A decade and a half ago we were commissioned to create a mural on canvas—celebrating L. Frank Baum's original Oz books for a children's museum, where we were Artists-in-Residence. It was to be the centerpiece for an exhibit promoting illustration as a 'Gateway to Literacy'.
We had an 8 foot wide canvas stretched in an arch shape (not an easy shape to get just right), had it primed and ready to go. We did a comprehensive design that displayed most of the prominent characters, using the John R. Neill drawing style as guide and inspiration. We started creating finished color studies, and were all set to start transferring the design to the canvas . . . when the project cancelled for various reasons.
We kept the blank canvas in storage for several years, finally deciding to go ahead and paint the image to sell or donate to a worthy cause for kids. Feeling excited that we could finally create this piece to live and prosper, we went to get the canvas out of storage only to find a huge rip right down the center of the fabric. Talk about taking the wind out of our sails.
We kept the sketches in our archives, along with the one finished color study painted in watercolor, (which we posted on our Pictorial Arts Blog) for several more years. We recently received a nice note from the Executive Director of the Lyman Frank Baum Foundation asking to display a color photocopy of the Glinda study during a fundraiser event.
Feeling like this was a perfect home for the watercolor we offered to donate the original to the foundation. Happily accepting it, the director plans to place it in the Baum House after the event, where I'm most happy to have it reside.
Below, another study that fell just short of going to color.
I hope someday we still get a chance to redesign and create this Oz tribute in some form.