Title: Queen ~b & Smoky Fox
Painted on a wall inside a home. Pittsboro, NC
(7.6’ * 2.08’) 15.808’ + (7.6’ * 3.48’) 26.448’ + (1 * 3.43’) 3.43’ = 45.686 sf
The original inspiration comes from characters I created for an online class “Draw & Paint Your Imagination with Ten Hundred” via Monthly in October 2019.
Each character's characteristics are inspired by drinks ordered during a brunch date in the early stages of dating. Those drink names became cute pet names during the courtship. This mural is meant to embody the beginning of that love story.
"Queen ~b & Smoky Fox", acrylic & interior latex paint
The door on this wall leads into a finished room over garage (FROG) that is shared by husband and wife. It was the logical place for a mural representing the first meeting and early courtship. As it is a visual symbol for the beginning of a love story, easter eggs and iconography are employed to add special touches with personal meaning to the animated scene.
I wanted the background to have visual interest without distracting focus from the characters in the foreground. Initially, I thought wild flowers would be suitable for a bee and a fox given that wild flower gardens surround the home .
But when I painted the wall with blue house paint for the under layer, and began chalking the shape of the sun in the upper left corner, I realized I just wanted the background patterns to be organic shapes painted in monochromatic colors so it wouldn't compete with the characters in the foreground.
As mentioned about the background for this scene was meant to be interesting yet not too interesting. That said, there are certain elements that help tell the visual story.
The sun is positioned behind Queen ~b so that the rays could shine around her and down on Smoky Fox. That is because when they were driving together when they first started dating, he would point out the sun rays shining through the clouds in the sky and say “that’s you”. In fact, on his IG account the only photo he had posted for years was a single photo of the sun shining through clouds.
In the mural, the clouds have big rain drops over Smoky Fox’s head because just before they met, he was experiencing stormy emotions. His job relocated him to a new state far away from loved ones and six months later he was considering moving back but then Queen ~b flitted into his world and brightened things up.
The “magic orb” with a breeze emanating from it hovering above her hand is meant to visually represent her character chasing away the dark clouds above his head.
The organic shapes that make up the rest of the background have an imaginative aesthetic that one might expect to find in a children’s book. That is because When Queen ~b graduated from college four months after they met Smoky Fox gave her the book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss for a graduation gift.
Character: Smoky Fox
The character painted in this mural differs from the original sketch created due in part to some of the responses to the sketch during that class. While conceptualizing him for this wall mural, I decided to incorporate some of the changes suggested and make Smoky Fox more anthropomorphic to match the humanistic physical characteristics of Queen ~b.
The original sketch had a long curvy tail. While working on the digital rendering, I decided to exaggerate the length further and then added the illusion of tendrils of smoke curving around the tip to reflect the shape such that it formed a heart. The shape of the tail coupled with the effect of smoke effect serve to reinforce the character’s name “Smoky Fox”.
Smoky Fox’s eyes are blue in real life. They appear wide-eyed in the painting because the night they first met his big blue eyes were attention grabbing. They sparkled as if his soul was shining through them.
The night they met, Smoky Fox was playing cricket at a local bar/restaurant. That's why three darts are in his shirt pocket. The designs on the flights are: a dart board on the right, the name of the venue on the left, with the heart shaped one in the middle placed over his heart.
The patch on the shirt pocket is for the South Carolina Gamecocks. That is because that is the college Smoky Fox graduated from and is a loyal fan of all SC sports teams.
Hearts are incorporated in the features of Smoky Fox to show “love at first site” and those early dating days when love is young and new and full of sweetness. See the highlights of his eyes, the shadow on his nose, and the smoke intertwined with the tip of his tail.
Character: Queen ~b
Her characteristics are a cartooned combination of a drink name, in her case “Queen Bee”, and elements of the human she represents. The name however was modified because a character named Queen Bee already exists and because in real life ~b is used in place of B when signing art or digital communications.
To take full advantage of the digitized asset, I drew the concept art for this mural digitally as well. I then used that as a reference while painting on location.
The “magic orb”, hovering above her hand with a breeze emanating from it, is meant to visually represent her character chasing away the dark clouds above his head.
Sparkle in her eyes
The highlight or sparkle in her eyes is shaped like a heart to show her adoration of Smoky Fox from the very first moment her eyes met his.
The character is wearing a hat that resembles the one she wore the first night Queen ~b met Smoky Fox
While it isn't one she wore during the infamous night they met, all of it resembles pieces of her actual wardrobe.
The crown on the hat is a way to communicate she is a queen bee, or in her case a queen ~b.
The necklace is her initial, written in lowercase with a ~ (tildé) to symbolize her “mark” or the way she signs her artwork and all communications. The second tildé after the b is just to add symmetrical balance.
While they were dating, Smoky Fox gave Queen ~b an alex and ani bracelet with a honey bee charm. I used it as a reference to create the painted version.
This process began with graphite sketches for the characters. The final versions for each were drawn on my iPad using Adobe Fresco. I used my iPad to photograph the wall that the mural was going to be painted on then brought that photo into Adobe Fresco. I sketched
the background on a new layer above the photo for proper positioning of the organic shapes.
After the background was finished, I brought in each of the digitized characters and placed them in layers over the top of it to get a sense of scale and alignment for them.
Then turned my focus to the painting portion of this project. First, I buffed the wall with a blue interior latex paint by Sherwin Williams. When it dried, I used the digital concept art for reference and sketched the outlines of the background onto the wall using chalk.
To paint the mural, I used Golden Fluid Acrylic paints. For the background I used tints and shades of Pthalo Blue.
When I finished the background, I photographed it again then overlaid a semi-transparent image of the Smoky Fox character on top of it with Adobe Fresco so that I could use the organic shapes from the background as a pseudo doodle grid. I chalked his general form on the wall over the painted background and then painted him in the foreground with Golden Fluid Acrylic paints starting first with his tail.
I did the same for Queen ~b and the magical orb.