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SKETCH DIARY: Lady of May Part 3

With the window design and fashion of Lady of May figured out, it was time to bring it all together into a single drawing!  I created a collage of reference photos to help give me a more grounded guideline to use for the line art.  This collage includes things like bits of scarves, flowers, hair, jewelry, all cobbled together to make something vaguely similar to the final look I’m going for.  From this collage, I create a line art base that I carefully tweak to match my own imaginary elements.


As for the composition, The Lady’s wardrobe elements, window, and foreground flowers are so complex that I decided to go with a very simple background that implies the trailing ribbons of the Maypole tradition.  These ribbons also help reinforce the flow of her pose.  There are some tangents I still need to fix in the line art (the way her left foot and left side of her skirt touch the background flowers), but I can fix those when I transfer the lines to paper.  For now, the next step is a color test!

Making the choice for what colors to use for these paintings has been one of the most challenging tasks for creating this series.  If the colors are off, she might not represent her birthstone well.  Lady of May needs to represent Emerald, but also too much green in this composition will make it flat and uninteresting, while not providing good focus and flow for a viewer.  I did quick color flats in Photoshop to test out different options before I put paint to paper.  It’d be far too easy to mess this up by skipping this step!


Well, this didn’t help me out much because I love all of these choices!  2 and 4 are my favorite options because I like the clear silhouette of each one.  The contrast between the dress and the sari in 2 is lovely, but is there enough green in this to represent Emerald?  The contrast between the sari and dress in 4 is also nice, but is there too much green now?

I’ve put this color test up in my critique groups and the opinions are all over the place!  Perhaps that’s a good sign?

I’m going to ponder on my color choices while I transfer the painting to board and get ready for the final stretch!  In the meantime, which color combo do you all like?  I’d love to know your thoughts in comments!

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SKETCH DIARY: Lady of May Part 2

So far, this particular Lady has gone even smoother than any of the past Ladies!  The ideas have come together rather quickly and I’m excited to move forward.  With my theme of a dancer chosen, I began by exploring different kinds of dancers in my reference hunt on Pinterest.

Lady of May’s fashion mood board on Pinterest.

For Lady of May, the imagery from the season that resonated with me from my research was the May queen’s crown of flowers and her connection with dancing, youth, and joy.  My reference hunt led me to beautiful recreations of Slavic flower crowns and the dancers of the Bharatanatyam tradition.  The wardrobe of the dancers and the idea that a dancer becomes an instrument for the expression of spirit resonated with my concept for Lady of May, who is in and of herself, an embodiment of the spirit of the month.  The fresh flowers crowning the hair of Indian brides also made it onto my mood board as another lovely example of the tradition of crowning women with flowers for symbolic and sacred purposes.

While Lady of May is inspired by all of these themes, I still wanted her to represent a wholly unique interpretation that doesn’t tie specifically to any particular culture, as all of the Ladies in the series are meant to represent their own unique embodiments of spirit.  As such, Lady of May’s fashion sketches combined inspiration from both Indian and Japanese dancers.

Lady of May’s Fashion Plates. Drawn on a pre-printed croquis sketchbook.

With each Lady, I try to tie their birth flower into their wardrobe.  Notice the Lily of the Valley imprint on her belts and the Hawthorn in her ponytail and sash.  The design on the trim of the dress on the right is indicative of the red berries that both Lily of the Valley and Hawthorn have.  Fun Flower Fact: The Lily of the Valley’s berries are quite poisonous while the Hawthorn flower’s berries can actually be used to treat a number of ailments!

Next, it was time to design the window!  I went a little overboard with detail on this design because I wanted to emulate the intricate designs of Indian mandalas, while bringing an Art Nouveau flair with the Hawthorn and Lily of the Valley motifs.

Left: First Sketch. Middle: Alternate design. Right: Final design.

The first sketch I made for the design was too simplistic while the next one was too detailed because of the layers of borders.  In the end, the final design was a balance between the two.

Phew, this may be the most detailed window yet!  Next up, I’ll be finishing off the line art, exploring color schemes, and getting Lady of May ready to be painted!

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SKETCH DIARY: Lady of May Part 1

Here we are finally at the merry month of May with this series!  So many of my closest friends and loved ones are May babies, I knew that this month needed to be extra special!

Lady of May’s Mood Board

Lady of May Moodboard
Lady of May’s Mood Board on Pinterest.

As ever, brainstorming begins with research.  I start by looking into the meaning and namesake of the month of May.  May is purportedly named for the Greek goddess Maia, meaning ‘the midwife’, with the month also the time the Romans venerated Bona Dea,”The Good Goddess”.  I focused my research on cultures of the northern hemisphere, as they tend to celebrate similar seasons.  For this series, I’ve focused much on the themes of the shifting beauty of nature, which reflects itself in countless ways in the way that people celebrate holidays around the year.

May Day, Beltane, and the May Queen traditions (among others) all informed the thematic image for Lady of May that was growing in my mind.  The month of May conveys the start of Summer, blooming flowers, the celebration of youth, and the height of our abundant life before the harvest and the cold of winter begin to creep in.

In the end, I envisioned the Lady of May as a dancing, joyful young woman crowned with flowers, the May Queen who celebrates the height of summer.


Next up, I’ll be diving into her adornments, narrative elements, and composition.  I’m looking forward to all of the flowers in this one!

This has been your special Patreon-only sneak peek!
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May’s mask marks a shift from the previous masks, which have been a lot more colorful.  With the birthstone being Emerald and the stems being green, it was going to be an interesting challenge!

Reference Gathering:

I gather my references on Pinterest where I find multiple views of the flower from the side and front. I also wanted to find reference of the bright colored seeds, which I knew would add a burst of color to this monochromatic mask.  Flower Note: All parts of the Lily of the Valley are extremely poisonous!



I tried out a couple of layout variations and decided I liked the more symmetrical one so I could show different angles of the blooms for more visual interest throughout the mask.



Here are a few peeks at the mask in progress!  By the end, I decided on a dark green to help set off the bright green stems and white blossoms, which resulted in a much darker mask than usual.  I brought a little subtle shine back to the mask by adding a few tiny rhinestones in key places.  In the end, I think this mask is one of the most elegant masks yet!



More shots of the finished mask to come with the final release!  Want to reserve one of these limited edition masks for yourself?  You can do so via the Mask Collector Reward tier on Patreon.

I hope you enjoyed your Patreon-only sneak peek!  A download of this Design Diary along with a materials list will be included as one of the Digital Collector ($5+) Rewards once the Lady of May set is released.

Thank you for your support!

Ladies of the Months Now on Patreon!

I’m pleased to announce the arrival of the Ladies of the Months to Patreon!

Some of you might remember this lovely set of  Art Nouveau portraits personifying January and December from my display at DragonCon.

Now, you can join me directly on this journey of creating the rest of the Ladies in the series by Pledging on Patreon!
(Current Patrons, see this Rewards comparison to familiarize yourself with my new Patreon structure.)

Your Pledges will help to make this series the best it can be by allowing me to upgrade my paints, hire models, etc., things which I could not do on my own limited budget.

Pledge today to access the Lady of January Patreon Rewards including:
  • Patreon-only sneak peeks of each upcoming Lady in the series!
  • Patreon-only exclusive 10×20 inch Giclee hand accented with metal leaf!
  • The ability to pre-order each Lady so she will be sent to you as soon as she arrives!
  • Wallpapers of the Ladies for your desktop computer & devices.
  • Process videos of each painting!
  • Plus much more!
Watch my video introducing this art series and how Patreon works for more info.
Feel free to email me if you have any questions!