Midnight, the time where all worldly distractions come to an end. Construction, cars, Facebook notifications, and Twitter feeds fade into the darkness as evening melds with morning and silence settles in. That ever present, but absent void of all action and sound. You can not only can hear it, but feel it enter your body. As if every breath you take pulls you inward and opens a door in front of you. It’s a boon for creative minds, writers, and illustrators unlike any other. This magical period allows for an uninterrupted burst of creativity most long for… but rarely achieve. That, in itself, is “The Witching hour” where magic and ideas flow like fairy springs. Recharging and invigorating these minds of ours. This is where some of my favorite fantasy art and mythical creature pieces come to life.
During my most recent witching hour, Dragon Queen awakened. Born in a 5-hour sketch session that started around 11 pm. She was originally intended to be a warm-up piece. After a quick sketch, I would then move on to more pressing fantasy art illustrations that needed to be done (I have to pay bills eventually). Depending on how you look at it, she captivated me and would not let me put her down until she was completed. I was consumed and fueled by the witching hours magic. This is probably the most difficult thing for me and many others to harness, creativity. When priorities take place, pleasantries tend to be put on the back burner. To work on what needs to be done and get paid versus what is inspiring at the time can be hard to manage. Of course, my, on the spot “Squirrel” mentality kicks in and I go dive into whatever my brain can concoct to illustrate next. Who doesn’t want to let creativity take the reins and have some fun?
However, for me, this isn’t always a bad thing. There is a time and place for all projects. Whether they are fantasy art, mythical creatures, paid work, or the spur of the moment illustrations. My spur of the moment pieces have always treated me exceptionally well. Often, as I try to guide and plan myself through a piece I’m working on, I feel more walls and boundaries come up. Which I do not dare cross after they have made themselves known. When my mind is left to its own devices, it often comes up with a piece that is both emotive, detailed, and cohesive. It just flows and everything feels right. No walls or boundaries appear in front of me, my imagination is limitless, and my hand feels free to move. Most of my successful pieces have come from letting go and slowly evolving the piece as I am working on it. Over time, that piece may be sketched out multiple times, such as Ascension of Hiraeth (more on her next time), but I am still letting my mind “do as it will” so to speak.
With Dragon Queen, I did something I am trying very hard not to do as you can miss details or have incorrect anatomy. I didn’t use a reference… very bad on me. However, Dragon Queen was just supposed to be a warm up and nothing more. I was intending to only spend 15-30 minutes max on her and a reference wasn’t really needed. She was to just be a doodle, something to motivate me to do art and not even a study. Before I knew it, it was 4 am and I had, staring back at me, this delightfully strong, powerful, and regal creature. At some point during the illustration, as I often do, I started a sentence about what I intend the illustration to convey. As if an onlooker said, “No crown sits upon her head, just her horns. That is all she needs to command respect.” It’s rough, but a suitable feeling of what I wanted to convey. Doing this helps me guide the illustration to where it wants to be. This also helps me put together the story for her debut in my “Dragons Kill with Fire” illustrations. Finally, it helps give me a brief backstory for her life and character without revealing too much. Just leaves one to the enigma of what and who she is.
The illustration, it’s inspired emotion, and story all spun from an almost invisible web of creativity. The witching hour magic that only presents itself when one can be “turned off” from the outside world so to speak. Had I needed to create that piece without the aid of the witching hour, I may have taken 2 or 3x longer to complete the piece. That is why it is important for you to listen to your creative mind when the door opens. I challenge you to find out what distracts or prevents you from creating your most powerful and emotive pieces of art. Write them down and keep track of creative spurts, or down-spells. You’ll soon start to see what makes your mind flow… what inspires or drives you to create artwork…
What is your “Witching hour?”
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