Dark Queen: Translating the Grimm fairy tales into colored pencil

This blog is a work in progress, as the drawing develops, more pics will be posted, and additional insight into my crazy train of thought!

I have always found fairy tales and nursery rhymes fascinating, along with ghost stories, there was always this heavy darkness that stuck to the poetry.  When I was just a kid, I actually researched some of the meanings behind the poems and rhymes we grew up with.  Stories of plague, and eating children, and poisoning innocents, all this tragic darkness woven into stories used to entertain children. How ghastly!  At the same time, I was reading my first horror stories by Stephen King in "Night Shift" watching horror on cable like "Stranger in the House" and "Black Christmas". My little mind was being molded into the warped thing it is now and I love every bit of it!

In my late teens and twenties, I would draw random unorganized figures, some dark, some not. I later tried to make simpler compositions, less about story and more about how much paint I could NOT use (I was broke).  Now, in my renaissance so to speak, I have a renewed interest in all these myths and stories from my youth, I need to update them to what I see in my mind. Even going as far as researching the meaning behind the suits in playing cards, and making plans for a few different sets (think Patti Smith and Iggy Pop as the queen and king of clubs)

The first expression is "Dark Queen". She is a mixture of elegant beauty and cold stoic evil.  Clothed in the skins and feathers of animals, draped in cold blue fabric, she stands in what appears to be an ecstasy.  The tasting of Snow White's tender heart fills her with anticipation, as she cradles the poisoned apple in her hands. She savors the moment as the Mirror holds his head in his hands, tormented by the evil of his Queen, and his role in Snow White's demise.

I started out with a bit of research.  Seems the Brothers Grimm were writing myths and folklore before the children's fairy tales, and that, when they found that children were reading them, they toned down the action a bit.

As with most things, I started out doing image research.  The original drawing I was researching for was actually a belly dancer.  I came across a rather Gothic looking belly dancer with strong angular features, her head decorated, and her bone structure was magnificent, partially in shadow, her head tilted up.  She looked as though she was daring the viewer to come forward, so she could snap their little necks.  She was perfect for a different drawing, so I saved the image and moved on. When it was time, I started with studies, and began changing her features, the position of her face, closing her eyes, until I came up with the final figure.

Sketched out a nice, noble looking villianess with a long lean neck, eyes closed.

I started layering in color in her dress.  And kept layering. And layering. And layering. The skirt has no less than seven colors, and burnished and blended several times.

Her neckline and chest are filled in, as well as her face, stole, brooch and the feathers of her collar.  I didn't want her to be too pretty in the face, and kept her costuming fairly simple. 

Again with the layering,  Using the same colors as her skirt, adding black and a few lighter lavenders, began layering.  And layering.  And layering.  You get the idea.  At this point she is at about 15 hours.

This is the part where I started doing studies for the background.  I had ideas, but didn't like how the were turning out.  I worked several days on developing ideas but kept drawing myself into a corner. Putting pieces down for a few days generally helps. My studio space is currently at the foot of my bed (seriously).  When I struggle with an idea, or need to break through a mental block, the piece will set on the easel and I face it towards the bed.  I look at it before I go to bed, and it is the first thing I see in the morning.  I can usually get past problems fairly quickly, maybe a week.  They ideas weren't coming.  In this case, I turned to looking through art history books or books about my favorite artists.  How did they treat the backgounds for figures? What tones did they use? Was it kept simple or was it an elaborate scene?
Mucha is what did it for me.  Come into my house and Mucha is everywhere.  I woke up one morning and was looking directly at a poster he did for Sarah Bernhardt. The background could be part of the story, the story board. That was it! My AHA moment! I loved the idea of a storyboard approach, an elegant structure, and it fit perfactly into the intention of setting the drawing up as a tarot or playing card.

Finnally finished!  After many many hours ( I stopped tracking, but it is well over 50) she has been digitally scanned, had prints made, and is matted and framed and ready for the Art Loop!
I really should have blogged about getting ready for the art loop, but I have been so busy getting ready for the art loop!

She sure is beautiful.