Sophie on Howl's back, work in progress sketch by Ruth Speer, and Ruth Speer posing with her sketch

Oregon Artist Paints Stunning ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ Scene Just in Time for Your Annual Rewatch

It is a truth universally acknowledged that anybody who watched Howl’s Moving Castle once is bound to watch it again to hear Howl Pendragon say, “That’s my girl.” If not for Howl, Sophie, or even Calcifer, then people rewatch the film for its scenic illustration and its beautiful orchestral music.

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The animated film, released in 2004, has aged flawlessly. Kids could then rewatch the film and still crave the eggs Sophie was cooking. Nineteen years on, people’s hearts still flutter when Sophie sees the garden Howl made in her honor for the first time. Many hear “Merry Go Round of Life” as a soundbite on TikTok and often associate it with romanticized POVs. In one of these soundbites, TikTok user and Oregon-based artist Ruth Speer used Sophie’s iconic calls to Howl to “find her in the future” while giving a behind-the-scenes look at her oil painting of Howl and Sophie.

This is because her painting depicts what happens after the scene in the soundbite, when Howl and Sophie fly back to the remains of the castle:

@ruthspeer

Howl and sophie but make it preraphaelite (this is just the underpainting) xo #howlsmovingcastle

♬ howl cooking breakfast – rengoku & tanjiro

Ruth’s sketch alone was already immaculate and heavily detailed, but her final painting of Howl and Sophie proves that she’s a master at her craft. The dreamy, realistic painting has a great use of light and shade, and it also has a three-dimensionality to it. It’s as if Ruth herself traveled back in time to learn the secrets and techniques of famed Renaissance painters. Her interpretation of Howl and Sophie has elements from the animated film, but she also expressed greater creative liberties with the pair. It’s arguably the best fan art of the couple known to the internet.

This isn’t the first time Ruth Speer stunned the internet with her elaborate oil paintings. She posts other works in progress and long-form videos on her YouTube channel. Ruth has other oil paintings inspired by other characters from various works, including those from Over The Garden Wall and Alice Through The Looking Glass. Many of her other original works can be found on her Instagram and TikTok accounts, and if you’re interested in her work, she also has a website that you can subscribe to for new prints or her shop updates.

(featured image: Instagram @septemberwildflowers)


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Vanessa Esguerra
Vanessa Esguerra (She/They) has been a Contributing Writer for The Mary Sue since 2023. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy, she (happily) rejected law school in 2021 and has been a full-time content writer since. Vanessa is currently taking her Master's degree in Japanese Studies in hopes of deepening her understanding of the country's media culture in relation to pop culture, women, and queer people like herself. She speaks three languages but still manages to get lost in the subways of Tokyo with her clunky Japanese. Fueled by iced coffee brewed from local cafés in Metro Manila, she also regularly covers anime and video games while queuing for her next match in League of Legends.