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Category Archives: fairy tale

Unf- I love Camille Rose Garcia. Her art reminds me of lost Fleischer cartoons. I have her version of Alice in Wonderland (so incredibly acid pastel that it hurts my eyes) but the colors in Snow White are more to my taste. IMG_2488 I love when books have details like this- the cloth bound cover is printed.IMG_2490 IMG_2491

The book was designed by Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich and it’s amazing. Amazing! So is his name. I thought maybe it was made up, but it looks legit! IMG_2493



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I have to admit, the multiple eyes give me a headache.IMG_2499 The Prince shows up on some swans bc… of course he did!IMG_2500

She has a version of Cinderella that she’s been working on and posting wips on her Instagram. No word on when it’s due to be released, but it looks delightful as well!

“Gordon Laite’s breathtaking artwork for a Little Golden Book edition of the Andersen fairy tale was found recently in the Golden Books archive. Planned for a 1970 release but never published, this Little Golden Book is finally making its debut for today’s fairy tale fans! And it couldn’t be a lovelier retelling of the story of a determined princess whose loyalty saves her brothers from being turned into swans by an evil queen.” ~Random House

What the what? Yes, you read that right. This is all the more valuable bc Laite died at such a young age, before he had the time to illustrate many books. I’ve already reviewed some of his other stories- like Cinderella, Diamonds and Toads in the Blue Fairy Book, and More Tales to Tremble By.

Based on Hans Christian Anderson’s story, the adaptor, Robin Davies does a wonderful job changing Anderson’s story (of which I’m not a fan) into something nearly identical to the Grimms’ fairy tale, “The Six Swans.”  The Late Medieval 15th century setting is amazing. Check out the evil step mother’s bizarre hennin. I also love that she’s nearly green with envy. FYI- if I’d had thirteen kids, I probably would have died too.  IMG_2530 The beautiful raven haired Elisa meets a fairy woman. I love the little details like mushroom gathering, leaf crown, and blue stockings. IMG_2531

Autumnal colors characterize all the illustrations. IMG_2532 IMG_2533 IMG_2534 IMG_2535

Those ladies are throwing some serious shade Elisa’s way. IMG_2536 But not as much as this guy! I almost forgive him bc his fur hat is all kinds of amazing. IMG_2537 Can these illustrations get anymore awesomely gothic?IMG_2538Why yes they can- I love that Laite ditched Elisa’s amazing truncated butterfly hennin so he could illustrate her gorgeous hair in the remaining pictures.
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This little book is a dream come true for me. Not only is set during one of my absolute favorite time periods for fairy tales, it’s by Gordon Laite, the most influential of my childhood art heroes.

With the movie “Maleficent” due to be released May 30th, I got into a discussion about the different ways the “wicked” fairy has been portrayed in the fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty and it reminded me of this book floating around on my book shelf, “Behind the Scenes at the Ballet: Rehearsing and Performing The Sleeping Beauty.”. It combines two of my favorite things, fairy tales and ballet. The ballet, with a score by Tchaikovsky, was based on Perrault’s version of the story, “La Belle au Boise Dormant.” But, instead of being completely faithful, it takes off in a rather brilliant direction and embraces its fairy tale-ness with an almost meta quality.

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The wicked fairy, Carabosse


The benevolent and powerful Lilac fairy

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On the Princess Aurora’s 16th birthday there is a grand party.

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She receives gifts from many people, including (while her parents are distracted) a bouquet of flowers. The old woman is the fairy Carabosse in disguise. Hidden in the bouquet is a spindle, which Princess Aurora pricks her finger on, fulfilling the curse. This is also one of the best explanations for how Aurora manages to prick her finger. The versons where her parents are away on a trip didn’t make sense to me even as a child. Come on! They knew the curse was supposed to happen on her 16th birthday and they’re not watching her like a hawk?

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100 years later Prince Florimund is dancing with his fiance, the Countess at a hunting party. He does not love her and finds her cold. He wanders off into the forest.


The Lilac fairy appears and shows him a vision of the Princess Aurora.


The Prince and Princess dance and the Lilac fairy explains the curse.


Prince Florimund is guided to the castle by the Lilac fairy, finds Aurora, and kisses her, breaking the enchantment.


