Recent success gave me a boost of energy. I’ve gotten the sketch down for my latest image, now I’m focusing on getting some color down. When it comes to coloring an image, that’s largely the grunt work part of the project. Formulated a concept and drawing it out, that’s fun and exciting. But color is a very important part of my work, and would be incomplete without it. Now, coloring this one will be interesting, because it’s so busy, it’s people heavy rather than giving more attention to the environment. Never have I created a calendar image with this many people in it. It’s really exciting, I’ve wanted to do a masquerade scene for the longest time, but never quite managed to get it until now.
This image is based off a holiday I created for the world in which most of my characters live. Masquerade Day was created by Twist, one of the Trickster Fate twins. Like our Halloween, Masquerade Day is a time to dress up in costumes and masks and take on a new identity for a time. But those who participate in the Masquerade tend to put more thought and depth into their costumes than we do as trick-or-treaters. The main themes of the day are identity, disguise, and concealment. Masqueraders keep these themes in mind and play with them as they consider what to wear, so that they create a guise with intrinsic significance.
For example, one of my characters is a fairy king. I figured he would be a Fool for Masquerade Day. In old times, like if you read Shakespeare or something (there are examples of Fools in King Lear and Twelfth Night) Fools are hired entertainment for royals or nobles (like King Lear or Olivia.) These are jesters, “licensed fools,” and because of their roles they were given a little more leniency by way of the sort of things they were allowed to say in court. Therefore, they’ve become a sort of archetype in literature, probably best demonstrated in King Lear. Because Fools have a certain amount of leeway, they can mock openly and speak freely against… well, people of authority, among others, exposing them as the real fools. As such, Tison the fairy king would think the irony of being a Fool incredibly delicious– then he could mock the way the kingdom was ruled, instead of actually doing the ruling.
This is also the kind of costume I would like to wear, were I to participate in Masquerade Day, so I made a cameo in this latest bit of artwork with a Jester’s mask. Meanwhile, I had to come with a different costume for Tison since I took his idea. I figured bird costumes were pretty simple. Then I did some research to see what different birds symbolized to see which was most likely for him. Then I discovered that was a bit tricky, because each bird could symbolize a lot of different things, and there were just a few traits that Tison had which I wanted to represent in his costume. Besides, I don’t have much by the way of credible sources in which to do this research, and that’s annoying. But at last I picked a Bluejay, which is associated with power used responsibly. Apparently it’s also associated with being pure and faithful. These qualities really suit him and I’m not sure of one that would work better.
Another character I included was Piper, the other Trickster Fate Twin. He’s evil, but charming. He typically dresses in black or green (to contrast with his red hair), but on Masquerade Day I figured he would think it fun to dress as he thought angels should. So he’s wearing a white suit. This, again, is a guy who would enjoy the irony of the costume– a guy like him wearing spotless white, including white mask with a soft smile. But his mask doesn’t have eyes, which kinda turns the whole thing creepy. It’s hard to trust someone, or tell what they’re thinking, when you can’t see their eyes. It’s unnerving when something weird is going on with the eyes– just think about some of the movies you’ve seen. And that’s just the thing, you can’t trust Piper. No matter how he presents himself to you, there will always be something he’s withholding.
Other ideas I had have made it into the image. For instance, I’ve always loved the Phoenix, which stands for new life and rebirth. I’ve also been interested with the idea of old age, it’s generally something people fear and yet I think there is something to be envied in the wisdom that the elderly can possess. I figure that one of the fun parts of Masquerade Day could be looking at other people are wearing and trying to figure out what they are trying to say about themselves or the way they think others see them with the costume (you can tell I’m a bit of a nerd, right?) That’s why it was so much fun conceptualizing the image.
Now the trick is getting it done.