As I stated at the beginning of this project, watercolors and I were a medium who didn’t get on. I test drove them before starting these 100 days with a little painting copied from the movie poster of Beauty and the Beast. Painting that didn’t hurt too much, so I figured, what’s a hundred more? Shouldn’t be too hard. (I was both right and very very wrong. My achy fingers, sprained neck, and the gray smudges under my eyes can attest to that.)
Anyway, what better way, I wondered, than to conclude my 100 Day Project with a new illustration on the same theme.
I think I was three years old when I first watched Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and two when I got the hardbound book from Disney World in Orlando. Naturally, I was utterly enchanted. Belle was something of a childhood hero for me in the “Look Ma, she likes books too!” and “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere” ways. (Later, I was called Jasmine and Pocahontas because of the long hair and the brown skin, but as far as Disney princesses go, I started off as Belle.) I was and am a voracious reader and in retrospect, I can probably attribute a part of that to wanting to be like a character I saw in a movie who loved books, was unashamed of her intelligence, and didn’t change herself despite people considering her odd.
Also, that library scene. THAT LIBRARY SCENE.
In addition to Belle herself, this was, in my opinion, one of Alan Menken’s finest scores (granted, that was before I heard his work on The Hunchback of Notre Dame). The piano arpeggios of the Prologue haunt me even today.
When I saw the live-action movie earlier this year, I went more than a bit insane as I relived the tale as old as time, now with the new stories, angles, plotlines, and details. (Thank you for getting rid of the Stockholm Syndrome thing.) I related to both Belle and the Beast, which is what we’re supposed to do as viewers. I think they took a decent bit of reference from the Broadway musical, where they had Belle and the Beast bond over being outcasts in their respective communities: her for being an oddball and him for being a seven-foot-tall furry monster with horns. Also, Shakespeare. (I’m on the Beast’s side on Romeo and Juliet). Despite the overall movie having some hiccups and moments where it fell flat, I would watch it over and over. Emma Watson was a wonder, Dan Stevens was utterly amazing, and Gaston was frightening in a way his animated counterpart was not. Kevin Kline’s Maurice was the most wonderful thing about the whole movie. Also, Alan Menken and his triumphant music. I was singing ‘Days in the Sun’ and ‘Evermore’ for months after, and examined the movie frame by frame to catch every bit of detail in the production and art direction.
This finale piece was a labor of love and I tried to do it justice to the best of my abilities. With this, I conclude both the series of story windows as well as the 100 Day Project. It has been a whirlwind three months, with its highs and lows. I have spent days and nights on adrenaline rushes or barely conscious, have coped with the exhaustion and exhileration that came with it, and have loved every second. It’s been an experience, and I can’t wait to see what comes my way next.
Before I go, a few details about the piece:
- The original story, La Belle et la Bête, was written and published by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740. This period of time in France was the emergence of the Rococo style of art and architecture to replace the former Baroque style (”If it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it!”). I’ve employed both within this. The circular frame of the illustration ends in a crown molding at its top, which was borrowed from a Baroque window, while the decorative gilt linings for the inner windows (where Lumiere, Cogsworth, Gaston, etc are) are done in the French Rococo style, predominantly borrowed from furniture and wall panels in Versailles.
- I liked the production and character designs in the new Beauty and the Beast movie, but for some details, I preferred to stick with the animated classic. Only some, not all. For example, I like the new Lumiere as well as the elaborate designs on the new Cogswoth, but I preferred to stick with Disney Cogsworth for the face alone (the new one is ridiculously difficult to emote with). Similarly, the white ceramic and gilt work for Mrs Potts and Chip are good and fine, but those faces kind of freak me out, so I stuck to the old one.
- The face references for Maurice and Gaston are Kevin Kline and Luke Evans, both of whom were triumphs in the new movie.
- The Beast is predominantly based off his new design, where he is halfway between man and animal and dressed up in French Rococo finery proper for an aristocrat. I did decide to keep the ears and the hair queue from the animated classic.
- That gold dress is iconic and while I wasn’t enthusiastic about the one on Emma Watson, the poofy thing with the pearls that’s there in the animated movie is not ideal for twirling on a dance floor (I don’t care what the sweeping cameras of 1991 CGI tell me.) So, a bit of this and a bit of that.
- Also, like I mentioned a few days ago, this is done on an 18cm diameter circle, meaning that Belle’s face is pretty small. I didn’t spent too much time trying to make her look like Emma Watson or her animated counterpart. She’s just Belle. You’ll recognize her by the dress. Although, there was a minor disaster with her face involving an inkblot and fraying paper, but I’ve covered it up the best I could. Consider it a beauty patch on a powdered face, or is that a stretch? It sounds like a stretch.
- I found this font somewhere on Pinterest. I don’t know what it’s called, but the fact that its curlicues and little flourishes match with the Rococo gilt designs is completely coincidental and I am ridiculously proud of that.