The wedding guests include many fairy tale charcaters


The White Cat dances with Puss in Boots


Princess Florine and the Bluebird


Red Riding Hood and the Wolf


And finally Aurora and Florimund dance their pas de deaux.

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The book also has behind the scenes photos. There are people sewing the ballet costumes. Dancers practicing. Ballet stage makeup being applied. And at the end a couple of photos of famous dancers such as Robert Helpmann as Carabosse (who can be played by either a man or a woman)-


and Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nurevev


I love the costuming of the Birmingham Royal Ballet production of Sleeping Beauty. The costumes are incredibly detailed and baroque.

Bonjour l’Automne! It’s Fall and that means it’s time for my favorite Autumn themed fairy tale: CInderella. I’ve posted other versions here and here but this one is particularly charming. Set in the 1920s, it stars a brunette bobbed Cinderella, fabulously dumb step-sisters, an alcoholic step-mother, and a very english looking prince. Illustrated by Roberto Innocenti, it’s chock full of amusing and slightly shocking details! Check out some of the illustrations and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do~ 

this is another cinderella i remember from childhood. While i didn’t like it as much as gordon laite’s, i did like it better than the standard disney version of cindrella. for one thing, i liked the dress here much better. while i appreciate the animated cinderella’s dress now, when i was a child i found it a little plain for my taste. {right click to enlarge}

her hair is pretty spectacular. in many ways i prefer the animated cindrella’s strawberry blonde hair, but the yellow hair here is charming.
yellow dress? adorable!
i love the slivery beauty of her gown and the tiny roses. 

the moon and clouds are amazing!
wow, could she get any cuter? in your face mean stepmother and ugly stepsisters!
i love that she’s short! they kind of remind my of my brother and his wife. not to mention, the post war domesticity illustrated here is funny. this could be my grandma and grandpa in front of their house in the 50s.
retta scott? she’s really pretty! she looks like her cinderella! check out her shoes!

{photo via michael sporn animation. check out the link for more information on Retta Scott!}
according to wikipedia: “She was hired in 1938 and assigned to the Story Department, where the ambitiousBambi project was being developed. Her stunning sketches caught the eye of Disney himself,[3] so when the film went into production she was assigned[4] to animate scenes of hunting dogs chasingFaline. This was a significant coup for the young woman, since at the 1930s-era Disney studio, women were considered only for routine tasks: “Ink and paint art was a laborious part of the animation process, and was solely the domain of women . .” [5] She worked under the film’s supervising director, David D. Hand,[6] and was tutored by Disney animator Eric Larson.[7]

I’ve always heard of this story as “diamonds and toads,” instead of the other way around. it’s the familiar poor girl with mean stepmother/stepsister scenario.

i think you can guess who’s who from this scene. i love her think black wavy hair and the expression of her face is some of Gordon Laite’s best work. The fabulous 16th century tudor outfits aren’t usually seen in many fairy tales. 
and old ragged beggar {with the most righteous beggar’s rags i’ve ever seen!} asks for a drink of water. Our lovely heroine obliges and wouldn’t you know it, the beggar’s actually a fairy. Gifts are given.
The mean sister decides she wants some of that action and waits by the fountain. A beautiful lady appears and asks for a drink of water. The haughty sister, expecting the beggar woman at any moment, tells the lady to get bent. Bad move! Fairies aren’t stupid. She wasn’t going to wear the same disguise twice. Sheesh. Oh and by the way, she “gifts” the mean sister with snakes and toads falling out of her mouth with every word. Nice.
I would like to say, i think the fairy’s outfit is one of the most beautiful i’ve seen. This time period can be hard to reproduce without making the ladies look like lovely boxes, but Mr. Laite translates the styles wonderfully.

The nice daughter gets picked up by a smart prince who not only figured out she was lovely under her dirty house dress, but also realized she had, you know, diamonds and other precious stones falling out of her mouth. Good for you pal. I just sincerely hope he’s not Henry the VIII bc diamonds or no, if a son doesn’t fall out of her, she’s finished.

I have Dean’s A Book of Fairy Tales illustrated by Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone. Unlike their fellow British children’s illustrators they’re not well known here in the U.S. which is a shame considering the high quality of their work. They generally worked on small to medium sized artist board in watercolor and gouache. Right click to enlarge.

