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[Premiere] Ethereal Landscapes Emerge in This Gorgeous Hand-painted Music Video

For Sophie Koh's "Yellow Rose," Xin Li painted every frame onto a light box before animating it all using stop-motion techniques.

by Nathaniel Ainley
May 17 2017, 2:14pm

A flock of white birds glide elegantly over a series of tranquil misty landscapes in the new music for "Yellow Rose," a single by Australian singer and pianist Sophie Koh. Trained in both Western oil painting and Chinese brush painting, the Australia-based Chinese artist, Xin Li, hand-painted every frame on glass and used stop-motion techniques to bring them all to life. The misty, ethereal video feels as passionate and soothing as the song is visualizes.

A behind-the-scenes video, below, shows Xin dabbing acrylic paint onto a light box desk, smearing it to create the painterly watercolor effects, and then etching illustrations onto the surface of the canvas using only fingertips and a pointed brush.

The observable gestures used to apply the paint are translated into movement, frame by frame. In many video's oceanic scenes, the direction of the blue paint helps the artist to communicate which way the tide is moving. The result gives the impression of a remarkably expressive moving painting, with discernible roots in the style and design of romantic painters like J. M. W. Turner and John Martin. Through his paintings, Xin is able to use nature to communicate emotion as well as texture.

Yellow Rose is off Koh's fourth studio album, Book of Songs. Her sound is a fusion of Eastern and Western pop influenced by both Chinese poetry and European classical music. These sonic influencers also had a major impact on the visual quality of Xin's illustrations. Koh explains, "I was reading a lot of translated poetry by early Chinese women poets, by courtesans, palace women and priestesses, many of whom were emotionally and intellectually isolated. I had a strong visual of me, walking through bare open desert, a monochrome scene of sweeping clouds, in search of home." Watch the video in full below:

Check out more work by animator Xin Li on his website, and grab your copy of Book of Songs on Bandcamp.

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