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a Fairy Tale commission ...and how long it takes

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

"Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany"

Acrylic gouache, Embroidery thread

8 inches


"How long did that take you?"

Oh, this question. Every artist knows it well, yet its always the last thing on our minds when we want to talk about our art. Usually, because we feel very conflicted about how to answer. 20 hours? 100 hours? 32 years? All could be acceptable, which is why the answer is messy. And while I'm sure there are artists who do this, I have yet to meet one who methodically logs working hours from beginning to end.

One of the best parts of making art, is it allows me to take a break from reality and become completely immersed in the alternative world I am creating on my hoop, canvas or panel. The goal is to work on it until it meets, or better yet, exceeds my expectations; the amount of time needed to achieve this is irrelevant. And while I try apply this strategy to everything I make, the perfectionist buried deep within emerges in full force when I make a commission.

This commission of Neuschwanstein Castle in the German state of Bavaria is no exception. As always, I began with a sketch, which I then transferred to the fabric using the high-tech hold-it-to-the-window-and-trace method. With this tedious step out of the way, it's time to start painting!

The forest emerged sloooowly, stitch by stitch. There really is no fast way to work on a piece like this. But it does give me a excuse to catch up on all my favorite podcasts! Currently this list includes: Song Exploder, Criminal, This American Life, Two Dope Queens, Reply All, The History Chicks, It's Been a Minute, Radio Lab, Nancy and Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me..., just to name a few.

It's a long process, but its so satisfying once all the little stitches are interlocked together. I also love when I get a chance treat it like an abstract painting.

When it comes to architecture, my approach is usually to simplify down to basic shapes and add touches of detail here and there. But I couldn't help myself with this epic castle and felt compelled to add as many windows and bricks as I could.

Its hard not to be extra invested in a piece when I was able to visit the location myself. We road tripped through Bavaria in August 2017, stopping in Munich, Neuschwanstein Castle and the mountain town of Garmisch. It was a great summer location to avoid the heat, and all the delicious beer helps to distract from the any rain.

Should you visit Neuschwanstein Castle?

Germany's famous "Sleeping Beauty Castle" is one of the country's biggest tourist attractions, which of course begs the questions, "Is it worth it?"

In my opinion, 100% yes! People flock to it for a reason and its placement in this mountainous landscape is truly breathtaking!

Getting this "money shot" requires standing on a very crowded wooden bridge, which, according to my engineer husband is completely structurally sound (although my brother had his doubts). So if you don't like dealing with crowds in tight places you can get your photos from the edge of the bridge and they will still be amazing. Otherwise, the tours of the castle are extremely well organized, only last 45 minutes and depart very often throughout the day so you don't have to spend too long waiting for your tour to start. Pictures aren't allowed inside the castle but I can assure you the inside is just as fabulous as its exterior. Lastly, make sure to buy your ticket ahead of time! Otherwise they might sell out by the time you get there.

And as always, don't forget to follow me on Instagram! @libbywilliams


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