“Pea is for Princess.” hans christian andersen’s “the princess and the pea.”

what i love about this fairy tale is that in the original, the prince has set out to find a TRUE princess.  and the queen concocts this crazy test– a tiny pea underneath 20 mattresses and 20 quilts to prove the gal’s “delicacy.”  if she’s sensitive enough to feel the pea, she Must be a true princess.

in all the visual retellings (faerie tale classic theatre, once upon a mattress, for example), she’s a total tomboy.  and still the only one who passes the delicacy test!  i love it.  because princesses come in all shapes and sizes, all personalities, and can come into the castle in the midst of any kind of storm!

have a peek at my process below and then i’ll tell you a few more story details beneath all the pictures.  🙂

princess pea blog 1
i have vivid memories of this storybook as a kid, and was very pleased to get my hands on a copy. i love the silly animals and the subtle colors over the drawings. it’s a classic for a reason. and i always let myself collect as many versions of the story i’m working on as i can find for inspiration. and really, it’s just a great excuse to expand my fairy tale shelves!
princess pea blog 2
my nerdtastic*bff (er, cousin-in-law) once again came to the rescue and let me take some reference photos of her climbing a ladder (braver than vertigo-me!) to get the movement right for my final sketch. i also used her beautiful kitty mertz to style our own curious kitty.
princess pea blog 3
here’s in-progress of early thumbnails and sketches, compiling my notes, and editing what i want to keep in the picture.  (things that got left out:  feathers flying out and down around the mattresses.  and i put the mouse with a (the?!) pea in the windowsill instead of squishing him between mattress layers.
princess pea blog 4
here’s the final drawing to final scale- 11 x 14″ about to be transferred down on to watercolour paper.
princess pea blog 5
once i’d transferred my image (re-traced it down to the watercolour paper using transfer paper in-between the drawing and the final paper), i got to start my favourite bit: painting!  you’ll also see a little sheen in the puddles around the princess’ boots.  i used some masking fluid for raindrops in the windows, the kitty whiskers, and said puddle so that after all my painting, i’d have clean white-of-the-paper patches in those spots!
princess pea blog 6
layers and layers of colors for each mattress pattern. patience waiting for the wet, thin gouache layers to soak in before adding more shapes or stripes was my challenge!  otherwise all those edges would run.  :/
princess pea blog 7
once i’d painted all the mattresses, i painted the background wall, the stormy night outside the window, and the rug under the kitty….
princess pea blog 8
and hours and hours and hours later (some of which were equally stormy!), here is our final painting! lots of layers of colours. lots of details. lots of peering through my magnifying lamp and controlling teeny tiny brush strokes!
princess pea blog 9
and here was the final stack of books and media i referenced for creating this faerie tale feet piece. the original tale, in various translations, lots of illustrated children’s books, more fairy tale collections, and even the original broadway cast recording of “once upon a mattress” starring a very young carol burnett in 1959!

i’m really excited to share this faerie tale feet piece with you.

“Pea is for Princess.,” from the faerie tale feet series by hallie m. bertling, a.k.a., halthegal.

inspired by hans christian andersen’s “the princess and the pea.”

11 x 14,” gouache on watercolour paper.

the faerie tale classic theatre episode (starring liza minnelli!) was a perpetual childhood favourite (right after “the twelve dancing princesses.”)  the broadway show “once upon a mattress” is fantastically quirky and silly and lyrically very funny and sweet.

and i even found some versions of hans christian andersen’s theme in other cultures’ folk tales- “the most sensitive woman” is an italian fairy tale which features a pulled hair, a wrinkled linen sheet, and then a jasmine blossom bruising a true princess’ foot.  and from india, “the three delicate wives of king virtue-banner,” in which a lotus-petal, moonbeams, and then the most delicate was the one who bruised from just hearing the pestles grinding grain.

all that to say, i hope you get a better night’s sleep than these ladies.  and can rest well knowing your princess status, and without having to pass such a test.  i hope the king lets you in when it’s storming outside and you’ve been wandering the moors.  i hope the pea is still in the museum and hasn’t been stolen.  and if a bewildered, curious kitty does have to watch you climb a ladder to reach the top of an unruly pile of mattresses, i hope you’re not scared of heights.  or allergic to tiny green vegetables.

prints now available in my etsy shoppe!!  https://etsy.me/2GuOScB

& greeting cards available individually, or as part of the PRINCESS PACK!  😀

original painting available framed for $525.  contact me through etsy or instagram.  you can see more in-progress shots and short videos at instagram.com/halthegal2.  follow along for what’s next!



“snow falls.”

snow 1
the “snow falls” pattern on tracing paper ready to be transferred to illustration board.
snow 2
once the drawing and pattern are transferred to the board, i paint in the background colour, followed by each icon, one colour at a time.
snow 3
detail of the finished background painting with the owl, raven, and dove in the tree snow white slept while unconscious.
snow 4
tada! final painting is 11×11″ in gouache, and limited edition print seen here are 9″ square and available on my etsy site.

“snow falls.”

this installment in the faerie tale feet series is (obviously) based on the original telling of snow white & the seven dwarfs by the brothers grimm. i’ve taken all the enticing elements to retell the tale in icon form.

the original is different (well, more brutal, as the grimms were) than walt disney’s genius telling. she is driven away from the castle at the young, innocent, yet beautiful age of seven. and we imagine she ages while in the glass coffin awaiting the rescue by her prince & his men.
(p.s. the huntsman brings back either a boar’s or a deer’s heart for the queen, based on the translation you read. she salts it & eats it, thinking she has absorbed snow’s beauty & captured her essence. EW!!)

once at the dwarfs’ home, snow is first choked with ribbons from the peddler woman, then fell by a poisoned comb in her hair, and the third disguised visit brings the poisoned apple (half not poisoned that the queen eats to prove it’s not poisoned; tricky tricky!) from the envious, jealous, ruthless queen. the dwarfs take turns guarding the glass coffin in which they’ve placed the lovely snow white. and the coffin is visited by an owl, raven, and dove. (my favorite bits of the painting. up near the branch there.)

it is the prince’s men who stumble carrying the glass coffin away to the prince’s kingdom who dislodge the bit of poison apple from snow white’s throat. not a magic true*love’s kiss that awakens the maiden. but i’m sure they got around to that…. ; )

i won’t spoil the crazy ending, i do hope you’ll go read the tale for yourself, but let’s just say i didn’t paint the iron shoes here…. drama!

original painting is 11×11,” done in gouache.

available for sale, $425 framed.

limited edition (350) archival prints available on my etsy shop here:  http://etsy.me/1IPlJ0w

greeting cards available here:  http://etsy.me/1PdlEZP