Sleeping Beauty, or La Belle au bois dormant, always seems best served by a high medieval setting. And whenever the tudoresque prince comes, in his slashed doublet and round toed shoes, he makes the best example of 100 years gone by just  with his fashion. 
the lovely but doomed princess.
the beautiful kind-hearted fairy.
lords and ladies in their particolored hose, gowns, and  hennins. 
keep an eye on everyone here~
the prince in his radically different and decidedly un-medieval fashion.
note the page boy running after the cat with the fish in it’s mouth. Janet and Anne set up this little bit of storytelling father up, when they all fall into the hundred year sleep. i love little details like this!

published in 1972 nancy ekholm burkert’s “Snow White” is a marvel. inspired by medieval manuscripts and a pre-raphaelite obsession with detail, she used colored inks and tiny lines to create intricately detailed art. {right click and open in new page to enjoy in a much larger format.}
there was a medieval revival in the 70s. from Rush to Led Zeppelin to Stevie Nicks, people suddenly became enamored with witches, nature, religeous fervor, purity and transgression. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings enjoyed renewed widespread success and Star Wars served up knights, farm boys, pirates and princesses on an epic quest. even the 70s beauty standards were reminicent of the medieval ideal- fitted, yet flowing garments, center parted hair, pencil thin eyebrows, and ornate braids ornamented women everywhere in the western world.

even the areas which appear solid, like Snow White’s dress and blushing cheeks are made up of tiny lines.

Snow White’s mother wishes for a child with skin as white as snow, lips {or cheeks} as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony. their family crest is shown in the windows and will reappear on the map later.

Snow White flees through the forest.

The seven dwarves welcome the industrious Snow White.

map of the three kingdoms and seven mountains the jealous queen must traverse in order to destroy Snow White.

Having failed, the Queen creates the apple of life and death. we never see her supposedly beautiful face, only her workroom. poisoned mushrooms, mandrake roots, and tarot cards representing change and death lay on her table.

The young prince from one of the three kingdoms shown on the map asks to take Snow White to his home. on the journey, one of her carriers stumble, causing the piece of poisoned apple to be expelled. the stories are pretty vague about exactly what happens. it’s safe to say she vomits. and for all the twittering about how the prince loves her static beauty, he apparently is still totally in love with her once she’s awake with puke-face.

here’s where the story just completely cements its awesomeness: the evil queen gets an invite to the neighboring prince’s wedding. according to her mirror his bride is the new “fairest.” upon arriving, she discovers- “surprise!” it’s Snow White, who she’s tried to kill three times. but Snow White is finally older and wiser. the queen is clapped in a pair of heated iron shoes and forced to dance until she dies. Snow White ceases to be a victim, destroys her enemy, and moves from a world of darkness into light. no more forgiveness. wow.
Snow White, along with mercer mayer’s Beauty and the Beast was one of favorite fairy tales and it has continued to inform my life.

please check out we too were children for an excellent nancy ekholm burkert biography and more art.

lisbeth zwerger’s Swan Lake {2002} is beautifully strange. delicate watercolors shift between impermanence and reality.
from odette’s* swan headed glove to the impenetrable mists, we float in a world where dream logic reigns.
i love the awkward transformation of the swan maidens. it’s ideas like this that set zwerger apart from her peers. never content to make a picture merely pretty, instead she uses her skill and tender painting style to infuse the picture with delicate beauty while showing us an unconventional scene.
the swan queen flees. the excellent use of white paper gives the whites in this picture a brilliant glowing quality. the hybrid statues provide quiet nods to the theme.
while we know swan lake as one of the great tragedies of ballet, according to zwerger’s epilogue, tchaikovsky originally wanted a happy ending, so that’s what she gives us. her touch is never saccharine and the happy ending for the characters feels welcome. while not a book for everyone, it will no doubt please introspective visual children with strong imaginations.*zwerger refrains from referring to the characters as siegfried, odette, and odile.

on a side note: i love well done happy endings. it’s one of my pet peeves when sad endings are tacked to give a false sense of importance to the subject matter or rendering of the story. “city of angels” anyone? first of all, why remake “wings of desire?” and when you do, you give it a sad ending? way to completely miss the entire theme of the film.

