“narnia, awake.” Aslan of c.s. lewis’ the chronicles of narnia series

“i didn’t believe in Magic till today.  i see now it’s real.  well, if it is, i suppose all the old fairy tales are more or less true.”

it wasn’t until my mid-twenties that i was first swept away to narnia through that magical wardrobe crafted of the wood of the tree of the apple that digory brought back to save the life of his mother in the magician’s nephew.

Aslan holds deep spiritual significance for me.  as does the unwavering faithfulness of queen lucy.  it was with an awestruck wonder that i attempted to paint “Aslan the King.  the King of the wood & the son of the Great Emperor beyond-the-sea– the Great Lion.”

so have a look at a bit of my painting process & then scroll down for a deeper look into all those background icons i used to attempt to tell a tiny piece of Aslan’s Great Story.

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i re-used a few icons from queen lucy‘s painting so that they’d make the perfect pair on any library wall. but there was also a LOT of imagery i wanted to use in Aslan’s background. so i sketch shapes and ideas in my sketchbook until i see what shall work best with the entire composition, and what shapes are imperative to telling the tale. and what shall read clearly as a silhouette.  (in this picture, you can immediately see three that didn’t make the cut– father Christmas’ sleigh bells, the thrones at cair paravel, and the silver chair!)
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once i have my final feet drawing (Aslan is my first non-human-eque biped!), and have traced the final shapes out of my sketchbook, i use a bit of transfer paper, and re-trace my pattern drawing (created on tracing paper) onto my illustration board so it leaves a light blue line so i know where to paint inside & outside the lines!
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well before i paint the feet, and even before i paint the shapes, i mix up The Background Color…. and spend many, many hours painting around all the shapes to get a solid gouache covering for the painting.
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the red background came out exactly how i had hoped. so here i am starting to add color to each shape. i’ll paint all the wardrobes at once with the same color of brown. then i’ll mix my brown for fledge the flying horse, the yellow for the inside of the crowns, etc etc etc…!
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here’s more of the colors getting filed in and coming together!
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painting the tiny roaring lions on the battle standards made me all the more grateful for a good brush and a magnifying lamp to paint by!
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once the background is completely painted, i start on our main character’s feet. layers and layers of fur…

click HERE to see an instagram video of those fur layers!

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… about ten hours of teeny tiny brush strokes, to be almost exact. and you’d never know all those layers are there if i hadn’t have told you, but i think the final result definitely made Aslan’s fur all the more visually powerful.

so what did i scatter throughout Aslan’s background?  hopefully a little bit of the essence of all 7 narnia books.

  • the lamp-post (seen in both the magicians nephew, and completely iconic to the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe, it’s how lucy finds her way back to “Spare Oom of War Drobe.”)
  • strawberry, whose name was changed to fledge, the father of all the winged horses (the magician’s nephew)
  • apple of life (that Aslan sent home with digory to save his mother’s life; it grew into a tree in the backyard of uncle andrew’s house which was used to make the wardrobe)
  • the wardrobe (not just full of fur coats!)
  • two snowflakes (to represent the white witch & Winter, of course.  and i couldn’t help but strategically place it under Aslan’s back paw for the prophecy of Genesis 3:15, “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”)
  • mr. tumnus (with his neck scarf, carrying packages, and carrying his red umbrella as lucy first met him)
  • four crowns (for the two daughters of eve and the two sons of adam who came in the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe to fulfill the prophecy and sit on the four thrones of cair paravel.)
  • peter’s shield (a gift from father Christmas as spring was arriving because Aslan was on the move!)
  • susan’s ivory horn (“help of some kind will come to you;” also used by prince caspian to call back the young-again kings & queens of narnia; who then called Aslan back to help conquer the telmarines)
  • the broken stone table (roar!)
  • unicorns (for the great variety of creatures and talking beasts in narnia, and the special one in the last battle.)
  • Aslan’s standard/banner of Narnia
  • the mice which nibbled away Aslan’s bonds as he lay murdered (sacrificed) on the stone table
  • giant paw prints (from the horse and his boy)
  • reepicheep (the valiant mouse whose tail Aslan restored in prince caspian)
  • dragon heads (poor eustace clarence scrubb, who “almost deserved” his name; what a fantastic transformation Story in the voyage of the dawn treader!)

i didn’t have a chance to add the silver chair, or the shooting stars from book seven… or the golden key as an homage to george macdonald whose fairy tales c.s. lewis himself read and learned from.  but i think you get the idea.  😀

the original painting debuted at artisphere 2017, and prints and cards are now available on etsy!

limited edition signed prints available here on etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/531659175/narnia-awake-aslan-faerie-tale-feet?ref=shop_home_active_1

blank greeting cards available here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/517847052/aslan-faerie-tale-feet-blank-narnia?ref=listing-shop-header-1

original painting available framed fro $495 + $30 for safe shipping.  message me on etsy, please!  🙂

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“it’s possible.” {your own personal fairy godmother.}

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.

let’s look at my process for creating this painting in the faerie tale feet series, and then below, i’ll share where i got each specific background icon!

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once in a great while, i’ll take my research to the outside world. here, a nearly-too-pretty to drink latte from the fair ladies at the village grind on pendleton street in west greenville. i brought my trusty li’l notebook and a couple books full of fairy godmother versions and madame d’aulnoy’s fairy tales, the earliest mentions of fairy godmothers.
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once i’ve done my research (see media pile in back corner of my drafting table!), i’ll start sketching the most obvious or recognizable icons that can help tell the story visually. so i’ll do thumbnails for layout, plus lots of versions of each shape until i find something that shall read clearly visually.
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here’s the final background pattern drawing!
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and once my drawing is done, i’ll tape it to my illustration board, put a bit of transfer paper in between, and retrace every line and shape…
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…. so the blue lines are what transferred when i retraced my drawing, so here i am painting with a teeny tiny brush around all the teeny tiny background shapes to fill in the background color– i have to do it in one sitting or it gets streaky. so that usually takes, oh, 5-7 hours at one go if i’m on a roll!
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once the background colour is done, i’ll paint one color at a time… i started with the frogs, then a bit of the wings…
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and more and more colours get added….
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almost done! the keys were fun to paint, but oh such tiny details. i painted them once in a mustard golden hue, then went over them again with literal shiny gold gouache.
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here’s the final painting and a beautiful photo of one of the fifteen stunning galleries dedicated to the “Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia” that i used for color scheme reference. i wanted her to match my “cinderella’s escape” painting so you could hang them side by side, but definitely wanted to give this one its own distinct vibe!

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.

fgm blog header
top left corner detail from “it’s possible.”

and for good measure, here are a few favourite fairy godmother quotes i came upon in my usual miles upon tomes of miles of my research:

  • “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.
  • “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.

 

the original painting has sold, but limited edition prints are available HERE on my etsy shoppe, the greeting card HERE on my etsy shoppe, and the small framed print HERE.

“go!  with the promise of possibility!”

& have a magical day!

*halthegal.

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,

*halthegal.