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I revisited my 2001 painting of Harry Potter for a special gallery exhibit of Harry Potter artwork -- only this time the project took far, far longer than a week to finish! Inspiration taken from Annie Leibowitz photo of actor Daniel Radcliffe set against backdrop inspired by Maxfield Parrish's Ecstasy (1929). 

Stage 1: After sketching in the figure, I airbrushed the sky background using four gradients of white to navy blue. I tried getting that "Parrish Blue" hue as best I could, though in these early photos it looks more green than bright blue.

It was a full week after airbrushing the canvas that I finally noticed that every object in my apartment -- from books in my living room to furniture in my bedroom -- was covered in a thin layer of powdery blue dust! I spent a full weekend cleaning everything; I'm sure some residue remains here and there.

After painting the sky, I used white and black gesso to paint in Harry's body and the mountain/castle backdrop.

Stage 2: I started adding in a monochromatic layer of gold/yellow/orange, initially hoping to duplicate the look that Parrish often painted his figures.
Stage 3: Unsure just how Harry would look with such a limited color palette, I opted to paint in the clouds to see and compare how the background and foreground elements would work. Painting in the clouds took considerably longer than I thought; I was trying to make this look like an oil painting, even though it was in acrylics, and used many, many thin layers and washes of different colors to make the clouds look dimensional.
Stage 4: I begin with Hogwarts by first roughly painting it in with black gesso, and then adding color layers on top of it.
Stage 5: In keeping with the Parrish color scheme, I painted, repainted...and repainted...and repainted the caste, trying to find the exact color blend to make it work. It was orange at first, then I added more yellow, then went over it with washes of red, brown, purple, and orange. The castle alone took about a week to finish.

Stage 6: With the background done, I go back to Harry. I abandoned the monochrome/gold idea for skin tones, which I had used with the 2001 painting, in favor of more natural skin tones -- though I tried to keep them very warm and saturated.

Fine tuning the details of Harry's face took a good eight hours, as, like the castle, I kept experimenting with color tones and shading.

While the end result doesn't exactly keep with the Parrish color scheme I had originally intended, I think it does evoke a little of the legendary illustrator's work.

The finished painting, which is now one of my personal favorites:

Harry Potter Parrish 2011


Opening night at the Nucleus Gallery's
Harry Potter tribute art show.
Alhambra, CA, July 10th, 2011

All original writing, illustration, and artwork featured within this website (unless otherwise noted) copyright (c) 2013 Adam D. McDaniel, and can not be used without written permission.

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