For the past week or so, I’ve had A Midsummer Night’s Dream on the brain. After publishing Cinders Dance in March and immediately jumping into a new story with a new cast of characters in my Rapunzel retelling, my writer brain was asking for some time off, so I switched gears for a bit and pulled out my acrylic paints, which I haven’t touched in almost three years. *yikes* Needless to say, some of them were dried out and my brushes were in rough shape. In spite of that, I sat down and did a quick sketch based off one of my favorite descriptive passages from A Midsummer Night’s Dream:
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;
It turned out okay, but as soon as it was finished I wanted to do it again, bigger and better.
One of the hardest things to remind myself while painting is that it’s going to look ugly before it looks good. This one started out looking like an Edvard Munch painting (not that there’s anything wrong with his paintings) or a green version of Jupiter, but it needed to look that way to get the basic shapes right.
Once I covered all those streaks of color with some green, it started to actually look like a recognizable lawn of grass with a stream winding through it. From here on out, it all came down to fine details.
My goal was to try to include all of the flowers mentioned in that quote. I decided I didn’t want to paint people this time around, so I wanted each flower to be as recognizable as possible. The honeysuckle (woodbine) was difficult just because each of the flowers is so small. Brush stroke and figuring out the right brush shape was the key to this step more than any of the other flowers.
I’m a big fan of fairy dollhouse miniatures. I highly recommend following the page of Whimsy Nettlepatch on Facebook if you like that sort of thing too. You can see her world through her eyes and hear stories about her friends who live in Oak Hollow. It’s absolutely charming and everything in her world is beautifully crafted, but I digress.
Trying to incorporate the flowers into Titania’s bed was difficult. In the movie versions, she often has a nest-like structure for her bed, but I wanted a normal bed that a fairy might substitute pillows and blankets with flowers and natural stuff.
After several layers of applying highlights and shadows to the grass to form recognizable foliage, I’m happy to say that I finally came up with a decent version of Titania’s bower on a bank where the wild thyme blows.
Do you follow a particular process when you’re creating or do you prefer to wing it? Let me know in the comments. Would love to hear what projects you all are working on!