Artistic Growth: Making of Morgan Le Fay

Sometimes it just takes a while to get it right.
The early, abandoned piece.

The early, abandoned piece.

In early 2011 I began a piece I back then called ‘Fairy’ – I had an idea of this alien looking woman staring into the vast emptiness with a slightly lost look on her face. Her main feature was to be her brilliant blue eyes. I started the piece and I had fun with it for a little while but then I got incredibly frustrated because I was unable to transfer the image in my head onto the wacom tablet.

A year later I was looking through my folder of pieces from 2011 and found the abandoned file. I decided to pick up on it again and see if I could make something of it.

I felt inspired by an old German Oil Painting by Christian Seybold (1695-1768) – a portrait of an old woman.

Alte Frau by Christian Seybold (1695-1768)

Alte Frau by Christian Seybold (1695-1768)

Portrait of Morgaine, also known as Morgan Le Fay, sister of King Arthur, queen of Fairies. Artwork by Kiri Østergaard Leonard, 2012. See more at:
Early stage of the Avalon Priestess.

Early stage of the Avalon Priestess.

I turned the “fairy” into an old Avalon priestess instead and made it more of a portrait study. Although there was some improvement I was still struggling a lot, I just couldn’t get the face proportions correct despite multiple references so I ended up abandoning the piece again, at least for a while.

About four months later I was working on my Trollkin calendar project, my time was limited to get it finished in time for Christmas so I was looking for possible “shortcuts” to get a good looking finished piece I could be proud of into the calendar, which is when I came across the abandoned piece again. So I picked it up again. I decided to go back to the original image size instead of a mere portrait, and this time – despite struggling, I worked my way through the tough hurdles. My husband helped me take some new reference images for the piece and after a couple of weeks of determination I finally managed to finish it.

Comparing the two images I can see that from 2011 to 2012 I learned a lot. I hope that 2013 will be as good a year as 2012 and that in a year from now my artwork will have made the same leap. It can be incredibly discouraging when your artwork do not match up to your own expectations but it is also very rewarding when you can look back and see you have improved, it makes it all worth it.

So don’t give up if you are having a really hard time with something you are working on, just put it aside for now and pick it up later.

Comparison image: 211 to 2012.

Comparison image: 2011 to 2012.

Kiri Østergaard Leonard

Award winning Illustrator, Artist and Creator Kiri Østergaard Leonard happily shares her experiences making a living as an artist and pursuing a creative life. She grew up in a tiny village in Denmark, left her country behind to pursue art in the bustle of New York City and now resides in the delightful weirdness of Austin, Texas surrounded by sunshine and felines.

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