Morpheus, watercolor/oil pastel

“Morpheus” is artwork number two of 2016!

So, as you already know he’s from The Sandman comics by Neil Gaiman.

(I have to keep saying it for people who’ve just tuned into my blog.)


This was a particularly hard piece to finish and I almost didn’t want to share it with anyone halfway through. One of the challenges I face as an artist is relying on references to the point it becomes detrimental to my own personal style. This happens most frequently when I pick a subject that’s already been drawn, painted or whatnot, so much so that people have a very clear idea about what it’s supposed to look like.

Morpheus is a well known character that has been created over and over again in the comic book series. Naturally, I wanted to make something that fans would instantly recognize as Dream, aka Morpheus.

I pulled tons of reference images, primarily from my comic books, and set to work. It was towards the end of the pencil sketching that I started getting worried. I couldn’t see “Dream” in it. But I sucked it up and started filling in with oil pastels.

Hated it immediately.

I kept looking back and forth between my references and my art, thinking how horribly off I was.  I stood back and stared for a solid twenty minutes beating myself up.

But then, as I started flipping through the comics looking for inspiration, the quite obvious dawned on me.

Morpheus also goes by the name Dream, because he’s the creator/king/God so to speak of dreaming. Because of this he appears to people differently. People commonly see him as a pale, tall male figure in all black. But to cats, he’s a cat. And to one of the women he fell in love with, he looked like he could be someone from her village. Because dreams are different between everyone right? So why should my drawing of Morpheus look just like everyone else’s? It’s my Dream.

When I got back up I started filling him in with watercolor and pastel, using my own interpretation of this famous character for reference. I thought about the handful of dreams I’ve had about the comic. In all those dreams, Morpheus was off to the side, part of shadows that didn’t quite make any sense. They were harsh, jagged and unnatural. I remember thinking he looked too young to be the king of dreams. That was all the reference I really needed. And once I focused on that I was able to create a piece I’m happy with.


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