mercer mayer’s “sleeping beauty” {1984} is more than a little convoluted and while beautiful, one of his lesser works. the subtle pencil shading is gone and the colors appears straight out the the pan with next to no mixing. his solid draftsmanship has weakened and characters are often put together in unconvincing ways. still, some of the pages spark with his old brilliance and beauty. set in a framework of celtic myth, the story opens with the king’s wedding to his peasant queen. through a mishap the blue faery is given a cup of gold painted lead instead of one of solid gold. she curses them with barrenness.

the childless queen is visited by a silver owl (Jareth from Labyrinth?) and finally conceives.
unfortunately, the king gets jealous and kills the owl. needless to say, that’s probably going to bite him in the ass.
faeries {yes, faEries. mayer is aiming toward myth rather than fairy tale} appear and give their blessings. mayer’s obsession with hair reaches it’s apogee. not only do the ladies have hair, they have celtic knot hair.

and yes, the blue faery crashes the party and she’s pretty mad about not getting an invite, but that’s not all~ turns out the silver owl was her brother. the same silver owl the king killed. seriously, this royal family can’t get a break. so the blue faery curses the baby. luckily the star faery {shown at left} modifies the curse.

sleeping beauty still pricks her finger and falls asleep. 80 years later a prince searches for her. he happens to be the blue faery’s half human son. you know what that means? trouble! 
i try to ignore the prince’s arm bc the waves of auburn hair and beautiful green dress make up for it.
worst. mother. in. law. possible.

yeah, she’s really angry her son married sleeping beauty and so she curses everyone there. unfortunately that includes her son and since he’s half faery {sigh} that means she’s cursing all faeries which is illegal or something so she’s screwed. like i said, it’s convoluted. it also suffers from essentially making the story about the blue faery and her son. we never even get to know sleeping beauty. she’s practically a “macguffin” in this retelling. not to mention, the queen in the beginning only conceives after she gets really cozy with the silver owl. blameless? well the king was jealous enough to kill the owl. anyway, i couldn’t help but wonder if sleeping beauty and the prince are actually cousins which adds an unintentional dimension of both ick and hilarity. despite the gaping plot holes, mercer mayer’s “sleeping beauty” is still worth owning for the amazing celtic motif and phenomenal hair.

i love ivan bilibin’s art. the stark outlines and gentle colors are lovely. 
“my white, bright day.”
“the red sun”
“that is my servant, the dark night.”
baba yaga
and yes, mike mignola has spent the last decade paying “homage” to bilibin. i’m not being catty, i like mignola’s art.

so vassilissa takes this flaming skull home to her bitchy step-mother and horrible step-sisters where it burns them to death, leaving vassilissa unharmed. BOOM! and that’s how they do cinderella in russia! {kind of.}

so then an old woman takes her in and vassilissa makes some really amazing shirts. the tsar loves the shirts and wants to meet vassilissa. she’s totally gorgeous so the tsar wants to marry her and presumably never wear subpar shirts again. 
one of the reoccurring funny things in his art is how ugly the tsar always is unless he’s specifically a young hero, then he looks quite a bit like the artist himself- which is not ugly! see below.

so the biggest surprise is, in addition to being an exceptional artist, ivan bilibin was a stone cold fox. i’m not kidding. look at that guy. really hot- like anton chekhov hot. {trust me, google it.} i don’t know why i’m always surprised when people from the past were good looking, but i am. i’m pretty sure i would have minced over to him {have you ever tried to run in a corset?} and tried to make small talk. he would have babbled in russian and i would have cried “whatever! kiss me you fool!”

not coincidentally, he totally looks like my husband.

as i promised, here are the scans of gordon laite’s “cinderella” paper doll~

i’ve looked for this book for 15 years. finally, this year i ended up purchasing two books. one with the dolls and one with the uncut clothing. there really aren’t enough good things i can say about these dolls. to me, they are the pinnacle of paper doll art. i can’t explain… of course it might be that i just have 5 year old child brain again every time i look at them. something along the lines of “dresses!… cookies!… tea parties!… pretty!…kittens!…robin hood!” {don’t ask}.
Cinderella and Prince Charming
lovely house outfits
glorious golden ballgown
green wedding gown and blue 2nd gown
Charming’s wedding suit and his suit for the ball. 
with what the price a complete copy commands i’m shocked someone hasn’t scanned them in for people to enjoy. the book is out of print and the talented mr. laite died in 1978. click to enlarge and please enjoy them as much as i do 🙂 

Cinderella is an autumn tale. Don’t believe me? Pumpkins. Okay, occasionally it’s a winter tale and the ball is actually a yule ball. Cinderella comes in decked in flowers which makes the party-goers believe she’s a fairy bc it’s the dead of winter. i.e.- “rashin’ coatie” (“coat of rushes” a scottish cinderella variant). But usually, it’s an autumn tale.

