When Good Fairies Go Bad

For my next watercolor I chose a picture of three “bad” fairies from the FairyWorlds Festival.

I decided to place them in a pumpkin patch. Why? Because I’m going to be using this painting in a fairy calendar that I’m working on and I think they will be great for October. So I went looking for photos of pumpkins rather than make it up from imagination. I know what a pumpkin looks like but not necessarily what the leaves look like. I found a picture of them but it was still hard to see exact detail.  Oh well it’s fantasy….right?

Preliminary Sketch

Preliminary Sketch

This time everything is pretty much there as far as background. I was more attentive to this,
this time because working with three figures felt a little bit more complicated to integrate
them into the scenery. Plus I already knew that I wanted them against pumpkins.

Color Study

Color Study

The color study is pretty close to what I ended up painting, except
that when I started painting it I notice that it lacked something.
At this stage of the painting above I have painted the fairies in great detail, except for refining and a few unpainted things they are fairly close to the way that they will be. After laying in the first washes of the background, I turned to my analogous color wheel. (A wheel that shows complimentary, adjacent and discordant colors) Since orange is not a color that figures prominently in my paintings usually, I needed help with this particular color palette, and found that the color that was missing was blue (complimentary to orange, the dominant color in the painting). At first I was at a loss as to how to introduce enough blue into this painting that had nothing naturally blue. I painted some into the greens but it wasn’t strong enough nor was it enough to satisfy the need for complimentary color to the orange.

So I began the search for places to put blue. Originally I had pictured the wings as white with black definition but realized that I could use blue at the base of the fairy wings and it would be gorgeous against the orange.  I painted more layers of blue wash in a few places in the green background. Closer but still I wanted more. And I wasn’t happy with the look of their dresses. It was just a little lifeless. That was when I had my happy thought- Use a light blue (cerulean) on the highlights and voila I had enough blue and the dresses had life.

Well it’s almost finished. When looking at the scan I noticed that I had not finished painting the

butterfly in the middle fairy’s hair.
I think this might be their prom picture…before they go off to the bad fairy’s ball.

The Green Wood

I started this late yesterday and stayed up until 4:30 in the morning finishing it. I didn’t take the time to make scans of the drawing and I didn’t make a color study this time. But that won’t stop me from talking about the process. This is the photo I was working from. You’ll notice that the girl in the picture has her eye shut. So that was one of the first things that I had to change. Also her body position with her chin jutting out a bit didn’t look relaxed and would have looked unnatural if I’d painted it that way. Her costume ears were a little droopy so I changed the angle slightly.

Other changes include lengthening her hair, modifying her necklace,  making up things on her hair wreath, lightening her hair just a tad so that the texture would show more, changed her wings to dragonfly style (Just because my husband said he pictures fairies that way- I believe that he’s a member of the Dragonfly Clan), and added a blue ribbon to her sleeve.

Other changes include lengthening her hair, modifying her necklace,  making up things on her hair wreath, lightening her hair just a tad so that the texture would show more, changed her wings to dragonfly style (Just because my husband said he pictures fairies that way- I believe that he’s a member of the Dragonfly Clan), and added a blue ribbon to her sleeve.

The Greenwood

Fern – A Step by Step Walkthrough


I started this project on Christmas Eve.  I started with a photo from the Fairy Worlds Festival (which will probably be the case for the majority of what I paint for a while :-) )

As usual I  made my sketch, this time directly onto the watercolor paper. My scanner is only wide enough to capture part of the drawing/painting. There’s about 3/4 inch cropped off on all sides. I will have to have it scanned by someone else for the final.

I wasn’t really sure yet what I wanted to do with the background so I just drew a flower and very vague leaves at the side.  I took the drawing into photoshop and “painted” colors to get a sense of values and large color blocks. I the color study I have ferns surrounding her but I was still not solid on what I would do with the background.

It wasn’t until after I started painting that I got to the point where I knew what I wanted to do with the background. The color study showed me that just having a solid background of green ferns would probably be too boring and left little opportunity to bring colors from her into the background to unify the painting, and help carry the eye around the painting. So I decided to add a Fall colored bush. That way I could incorporate some of the beautiful violets from her skirt into the shadow sides of the leaves. The reddish orange and burgandy flowers in her hair then are used for the rest of the leaves.  I also changed her sleeves to violet from gold to help move your eye up to her face.  And in addition to amke it less blaugh. To start this water color I did an ochre wash everywhere except for her face.  Because I wanted to have a warm feel for the painting. To counter balance so much warm color I used cooler greens on the left side of the painting.

I used a neutral tint wash on her left wing because it’s on the shadow side and I didn’t really want to effect the color too much just make it recede a bit. To help make her wing look like it goes back instead of sticking straight out to her side.

That’s it!  I have to get back to the wizard nap project now.

An Elvish Christmas

For my Christmas card this year I wanted to paint two elves sitting together at the end of the day on Christmas Eve enjoying tea and Christmas cookies. All their hard work is done and Santa has left in his sleigh. I borrowed a couple of photos (my son Josh took at the Fairy Worlds Festival this past August) that served as the inspiration for my elves. The child is the same in each photo.

On the first photo I dropped the hands away from the face and placed her on a footstool and changed her costume. On the second I changed the angle that she was looking down and placed a tea cup and a cookie in the hands. Added legs and made her sit. (By the way isn’t Josh a fabulous photographer!)

I made my preliminary sketch:

Then I scanned it and took it into Photo Shop. Using the brush tool I painted crudely painted in large blocks of color to get a sense of what I was getting. I discovered that the composition wasn’t working the way I wanted so I moved some things around and added another ornament. I would also end up painting some of the colors differently.

I scanned it and in Photo Shop added the type. And since I’ve done that I’ve continued to add a few washes to the deep green background to darken it and also added some more color to the floor and the shadows. Why? I just wanted to make the elves pop a little more and a add a little more drama with the contrast.

That’s all for now. Merry Christmas! Blessing to your household!