The Fairy Painting – Finished!


When is a painting really finished?  I thought the fairy painting was complete on Monday. But it wasn’t. I was happy with the results and it would have been okay to leave it as it was.

Plus, I was really to a point where I wanted to be done with it. It was time. I took a few days off, and I left it on the easel where I could look at it from time to time. Jane’s comment on the blog brought my attention to the wings. I had lost the transparent quality in them. I love wings that you can see through. It was an easy fix and only took about an hour. I took the background color (what was behind the wings) and added it on top of the wings and blended it, this made them look transparent. Then I carefully added a light color chalk to lighten the tips of the wings. I am satisfied and the painting is complete.

I have contacted Helen, the inspiration for The Fairy Painting, and she is delighted that I will be sending it to her. Yay for me! … it won’t have to lay around the studio.

This exercise has been good for me, creating a blog about a painting. It forced me to be careful and look deep within myself. It also opened up my senses to all the colors in my environment and the way light and dark fall on objects and faces. This is something I knew before, but have forgotten.

As an artist and a person, it is important to stop and look. Look at part of the house that you love, a cup of tea, or at your friend or lover. I don’t mean ‘see’ with the eyes … I am talking about spending moments looking. Look at the lines in the skin that build the character,  look at the tonal value and how the light curves out the features. It is very fun to LOOK, I suggest you try it!

Happy Painting!

Checking the likeness ORIGINAL FACE

Checking the likeness

Checking the likeness PAINTING

Checking the likeness

Close up of wings, showing transparency and chalk

Close up of wings, showing transparency and chalk


I had difficulty with the side of the hand, so I covered it material!

I had difficulty with the side of the hand, so I covered it material!

I hid a  few things in the background. Can you see the object?

I hid a few things in the background. Can you see the object?


The Making of a Fairy – Part Four

The wings have been a struggle! After my purple base layer, I added in some of the background color to the wings, creating the effect of transparency.

I wanted them to stand out, so I decided to outline them, but blend the lines so the details weren’t so sharp. Then I added the detail, swirls and dots to the wings. This made the wings look ‘too drawn’. I wanted the wings to look whimsy, soft and delicate.

I also added a deeper purple to show separation between the two sets of wings. Since the fairy is in profile, one set of wings would have sufficed, because the viewer would think that the wings, from both sides of the fairies shoulder, would line up.

I created my fairy with two sets of wings, angled just slightly apart. I did this because I thought it would show motion, and I had to keep that in mind as I painted, or they would look like just one purple section. Note: purple added to background to unite it to the subject, and background is not painted up to the flowers until the ‘blending step’.

Small wings, and background color blocked in

Small wings, and background color blocked in

After I completed my ‘wing task’ I looked at the painting from a distance. This is something that you should do often when painting. When you are working on a section, you are only focused on that part, and you don’t relate that part to the whole until you back away from your painting.

Well, I know this. I preach it all the time, and I hadn’t followed my own advice. After completing the wings, I realized they were too small. My heart sank. I almost quit and threw the painting in the trash!  Instead, I took white paint, covered up my beautiful purple wings and after the paint was very dry, I began the process of painting my wings, all … over … again!

As I said before, this painting is teaching me much. I need to listen. IF I had listened to Jane’s comment, in which she told me, “the wings are too small” (she sent me an email instead of responding directly to the blog) I would have saved myself MANY hours of painting. I now get the lesson, “listen!”

After I finished my new bigger wings, I didn’t like the swirled lines and dots, so I softened them, and although they are not finished, they are good enough for now.

Larger wings, background blended

Larger wings, background blended

Another ‘grueling project’ was the face. The first face I painstaking painted was too detailed and soft – way too realistic for a fairy. So I added more paint and blended the color much more, painting simple lines to show form. I added some ‘make up’ to the face and I think it looks pretty good. I feel finished with her legs and feet, and her frontal arm. I am not sure how I like the hand – it may need some more work.

The yellow blobs in the background will be the butterflies. You can see purple lines where I imagine the clothing to be. Not sure what that will look like yet.

Background, legs, arm, face, completed.

Background, legs, arm, face, completed.

I have started to do some outlining. I wasn’t going to do that when I started, but I think the outlining process adds to the ‘make-believe’ quality of the image.