The most influential book of my childhood was Gordon Laite’s “Cinderella.” I owned the little golden book with paper dolls. It ignited in me a passion for drawing, clothes, and paper dolls~ for everything. I made supplentary dresses for my doll from other Cinderella movies. Not only disney’s “Cinderella” but “Cinderella” with Leslie Caron as well as “the Slipper and the Rose” both of which had gorgeous costumes.
I discovered something: aside from the pleasure of drawing, I was good at it. It was revelatory. I wasn’t good at anything. But suddenly I was good at this.

“Cinderella”-illustrated by Gordon Laite
a couple of stone. cold. bitches.
check out Cinderella’s fabulous dress with sunflowers. Who said everything for a girl must be pepto bismol pink?

and how beautiful is her fairy godmother with her autumn leaf dress and golden butterfly wings?
the footman has literally “flipped his wig.”

enter dress #2! a lovely ermine trimmed blue velvet number. just don’t google what ermine look like or you may not like Cinderella as much.

too late! run little guy!

a white and green wedding dress! does it get any better? have i mentioned that as a little girl my favorite color was green? trust me, not a popular little girl color, even in the groovy and awesome late 70s of my childhood. So yes, i was validated by Cinderella’s dress. 

I understand it’s very popular to denigrate Cinderella and her virtues. But there is a place for somewhat passive heroines as well as alpha females. As a shy bookish little artist i delighted in Cinderella, Snow White, and Beauty- where good was rewarded and evil cosmically punished. i also enjoyed “east of the sun and west of the moon,” with it’s plucky heroine who saves her prince from a fate worse than death (a wedding night with the troll princess). There’s room for everyone. Wallflowers and alpha-females, scullery maids and brave girls with wanderlust alike.  

And so while i understand the inherent problems Cinderella poses for a modern audience, i love her anyway. She’s nice and industrious. She’s good at sewing, cooking, and patient with the assholes around her. She loves animals and misses her mother. And in the versions i read and watched as a kid, my imagination filled in the blanks. Cinderella wasn’t just a pretty face. No way! She and the prince were so busy talking about all the things they both liked to do and read that he forgot to ask her name. 
She was just that amazing. 

ps- i have the dolls and clothing as well. i’ll scan and post them soon.

as i’ve posted before, mercer mayer is one of my earliest and most lasting influences. with the beginning of autumn, now seems a fitting time to post his illustrations from “favorite tales from grimm.” this was his third and last book before his artistic decline began to set in. the pictures are highly detailed, exquisitely shaded, and colored. his model appears to once again be his first wife, the regally beautiful marianna mayer. 
the themes are befitting the brothers grimm. many of the pictures are slightly frightening or adult in nature. they also appear to be painted on a heavier paper but unfortunately, unlike, “beauty and the beast” there is no art information given in the copyright info. btw~ this book is out of print.
~snow white
not only is her semi-profile masterfully done, the soft pencil shading of her cheekbones is amazing. her hair, her hands, and the soft realistic baby make this my favorite in the book.
“thousandfurs” is a deeply disturbing tale, better known by it’s french varient, “donkeyskin,” which was made into an incredibly strange, wondrous, and popular film starring catherine deneuve. the princess escapes her incestuous father by disguising herself as an animal & getting a job in another castle. after some cinderella-like parties everything turns out happily ever after.
the expression in her lamp-like eyes is so ambiguous. is it wistful? hopeful? the soft modeling of her nose and mouth and, as always, mayer’s dipiction of the swirling organic trees, leaves, and nature are some of his best. 

starting in 7th grade i ordered time-life’s enchanted world series. instead of starting “witches and wizards” they started me with “the fall of camelot”. 
my knights/arthurian craze had begun!

in my mid teens i discovered trina schart hyman’s beautiful, “st. george and the dragon”. 

