It’s my favorite time of year! The leaves are turning, cinnamon and spices are a-brewin’, and I get to break out my infinity scarves and sweaters! There’s something cozy, innocent, and nostalgic about fall, from Back-to-School all the way through Thanksgiving into winter, and Halloween is no exception. I wanted to capture that essence in my latest drawing for you. The following is a breakdown of my thoughts on both the aesthetics and the process for the curious; otherwise, please enjoy this speedpainting!
If you grew up in America, you probably have a few fond (and maybe not-so-fond) childhood memories of All Hallow’s Eve. No matter what you were up to in those days, some things are bound to trigger those memories. It wouldn’t be a holiday without them!
For me, Halloween is first and foremost Trick-or-Treating, although I haven’t gone since the age of fourteen (I was small and got away with it in high school, but would not recommend it). Spending weeks planning a costume, coordinating with friends to make the most of going out as anyone-but-yourself makes me ask, why don’t we do this more often? Of course I still dress up for work--sitting here at my desk in my pink dress with the Peter Pan collar, a blue windbreaker, knee-high socks and nomming some Eggo waffles under my hideous, blond thrift-store wig (‘Elle’ from Stranger Things if you couldn’t guess). We spend so long planning and organizing for this one day, and when it finally happens, it’s absolute magic! I wanted to depict that sense of wonderment in our Trick-or-Treating Filabees in the image above. Their expressions are anecdotal parallels of my past, the cathartic release of “Finally! I’m here! It’s happening! It only lasts a few hours! [I don’t know what to do with my hands!] Where do I begin?”
To me, Halloween is also certain color schemes and settings, plucked right out of pop culture, from movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Hocus Pocus. The otherworldly woods through which Jack Skellington staggers and the unnatural but much-anticipated sunrise that (spoiler alert!) renders the Sanderson Sisters powerless and combusts them to dust both come to mind on Halloween morning. We’ve all just spent the last month witnessing a most drastic change in light, temperature, and color in the natural world around us; what kinds of unnatural or otherworldly changes will we experience on the spookiest of days? The woods surrounding the Filabees are both finite and infinite: they have no clear ending nor beginning, they surround the bees on all sides, but at the same time stop just at the edge of the canvas. In a brief thumbnail sketch I drew prior to recording, I considered including a dark, looming figure in the trees, just barely visible to the viewer, but sinister nonetheless. I scrapped that idea early on as it took away the sense of innocence that encompassed these candy-seekers.
I wasn’t sure where this drawing would take me stylistically when I started. I already had the composition planned out, but none of the contrast, keying, or colors. I just let the mood and spirit of Halloween take it. Right away I laid down a quaint lavender in the background, which helped set the light and whimsical tone for the bees’ costumes. I chose classic monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and witch) to tap into the broader range of nostalgia. These costumes are classic for a reason. After adding in a general sense of lighting, I refined the shapes of the bees and their costumes and accessories. The characters became just as soft as the background, thanks to layer filters and soft brushes. I wanted to give them some dimensionality, almost like Tim Burton’s Nightmare maquette creatures, while retaining the familiar physiology of the flatter Filabees seen across our website. Some final details and lighting brought these bees to life. May their neighborhood-wide conquest for candy be victorious, and may your Halloween be spooky and full of joy! Happy Halloween!