I will finish this next week. So I will post once more on this subject to show you the finished piece. Any critiques or comments are richly appreciated.

The Making of a Fairy – Part Three

Can you imagine what it would be like if we lived in a world of only black and white?

Color adds vibrancy and beauty to everything. It is the next thing to consider as I begin to paint. Having a clear idea how to proceed with a painting is crucial to accomplishing the painting.

When choosing colors for a painting, you need to consider your ‘palette’. A palette is a selection of colors that you use in the painting. Will the colors be warm, such as red, orange and yellows, or cool as in greens and blues? Also in choosing the color red, will it be a ‘warm red’ or a ‘cool red’?  There are many hues for the color red. The colors chosen for a painting will reflect the mood of the painting.  All of that thought goes into the process of beginning to paint.

red sample

red  –  cool red  –  warm red

Looking at ‘the fairy’ I felt that the two primary colors are green and red (in simple terms). The background is ‘green’ and the flower is ‘red’, which is its compliment. That would balance out most of the color in the image. These same concepts can be applied, whether you are painting a portrait, a landscape or a room in your home.

Another question that comes to mind as I look at the white canvas is what to paint first. Many times I begin with the background, as it is the ‘subject’ that is furthest away as I view the scene. At this point, I am not sure of the exact color of the background, so I will paint the flower first.  I want the background soft, without detail, and I want to include colors that are within the flower and fairy in my background. Although I considered the palette from which I would paint, the creative part of painting is changing your mind (a little) and watching the image as it comes to life before you, adding or subtracting, as you view the forms within the reference.

Viewing forms: Each part of an image has a ‘form’. To get a likeness of the fairy and the flower I need to look at each ‘form’ separately.

I also need to decide the ‘style’ of painting. Will my painting be whimsical or realistic? A realistic image has much more detail and takes longer to paint. As I begin ‘the fairy painting’ I choose to paint somewhat realistic. If ‘the fairy’ wants the finished painting, she might appreciate it if she could see the likeness of herself. Also, if the details are too small to paint ‘realistically’ I may end up with a more whimsical style.

I will cross that bridge as I come to it.

fp fb w ref

Close up of painted flower

Close up of painted flower

As you can see I have completed the flowers on top of the fairy, and have only blocked in the flowers to the left and below the image. This has been a slow process, to capture color, form and detail. I will not post again until the flower and background are finished. Also, you might want to note that the petal directly behind the fairy’s head is not complete. That is because I have decided to change the fairy’s hairstyle.

Happy Painting!

The Making of a Fairy – Part Two

After MUCH thought, many sketches and ‘clean up the studio’ preparation I have ‘put together’ a fairy picture. Although I would really like to … demonstrating all the steps of this process are too much to include in this blog!  Since I last wrote ‘the fairy’ has consumed me.  

Those processes included: how large to make the flower and how much to tip the fairy into the flower so it looks like she really belongs there.  Plus I needed to judge where to place her on the 14×11 white water color paper. After many thumbnails, I decided her head is best placed within the rule of thirds.

For you non-artists – A thumbnail is a small drawing without detail showing different compositions. That way I could visually see if I wanted the fairy low, high, left or right. Also, with her long leg and toe being flung out of the flower, I needed to keep her foot well within the edge of the paper or the composition would look wrong.

The rule of thirds is compositional guideline. It proposes that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines.  I actually make lines right on the thumbnails to see which composition fits best with the rule of thirds.  It is important that compositional elements be placed along these lines or their intersections.

Since I wanted her expression as my main impact, I positioned her face close to where two lines intersect. I couldn’t position her face directly on those intersecting lines because I needed to make room for her wings, which weren’t created yet.

Other processes included what I wanted her wings to look like: butterfly, pointed, soft lines, etc. How big are a fairy’s wings anyway?  I looked it up: “Wings are placed along the curve of the shoulder blades, from just below the shoulder and about three-quarters of the way down the back.” I also put flowers on the wings and in her hair. I added a few butterflies to the image, one landing on the tip of her toe. That may or may not remain in the final image.

At this stage I left her form blank, rather than dressing it. I put in a few lines denoting the flow of her dress. At this time it is my intention to allow her legs to show through the sheer dress she will wear.

