your own personal fairy godmother

you’ll notice the fairy godmother isn’t colored yet.

that’s because as of right now, the ONLY way you can see her is in the golden wing luxe box- a surprise box filled with handmade and artsy treasures that you can get in time for Christmas right HERE on my etsy shoppe.

i’ll probably paint her next year, but as for now, here’s a bit about this exclusive coloring page…

fairy godmothers can be working for the heroines or their conniving adversaries.

they can be evil, or hold a grudge and take it out on the child.

“fairy godmothers” may be fairies- but they aren’t necessary alluded to as having wings- they can pretty much appear at will- or arrive via chariot (decked out with fiery dragons, or butterflies, depending on the occasion.)

madame d’aulnoy is perhaps the earliest user of fairy godmothers in fairy tales.  charles perrault famously used a fairy godmother as a replacement for the traditional cinderella tales where cinderella’s deceased mother is replaced by a gift-giving tree or a kind-spirited animal.

the thirteen (or 8 fates if you read perrault’s telling instead of the brothers grimm’s) wise women of the sleeping beauty can technically be classified as fairy godmothers because they give gifts.  beyond toys and treasures, they bestow gifts of charm and loveliness.

the moral of charles perrault’s cendrillon, or the little glass slipper, possibly the most familiar telling of the cinderella tales, ends with:

Charm is the true gift of the fairies;

Without it you’ve nothing; with it, all.

i’ve perhaps taken a bit of liberty with my fairy godmother piece, as there is no SET character of the fairy godmother throughout fairy tales, folktales, storybooks, or otherwise.

i’ve included background icons from these various fairy tales:

“The White Doe” told by Andrew Lang, via Madame D’Aulnoy (the dragons, for pulling chariots; a white dove; and a doe)

“La Sendraoeula,” an italian cinderella tale (the acorn, which cinderella taps with a wand and “a lovely dress like stars with golden shoes” appears)

“The Blue Bird,” by Madame D’Aulnoy (big flying frogs; the beautiful bird, actually the prince King Charming under enchantment from his beloved Florine’s rival and wicked stepsister Truitoone’s god-mother Soussio, the fairy)

“Finette Cendron,” by Madame D’Aulnoy (the golden key to open the fairy casket full of gifts which the more you took from it, the more there was in it; also starry diamond bursts, as her dress was “a gown of blue satin covered with stars of diamonds”)

Quite possibly the earliest cinderella telling, by greek historian strabo, from the first century b.c., in which the egyptian courtesan rhodopis is bathing in the nile and an eagle carries her shoe to memphis and drops it in the king’s lap, prompting him to search for the shoe’s owner and marry her. (the egyptian sandal)

“Cendrillon, or, The Little Glass Slipper,” by Charles Perrault, 1697 (the pumpkin for the carriage; the clock about to strike midnight)

i also added wings, because i would want some if i were a fairy godmother.

take a look at my process for creating this piece, and then enjoy a few quotes on fairies, fairy tales, and from fairy godmothers below…

my stack of reference books, and a few great movies to inspire me while i sketch out ideas and shapes for this final piece.
after i reduce down all of my ideas from reading all the fairy tales that included fairy godmothers, i decide on the shapes i want to use and i trace them to fill in the background pattern.
using an 02 micron pen, the background starts to fill up!
i just had to share this page, images i’d never seen before of the miraculous dress transformation animation by master animator marc davis. with special effects animation overlay on the right. just mind-blowing.
i highly recommend this book which was released when disney put out their live action version of cinderella. of course the classic animated one is an all-time favorite movie, but this book had lots of great anecdotes on the making-of the animated one, the creation of the new movie directed by kenneth branagh, and lots of great background information on traditional cinderella tellings.
  • “a folktale is not just the spoken equivalent of a literary short story.  it has no set text, but is endlessly re-created in the telling.” ~neil philip, the cinderella story, the origins and variations of the story known as ‘cinderella’ 
  • “oh!  i’ve lost one of the shoes off my feet,” said trembling.                                            “don’t mind that; don’t be vexed,” said the henwife; “maybe it’s the best thing that ever happened to you.”~from “fair, brown, and trembling,” an irish cinderella tale, 1890.
  • “and it is not difficult to imagine how happy they were after having known so many hardships.” ~from madame d’aulnoy’s “the blue bird,” circa 1895.
  • “everything that a baby could possibly wear or play with was there, and, besides, they had other and more precious gifts to give her, which only children who have fairies for godmothers can ever hope to possess.” ~from andrew lang’s telling of “the white doe,” by madame d’Aulnoy, 1906.
  • “why i do what i do for a living is really because of those moments walt did for me as a kid in the audience.  what he did for audiences all over the world:  blending story and art and animation and music and color and everything together to craft these incredible emotions.  happiness and hope and joy; good over evil.”  ~john lasseter
  • “the glass slipper is where i got the idea i might not be the best fairy godmother.  if you think about it, it’s completely impractical, uncomfortable, and un-walkable-in.  but i’m good at shoes.  the shoes are the only thing that last beyond midnight.  everything else turns back.”  ~helena bonham carter, on playing the fairy godmother in kenneth branagh’s cinderella, 2015.
  • “there’s a lot of power in godmothering.  it’s like being a part of history.”  ~from terry pratchett’s witches abroad, 1991.
  • “will she live happily ever after?” he said.                                                                              NOT FOREVER.  BUT PERHAPS FOR LONG ENOUGH.                                                            and so stories end.”           ~from terry pratchett’s witches abroad, 1991.
  • “The Authors, are in Eternity.”  ~william blake, 1803.
  • “The story is, after all, what matters.”  ~p. l. travers, about the sleeping beauty, 1975.

