Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What makes a beautiful girl? A Chloe Pink study in gouache illustration

Here's a new take on Chloe PinkTM. I'm going to discuss the composition in terms of being an artist. While this piece is only 7x10," I'm starting to think in terms of one-shot Chloe's. So I thought of it as a big poster that could be framed and hung in some girl's frilly beaudoir. That was the goal at least.

Also, I'd read recently that to test the uniqueness of a cartoon character, put it in silhouette form. While I've been drawing Chloe PinkTM since 2007, it seemed like a good idea. Once I'd painted the aqua marine background around her, I felt I'd passed test #1. I particularly like the little leaves that fill the inside of her signature scarf.

Next, I was drawn to the idea that inner beauty is more important than outer beauty. This will be a recurring theme with Chloe. But no matter how I worded it, it sounded sorta' preachy and perhaps, a little unbelievable. After all, we're all drawn to beauty. It's just human nature.

And yet "feeling beautiful" is something I think girls of all ages can achieve everyday regardless of their pimples, wrinkles or weight. I know if I am "doing" something that makes me happy, then it shows. And people are drawn to happy people. Voila!

Next, I remembered the sugar & spice phrase. It seemed cutesy. I wasn't sure I'd use it. But the words painted a visual of lavender, lillies and berries in my mind. I started at the bottom of her feet and drew the flora up her body. Hmmm... just like plants grow!

Originally, I painted a landscape in Chloe's head with a rainbow, sun, house, tree and more flowers. Very sweet and fun, but way too busy and didn't match the somewhat organic feel of the rest of her body. So, I slathered my new favorite art supply--Windsor & Newton Designer's Gouache Permanent White--over Chloe's head and began again.

Once I'd refilled her head with a sugar sprinkled latte, more flowers and leaves, it was time to address the illustrated type issue. Her body was already very busy. (Do ya think!) Would adding the words around fight the intricacy of the flora? I wouldn't know until I did it. Also, you wouldn't believe how many times I reworked the phrase--changing out little words here and there. Not to mention, I literally penciled in and erased each word several times before they fit in and flowed around her body in an aesthetically pleasing way. This is what I've learned about the art of illustration lately. It's not about being Picasso and churning out masterpieces every hour. It's more like writing an ad or a brochure for floor wax. You have to make it seem appealing with a concept or something you want to say. First, you get it down on paper. Then, you go back and tweak and tweak and tweak until it feels as close to perfection it will ever be.

So when all is said and done, I'm glad I challenged myself to a different approach with Chloe. While the look of this gouache painting is different then a 3 panel comic strip, it communicates the central theme of Chloe PinkTM. That striving to do things that make you happy on the inside is a better use of your time than always trying to have a good hair day.

Copyright © Sharna Fulton 2009. All Rights Reserved.


  1. I love it! The drawing and the phrase -- awesome!

  2. Thanks "Criss writes," amazing feminist blogger with better grammar than all other girls.

  3. I *love* this. I really appreciate the message that little girls have self-worth, and that beauty and happiness come from within. I really value and respect the way you are communicating that message. Plus -- its totally fun.

    Thank you for sharing your gift with others!

  4. Thanks Angel. You've got the most important job of all. Raising three beautiful daughters. Everyone check out Angel's blog:

  5. This is awesome! I love the painting and the explanation. Thank you so much.

  6. I love the idea of girls being able to hang Chloe's poster in their room. I love the artwork,very nice.


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