taking it’s details from spencer’s “faerie queen” we are plunged into an england not seen since arthur rackham. an england {or eden} where every tree, every root is populated by gnomes, fauns, & beautiful fairies with gossamer wings. 

in the book, only fairies, angels, animals, and children stare out from the pages to make eye contact with the reader. the adults are unaware of their audience.

the great dragon looking like a medieval satan!

i love how his tail curls through the opposing page! 

there is also another story told in the decorated margins of sailors trying to get home which parallels st george’s journey. 

una comforts st. george.

gorgeous medieval manuscript like details. witches, fairies, mandrake roots!

an epic battle. there’s also a fair amount of blood for a children’s book.

i love the clouds through these illustrations. they’re like scenery in a mystery play!

lovely angels with crimson wings pray for st. george.

the death of the dragon. again, a bit of blood, but this was 1984 and we were less sensitive about these things. although i’d certainly rather my son was exposed to violence in this manner, with evil being clearly vanquished.

una and st. george. notice the cat looking at you. 

trina used india ink outlines and washes of acrylic. 

from “the snow queen” by hans christian andersen ~ “kay’s destiny”

all grown up, kay finds his destiny lies to the north, in the palace of the snow queen. leaving his novels, his absinthe, & the pallid bust of pallas, the snowflakes spirit him away…

buy a print on etsy

i think, for the “snow queen” series of paintings, if i had to list all of my influences i would say:
klimt~ obviously, the snow queen herself owes a lot to klimt’s feminine aesthetic. not to mention kay’s painting.
edward burne jones~ the androgynous angels with their copious fabric.
bram stoker’s dracula~ i don’t care how badly this is acted, visually it was my go-to film for years. eiko ishioka is a goddess of fabric manipulation! and don’t get me started on gary oldman. the most gorgeous creature on film! also, kay’s drinking absinthe here. 
edgar allan poe~ there’s a reoccurring raven in the paintings. kay also has a “pallid bust of pallas” above his door. in the initial draft of the story i’d rewritten kay’s name as “allan“. yeah, i know~ which brings me to…
kafka~ hence why kay remained kay. what can i say, this set of painting was done between 18 & 20 & reflects a young person’s obsessions.  
mies van der rohe~ i fell in love with his pavilion (barcelona)chair. a fanciful version exists in this painting. 
john major~ i used to watch “questions with the prime minister & had a total crush on him. i don’t care if he’s conservative, he was terribly witty. kay wears major’s polka dot tie. i swear that man didn’t own a different tie. 
beauty & the beastcogsworth & lumiere are on the mantel (in a way).

the original painting is india ink, watercolor, & oil pastel. it was painted on strathmore bristol smooth 100 lb paper. this, before i found the heavy canson i work on now, was my paper of choice. the smooth paper surface allows excellent application of india ink without snags or feathering. it’s crispness also enables a precise paint application & jewel-like colors. the painting measures 17″ x 14″.

there are actually 20+ paintings in this series as i intended for it to be a book. i never submitted it to anyone & for the most part these painting have been covered in paper for the last 17 years.

“kay leaves the palace of ice” from the “snow queen”.

this scene depicts the moment when kay has solved the snow queen’s puzzle & has become his own master as well as a won a new pair of skates. however, he’s not ready to grow up & leaves the palace of ice with gerda.  

the window is based on the famous rose window in chartres cathedral. 

the snow queen wears a victorian dress & a norwegian headdress.

the original painting is india ink, watercolor & oil pastel, as well as black acrylic paint. acrylic absorbs light rather than reflecting it so i rarely use it. i like my paintings to have the luminosity that watercolors impart. however, i used always used it on the snow queen’s hair. i wanted to her to be devoid of light, like a black hole. i also used it on a few of her interiors. it’s flatness gives the stained glass the illusion of glowing light. the painting measures 14″ x 17″. it was painted on strathmore bristol smooth 100 lb. paper. i wrote about this paper here: you can buy a print of this painting here: etsy prints!   

