About the Piece – Making the Wicked Witch of the West

As those of you who subscribe know, I’ve been doing Wizard of Oz inspired work over the past few weeks and this is really just the beginning.

Last month I picked up the original novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum and flew through it. It’s a very quick read. It was written in 1900 so you can find the full text online, but I bought the physical book from the local bookstore…while I was there a stodgily older gentleman was asking the girl at the check-out counter why there was no one in the customer service kiosk. He was wearing suspenders with jorts and calf high socks with sandals. The girl turns to me and says with a sigh; “I hate white men.” I say “Uh, yeah…” She quickly says “Oh, not you”…You just don’t get that quality level of service when you order online! – I digress!

There is a tldr timelapse video of most of the process of making this at the bottom of the post.

Everyone thinks of the Margaret Hamilton version of the Wicked Witch. It’s iconic…I know “iconic” gets tossed around a but I think it’s safe to say that is actually the case there. There are notable differences in the witch between the film a novel. You’ll notice with mine, she’s a cyclops – that’s because Baum describes her as having only one eye, so this is how I envisioned her. Secondly, she didn’t carry a broom in the novel, but an umbrella. This makes sense when you consider she’s terrified of water. But she’s also terrified of the dark.

Story wise, the scene I decided to portray was one unique to the book and that is when she commands a swarm of bees to go kill Dorothy and Toto. I’ll try not to throw out too many spoilers in case you hadn’t read the book and this piques your interest enough to do so.

So on to the drawing…

As is with all of my drawings, I do a basic pencil sketch to lay out some pacing and bearings for the composition. I wanted her to be striking a pose directly towards the viewer to see her intensity and power. I wanted her to be creepy, but I also wanted her to look like she belongs in a children’s story.

I’m also a fan of comic books and artists like Jim Lee, Ethan van Sceiver, Steve Ditko…and even certain manga artists like Kaori Yuki and wanted to do something that might be a cover page for a comic book or concept art for a full motion work or video game. Even beyond what Roy Lichtenstein did, I feel that really good comic book art is among the most creative, definitive and top notch artwork that has been produced in the past few decades.

It was written in 1900 so her dress is somewhat that Victorian garb with the ruffles in her cuffs and the stone castle entryway.

While most of what I do is pointillist and stippling when it comes to painting and drawing, I generally start within a basic streamlined outline of what I’m working on. I discovered early on that pointillism doesn’t mesh very well when it comes to conveying flowing hair. The book says she’s unattractive, but I wanted to keep an unappealing yet undeniably feminine vibe about her.

While I was drawing this…perhaps more so than other drawings I’d done, my cat, Pepper, was determined to sit on the drawing, headbutt me and just hug on my face and attack my pen the entire time. It got to where I just had to go into a closable office and shut the door. This just made her even more determined and pissed and she jumped on the desk and farted just to tell me not to do that again.

So when I took it digitally into GIMP, I’d already made changes people probably generally wouldn’t recognize as the Wicked Witch of the West, but the standout feature that I had to decide was – do I make her green?

The book doesn’t say anything about her being green, it just says that her blood in her had long been dried up…I thought about what mummies look like when they’re unwrapped, they’re all dried out, I thought about the typical portrayal of vampires and such. I was thinking when skin is dried out and ashy its pale…perhaps discolored a bit, so I decided to meet in the middle with a sort of bluish-greenish pale ashen color.

I think she turned out nicely and this will be available as a 24×36 poster – I’ll sign it and number it in the bottom right corner over my digital signature perhaps. It will be in my Etsy store soon and next, I think I’m planning on doing a large oil painting 30×40 scene of the group on the yellow brick road and also I’m getting a new shipment of skateboards in and will do a couple of Wizard of Oz ones. So check those out in the coming weeks.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed this post and if so, I’d love it if you gave a like, subscribe, say hi. My Wizard of Oz artwork and more are available through Etsy and through May 25 some original works are 15% off with free shipping (sorry only in the US :() Thanks again, I hope you have a great day and I’ll be back with a new post soon.

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