Why Guinevere? -- and some process pics

Why Guinevere? Well, after not painting much last year at all (mostly focused on writing the book), but also feeling a little lost artistically...  Amy and I visited England for the 2nd time.  We visited several galleries in both London and Oxford. After spending several days looking at all kinds of art I felt most impressed and inspired by some of the different Pre-Raphaelite paintings we saw. I was really moved by their ambition, their patience, the obvious planning, effort, and time that went into these images.

There are some really great ones on display in the Tate Britain, and Ashmolean Museum at Oxford had a wonderful Pre-Raphaelite show going on while we were there. John E. Millais became a favorite, William Holman Hunt, Burne-Jones, Waterhouse and others.. next to their works everything else we saw just felt kinda.. blah.

-- Amy standing by Millais, "Ophelia"

Before the trip I had the impression that Pre-Raphaelites were overly romantic, sort of gushy / girly, fluffy stuff.  I did not realize they were so focused and dedicated to natural realism. Their attention to the details of nature really impressed me. I need to read more of John Ruskin. These would have been remarkable landscapes alone, but then to combine literary illustration into these detailed landscapes.. it just seemed like wonderful picture-making to me.  Aren't we about making great pictures?  It's one reason I also enjoy illustration.  

In our adentures we visited Tintagel, where scholars believe the King Arthur legends began.. lots of cool ruins & cliffs there. And I thought it would be a great setting for a King-Arthur inspired picture.  (Maybe I'll do a few others)! 

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-- some ruins, and the coastline at Tintagel.. 

Here's some process photos for how the Guinevere painting was completed.. 

First, some initial sketches.. and they are totally lame sketches, straight out of my head (no model yet).. just thinking on paper.  Ignore the man's head, not sure why he's there.. he's not part of this. 


Some ideas research about dresses / costumes: 

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Then I was able to find a great model to work with in our local ward (a little side-benefit of going to church).  With the help of my wife on the costuming side we were able to shoot these photos to use for reference: 

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My wife is such a great costume designer, she can even make a dress without sewing anything.  I'm like "hey I want some white flowing fabric to use as some kind of dress".. and she's like "Will this do?" (pulls out some fabulous white fabric she has laying around.. and starts draping it on Savannah's body like a dress..  in these photo's, the fabric is actually only pulled around and pinned in different places, it's really only about 1/2 a dress.  

The initial full-size drawing: 

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Decided to add some flowers in the hair, found some reference for that... 


After transferring the drawing to the canvas, finally started on the painting: 



That hair!!! I love how it finally turned out, but it was the bane of my existence for a while there. 


Notice how I changed my mind about the hair on the opposite side of her head.. it was coming down past the chin and sort of framing in her face, as a dark feature against a light background. I still kinda like that, and at the moment I can't really remember why it seemed so important to change it.  I think I just wasn't sure it was working, and decided to simplify.  I also decided to go dark on the sky to make her really pop more. 


And here are some final detail shots...