“anne with an E.”

while not a child in the books for very long, anne is remembered as the dreamy, poetry-quoting chatterbox of book one in l.m. montgomery’s “anne of green gables” series of novels and short stories.

it was anne’s passion for beauty in life– in her deep love of all the quirky characters she met along life’s winding path that helped her grow into the resplendent, graceful, poised, grown-up anne we probably all aspire to be.

passionate in conviction and temper, she never aged because she never lost the youthful glow of wonderment.

anne continued to be surprised by the beauty of each new spring, and welcomed each new neighbor into her roster of collected characters.  from pithy & pious rachel lynde (my personal favorite just because she made me laugh the most) to finally releasing her grudge against handsome gilbert blythe.

the eventual mrs. dr. cared for her neighbors, dressed impeccably, played matchmaker more than she needed to, and probably never got rid of those 7 freckles on her nose.

her family grew in excellence of character for she never laughed at her children’s woes, but nurtured them in spirit and hope.

while my life’s winding path will never resemble the idylls of rural canada, and my home currently won’t fit six children, and while i’ll never have the carrot*red hair of anne (& my mother’s!), she gives me much to aspire to.

much like peter pan, anne of green gables embodies youth, joy, and freedom.  but somehow, unlike peter, anne maintains this quality of life even as a grown*up.  and what’s more elegant than that?

look out below for my process of painting my faerie tale feet piece “anne with an E.” inspired by l.m. montgomery’s 8 anne of green gables novels.  (there are a few more short story collections from avonlea and anne’s life with gil that i still need to read, but after 8 books, i had WAY more than enough anne escapades and adventures to include in this painting!  trust me, these 24 border icons took a lot of editing down from my many notecards of anne anecdotes & memorable quotes!)  🙂


so i picked up my niece from school and took her shoe “shopping” to be my model anne walking on the roof of the kitchen… thankfully she had not as far to fall on the squishy benches. and i found a lot of “modern” anne fall boots i’d love to own! i also modeled myself in my husband’s art studio for a bit more weightiness to the balancing act.
after going back through all my margin notes from the novels, i start collecting imagery and sketching ideas…
once my final icons were decided upon, i made them into a quilt-like border instead of my usual patterned background. some shapes were just going to work better as mini-paintings instead of silhouettes. so this is the first time i’ve done that for a faerie tale feet piece! and i think it works well for avonlea ladies were always quilting and sewing for their neighbors in need or celebrating!
starting to add colour here… i really love how the carpet bag turned out… and manilla’s amethyst broach…
i wasn’t super happy with the first boots i’d drawn, so i re-did that portion of the painting. you see here my new sketch ready to transfer down onto the almost-all painted roof and background starting to come together…
here’s a detail shot of the limited edition prints you can get on etsy (or if you see me at an art festival!) one of my favorite patches are gog and magog- the chinese sculpture dogs anne inherits from patty (of patty’s place!)
here’s a full view of the final print from my painting! available at


and starting at the top left-hand corner are the icons you’ll find… i’ll keep details sparse to prevent spoilers as you enjoy montgomery’s books and discover anne’s adventures again or for the very first time like i did!  (the patches are pretty much chronological through all 8 books going clockwise!)

