“ron’s a keeper.” ron weasley, from j.k. rowling’s harry potter series

it was incredibly interesting to re-read the entire harry potter series (cursed child, included; we can debate later, but i’m a huge fan!) keeping ONE thing in mind:  ron weasley.  he turned into 5 pages of teeny tiny handwritten notes in my faerie tale feet moleskine– all things to help represent his adventures with and without harry and hermione throughout the series.  he really “grew into his own” as it were… he became more than a loyal, fumbling sidekick.  he made mistakes.  he became a hero.  he didn’t have to outgrow his family shadow, but got to claim his own stake in the wizarding world.  and as book seven closes, declare with much truth and humour, “don’t let it worry you.  it’s me.  i’m extremely famous.”

have a peak at my painting process, and then jump down for all the icons that i (finally, with some help) decided upon for the background imagery to help tell his story.

ron halthegal blog 1
i always start a new faerie tale feet painting by doing all the research i can. for ron, of course, i got to reread all the harry potter books, taking copious notes about how our favorite tall, lanky redheaded hogwarts express companion made an impact on all the other characters.
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after i decide on the icons i want to use to help tell the story, i transfer my drawing down to watercolour paper, and here i am adding the very first glaze of the background colour. i used masking fluid on the shapes that wouldn’t have a subtle orange undertone, like the deluminator and the flying car….
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here’s the painting with colors slowly being added… for all the faerie tale feet paintings in the harry potter collection (there’s now four! harry, hermione, ron, & luna!), i painted on watercolour paper, mixing a few new colours, but mostly reusing paints from my other paintings– lots and lots of sheer layers of colours, recharged from the saved paper plates that i mix on for each piece.
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here was the first layer of gouache, graphite, and a bit of india ink is coming on the knight piece that ron rides/plays as in the very first book to help our trio cross the wizards chess board so harry can (what they think) stop snape from stealing the sorcerer’s stone. more contrast came later.
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here is an extreme zoom-in of one of the scabbers (in-progress) you’ll find in the background. he was so fun to paint, even if he was a villain. (so much more to his story than i remembered!)
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and here’s the left hand side of the final painting, ron’s too-short jeans, dirty hand-me-down-shirt, and what sneakers i would have put him in if they existed. 🙂 (i just can’t handle boring uniform shoes! i had to mix it up!!)

i consulted my nerdtastic*bff to help me narrow down my too-many-pages of ron notes (& let her see some preliminary sketches) for what shapes were working best to tell ron’s story.  so here’s what we decided upon:

  • one of each of ron’s red-headed family members are represented since his family was such a huge part of his motivation and place in harry’s world.  there’s mr. weasley (balding, horn-rimmed glasses, according to the text), mrs. molly weasley (lower left), bill (devilishly handsome; ponytail), charlie (a bit of a thicker, wider head since he’s probably a bit sturdy to work with dragons), fred & george (the twins.  yes, george is missing an ear), percy (the “perfect” prefect on the far left), and ginny (the only girl, bless her, top right)
  • scabbers (the fat, grey rat who turns out to be an animagus revealed in book three; my fave book, although it’s a tie with book six.)
  • chocolate frogs (part of harry’s very first meeting with ron on the hogwarts express in book one)
  • the maroon sweater (Christmas present from his mom; every year.)
  • flying turquoise car (ford anglica, later destroyed by the whomping willow, but also their savior in the forbidden forest)
  • howler (the red, steaming envelope of a letter that molly sends to yell at ron for stealing the car and being seen flying over london because he was late for the train)
  • spiders (ron’s greatest fear)
  • three broomsticks (for ron’s unwavering crush on its bartender, rosmerta, who wore sparkly turquoise heels, which i feel are important because they sound amazing.)
  • red rat tonic (something was obviously wrong with scabbers)
  • the three tall goal posts of quidditch (he DID become a keeper, even without the help of felix felicis.  but maybe not without some subversive wand work from hermione.)
  • elf hats (of course, dobby.  but also because the first time ron & hermione kiss, it’s because of ron’s mention of elf rights.  so that’s why one of them is rose-colored instead of green like in hermione’s painting.  one of their children was named rose.)
  • weasley is our king crown pins (with a green shadow since the slytherins did it to torture ron “he always lets the quaffle in!” however, his victory turned the chorus of the song into something a bit more uplifting.)
  • felix felicis (a molten gold liquid luck that harry wins in professor slughorn’s potion class that he lets ron believe he put into his juice before a big quidditch match; but it was a trick of the eye & harry later uses the potion to get an important memory out of slughorn at aragog’s funeral in hagrid’s garden)
  • love potion (not only the need for a life-saving bezoar, but let’s not mention that whole lavender brown nonsense, shall we?)
  • sword of gryffindor (like all weasleys, ron got sorted into gryffindor.  but unlike any of his siblings, he dove into a frozen lake to retrieve the sword, save harry’s life, and destroy salazar slytherin’s locket of a horcrux with it.)
  • the deluminator (left to ron in dumbledore’s will, it lead ron back to harry & hermione.  the blue, floating light… swoon.)
  • his silver terrier patronus
  • & of course the knight wizard’s chess piece he uses to help harry & hermione across the board in book one!

