The castle commission will be a painting of a fairy tale. The client's four-year-old daughter is very enamored of story of Beauty and the Beast-- specifically the Disney version. However, he's given me creative carte blanche-- very exciting-- and I've decided to follow the traditional version of the tale, written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villleneuve, and published in 1740 (no Gaston in this one), and update it in a visual language that is more contemporary, with modern haute couture fashion and imaginary landscapes with ruins and reliquaries (the kind that I normally paint), while incorporating dream-like illustrative elements.
One of the main challenges right now isn't the initial drawings or esquisses for the castle, but the preparation of the wood itself.
I can't afford to work with models long-term for this project right now-- and even if I had the money, my schedule is so whacked out: I doubt anyone would want to come by the studio at 5:30 in the mornings during the week when I do my work before getting dressed to go to my day job at the bank (hello to my boss, dear friend and Mama bear at my new job, Michele: here is your shout out!). So as a sane alternative, I asked my friends Amy and Pablo if I could take some reference photos. I don't usually work from photos unless I'm painting children who have a tough time sitting still. (See here for a long, and earnest, manifesto about my feelings about the use of photographic reference in painting).
Here is the drawing that I did from the reference photo. You can see that I used it especially for proportions. Deciphering where Pablo's mouth, chin and nose began and ended was challenging because of his healthy beard; I didn't want facial hair on the Prince character, since the Beast was going to be mad hairy.
As an alternative, I asked the client, 33, to take a picture of his profile and send it to me. I thought it might be fun to use his nose and mouth as a reference since he's a good-looking guy. He sent me the following picture:
I have done loads of portraits of profiles over the years, so I will use those paintings as references. See below "McCallum" and "Ninotchka."
Here's the drawing for the left door (open). It's the sorceress that turns the Prince into the mad hairy beast. She's going to look a little steam punk, a little BDSM.
The next drawing/painting is going to go here:
I'm kind of cheating with the background of this painting. I originally thought to do something very illustrative, very Mucha, and have all these cool birches going straight up and down, but now I'm thinking to do a variation of my "Ode to Caspar David Friedrich," which I painted a few years ago in my Sunset Park studio.
Ok. It's President's Day and I don't have to go to my day job, so now it's time to kick it big time in the studio. Hope you guys enjoyed this blog post. I think there will be subsequent ones quickly following (though "the best laid plans of mice and men"....)