  • the carpet bag anne carries (& holds together) when matthew cuthbert first picks her up at the train station
  • the amethyst brooch that led to a very creative confession from anne who wanted to go to the picnic and taste ice cream for the very first time
  • carrot.  which quickly led to the next block…
  • the slate anne broke over gilbert’s head for calling her “carrots.”  and the pink candy heart he left on her desk for an apology.  “you are sweet.”
  • the raspberry cordial diana (anne’s lifelong bosom friend) accidentally got drunk on by serving herself one too many tumblers full… (totally marilla’s fault for not labeling the bottles in the pantry!)
  • the ipecac that saved diana’s baby sister’s life; a night which restored anne to mrs. barry’s good favor and restored her bosom friend to her.
  • the scissors marilla used to cut anne’s hair when she bought dye from a traveling salesman to try to dye it raven black instead of its brilliant red (it turned green.  naturally.)
  • puffed sleeves!  envy of all, even matthew knew something was different about how marilla dressed anne compared to the other school girls.
  • the boat.  both in which the lady of shallot drowned, or with which gilbert rescued anne from the bridge pilings after her dramatic and too-close-to-reality reenactment of the tragic poem.
  • the cow anne accidentally sold thinking it was her wayward cow and not her neighbor’s actual milking cow.
  • in the books, marilla and anne adopt twins.  totally left out of the classic tv adaptation.  so the toad is for the toad davy put in marilla’s bed (thankfully he confessed & the toad was rescued before marilla went to bed!), and the bucket for when dora had the incident with the well.
  • firecrackers for the naughty (so deplorable!) meanies that put them in the school fireplace when poor anne was just trying to teach a classroom full of snobby girls…
  • green gables where orphan anne makes her first home with marilla and marilla’s kindhearted and quiet-in-spirit brother matthew (in the books, anne references how the whole house was faded green paint; the historic landmark house that inspired montgomery to write these books is the silhouette i used.)
  • birch trees.  anne’s favorite.
  • anne was a reader, and of course a writer.  in book four, she would write gil love letters (“censored” for the readers; but man, i wanted to hear the mushy stuff she wrote to her beloved med student fiance!!) only if she had the RIGHT pen… so the tip is a heart.
  • the puppy anne got Katherine (with a K!) for Christmas when she came to green gables with anne for holiday instead of staying at her depressing boarding house with no friends.
  • in rainbow valley, where anne and gil start their family, book six opens with aunt mary maria living with them and making everyone miserable.  the thing that FINALLY sends her packing is that anne threw her a surprise birthday party- BUT actually put 55 candles on her cake which embarrassed her right out of town!
  • gog looks right and magog looks left.  two china dogs that anne was enraptured with when she and her other schoolmates rented patty’s place.  they were bequeathed to anne, and made for some embarrassing moments when neighbors came to call!
  • the teddy bear represents little Jem, anne and gil’s eldest surviving child.  she eventually had six children (and joyce was buried first.)
  • the lighthouse at four winds.  i really enjoyed book 5 where we met captain jim, heard his adventures, and i think that was the book where the thought-to-be-widow has some new romance in her life because anne brings him to town to write captain jim’s stories and capture them in a bestseller… 🙂
  • rilla (anne and gil’s youngest) was often collecting baskets full of strawberries.
  • the blue soup tureen in which rilla brings home Jims, a war orphan, home… and raises to the surprise of all!
  • a canadian violet.  anne was often wandering through and dreaming in fields of trees and flowers… and while she was a stately iris in gil’s eyes, i love the sweetness of the violet.  as book two says, “… [gil’s] future must be worthy of its goddess.”


“having adventures comes natural to some people.  you just have a gift for them or you haven’t.” (anne of avonlea, pg. 159) i sure hope YOU do!

“anne with an E.” limited edition prints available on my etsy shoppe here:

the original painting is still available, convo me on etsy for details.

“i wish…”

everybody wishes for something.  and as sondheim & lapine’s brilliant musical teaches us, “be careful what you wish for.  wishes come true.”

i have to confess, the first time i learned of this musical was a quip from the gilmore girls.  brad returns from a stint on broadway as jack and paris, of course, torments him with his solo from the play.  so i dashed to barnes & noble, bought the two-disc original broadway cast recording, and my dreams of seeing it were realized when disney produced its lavish film just last Christmas.

like most sondheim works, the characters sing over each other occasionally.  but it’s still a lovely sound.  and reading the original book that was published from the 1988 broadway script put all the characters into perspective.

have a look at the process for painting this piece, i’ll try to stop rambling, and then i’ll let you know all the icons i hid in the background to reflect the tale in this faerie tale feet piece entitled, “i wish…”  (both the first & last lines of this piece of musical theatre!)

