Summer is when I do a lot of painted furniture. I choose the summer because I like to paint outdoors in natural light and also because I have an easier schedule in which to take big chunks of time. When I'm painting illustrations like these I really need to do the pencil sketch all in one session and then the painting of that particular image all in one session as well.
This particular project is a cabinet for my daughter that I started a few years ago. As an artist I tend to hop around a lot from project to project (focus issues, I suspect) so this cabinet has been going on for a while. As she is getting older - and soon will be too old to even enjoy this cabinet - I have decided to get my act together and finish the whole thing this summer :-)
As a child, I had the good fortune to read all of the original Oz books by L. Frank Baum. While the whole world is probably familiar with the movie "The Wizard of Oz", a lot of people don't realize that Baum wrote 14 books about Oz - 13 of which were illustrated by the fabulous John R. Neil. Only the first book "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" was illustrated by Denslow. These books were every bit as popular as the current Harry Potter series and children eagerly anticipated each new release. In fact, Baum became weary of writing about Oz. He had written many other non-Oz books and was frustrated that they did not have the popularity of Oz. He tried to discontinue the series at 6 books with the last entitled "The Emerald City of Oz", but there was such an outcry, he had to write 8 more. In fact, the franchise was so successful that, after Baum's death, the publisher contracted Ruth Plumly Thompson to write several more Oz books, also illustrated by Neil. The illustrations I have chosen for the cabinet are all from the original 14 books - although in some cases I have rearranged characters or created backgrounds as my needs dictated.
One thing you will notice is that Dorothy is a blond. In the first book Denslow drew her as a brunette with braids and a prairie style dress. This is the look that was also chosen for the movie. Neil drew her as a blond with a bob and a bow and a drop waisted dress. I must confess that I prefer her as a blond - maybe it's reading those other 13 books so many times :-)
The Wizard and the Nome King (and the nine tiny piglets)
Dorothy and Ozma
The Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman
Pencil Sketch for Scraps and the Woozy
I do these drawings freehand and the paintings are done with acrylics. I hope to have these three done in the next week or two and then move on to other parts of the cabinet. I still have to sketch out the Wogglebug and some general Neil floral patterns.