Sketch Diary: Christmas Angel Part 1

It’s that season again!  Time for this year’s Christmas painting!

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For this year’s painting, I wanted to top last year’s, which did not have enough candles, in my opinion. I wanted MOAR candles!  There is something about these elegant points of light that always makes me think of the holidays.  From the lighting of advent wreaths to candlelit Christmas pyramids, I just love the part they play in the season and the beautiful light they cast.  This theme became my jumping off point for inspiration.

I also wanted to channel my love of Alphonse Mucha’s close up portraits.  I love the simplicity of the composition and focus on clothing and hair details instead of grand borders.  Clothing, hair, and faces being some of my favorite things to draw and paint!
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My thumbnail sketching began on toned paper with pencil, ballpoint pen, and white color pencil.  My first sketch (top left thumbnail) drew directly upon one of Mucha’s close up portraits, mimicking the pose.

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The next few thumbnails focus on the concept of an angel inspired by Mucha’s portraits of ladies in profile. In the end, I chose the concept of the angel in profile because it feels more festive and cheery than my initial thumbnail.  I may just have to save the candle woman from the first thumbnail for another painting. Next year, perhaps?

The thumbnail with the asterisk by it is my winner!  The pose of the wings feels more natural and elegant and the piece just flows down through the wings, her braid, and her dress.  The other angel thumbnails felt too claustrophobic and unnatural when the wings were added.  The lines and flow were too broken up and led the eye off the page at odd places.

I’d actually do more thumbnails than this usually, but since I’m starting pretty late this year, I’ve got to make my decisions quickly or this won’t get done by Christmas!  One of these years, I’ll learn to start earlier…

Next, I’ll need to hunt for references on design motifs for the Celtic knotwork, candle holders, and the inner window.  I’ll also need to take reference photos for the angel.  The color scheme is going to be green and gold with accents of red.

The detail addict in me is so excited to dive into this one!

Next: Design motifs, rough sketches, etc.

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