into the woods 1
after i did all my research (reading the original script, watching the filmed original broadway production, watching the disney version over and over with commentary, etc.), i created by background pattern.
into the woods 2
once all the icons were decided upon and the giant’s boots were drawn, i traced them onto tracing paper- and taped it on top of my watercolour paper.
into the woods 3
using my handy magnifying lamp, i put transfer paper between my patterned tracing paper and my watercolour paper so i can retrace all the icons so i know where to paint.
into the woods 4
once my pattern drawing has been transferred to the watercolour paper, i start adding colour! my favourite part!! i paint around all the icons and used a bit of frisket mask liquid to paint in milky white (jack’s cow) to keep her nice & clean & the color of the paper below. (i think i need a new bottle of it, though. mine went on pretty chunky.)
into the woods 5
oh la la! first layer of colour is down! now we keep adding details and shading and adjusting washes and colours- and those boots have a ways to go before they’re done!
into the woods 6
every time i exercise in my local park, i feel like leslie knope would be proud of me. i would like to think i earned another pawnee goddess badge for using my local park trees for reference.
into the woods 7
painting landscapes aren’t my strongest suit. but i had to add some WOODS for a piece inspired by “into the WOODS.” so i did my best, painting trees on top of my finished background painting.
into the woods 8
here’s a better detail of the giant’s boots & pants. i’m quite pleased. and i know the giant’s wife didn’t step ON the baker’s wife, but i did put her scarf below his left foot. because: symbolism. drama.


okay.  details hidden in the background include:

the items needed to break the curse on the baker’s house (& family tree):

one:  the cow as white as milk

two:  the cape as red as blood

three:  the hair as yellow as corn

four:  the slipper as pure as gold

also included:

cabbage/rampion- there’s a long linguistic history, but “rapunzel,” the baker’s sister he didn’t know he had & his neighbor the witch’s captive/adopted daughter- “rapunzel” is a type of cabbage which is why one of the princes comments what a ridiculous name his brother’s beloved obsession has.

cinderella (the golden slipper) wishes to go to the king’s festival, so there’s a royal purple banner with the king’s crown atop it.

there’s red’s basket she carries to granny’s house.

there’s the wolf.

there’s the five magic beans the baker & his wife pay jack for his cow, milky white.

there’s jack’s milk pail.

there’s the baker’s loaf of bread.

there’s golden eggs from the hen and the golden harp that jack brought down from the giant’s house in the sky.

there’s a lantern for traveling through the woods at all hours.

the baker’s hat.

three babies (rapunzel’s twins, plus the baker’s son once the curse is lifted)

the black glasses (cinderella’s birds blind her two meanie stepsisters)

the silver goblet the witch drinks the potion out of to lift the curse/spell once all the items are fed to the cow.

cinderella’s birds (who also help her pick the lentils out of the ashes, even though her stepmother still won’t let her go to the festival)

two crowns (the princes)

vines around the giant’s boots (the beanstalk)

red’s knife (she gets pretty feisty after she gets eaten by the wolf & rescued)

the scissors the witch used to cut rapunzel’s hair to keep the prince from ever visiting again

campanula paunculus- rampion- a purple bellflower in the witch’s garden, another derivative for “rapunzel”when you go back to the latin.  and the wolf sings to red about missing all the flowers by staying on the path to grandmother’s house.  tempting.

i think that’s it… oh!  three moons over the woods because the baker & his wife only had three midnights to collect all the objects the witch required to break the spell– the curse on their family tree and the curse of old age & ugliness her mother placed on her for losing the magic beans that the baker’s father stole out of her garden.

it’s a magically inter-woven plot and musical.  i’m a sucker for a good fairy tale mash up.  and set to music?  all the better.  even if act II isn’t quite as happy as act I.  plot twist!

as cinderella’s mother/tree sings:

“are you certain what you wish

is what you want?

if you know what you want,

then make a wish.”


“i wish…”

original gouache painting on watercolour paper, 6×14″

from the faerie tale feet series by hallie m. bertling

inspired by stephen sondheim & james alpine’s “into the woods”

original framed painting available for $525.  message me.

limited edition signed and numbered archival prints available at

glinda the good & raggedy ann…

i just finished painting two new faerie tale feet minis in preparation for the harbor arts & books festival next weekend in maine.

glinda the good already sold (woohoo facebook progress photos!), but wanted to show you the process.  🙂

i read “glinda of oz,” l. frank baum’s last oz novel, posthumously published.  glinda isn’t in it as much as i expected, but it was a good read.

and i RE-read yet again “the wonderful wizard of oz.”  unlike the movie version, glinda is not who we meet when we land among the munchkins once dorothy’s house takes out the wicked witch of the east.  it’s actually the good witch of the north, a little old lady in all white.  we don’t meet glinda, “the good sorceress of oz” until the end of the book, after dorothy and friends have crossed the desert, and some other kooky lands, to reach her once the wizard has accidentally flown away in his hot air balloon to kansas without our fearless farmgirl heroine in the basket, too.

in the book, glinda wears an all-white dress and her throne and crown are accentuated with rubies.  (probably where mgm got the idea for the ruby slippers to show off dorothy’s footwear in full technicolor glory!)

but for this painting, i couldn’t bear not to do glinda as pictured on film in munchkinland. so we’ve got her bubbles and fluffy pink dress.  and all the rest of our oz friends are down below on the yellow brick road.

it’s literally my favorite painting i’ve done in a while.  i love it.  and it’s already found it’s own “no place like home.”

here was my favorite quote from “glinda of oz,” by l. frank baum:


“am i really wonderful?” asked the scarecrow.

