Can you believe it’s June!? And the year is almost half over?? I think my brain is still in March. To me it seems that time has simultaneously accelerated and slowed itself over the past two months. Isn’t it weird how that kind of thing happens?
For this first day of June, I’m sharing a new diptych (two drawings that go together) called, “The Doorkeepers,” which you can see below. I really love these two rabbits, and I’m excited to share some behind the scenes photos with you as to how they got completed. (It was a little bit of a winding road, so this should be interesting!)
A month ago, I had an idea to create a piece where one side of the drawing would represent “Day” or “Light” and the other side would represent “Night” or “Dark.” Each side would feature similar elements and be roughly the same composition, but the details of each would be slightly different.
Originally, I planned for this to be one drawing with a mirror in the middle (instead of a door), and it was going to be called “A Path Between.” The focus was going to be more on the path between “lightness” and “darkness” and, ultimately, the path between life and death. Or, you could simply think of it as the path between any two opposites. I wanted the drawing to communicate the idea that life and death are fluid — the only thing separating them might be a small walk through a mirror. Life and death are complementary, and you can’t have one without the other.
When I tried to figure out the dimensions for this drawing, it turned out that the drawing would have to be either very large or quite small due to the length of the composition. There wasn’t a good middle ground. So, I decided to split them into two drawings — one for the Light side, and one for the Dark side (<— not to be confused with the Darth-Vader-Dark-Side!) That’s when things kind of got tricky…and lots of sketches happened. You can see some of my many thumbnails below!
After being frustrated that I couldn’t figure out how they should look, I realized that my initial idea was the best! All I needed to do was separate the mirror-drawing into two. At this point, I also decided the rabbits would be “doorkeepers,” each holding the key to their respective side. (Note: Usually in anything creative, your first idea will probably be the best. Not always, but usually. But you do need to give your brain time to go through other possibilities, because subsequent ideas might enhance the original one! Art (and creativity) is a process…which is something I’m still learning to accept!)
The Day Doorkeeper
I decided to start with the Day Doorkeeper.
For the Day side, I chose to include the sun, lit candles, and a waterfall with a river. The Day Rabbit’s key mimics the sun. Waterfalls are perfect for suggesting Life because they are dynamic, bursting with energy and full of sound.
You may be wondering why I chose to include lit candles, since in the daytime, you don’t really need candles. At night, however, candles serve more of a purpose. The reason is less about the practicality of the candle and more about the symbolism. A candle with a flame implies movement, fire, and energy…all of which are qualities associated with Life. (For the Night Rabbit, extinguished candles imply darkness, as well as life “snuffed out.”)
Finally, morning glory flowers weave in between all of these elements. Morning Glory is a plant that opens its flowers at dawn or daybreak — hence the name “morning glory.”
Here are some initial sketches. The first one cracks me up because it looks like a peep!
This drawing came together slowly. It took some time to figure out the correct darkness and shading for this piece, so that everything was balanced but also visible and didn’t get lost in the detail.
You can see that many times, some of the detail I include at the beginning eventually gets shaded, after which you can’t see as much of the detail. An example of this is the rock behind the waterfalls. I drew in the rocks across the entire area, but then shading caused that detail to recede. However, I think it’s very important to include that detail initially, because even though you may not be able to “see” it clearly by the end, subconsciously I think it adds to the piece and makes it more interesting, complete, and “real.”
Here’s the final piece:
The Night Doorkeeper
The Night Rabbit features the moon, melted candles that are now extinguished, and a rock pathway. To me, the rock pathway suggests quietness and stillness. Unlike the waterfall and river, nothing is moving. It’s still and solid.
The flowers in this piece are called “Night Phlox” — they open their petals at night. To me, the idea of a flower opening at night is very interesting, mostly because night is usually associated with endings. There’s something beautiful about night also being a beginning. Instead of river grass, this piece features “Dead Nettle,” which is a type of weed that is really quite pretty!
The Night Rabbit went more smoothly, because I was able to reference the shading from the first drawing. However, this drawing still had new elements that were challenging and made me think!
Here’s the final drawing! You can click through below to see closeups. (Again, you can see how the rock detail on the staircase gradually became more shaded and the detail became less, but it still shows through!)
These drawings were fun because they had some new elements in them that I hadn’t drawn before in pen and ink, like rabbits or candles. Here are some sketches where I was figuring out how I wanted the candles to look:
One more thing. While I didn’t plan this exactly, I think it’s a nice paradox that Night is on the left and Day is on the right. We (in the English language, at least) read from left to right, so the left side of things is often associated with the beginning of something. However, with Night on the left, it makes you question this notion. While we may not always be awake at 12 a.m., that is the hour that marks the beginning of a new day. And if you think about it, the beginning of most anything (stories, etc.) is when it’s quiet and calm — the action has yet to happen.
I’m not sure what I’m going to work on next, but now I’m thinking some smaller pieces with keys or candles might be cool. Stay tuned to see what I come up with!
Have an awesome week!