“the snowflakes vanquished”

the snow queen’s palace is guarded by her snowflake army. unsure of how to reach kay, gerda’s frozen breath becomes angels who subdue the army.

i love drawing armor, especially fantasy armor. this was painted in the midst of my klimt / pre-raphaelite infatuation. or maybe it was love bc i still adore them, they just don’t quite influence my art as much as they did at this time. 

edward burne jones & his androgynous pre-raphaelite people was a huge influence on me. also, the angels don’t have nipples or navels bc they’re not human. that used to matter to me. i’ve since mellowed out on the eschatological details.

the only thing that really bothers about this painting is gerda. i painted her too adult. waaaaaay too adult. i was going for 12 & she looks 21. in my defense, this was one of the first paintings in the series i did & i don’t think i’d mentally settled on their ages yet. i think, a lot, about repainting it, but i doubt i will. eventually you have to just let things go or you’ll lose your mind. the original painting is india ink, watercolor & oil pastel. it was painted on strathmore bristol smooth 100 lb. paper. this, before i found the heavy canson i work on now, was my paper of choice. the smooth paper surface allows excellent application of india ink without snags or feathering. its crispness also enables a precise paint application & jewel-like colors. the painting measures 17″ x 14″.  

print on etsy

mercer’s mayer‘s “east of the sun & west of the moon” is a curious book. an amalgam of the scandinavian tale of the title & “the frog prince” plus some elemental mythology. i’m still confused why he didn’t call it “the frog prince” instead of “eswm“. it certainly offers a more satisfying telling of “fp” than the conventional grimms’ tale. it bears a close resemblance to the slavic fairy tale, “finist the falcon” {itself a sister to eswm}

our beautiful but haughty heroine in lovely slavic costume wooed by some very ivan bilibinesque young men. her family suffers a reversal of fortune.

the colors in this tale are brighter that “beauty” perhaps to reflect russian aesthetics.

her father can be cured by a drink from this pool. however she loses the cup. a friendly frog offers to retrieve it, with certain conditions. she agrees.

she throws her frog against the wall & he turns into a prince. but instead of scoring big time for her rudeness he is whisked away by trolls. our lady goes to the guardians of each element to find her way to the castle east of the sun & west of the moon to rescue the prince. here she talks with the fire salamander who knows everything in the heart of the world except…

she climbs the stair to the castle. i wonder if that’s cyrillic on the steps?
that sky is amazing.

the troll princess. i’ve been to clubs with creatures like this wandering around. mayer demonstrates his growing fascination with hair which will reach its apogee in his version of “sleeping beauty”. i love that her hair is slightly frizzy throughout the story. before straighteners were de rigueur  this was considered quite charming.

…of course she saves him & they live happily ever after.

working on some new paintings which will be offered on etsy as well as two private commissions. in the meantime i wanted to share one of my favorite books when i was a kid, mercer & marianna mayer’s “beauty & the beast”.
they were husband & wife at the time~ i believe they were married throughout the pinnacle of mercer’s art. i’ve found 2 photos of marianna & not coincidentally she bears a striking resemblance to “beauty” as well as his other fairy tale heroines.

clearly a homage to durer’s “st. jerome in his study”, it depicts the moment the merchant must tell his family that they are financially ruined. of his 6 children only one son lays a comforting hand on his father’s arm as well as, of course, beauty herself. the others seem annoyed &/or stunned.

durer’s “st. jerome in his study”, conventionally thought to represent a life of contemplation.

beauty, at the beast’s castle, bidding goodbye to her father. i could chat endlessly about how beautiful each of these paintings is, but instead i’ll tell you what they mean to me. i learned to draw profiles from this picture, in particular the iris. i learned to paint skin as well from mayer. i still find his heavily blushed cheeks wonderful. in my own work i overemphasize them to create an artificial doll-like beauty. her hands also are particularly well drawn.

a difficult semi profile well executed. notice beauty’s hand on her book, how tense the fingers are. the beast’s castle is loaded with egyptian artifacts while beauty wears egyptian sandals. note the rose motif in the curtain & the castle’s stonework.

italian clothing & decor with egyptian details. each painting is outlined in india ink. the pencils are left as shadows & over-painted in watercolor. the sheer amount of detail in this picture is staggering. i used to day dream about wandering up the stairs in the background.

the text reads, “the beast was a magician as well. often while telling a story he would wave his arm & a picture would unfold before their eyes.”

i would die if someone made beauty’s jewellery. look at that gorgeous butterfly headdress!

the beast, alone & crying bc beauty has left. of course she returns & they live happily ever after.