I have given some thoughts regarding color. I love the pink in the lotus plant, so I won’t change that. I thought that the dress should be lavender, as well as the wings. Don’t you think a fairies wings should match her dress?  I thought I would leave the butterflies yellow, as in the reference. ‘The Fairy’ is a strawberry blonde, so I want to capture those colors in her hair (hopefully.) I will check out my color wheel, when I begin to paint to see what colors compliment the strawberry blonde.

Those are just some of my thoughts as I begin this project. I am learning a lot! 

One thing for sure, I have a tendency to jump off the cliff and wonder how I am going to land. This is one of those times! Good Luck to me …


pencil drawing

Fairy too big in composition

Fairy too big in composition

Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds

Proposed eye movement of the viewer

Proposed eye movement of the viewer

The Making of a Fairy – Part One

I never met a real fairy, but I know people that have.

But this story is not about a real fairy, but someone that resembled a fairy so much that I was inspired to create a paining of her.

I met this ‘fairy’ when I was in Bali. She was in my Spiritual Healing Class and I noticed her right away. In class we called her Helen (ha ha … not a good name for a fairy!)

I’m going to refer to her as ‘the fairy’ because that is how I saw her. She had a sprite-li-ness about her, like someone who flirts with nature, full of life, small boned, with a twinkle in her eye. 

Trying not to stare, I watched her for many days, and then one day she caught me.

“You remind me of a fairy” I said.  I told her when I got home I wanted to do a painting of her.

I remember following ‘the fairy’ one day when we were touring the Elephant Cave near Ubud. The surrounding area included lush tropical vegetation, trees, gardens and a waterfall. The fairy was walking down the stairs in front of me. All of a sudden she stopped and exclaimed, “Did ya see that? There’s a big bug on a leaf!”

I looked at where she was pointing and noticed nothing. She positioned her camera to capture a shot, but decided she needed a longer lens for a close up. I continued to look from every angle for the big bug. It wasn’t until after ‘the fairy’ took the shot, and showed me the bug from the back of her camera that I could then find the bug on the leaf.

“Amazing” I remarked, “I don’t know how you possibly noticed that while walking down these stairs.”

In the span of the next fifteen minutes ‘the fairy’ found and photographed a spider with a large web and a beautiful butterfly. Interesting.  I consider myself an observant person, but I had walked past three of these insect type creatures and never noticed them.

 ‘The fairy’ had small features and a loving nature.  Some days it seemed she just squealed with delight. She would talk about how she loved to be in nature, and I just smiled at her and nodded, because I felt in some lifetime she must have been a fairy.  

Since I have been home, I have never forgotten ‘the fairy’. Many mornings I have awaken with her on my mind, contemplating how I would ever create a meaningful image while capturing her essence.

No, I haven’t gone bonkers, I know that she is a real person, and lives a real life some where in England. But as artists, we are inspired by life around us and ‘the fairy’ has inspired me.

So I will begin here … with you the reader … and my imagination.

I plan this blog as part one, and will add to it a series of smaller blogs so you can follow along, giving you insight about how I think and create images.

Thus far I have no concept (except a fairy in a nature setting). I can’t tell you how I will approach the subject, but I do think it will be an interesting thing to blog about.  Plus, there is an aspect of ‘telling the world’ about what you are going to do; it forces you to follow thru with your plans. I take a big breath and begin.

First, I located the pictures of ‘the fairy’ that I had taken when I was in Bali.  If I’m going to create this image of ‘the fairy’, then I need a reference to look at. I also need some references for a setting in which I would place the fairy. It seemed fitting to use an image taken in Bali for the background. I have narrowed my selection down to these two background images.


I can imagine the fairy instead of the bird in this image. And I can imagine the fairy sitting on a petal in this image.


I love, love, love this first image. In my study of fairies, most fairies are not smiling. But the whimsical image of ‘the fairy’ suits her better.


I also want to include the purple and white colors from this flower image for her wings. And maybe reference this butterfly to use in the painting.


I want the fairies clothes to be flowing and light. I found these two references on the internet.

After much consideration, I am leaning toward using the image of ‘the fairy’ smiling, because I checked Helen’s face book page, and she is smiling all the time (although I welcome your thoughts and input on which background image to consider). So please comment with your thoughts … I would love hearing from you.