other shapes there simply wasn’t room for:  the infamous wingardium leviosa feather, the burrow, de-gnoming the garden (but my sketches were adorable), bezoars, an egyptian pyramid (family vacation), the sneakoscope ron brings back to harry (more scabbers clues), lavender brown’s bunny binky, pidwidgeon, the merpeople from the goblet of fire challenge, his prefect badge, the brains from the department of mysteries, the silver quidditch cup, cattermole’s raining office, dragomir despard, the yellow dragon they escaped gringott’s on, the basilisk fang he & hermione go back to the chamber of secrets for to destroy rowena ravenclaw’s diadem…. well, those were the second tier of icons.  there was more… ;D

“ron’s a keeper.”

original gouache painting from the faerie tale feet series

6 x 14″ on watercolour paper

$450, framed.

limited edition signed prints now available HERE on etsy!

& his greeting card HERE on my etsy shoppe! & as part of the hogwarts friendship pack HERE.  🙂

“i do believe in fairies!”

“you don’t mean to tell me that there is a fairy in this room!”

i credit my dad with my obsession with peter pan.

of course i grew up watching (repeatedly) the classic disney animated version.

and “peter pan’s flight” is still my favorite ride in all of the disney parks.

i didn’t read the book until i worked in a book store during college.  and it didn’t quite resonate with me.  but i’d say in the past five years, i’ve probably read it another ten times.  i guess i get it now.  barrie’s adventurous island.  the darlings’ daring escape into the night.  peter’s forgetfulness.  the lovely mermaids.  brave tiger lily.  the ridiculous pirates.

but perhaps i’m mixing what i grew up with into barrie’s marvelous prose.  before i even saw the disney film, i saw mary martin’s broadway performance in the cbs (re-)telecast.  (hook’s tarantella is just one of those things that sticks with you.  and mary-as-peter outsmarting him in the woods as that “mysterious lady.”)  i got to see the traveling show live with cathy rigby (can i watch the lost boys and the indians drum on the stage forever, please?!)  and i absolutely fell in love with p.j. hogan’s non-musical, very colorful, film version in 2007.  it’s in my top ten favorite movies ever.

i’ve read every peter pan retelling or twist telling i can get my hands on.  (there are a lot of awful ones out there, but i do enjoy dave barry & ridley pearson’s peter and the starcatchers series, for the record.)

all that to say, the story, just like peter, doesn’t get old.

i wanted to revisit neverland, and more particularly, the glowing stage presence, of everyone’s favorite pixie, tinker bell.  so i created a companion piece to my paintings “wendy loves peter pan.” and “off to neverland!” (my wendy & peter pieces which have both sold, but prints still available!)

so behold:  my process and iconography for “i do believe in fairies,” my faerie tale feet gouache painting ode to tinker bell.

see my process below, and then further down i’ll tell you everything from the original story hidden in the background!

tink halthegal blog 1
once i’ve done all my research (reading book, play, short stories, rewatching all the films and broadway versions, annotated editions, etc.), i finalize which drawings and shapes i want to use for the pattern background. so here’s the view through my magnifier lamp as i trace different objects that create the background pattern…
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here’s the final pattern drawing taped down to my illustration board. i’ll put a piece of transfer paper between the tracing paper and the board, and re-trace every line so that i can have the drawing on the board and paint around all the shapes.
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once the drawing is transferred, i’ll mix up my main background color (obsessed with what my instagram followers & i dubbed “morning moss”) and paint around each and every shape- it usually takes upwards of 5 hours and i have to do it in one sitting to keep the paint colour & smooth texture consistent.
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here’s a view once the background color is down and i’m mixing a color for each new shape. (all the mermaids shall be the same green; all the pirate swords are the same green; the lost boys are their own shade of green, etc.)
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for whatever reason, but probably so i can make them stand out as needed depending on how the rest of the piece turned out, i always paint the legs/feet/shoes of our main character as the very last thing. so here are all the different shades of green i mixed for the background on my trusty paper plates, and the finished nursery/stage at the bottom.
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here’s a zoomed-in shot of that nursery window with our london skyline and the second star to the right beckoning our adventurers on to more fantastical things.

