water-resistant rubbery coat. The tools include: water glass, glue stick, brushes, pipettes, floral foam, palette knives. Through a variety of marks, I was aiming to convey the emotion and energy of each stage. While experimenting with brushstrokes, I saw the evolution of it. They would transform from piece to piece and patterns would emerge. 
  • Result: I created 49 paintings, each stage has 7 pieces that symbolizes thet stage. To view the full collection, please visit my studio in Sunnyvale or you can find it online here.
To learn more about the concept and meaning of each piece, click here.
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