My Blog Journal


Behind the Scenes: Darcy’s Confession ~ A New Photomanipulated Regency Portrait

Darcy's Letter, digital photomanipulated Regency art by TaraFly

“How despicably have I acted!
Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind.
But vanity, not love, has been my folly.
Pleased by the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other…
I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away.
Till this moment, I never knew myself.”

~ Pride and Prejudice, Chap. 35[/pullquote]

In the last several weeks, I’ve been mulling over things too personal to disclose in a blog…. involving priorities, obligations, necessities, dreams, fulfillment, acceptance, and contentment.

I’m a stubborn pupil, clinging to my fantasies and refusing to learn that life isn’t a taxi ride: you can’t simply tell the driver where you’d like to go. Not every circumstance will be ideal, not every dream will be realized, some talents will be wasted, and sometimes we sacrifice more than we get in return.

The dreamer in me is filing for a divorce, citing irreconcilable differences with my brain.

So what does one do in these situations? I dug out my copy of Jane Austen’s Complete Novels, and took solace in the misery of fictional people. The chapter following Darcy’s proposal, where Elizabeth receives his letter and realizes how greatly and utterly she has been deceived…. resonated with my own feelings of disenchantment.

Her internal struggle produced such strong visual imagery, I felt compelled to create a piece of art to reflect both her pain and mine.

“Gazing Upon Pemberley” has been a perennial favorite among my customers, and as that piece is nearly two years old, I knew everyone was patiently waiting for a new Regency photomanipulation.

Tentatively titled “Darcy’s Confession” and previously “Darcy’s Letter” – although I’m also partial to the line: “Til This Moment I Never Knew Myself” as an alternate title, I can say that it’s quickly becoming my favorite piece.

Houghton House in Bedfordshire, photography by GothicBohemianStock

It came to life thanks to the exquisite stock photography of GothicBohemianStock (aka Kate), who lives in UK ~ surrounded by the breathtaking ruins and historic buildings as Gothic romances and Austen fairy-tales are made of.

She spent an afternoon photographing the grounds at Houghton House in Bedfordshire, which is open to the public (and free!).

Oh, to live in England! *sigh*

I’ve been madly in love with Kate’s style since I first stumbled upon her stock photos on Deviantart, and this series of Houghton House is no exception. She has a trained eye for the dynamics of light and shadow, interesting architecture, and finding the perfect angle.

Taken from inside a darkened doorway after a rain shower, bathed in a deep golden glow with its dirt roads intersecting at a tree-lined drive… this image sparks daydreams of strolling the lane with Mr Darcy, and discovering changes of heart.

I bookmarked this photo, knowing I’d use it someday… and the muddy crossroads seemed to perfectly reflect Elizabeth’s emotional state of mind upon reading his confessional letter; she was stepping out from under the canopy of deception and shadows of flattery, into the harsh reality and light of Darcy’s innocence.

Okay… I’m done composing cheesy metaphors.

Although her photo was nearly perfect, I decided to add a different sky, one filled with dark storm clouds and just a hint of sunlight. Since the roads were muddy and covered in puddles, it would appear as if Elizabeth had been caught in a rain shower, and sought refuge under the doorway to read Darcy’s letter while waiting for the storm to pass.

Stormy clouds in the sky of my Regency art portrait

I had actually planned to incorporate rain into the scene, thinking it would be dynamic for Lizzy to rush out distractedly into the storm, so distraught over the revelations in his letter.
I kept postponing the raindrops until last, while considering how to create them realistically… and once the picture was 90% complete, I realized that rain would be too much of an overstatement.

I rather liked the subtle suggestion of rain instead. :)

For Elizabeth herself, once again I dug into my own resources of Regency stock photos taken by my husband, at Hagerstown’s City Park in April of 2008.