“you are unusual,” replied glinda.


🙂  i get it.  thank you for being gracious, glinda the good!


and here’s another mini i just finished, “sewn hugs,” inspired by johnny gruelle’s raggedy ann and andy stories, and modeled from my very own raggedy ann my mom sewed for my VERY first Christmas.  it includes the candy heart that was sewn into her when her stuffing got replaced, the shoe-button eyes, and safety pin because she was always encouraging the other dolls and mending things with kindness.

this one is still available, so email me at if you’re interested in taking her home.


8.25×6.25″ in the frame
just $110.


happy adventuring!

peace, love, & colour to you,


“fabulist.” a 24-hour contest in nerves.

i happen to live in the beautiful city and moderate clime of greenville, sc.  (affectionately & oft hash*tagged as #yeahTHATgreenville.)

last weekend, the metropolitan arts council held its annual “flat out under pressure” event where local artists bring their paper, canvas, board, or whatever*have*you to the office, have it stamped, and are to return with that same stamped board by the next morning.  it’s 24 hours to make one piece of art.  at stake?  having your art on downtown’s trash bins (nicer than it sounds; it’s free advertising and who doesn’t like fancy trash cans with art on them?!), and… a trip to italy.

before you read too much further, i’m going to spoil it for you:  i didn’t win.   but i did have LOTS of fun creating this piece.  after i’d calmed down a bit.  (as the name implies, it’s a LOT of pressure!  and YES, i had queen’s “under pressure” stuck in my head for most of the time i was feverishly painting this piece!)

so here’s a peek into the process of creating this 15 x 30″ board that encapsulates 16 of aesop’s fables (yes, i spent more than 16 hours on it).  i’ll list them below for you if you want to find them out!

click through the slideshow to see details of the process.

here is “fabulist.”  or, “aesop’s sketchbook,” or “how to lose your cheese, fall short of grapes, explode in vanity, escape the angry bees, do as you would be done by, stay faithful, grateful, brave, wise, & outrun a hare with a house on your back.”  a work in 16 studies.  😉

aesop sketchbook halthegal 1
i had thought about doing an aesop’s fable faerie tale feet piece a while ago. it’s been a running (pun!) joke/analogy/allegory that my husband & i are a turtle and a bunny- therefore the tortoise & the hare was necessary painting material. so here’s some notes in my moleskin from the few collections of aesop’s fables (i’d never read them ALL before) and some sketches of leaping hares and a bumbling tortoise in my sketchbook…
aesop sketchbook halthegal 2
earlier in the week, i did a teeny test patch to make sure mounting watercolour paper on this wooden board would serve my media well. so the test patch is a bit more subtle than my final original large piece, but we’re all learning, right…?
aesop sketchbook halthegal 3
here’s me around 9:03 am friday morning haven just gotten my board stamped @ MAC! eeeeep!!! i’d gotten downtown early and had a sully’s steamers bagel (gosh, they’re yummy) to try to calm my nerves… but not even carbs can help this chick.
aesop sketchbook halthegal 4
so i paced around the house a bit and nervously applied pencil to my board…. i started with the tortoise and the hare– i wanted to give it a sketchbook feel, so i used a lot of different materials– soft graphite, my fave red drawing pencils, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, conte… all of it!
aesop sketchbook halthegal 5
i kind of just went through my list of fables i wanted to capture and started filling in the board. i knew where the tortoise & the hare were going to go… and the fox and the grapes, but the rest of it was impromptu. and by impromptu, i mean 24 hours of “can i really do this in time without messing up royally?!”
aesop sketchbook halthegal 6
here’s a view of the full board before any color was added… i can’t remember if everything is drawn on at this point or not.
aesop sketchbook halthegal 7
and we slowly start to add color. i used my trusty gouache– all my old paper plates saved from faerie tale feet paintings… so i saved time on mixing colors… and re-used what i had!
aesop sketchbook halthegal 8
layers and layers of color start filling in around and in the figures…
aesop sketchbook halthegal 9
building building building… color, form, contrast… shadow, light, and trying not to make it a total rainbow fest. (guilty?)
aesop sketchbook halthegal 10
loooooots of animals. loooooots of drawings. loooooots of paint.
aesop sketchbook halthegal 11
this was my view around 2:46 am when i finally laid down for a three hour “nap” so i could look at it with fresh eyes in the morning. so there was more work to do, but i just had to take a step back first…
aesop sketchbook halthegal 12
this hare face in the middle is just my favorite part. i don’t know why. but i love him.
aesop sketchbook halthegal 13
here are the THREE brushes i used to fill the whole board. they are my warrior heroes.
aesop sketchbook halthegal 14
my trusty stack of reference material and paper plates full of color to apply…
aesop sketchbook halthegal 15
and here’s me! on my way downtown with my finished piece to deliver it to the exhibition before they lock the doors!

