The Art of Visual Storytelling: Creating Magical Dreamscapes

*A guest post by Lisa L. Cyr (

Using both two-dimensional and three-dimensional mixed-media techniques, I love to create mystical landscapes, waterscapes and cityscapes. Each magical environment has its own story to tell!

Currently, I am working on several dreamscape scenes for a visual novel I am illustrating, designing and writing. I love to utilize three-dimensional mixed-media techniques in my dreamscapes and realms. Below is a work that depicts a jungle scene. Lots of layering of collage with custom die-cut paper and heavy-body medium are used to build up the highly dimensional surface. In the story, the main character comes across a spirit in the jungle that reveals insight and guidance. The three-dimensional landscape is clearly magical and almost dream-like! This piece is still in process but you can see how mixed-media techniques can add that special spark to any landscape painting.

Mixed media painting in progress

Mixed media painting in progress

The in-process image below features a tranquil lake scene. The bank is on the left and the scene brings our eye around the corner, boasting sparkling golden shrubbery, to something fantastical ready to happen in the background! Since I am in the process of working on the novel project, I can’t reveal the back story. You will have to wait for the visual novel to come out for that!


Lake Process

Lake scene in process

To create the working surface, I gesso primed a full sheet of printmaking paper on both sides with a sponge roller. I always make sure to fully cover the sheet, including the deckled edges. The gesso application seals the paper and makes it more durable to work on. In the above detail shot, I am starting to block in the scene using large brushes, sponges and a painting knife. I am also scratching into the wet paint surface with a wood stick to make drawn-like details.


Mixed media cove painting in progress

Mixed media cove painting in progress


This very tactile dreamscape is on illustration board and is just in the very beginnings of a block-in stage. In the ocean scene above, the viewer in coming out of a dark cave and into the light of a magical land. You can see the sea crashing up onto the rocks on the right-hand side and an architectural structure just being started in the mid-ground of the left-hand side. There are steps going up to the structure, which I will begin to draw in. Much to do here!

To learn more about magical dreamscapes and tactile landscapes of abstraction, check out my NEW online class called FANTASTICAL DREAMSCAPES: Creating Magical Environments in Mixed Media.

This highly informative online workshop explores experimental approaches to painting dreamy vistas in mixed media, using both two-dimensional and three-dimensional techniques. The workshop covers the creation of mystical landscapes, waterscapes and cityscapes in imaginative, abstract settings that are inspired from mythology, fairy tales, folklore, classical literature and poetry.

With visually- inspiring imagery, insightful readings, thought-provoking videos, creative exercises and step-by-step demonstrations, artists will discover a plethora of exciting two-dimensional and three-dimensional techniques to employ in their own fantastical landscapes. This online workshop is for intermediate and advanced artists who are looking to create magical, dream-like environments.

Start Date: January 4 to February 12, 2016
Course Length: 6 weeks

Cyr Studio

As I mentioned, I am in the midst of writing, designing and illustrating a fantasy-based visual novel. I have created a blog called FIGURE OF THE IMAGINATION to share with others my progress through this journey. In the blog, I write about my content-driven, journal-based approach to fantasy art and visual storytelling. I also reveal details about my process, showing my latest fantasy works and other interesting insights. Be sure to check it out and subscribe to get up-to-date emails on all my new posts!

I also have another online workshop coming up in January 2016. It is called EXPERIMENTAL FIGURE PAINTING IN MIXED MEDIA: The Mythical Realm

Start Date: January 4 to February 12, 2016
Course Length: 6 weeks

The mythical figure has inspired artists for centuries. Let it inspire you too! This highly informative online workshop will explore experimental approaches to painting the mythical figure in thematic fantastical settings, using both two-dimensional and three-dimensional mixed-media techniques. Topics will include drawing and painting the fantastical figure, altering and restructure facial features and body proportions to create believable characters as well as painting magical landscapes and environments using mixed-media techniques.

All assignments will encourage in-depth research and exploration into a multitude of mythological, cultural and historical sources. Egyptian, Greek and Roman, Celtic, Norse, East Asian, African and Native American mythology, legends, fairytales and folklore are just some of the areas of prospective interest. Artists are also encouraged to develop their own mythological stories to illustrate. We will focus on the creation of message-driven art through the use of symbolism, metaphor and allegory as well as anagrams, visual puzzles and hidden messages. The use of storyboarding for narrative works in series whether for a gallery wall, book layout, video presentation or online experience will also be discussed. Other topics will include the use of costuming, decorative motifs and ornamentation, cultural iconography and architectural detail in works of the mythical realm.

With visually inspiring imagery, insightful readings, thought-provoking videos, creative exercises and step-by-step demonstrations, artists will discover a plethora of exciting two-dimensional and three-dimensional techniques to employ in their own fantastical works. This online workshop is for intermediate and advanced figurative artists who are interested in using mixed-media techniques to add that magical, transforming element to their work!


You can subscribe to my mailing list to get up-to-date information on all my books, videos, workshops and exhibitions! Sign up here:



For more two-dimensional as well as three dimensional painting techniques, check out my book Experimental Painting!

I also have a great visual storytelling piece in Incite 3: The Art of Storytelling. For a behind the scenes look at the painting and how it was made go to:


storytelling storytelling

More Artist Network Videos by Lisa L. Cyr:

Creative Explorations in Mixed-Media: Collage Techniques for the Mixed-Media Artist

Transforming the Surface with Mixed-Media Painting Techniques

Assemblage Accents: Employing Faux Finishes and Patinas!

About the Artist:
The visually-compelling, fantasy-inspired works of multidisciplinary artist and author Lisa L. Cyr ( use symbolism, metaphor and allegory to create a new reality with a more expressive, symbolic arrangement, transforming the ordinary to the extraordinary. A poetic synthesis of drawing, painting, collage and assemblage, Cyr’s visually tactile, mixed-media compositions employ historical, cultural and mythological references that are taken out of their ordinary context and reorganized, overlapped and juxtaposed to illuminate an underlying message-driven concept.

Cyr’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally in museums, galleries, universities and at industry organizations, including traveling shows with the Society of Illustrators of New York and Los Angeles. Her work has been featured in numerous magazines, books, videos and online, including features in Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art. Cyr writes for many of the creative industry’s leading art publications and has authored seven books and three videos on art and design. In addition, Cyr’s work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of American Illustration as well as in private collections.


Copyright 2015 Lisa L. Cyr, Cyr Studio LLC

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