gouache, acrylic, and pencil on 185 lb paper
I love Russian fairytales, folktales, and Slavic mythology. The Russian Sirin is thought to be a descendant of the Greek Sirin. Said to reside near the Garden of Eden, they sang beautiful songs of joy. Some stories tell that only truly happy people could hear the Sirin.
The Sirin often has two similar companions; the Alkonost, who sang sorrowful songs that inspired forgetfulness and oblivion in the listener, and the Gamayun, who sang songs of knowledge. All three birds were considered prophetic.
In line with my New Year’s resolution, I had planned on putting her up for sale, so that she could sing joyful songs to whoever wanted her. I even asked around to figure out a good formula for pricing my work. The “by the hour” doesn’t work for me. My work is too detailed. I ended up going with the “linear inch” model, which multiplied by our minimum wage gave me a fair price, at least fair in my mind. So, 9 + 12 = 21 x $12.00 = $252. But my husband ended up asking me to please not sell her. He’s grown quite attached to her, which is unusual for him. So, she’s staying here.
A photo of the finished painting. Unfortunately neither the scan above nor the photo capture the creaminess of working with gouache, but I still thinks she’s lovely. If you’re not familiar with gouache, it dries to a matte, suede like finish. Not fuzzy, but incredibly soft looking. It’s quite unlike anything in its strange, subdued beauty. Two of my initial sketches (there were two more that may become different paintings later). I wasn’t sure if I wanted to show her feet as well, but I decided to focus on her face, so I went with the sketch on the right. I took a photo for reference and started drawing.
I finished the drawing and transfered it to paper. I use a heavy duty 185 lb Canson paper that’s actually made for acrylics.
I love drawing hands. And here is the finished drawing on acrylic paper, ready for paint. I left out a lot of the details because I knew they would be filled in later by paint. I scanned her in and created a color key. The color key helps me to make sure my colors have some contrast and that I don’t end up with some random color in there which would stick out like a sore thumb. I also created a color map (not shown), which is where I took these colors and rough colored the drawing in photoshop to get an idea of where they would go. In that way I balanced the deep red of her crown with the deep red of her sleeves. After laying in the background color in gouache, I used burnt sienna acrylic to paint the outlines with a tiny brush. Next I did the coloring book colors. This part is always very hard for me because it looks like such a disaster. I felt much better once I had a chance to work on the background. The long process of creating the wings starts. I was inspired by iridescent raven feathers to use green to contrast with the red-orange.Sirins typically have bird bodies, but I wanted it to blur the line between whether she’s wearing a dress or whether those are her feathers growing out of her body.
Hanging out with Van Eyck’s Mary for inspiration. My photo reference is up so I can get the pink on her hands right.
I added gold paint to a few places. And some gold on her sunflower.Fin~
I had an amazing time doing Drawlloween. It helped me loosen up and be less self conscious about posting sketches and off the cuff drawings. As soon as I finish painting “Elstir” I have a couple of these to refine and paint. I found it deeply inspiring and over all so much fun. And, it looks like I’m not the only one mourning the end of Drawlloween. The wonderful Hoap put together an awesome Dravember list.
But first, my Drawlloween drawings~
“Haunted House” -Crimson Peak -I finally saw Crimson Peak. It’s basically a mash up of Fall of the House of Usher and Rebecca, which means I liked it. Nothing groundbreaking- but the costumes and sets are top notch. It’s definitely set in Del Toro’s universe and follows its rules, which is cool. I did find the story and characterization to be a little too slight. I thought that worked for Pacific Rim(one of my favorites) bc that’s essentially an amine that happened to be live action. But I would have liked more backstory on the Sharpes.
“Mask” – another old one from about 15 years ago. This is pretty much the genesis of me putting animal masks on people. The front is a cross between a noh mask and a kitsune, while the back is a storm spirit.
“Addams Family”- “Morticia and Ophelia” -I wanted to show Morticia and her little known older sister Ophelia as teens. This would be shortly before they met Gomez. Ophelia was initially betrothed to Gomez, but he fell in love with Morticia. Ophelia was decidedly NOT brokenhearted. I gave them vaguely late 60s Biba era dresses, with Morticia’s dress being a nod to how she dresses her daughter, Wednesday.
“Witch” – I ended up posting 2 for Witch- “Striga” and “The Great God Pancake”. I have more witch drawings than I know what to do with! “Black Cat” -I haven’t been since they changed it, but the original painting featured a beautiful woman who partially turns into a panther. I can still remember how beautiful her white dress was and how deeply thrilling it was to see her change. And finally, “Skull” – Like everyone else from my generation I discovered the Death’s Head Moth courtesy of “Silence of the Lambs”. But, fun fact, there are different varieties of the Death Head’s moth and one of them is Acherontia Atropos. Acheron is a river in the Greek underworld, and Atropos is the Fate that cuts the thread of life. I’d like to do a painting of this one once I work out the kinks in the drawing. Her right hand holding the stork shears needs to be moved and redrawn.
And now I’m on to Drawvember!
A few years ago I drew my disheveled unicorn, “Keeping the Dream Alive.” It was a bit of a joke on the perfection of unicorns. After all, it takes a lot of work to look that magical. Afterwards I sketched out my “Brunette Unicorn” to kind of continue the joke. Honestly, it was a bit how I felt growing up in the land of blondes, aka Southern California- a dark pool in a field of wheat. As I was doodling in my sketchbook it occurred to me that there would surely be a ginger unicorn or a black unicorn. I mean, why not?
These two ladies are finished, drawing wise, and waiting for paint. I have 2 more in my queue that I may be able to wrap up this week, leaving next week to begin painting!
My sketchbook will be in Los Angeles, CA
Friday 6/26: 4:30pm – 8:30pm
Saturday 6/27: 3:30pm – 7:30pm
Sunday 6/28: 12pm – 4pm
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
I was lucky to be asked to contribute my illustration, “Power Animal” to Black Hill Press’s anthology, “The Cost of Paper: vol. 2.” !
Friday 6/5: 4pm – 8pm
Saturday 6/7: 12pm – 4pm
Sunday 6/7: 12pm – 4pm
Ponce City Market
My sketchbook project, “Princess Witch” is online over at the Sketchbook Project: https://sketchbookproject.com/library/16064
I have trouble expressing how happy this project made me. It provided me with final drawings for future paintings- one in the works right now- and crystalized my vision of this little world that I’ve been working on for the last 5 years. It’s a wonderful feeling to get to a place where you’re finally happy with something you’ve created (until you look at it the next day ;D ).
“Princess Witch” explores the 4th dimension intersecting with our own, time perception in animals, pictorial language, identity, and magick with a K- all wrapped up in a pop culture love letter to Twin Peaks and clothed in pretty 1970s Biba -esque dresses.
My book is currently on tour!
I’m very excited that my Sketchbook Project: “Here Be Dragons,” was chosen to go on the 2014 national tour. It was originally part of a small tour last year called, “The Mysterious Maps.”
I’ve pasted the tour info below so if you’re interested in seeing my book in person, please check it out when it comes to a city near you!
3/29 – 3/30
The Goat Farm Arts Center
Church Street Entertainment District
The Contemporary Austin
Fort Worth, TX
Amon Carter Museum of American Art
Norman Arts Council
San Diego, CA
San Diego Museum of Art
5/30 – 5/31
Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
6/6 – 6/7
1st Friday Art Murmur / Saturday Stroll
San Francisco, CA
SF Center for the Book
Portland Art Museum
Emily Carr University
Madison Public Library
Fergus Falls, MN
9/18 – 9/21
The Distillery Historic District
Maine College of Art