“the game is afoot.” sherlock holmes’ adventures at baker street & beyond, inspired by the stories & novels of sir arthur conan doyle.

so this pictured “sherlock holmes:  the complete novels and stories volume i” by sir arthur conan doyle was abandoned mid-way through the summer of my junior year of high school, if i remember correctly. (ooooh, that summer had its drama.  but that’s another book for another day! ha!)

but i’m glad to report that the BBC show brought me back to the world’s most famous consulting detective’s original tales.  and a couple months of research and doodling later, may i present to you the finished faerie tale feet painting:  “the game is afoot.”  [the title itself a quote from the sherlock story, “the adventure of the abbey grange.”]

so take a peek at some process photos below, and then i’ll let you know all the story icons i hid in his background “wallpaper” pattern and which stories they’re from!  (i also hid a number of quintessential victorian london imagery in there, if it was mentioned in a sherlock tale, even if it didn’t directly play into a specific case.)  🙂

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research began on new year’s day 2018 while my husband watched innocuous amounts of football.
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and sometimes i get to take my research books to the coffee shop and match my mug to my endpapers. 😉
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my long-suffering husband poses for me when i have an idea in my head. sometimes i drag him to the furniture store. sometimes i drag him out of bed and put his robe on him. 🙂
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i ravished the library for reference materials on this one. i was going to try and keep it simple, but you know me. i just can’t help myself getting alllllll the details in there…
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the producers of the new BBC sherlock series took ALL of sherlock’s incarnations as canon as he has developed over the century. i liked that philosophy, but i also wanted to make it victorian. so those library books gave me lots of era-accurate reference.
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the baker street flat. complete with violin.
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so after i did enough research to pacify my nerd-self, i created a wallpaper pattern (with sorta-subtle S-es for Sherlock and W-s for Watson)… and then on top of the pattern, i hid inside of it our story clues.
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once i finalized my pattern and hidden-image drawing on tracing paper, i stained my illustration board with a light wash of india ink to give it that creepy foggy london effect. then i taped the drawing to the top of my board, and using transfer paper, re-traced the drawing to leave me a light grey line where i was to paint in the final image.
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so here’s me re-tracing/transferring down my drawing to the illustration board.
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once i had a light grey line for the image, i started in the top right corner and started filling in the pattern and imagery with a very fine brush and a petite vat of india ink.
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…the pattern emerges… inking the background took upwards of a dozen or two hours.
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once the background pattern was finished, i took a couple days to paint in the figure himself. sitting cross-legged in a meditative pose, contemplating the mysteries of the world in a worn rose-petaled chair of my own imagination.

i hope you love the finished piece as much as i do!

and upon closer inspection, here are the things you can take time finding within the background:

  • the two things sherlock always carried on his person:  a magnifying glass & a measuring tape
  • the infamous deerstalker hat (although never mentioned in doyle’s prose, it was part of sidney paget’s original illustrations and stuck as iconic!)
  • the house number:  221B baker street (although at the time the stories were written, baker street addresses only went as high as 83!)
  • his violin (oft-played throughout the 56 short stories & 4 novels penned by doyle)
  • a “censored” heart (in reference to “The Woman,” irene adler of “a scandal in bohemia.”)
  • an envelope & seeds (“the five orange pips”)
  • a Christmas goose (“the adventure of the blue carbuncle”)
  • a racehorse (“the adventure of silver blaze”)
  • “the naval treaty” presented to the frantic owner under a dinner cover because “i [sherlock] never can resist a touch of the dramatic.”
  • a cyclopides butterfly (“the hound of the baskervilles”)
  • a fire-breathing hound (“the hound of the baskervilles”)
  • a tree (disguised as an elderly bookseller, the name of the book back-from-the-dead sherlock presents to watson was the origin of tree worship in “the adventure of the empty house,” 1903.)
  • a bloody thumbprint (planted evidence in “the adventure of the norwood builder.”)
  • stick figure alphabet-code men (“the adventure of the dancing men”)
  • a bicycle (“the adventure of the solitary cyclist”)
  • a harpoon (“the adventure of black peter”)
  • a narwhal (my translation of the name of the ship in “the adventure of black peter,” the sea unicorn.)
  • candles (a flickering italian code in “the adventure of the red circle.”)
  • a submarine (“the adventure of the bruce-partington plans”)
  • a persian slipper (where sherlock keeps his tobacco)
  • a telephone (“the retired colourman”)
  • a gramophone (“the mazarin stone”)
  • his pipe (changed to the meerschaum seen here from the author’s straight-stemmed pipe by stage actor william gillette who couldn’t enunciate his lines with the straight pipe)
  • the roses on the chair (sherlock holds one while pontificating in “the naval treaty.”)
  • a moustache & glasses (his rival, barker, in “the retired colourman;” sherlock was also a master of disguise both in prothetics, costume, and posture, throughout his stories)
  • a bee (sherlock retired to the country in sussex downs where he took up bee farming, mentioned in “the adventure of the second stain.”)
  • a lampost indicative of victorian london streets
  • watson’s bowler hat
  • a hansom cab as sherlock & watson would have hired to scoot about town on cases
  • his coffee cup (how else would one be so smart?  it’s in the caffeine, i hope.  that’s my method.)

there of course was an infinite amount of imagery and details i could have included, but i had to leave SOME of it looking like wallpaper, right?  🙂

hope you love it as much as i do.

original framed faerie tale feet painting available for $560, + $30 for safe US shipping.

limited edition signed prints available here on my etsy shoppe.

matching greeting cards available here.

see below for a few of my favourite sherlock quotes:

  • “i pay a good deal of attention to matters of detail, as you may have observed.”  (the adventure of the norwood builder)
  • “by george!” cried the inspector.  “how ever did you see that?”  “because i looked for it.” (the adventure of the dancing men)
  • “i never can resist a touch of the dramatic.” (the naval treaty)
  • “you know my method.  it is founded upon the observation of trifles.”  (the boscombe valley mystery)
  • “i think you want a little unofficial help.”  (the empty house)
  • “the situation is desperate, but not hopeless.”  (the adventure of the second stain)
  • “it is, i admit, mere imagination, but how often is imagination the mother of truth?” (the valley of fear)
  • “the chief proof of man’s real greatness lies in his perception of his own smallness.” (from richter, the sign of four)
  • un sot trouve toujours un plus sot qui l’admire.  a fool can always find a greater fool to admire him.” (a study in scarlet)
  • “american slang is very expressive sometimes.” (the noble bachelor)
  • “i confess i have been as blind as a mole, but it is better to learn wisdom late than never to learn it at all.”  (the man with the twisted lip)


One thought on ““the game is afoot.” sherlock holmes’ adventures at baker street & beyond, inspired by the stories & novels of sir arthur conan doyle.

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