 

tinker bell first appears in the stage production (it was a play to begin with, of course, then due to its tremendous theatrical success, barrie was “forced” to turn it into a readable novel; i’ve read the stage and prose versions multiple times, naturally) as a ball of light, flickering about the stage, looking in lamps and drawers for peter’s shadow that nana, the nurse dog, caught when peter had made an earlier visit to the darling family’s nursery window.

in light of this (theatre pun!), i wanted to weight the painting with a facsimile of the nursery set that opens the stage production.  so we see the beds of wendy, michael, & john, complete with the nightlights hanging by each of their beds (“the eyes a mother leaves behind for her children.”)  i also snuck in a teeny tiny pirate ship by the boys’ beds as they were ever so fond of playing pirates, even if forever bickering of who would play villainous captain jas. hook.

the open window not only lets tink and peter into the nursery, but lets the children out.  (& of course must always remain open if they are ever to return.  peter’s a bit bitter that by the time he finally flew back to his mother’s house, the window was shut and he had been replaced with another baby.  so he went back to neverland.  forever.)

nana’s doghouse is in the nursery, too, and i mimicked the london skyline that is seen in wendy‘s painting.  second star to the right (& straight on ’til morning; famous directions, although peter makes it up on the spot)* shining brightly as ever.

in the background you’ll find:

  • peter’s pipes (early illustrations from “peter in kensington gardens” show his musical side.)
  • skeleton leaves (not only what tink’s dress is made out of, but what she tries to send wendy afloat back to the mainland on in one of her many jealous pranks)
  • acorn (the “kiss” that peter gives wendy which saves her life when tink tells the lost boys to shoot down “the wendy bird.”)
  • thimble (the “kiss” that wendy gives peter, causing tink to pull her hair)**
  • pots and kettles (it’s why “she is called tinker bell because she mends the pots and kettles.”)
  • the lovely mermaids of neverland (another source of tink’s jealousy over her wayward, charming, flirtatious if clueless, peter.)
  • tiger lily (princess of the piccaninnies tribe, another contending female for peter’s affections)
  • there were “a million golden arrows” pointing the way to neverland for wendy, john, & michael, but i also painted them to look like the arrows of the lost boys (one that hits mother wendy) and the piccaninnies
  • hook’s hook
  • the pirates’ scabbards
  • one of each lost boy (tootles, nibs, slightly, curly, and the twins.)
  • hook’s poison (which tink drank to save peter’s life; the cause for peter to directly plead with the audience to “clap if you believe in fairies!” so that tink might live)
  • the mushroom chimney that hook sat on which revealed the long-sought-out hiding place of the lost boys’ underground burrow and commenced many schemes of kidnap and beguiling

 

and of course, floating in the left-hand corner is tink herself.  “exquisitely gowned in a skeleton leaf, cut low and square, through which her figure could be seen to the best advantage.  she was slightly inclined to embonpoint***.”

fun fact:  i intended to paint peter’s shadow on the nursery walls as it appears in the disney ride, but i obviously forgot.  i do hope you get the idea of our little minx and her jealous, protective self, even without peter’s lingering presence.  🙂

there were lots of other shapes i’d wished to fit in there to tell the tale, but i hope you’ll read the play.  read the book.  see the musical.  see the movie.  see the animated film.  relish in the unending adventures of neverland and the boy who refused to grow up.  and his fairy.

the painting shall debut at artisphere 2017 and i may or may not put prints and cards up on etsy before then.

the original painting is framed in black (painted image 11 x 11,” framed in black with a white mat to 16 x 16.”) and available for $525.  message me if interested!

 

*barrie took these instructions from robert lewis stevenson’s invitation to visit him at vailima, his estate in the samoan islands.  “you take the boat at san francisco, and then my place is the second to the left.” (the annotated peter pan, notes by maria tartar, w.w. norton & company, 2011; pg. 53.)

**according to the annotated peter pan, “young audiences participated in the early production, not just by clapping their hands to save tinker bell but also by throwing thimbles on stage to peter.” (page 41)

***embonpoint:  excessive plumpness, stoutness. as she should be.