so while i didn’t win, you CAN purchase this piece and many of the other amazing works created by 68 other local greenville artists in just 24 hours!

the flat out under pressure show is hanging at the MAC gallery until july 8.  open during their regular office hours.  details and winners list on their website HERE.

the 16 fables i included:

  • the rose & the butterfly
  • town mouse & country mouse
  • the frog & the ox
  • the goose that laid the golden eggs
  • the hare & the tortoise
  • the mice in council
  • the peacock’s complaint
  • the bear & the bees
  • the fox & the stork
  • the lion & the mouse
  • the fox & the crow
  • the fox & the grapes
  • the moon & her mother
  • the crow & the pitcher
  • the milk maid & her pail
  • the frogs’ complaint against the sun
  • the owl & the birds
  • the wolf & the goat


“a tempered heart.”

tempered heart feature image“a tempered heart.”

original gouache painting by hallie m. bertling

a part of the faerie tale feet series, available at

i have always loved “alice’s adventures in wonderland” as a terrific piece of absurdist literature.  and what inspired this piece?  a medieval painting i saw at the met this january on my husband’s birthday trip.  so here’s a peak into the process (& my absurd book collection) for lewis carroll’s classic!

click through the slideshow below for a bit of my process, my inspiration, and some fun facts on lewis carroll’s work.  some people read way too far into the text, but he was a mathematician, so i bet some of it was actually intentional.  it’s amazing how deep the levels in meanings are in artists’ work, n’est pas?  always more to discover…

tempered heart 1
i found that i have more than 17 editions of lewis carroll’s alice stories. they range from comics to modern art, antique editions, the gorgeous new french edition by benjamin lacombe, and animation concept art by my beloved mary blair. artists have obviously found the text visually inspiring for its 150 years of existence. i’m sure the fun’s not over!
tempered heart 2
here’s the medieval painting i found in the met this january that inspired the unique layout of this piece. i immediately thought of her bangs as the big hips of her skirts and thought since she’s always yelling “off with their heads!” the picture could be in the shape of her head.
tempered heart 3
here’s my little quick sketch while i was in the museum. i usually doodle sculptures in oceana and the mayan rooms for their fantastic shapes, but there was something so graphic and modern about this piece that i had to capture the funky collar and that remarkable crown.
tempered heart 1a
i got home and started doodling- ball gowns and shoes- and deciding what posture would BEST indicate she was HOPPING MAD!
tempered heart 1b
i take lots of little notes in my moleskin. and my countless alice books are riddled with sticky tabs for phrases or illustrations i want to reference.
tempered heart 4
once i had my final sketch, i transferred it to watercolor paper and started painting in layers of green foliage for the hedges.
tempered heart 5
the croquet match was the perfect opportunity to hide icons from the story in the topiary hedges. and i couldn’t resist putting in a startled flamingo croquet mallet!
tempered heart 6
paint paint paint… oh, how i love to paint!
tempered heart 7
here’s the final painting- complete with sparkly crown.
tempered heart 8
just a few of my alice editions. “alice adventures underground” was really interesting as it’s a printing of the original manuscript carroll gave to alice liddell, not how he edited it when people told him he should publish it. (he had to pay for his first print run, by the way. and tenniel was so unhappy with the plates from his etchings (the first and last children’s book the editorial cartoonist ever illustrated!) that he demanded a reprint. so they stamped them defective and shipped them to america. if you have that FIRST edition, oh how i envy you!!
tempered heart a-1
this box set of alice was the START of my antique/unique book collection habits. dad would always drag me to antique stores in watervliet, michigan to shop for tin soldiers, and lo and behold i fell in LOVE with beautiful OLD books. the adventures obviously continue…

i’m in love with this piece and hope you adore it, too!

“the queen of hearts, she made some tarts,

all on a summer day.

the knave of hearts, he stole those tarts,

and took them quite away.”

if it was anything like cherry pie, i don’t blame the knave one bit.  but it did throw the queen into quite the tantrum.

here are the icons you’ll find hiding in the topiary hedges:

*painting the roses red

*two spades [her card escorts were categorized into the spades (gardeners), diamonds (courtiers), hearts (her children), and clubs (the guards).  so clever.]

*the king’s crown on a velvet pillow

*the duchess’ invitation to the croquet match

*the golden key (the victorian book lovers’ symbol for unlocking faerie land, according to george macdonald, a family friend of carroll’s.)

