Sketch Diary – Lady of December Part 1

It’s that time of year again! Time for my yearly Christmas card for fans, friends, and family! I have a bad habit of starting this project late every year, which barely gives anyone time to pick up some cards to send out to their loved ones, but THIS year, I am making it a point to be early! It took some effort to even begin thinking of Christmas themes while my beloved harvest and Halloween season was going on. I am one of those types who hates seeing Christmas ornaments out before I’m done enjoying my pumpkin pie and colorful leaves.

 This year I am admittedly rebooting an old theme you might remember, the Angels of the Months. You all might remember the Advent Angel, who incorporated themes of December’s flowers, as well as Angel of January, who had flowers and birthstone symbolism. Each one had its strengths, but I always felt as if they missed the mark, compositionally. Either the wings blocked the stained glass or the winged figure competed visually with the stained glass window for the attention of the viewer with too much ’empty’ space left around both. I was flipping through my favorite Mucha reference book when inspiration struck me like lightening!

Mucha’s Semi-Precious Gemstones series.

I adore the simple focus, the elegant ladies, and the detail in the windows and flowers! Lady of December will be in a similar composition with a focus on her adornments, the flowers of the months, and the representational birthstones.  I do miss the wings, but (as loathe as I am to say this), sometimes I have to make pictures without them! For shame.

With all that in mind, thumbnailing begins!  These were rough and dirty ink sketches to help establish the composition’s flow, the figure’s posing, the arrangement of the borders, window pane, and flowers.  I knew I wanted the central theme to be a ring of Turquoise, inspired by the Gregorian poems for the birthstones, so the poses had to bring the hand into play as a point of interest.
1 and 3 are my favorites.
 Next up, I wasn’t too sure of the pose yet, so I decided to explore them in a photoshoot with a chair and some curtain sheets.  I took quite a few variations, but here are some of my favorites:
Just ignore my horrid farmer’s tan…

So many to choose from! But the pose on the left had a really interesting flow created by the hands and the focus I wanted on the ring.  Meanwhile, the other photos will be filed away for reference use for the rest of this series!  Some of these may make their way to my stock art gallery, so keep an eye out over there, if they strike your fancy!

Then came the reference hunt!  Have a montage of pretty jewelry, Mucha dresses, and other things which I hope will inspire the final look of Lady December’s dress and jewelry.
Coming next: Studies and Line Art
Want to see a step-by-step as this project develops?
Check out the thread at WiPNation!

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