‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ was one of my favourite Shakespeare plays to teach. While it felt like a chore to teach ‘Henry IV’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’, I loved teaching plays like ‘Macbeth’, ‘King Lear’, and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. We had so much fun with the magic and slapstick of the play. I remember one lesson where I used a drama assignment to teach the students about the methods used to indicate that the Mechanicals were bad actors and them all hooting with laughter so much that another teacher came into the room to complain about the noise.
Titania is the Queen of the Fairies and it is her quarrel with her husband Oberon that sets in motion the action of the play, a ripple effect of consequences and trying to resolve the problems created by this marital spat. Titania is strong, sassy and self-assured but is still subject to the will of the male characters and is humiliated by her husband. That is why I find her to be a fascinating character and why it would be cool to sit down and have a chat with her over a cuppa.
Voldemort is the Big Bad villain of the Harry Potter series but I think there is a character more loathsome than Voldemort and that is Dolores Umbridge. She is a vile, vindictive, cruel authoritarian and I love that she is all about being pink and fluffy and has an office decorated with kitten ceramics. When I first read the books to my children, her characterisation led to some fruitful conversations about wolves in sheep’s clothing and nasty people hiding behind facades. I chose to draw Umbridge presenting her facade, drinking a cup of tea, smiling while not feeling smiling feelings. I hope I have managed to convey something of that.
I don’t think I have ever drawn Neville Longbottom before so I was very happy when he came up as the prompt for my Harry Potter themed Inktober daily drawing challenge. Neville is a dark horse character in the Harry Potter series. He starts off in the background but gradually grows in importance and significance until he becomes actually pretty critical and central to the plotting. Neville is a character who really appeals to me in that he has a quiet sort of heroism by virtue of being diligent and loyal, having the courage of his convictions. I decided to draw him wielding the sword of Gryffindor which turned out a little bit wiggly (the hazard of drawing in ink) so let us just pretend that it got a bit bent in combat.
Yesterday’s Inktober prompt from my kids was Luna Lovegood. I suspected she would appear early on in the prompt list because she is my 12 year old’s favourite Harry Potter character (largely because they are similar). I recently drew Luna in my Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook so I wanted to do something different with her character. For that reason, I chose to draw her wearing her lion headdress. Luna is always fun to draw.
The reason why ‘Great Expectations’ is my favourite Dickens novel is the resistance to having a hero. None of the main characters is heroic. At best, Pip – the protagonist – is an anti-hero. The first time I read the novel, when I was probably about 12, I remember rooting for him and hoping his life collapsed into failure in equal measure. What that depiction of moral ambiguity and duplicity leads to is strong characterisation, a focus on nuanced, complex characters. Miss Havisham is one such figure. As readers, we can feel pity for her because of her fixation on the central trauma of her life while also loathing her for her poisonous bitterness and project of vengeance.
Dickens’ notes indicate that Miss Havisham is actually only in her 50s, though prematurely aged because of her hermit lifestyle, so I did not go too crazy with the wrinkles and creases and instead tried to make her look gaunt and somewhat cadaverous. She is a character who is both haunted and haunting, having transformed herself into some sort of wraith, so I wanted to depict her as staring off into the distance and in a passive stance, both suggestive of the stasis of her life. My husband, who has never read a word of Dickens, recognised this illustration as being of Miss Havisham right away so that was pleasing.
Garrick Ollivander is a legendary wand maker in the Harry Potter universe. It is from his wand shop in Diagon Alley that Harry buys his very first wand. We wanted to visit the wand shop when we went to Universal a few years ago but the queue was ridiculously long. My brother-in-law, however, made my kids and I individual wands that reflected our personalities or interests so really he’s a competitor to Ollivander. I have illustrated Ollivander holding a box containing a wand that will be the perfect match for a young witch or wizard about to start their studies at Hogwarts. I creased the paper by accident but hopefully I can flatten it out with some weights.
Today is Friday the 13th and it’s October so I was hoping all the spooky, superstitious stars would align to mean that my prompt today was either a villain or a monster. I was not disappointed. The kids told me that my prompt for today was Bellatrix Lestrange, my favourite villain from the Harry Potter books. Having just drawn Bellatrix for my Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook, I was keen to come up with an illustration that was a little different. It has been a long time since I drew Bellatrix in her Askaban prison uniform so that is what I decided to do. She looks somewhat dazed and startled rather than crazily aggressive but I definitely managed to make her look disheveled.