*the white rabbit with red eyes

*the tiny white gloves & golden pocketwatch of said white rabbit

*one of the juror’s slate and pencil

*the number 42, a predominant number in this book with all sorts of meanings to abstract mathematicians

*the queen’s tarts

*the gryphon (who lead alice to the mock turtle for a very depressing and slow-moving song)

*alice’s iconic shoes (“why, what are your shoes done with?” said the gryphon.  “i mean, what makes them so shiny?”… and the gryphon’s shoes were made of “soles and eels, of course.. any shrimp could have told you that.”)

*the pepper that made everyone at the duchess’ house in a sneezing tizzy

*the mad hatter’s hat

*bill the lizard

*the cheshire cat’s grin, with disappearing body, of course

*the queen’s heart-shaped spectacles

and of course, instead of showing “off with their heads,” i did a round head*shaped hole in the hedge instead.  long live the queen and all the cards and critters the king of hearts spared.

bon appétit!

peace, love, & colour to you,



“bookishly brave hermione.”

hermione one
sometimes the best model is you; & sometimes the best model is your husband.  great thing one can edit with a pencil & paintbrush!
hermione two b
after getting to read all the books again & take notes about what pertains to our beloved & brave hermione, we start sketching the best shape for the icons relevant to HER story in the books.


hermione 2
here we start making the final background drawing and pattern out of the icons– tracing the final drawn shapes to fill the background.
hermione three
lots and lots of light layers of paint on both the background and crookshanks, of course.  he was obviously thrilled.
hermione five
as in my harry potter piece, i recycle multiple plates of gouache from previous paintings.  sometimes i’ll mix a new colour, but because i’m using layers and layers, i can usually make it up from what i’ve already got.
hermione four
more in progress layers of colour & paint!
hermione seven
hermione isn’t the only bookworm we know.  here’s a peek at the wall of books that watches me when i paint.
hermione eight
here’s the final hermione print!  available on my halthegal etsy shoppe!

“bookishly brave hermione,”

original gouache painting by hallie m. bertling

gouache and ink on watercolour paper; 14 x 6″

we love hermione.  she’s tough.  she’s smart.  she’s the brightest witch of her age.  she reads.  she saves harry and ron more times than they deserve.  she’s fierce and loyal, kind and loving.  she feels compassion and takes action.  she rescues the helpless, she fights for the rights of the house elves because she can’t help but see injustice righted.

here are some of the icons you’ll find in the background:

a tooth (she’s got dentists for parents, after all.  even if they don’t remember.)

polyjuice potion (with a cat on the bottle, because, well, it kind of backfired once)

the gryffindor shield

the escape dragon from gringott’s

feather quill pen & ink (not just wingardium leviosa, but you know how she loves to fill scrolls for homework)

her otter patronus

her time-turner necklace

her cauldron

the mirror that saved her from the basilisk

the sorting hat (with raven; her almost-sorted-into house)

knitted hats left around the common room

the jar of blue flame to sneak into the library and get in some extra reading

anything else you can find? 🙂

(hint:  nosy reporter.)

prints available on my etsy site:

individual greeting card with hermione on the front available here:

original painting has SOLD.

be brave!

go read books!

new project: faerie tale feet minis!!

who doesn’t love affordable, original art?

not i.  i mean, i do.  i love collecting lots of little pieces!

so i’m currently experimenting with shadowboxes… still original gouache and mixed media pieces of characters from literature… but less of the full-background pattern schmorgasborg technicolor explosion of my current faerie tale feet paintings.  🙂

my husband recently bought me a magnifying lamp for my art desk– once i figured out how not to squint with one eye shut like i’m looking through a telescope… it got pretty awesome!!  which means i can get crazy detail… which sometimes looks like less than it looks without the magnifier…. so i’ll work on upping contrast for those not wearing jewelers’ goggles.  🙂

and yes.  there is legitimate debate over destroying books to make art.  i dislike when people destroy antique books.  but for something that’s still in print, available in hundreds of formats, and a copy which hasn’t been loved yet… well, i’m salving my conscience with the fact that the book publishing world still got my money even though i cut a bat out of its beautiful binding.  feel free to discuss.

i started with lucy harker from dracula for my first mini faerie tale feet experiment.  my ladies’ book club just read it as our october pick, because, you know, ’tis the season!  it’s a spectacular book.  with lots of great quotes.  once i share the final, framed, work, i’ll let you help me decide which to use either on the frame or as the title.

if ever there was a day to keep all the lights on… until it gets dark and one pretends not to be home… it’s halloween.  i love candy.  but i do not care for strangers ringing my doorbell… but, alas, the hubs and i are going to a friend’s bonfire this evening… so i thought i’d go as me with better hair.  what do you think?

