Monday, December 2, 2013

Fairy Heaven

FAIRY HEAVEN   unframed 24" x 12" mixed media on a cradled wooden panel with 2" deep sides

On October 16th, Avery celebrated her 5th birthday, in Calgary, while we were on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, USA. Late in September, before departing on our month long trip I had only the background painted. The name Avery means "elf ruler". I envisioned that she should preside over her subjects from atop a tall mushroom. The pose was inspired by a winged figurine I saw in a Stony Plain shop last summer.

The background is a wash of acrylic colours which, while still damp, I sprayed with clear water. Using a large, dry brush, I gently wiped up the water drops to create the mottled effect. The dangling fern leaves are stencilled on. 

This first incarnation of Avery's face was hopelessly unlike her. Frustrated, I set aside painting her, in favour of proceeding to develop the rest of the image. The butterfly, dragon flies and pom pom flowers are stamped on with commercial rubber stamps

I'm a huge fan of Cicely Mary Baker's exquisite flower fairies, so, when (years ago) found a collection of cut-out decoupage pieces, I bought them. From these I selected fairies to match my colour scheme who would look up at Avery (with the exception of the one on the bottom left who dances to her own drum). 

Arranging dried leaves and fairies helped me see what more to paint on the background

Avery's face continued to frustrate me. Thinking it would help, I opted to paint over it using oils (the medium I'm most comfortable with). Even then, I painted and then wiped her face off, twice. After the fourth attempt, I had to concede (once again) that I am not a portrait painter and this was a good as it was going to get! ...  

Reference photo I used (taken July, 2013)

Avery's Mom observed that her expression, in the photo above, is not a common one. However, not wishing to offend or tell me how to paint, Denise held back suggesting that I use a different photograph as reference. This may have helped, we'll never know! Certainly the sweet, mischievous look on her face eluded me.

Finally, on November 28th, FAIRT HEAVEN is delivered to Avery

When I view the painting as a complete image ... and from a distance ... I am pleased with its overall sensation.  Thanks to everyone who supported and listened to me as I obsessed and agonized over it. Also thanks to Judy Dahl for her home grown mushroom images, to Win Dinn for those stunning leaves along the bottom and to Karen Linderman for the title. 


  1. And what a beautiful piece this is, Alice...I know it will be a favourite of Avery's for years to come!

    1. Thank you Win, you certainly played a vital part in this!

    2. This is truely spectacular! My little neice would be sooooo enthrawled with it, especially it being of HER! Thats one happy and lucky little faerie you've got there!

    3. Thanks Shannon! I do have fun making these pieces for the grand girls!