Photo of Tara Fly in Regency dress, Jane Austen portrait series

You’ll immediately recognize this dress! ROFL!
It’s the same basic gown I wore in both photomanipulated pieces ~ “The Letter” (from 2008) and “Pemberley” (2009)…. in fact, both of those images were taken during that same trip to the park. :)

Unfortunately I haven’t yet acquired a large wardrobe of Regency garments, jackets, etc…although I plan to buy some patterns (someday)… for now, I must take advantage of Photoshop to alter my dress.

Since the bare trees would suggest late autumn, I painted over the dress with a burgundy color lifted from the red brick walls of Houghton House. I also added long sleeves.

Changing the color and style of my Regency dress in Photoshop

For a shawl, I’ve manipulated an orange drapery photo from Lockstock, another awesome Deviantart member who generally provides beautiful costumed model stock. :)

I’ve flipped the shadowed side to the left, erased the long tails, stretched and pulled at it with the Distortion Tool until it appeared to be wrapped around my arms….
I made the fabric semi-transparent, and changed its bold color to a muted tan.

Manipulating drapery photo into a shawl in Photoshop

A few more tweaks, such as adding shadows under my feet, removing a visitors’ information board from the grounds, and erasing a car from the distant background (which wasn’t visible until I zoomed in 400%… but I KNEW it was there, so it had to go!) I finished the piece with a slight texture from a tea-stain colored bit of canvas… adding to the moodiness of the image.

stained aged canvas texture for Photoshop filter effect

My instincts told me when I was done – it was one of those rare occurrences when I didn’t give into temptation to add a few more details (i.e. like the rain, or birds, or a rainbow)…

I rushed upstairs to my studio, anxious to make some test prints!
They came out beautifully, although I had to tweak the color profiles a bit, because my first print came out a bit over-saturated.

Merlin the grey tabby cat licking his lips at my tasty framed art

Merlin! I was tempted to use this photo on Etsy.... but the cat isn't for sale. hehe

My original image file measures 16″x20″ at 300 dpi, and I plan to purchase some larger papers soon so that I can sell 16×20 prints in my Etsy shop. :)

I’m also using Darcy’s Letter as my desktop wallpaper….

desktop screenshot of TaraFly's Regency photo portrait Darcy's Letter

And just because I’m feeling in an unusually generous mood this morning, I’ve created FREE downloadable wallpapers in standard sizes for your personal use:

I’m crossing my fingers that sampling my art on your desktop will entice you to purchase a large print for your wall, or give a greeting card to your best friend! ;)

Creating a new Regency photo collage was a pleasant vacation away from anthropomorphic cat artwork… but now I need to get my furry butt back into the studio and work on Nutcracker Ballet Cat Christmas ornaments, and continue my feline Pride and Prejudice portraits (which are taking me longer to finish than the novel took to write!)


  •    Reply

    That’s kind of you to say, Tara! And I’ll be sure to keep an eye on your art – I’ve linked it on my blog so anyone who visits can then see you! It’s only right! :)

  •    Reply

    Absolutely beautiful piece of artwork, Tarafly!
    I wish I could do something like that too, I even tried learning but just didn’t get it into my head!
    Well, I’ll settle for trying to write literature.
    Thank you once again for the lovely picture, it truly inspires my regency works!

  •    Reply

    This photo is gorgeous and I appreciate your discussion of the process of arriving at it. I’m always so fascinated by the artistic process, no matter what the medium. I am an aspiring author, myself and would love to find out if you are selling digital images of your work for use on web sites because I’m looking to redesign soon and think this would make a wonderful basis for a new theme.

  •    Reply

    What a discovery to have found your blog via Jane Austen’s World. Your art is amazing. Thank you for the free wallpaper, Darcy’s Confession. It looks great!

    •    Reply

      Aww, thank you Isabella, for stopping by and checking out my artwork! And you’re most welcome (for the wallpaper); I’m so glad you enjoy it! :)

      Vic’s blog is amazing, isn’t it? The amount of research and effort she puts into Jane Austen’s World on WordPress, is truly invaluable and greatly appreciated by her readers.
      I bow to her… perhaps even grovel a bit like Mr. Collins. :P

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