mini 2

peace, love, & colour to you,


**please don’t forget to support my kickstarter faerie tale feet coloring book project!!  just a few weeks left– and i’ll be in india with water of life ( the last two weeks so i won’t be able to remind you!  ack!  i’d love to reach my goal!!  thank you!!

here’s the final:

dracula shadow box 1 IMG_3988

measures 6×9.”  like?  😀

faerie tale feet: the coloring book vol. i

this is gonna be good!

i’ve had requests.  i’ve seen the shelves.  i’ve seen the social media posts.  i understand the joy of coloring!

halthegal’s first faerie tale feet coloring book COULD be yours!  you have until black friday to help kickstart this project– i really can’t wait to share it with you!

pitch in if you can.  incentives include a first edition, or one of the original drawings used to create the book, or for the uber*generous, an original faerie tale feet painting, too!

please join the party here:

thanks for your support!

peace, love, & colour to you,


“a cobbler’s dozen.”

cobbler 2
there are SO many beautiful illustrated books by a wide range of illustrators interpreting “the twelve dancing princesses.” it took a LONG time to widdle down my ideas to a composition that told the whole story.
cobbler 3
after a lot of chats with faerie-tale minded friends, i landed on a long-format layout with a dozen pairs of shoes and two side panels to tell the story.
cobbler 4
there’s the final outline sketch on tracing paper so that i can transfer it to the watercolour paper.
cobbler 5
once i’d transferred and filled in the drawing, i started by painting the first layers of colour on the tulip border.
cobbler 6
there’s a mauve-y background to the whole thing… but the colours still went a wide range of brite and wild.
cobbler 7
i did a crayon color comp… but you know how that evolves once you put a brush and an unlimited palette in my hand.
cobbler 8
i could have spent a caboodle of months adding layers of colour and detail to the shoes and ribbons. but i eventually had to call it a day or a few…
cobbler 9
on the left panel, the soldier in the invisibility cloak is stepping on the hem of the youngest sister’s (& last in line’s) hem as they journey down to the enchanted kingdom. the drapes represent the bedroom and the secret passage that opens under the eldest sister’s bed when it’s time for the nightly ball…
cobbler 10
in the right hand panel is the kingdom, and silhouettes of the princesses being rowed to the shore by their twelve princes. in the sky are the silver, gold, and diamond branches of the forest that they walk through on the way to the boats.
cobbler 11
here’s a vision of the whole design, waiting for the final painting of the “big feet” of the eldest princess.
cobbler 12
i reaaaaaaalllly love how the castle turned out. it makes me happy. 🙂
cobbler 13
and here’s the (almost) final shoes. i think i added a few more stitching and shadow details in the morning….
cobbler 1
and here’s what the final greeting card looks like- the painting wraps from back to front!

“a cobbler’s dozen.”

original gouache painting on watercolour paper by hallie m. gillett bertling.

based on the brothers grimm’s “the twelve dancing princesses,” my painting takes me back to my very favourite faerie tale classic theatre episode of the same tale.

depending on the version you read, the king may have banished dancing in the kingdom after the death of his beloved wife, or perhaps the princesses are under a spell. whichever way, the king locks them in their room at night, and still EVERY morning without fail, their slippers are worn out and a dozen new pairs of shoes are demanded of the kingdom cobbler every day.
the king sends out a proclamation that anyone who solves the mystery of the worn-out dancing slippers gets to marry the princess of his choice and become king.
prince after prince fails (for they drink the wine at dinner that has been dosed with a lil’ extra sleeping potion by the princesses), until finally a humble soldier, returned home from the wars, decides why not him?

he meets with a peasant woman in the woods, and in gratitude for his sharing his bread and cheese with an old beggar woman, she gives him two things: one piece of advice (don’t drink the wine!), and two– a cloak to make him invisible so he can follow the princesses and find where they go at night.
i’ll spare you all the EXCITING details because of course you ought to read it for yourself, but he does indeed follow them to an enchanted kingdom below the palace where they dance the night away with twelve princes (possibly also cursed) who row them to the shore of a palace where they dance and dance until their shoes are positively worn out. they venture through forests of silver, gold, and diamond (hence the branches above the palace in the right hand panel), and the soldier’s final piece of proof he brings back to the king after the third night of watching the princesses dance is a golden jeweled goblet unlike any the king’s kingdom has ever seen.
last spoiler: it has a happy ending. 😉

(andrew lang’s version has the *spoiler* garden boy falling in love with the youngest princess; i like the grimms’ version better.  but they’re both lovely.)

you can purchase the limited edition print here on my etsy site:

or the greeting card here:

card reads “I should like to discover where those princesses go to dance their shoes to pieces.”  wouldn’t we all?  😀

original painting (6×14″ + mat & frame) is also available for $395.  contact me via etsy!