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Category Archives: influences

“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.



Feeling incredibly rejuvenated. Karl is back in pre-school. Finished a large job for a client. And I have personal projects organized and ready to create. Today I put on Grant Morrison talking on Keven Smith’s Fatman on Batman podcast. I loved Morrison’s “Supergods,” which made me feel like I could accomplish anything despite my anxiety. I knew that since I was going to begin painting “Brooksie,” that I would need an extra shove to get me started. Strangely, the detail work on a painting is the least stressful for me. It’s actually very relaxing to take each piece and tap away with my tiny brush. But the initial laydown of color always freaks me out. I start procrastinating. But I knew Morrison’s unique abundance of creativity would inspire and loosen me up- and it did. So much so that I started putting together a muslin of Karl’s shirt while the layers of my paint dried.

And I finally signed up for Instagram. Yes, filters are fun.

Coppola and Eiko on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, part 1.

This movie introduced me to the work of Eiko Ishioka, costume designer extraordinaire. Coppola’s Dracula has problems, mostly stemming from the stilted acting of Reeves and Ryder (I still remember the horror of realizing that Ryder had limited range. Up till then, she was my favorite actress), and the intentional hamminess of the rest of the cast. It also introduced me to Gary Oldman. Although I had seen “Sid and Nancy,” Oldman’s submersion into Vicious’s persona was so complete I overlooked him (I was a Johnny Rotten fan anyway). But with Dracula, I sat in the theater spellbound. A quarter of the way through the film I looked at my sort of boyfriend sitting next to me and realized that our relationship wasn’t going to be long term. He was a total Harker and I wanted Dracula. I wanted a consuming love that would cross oceans of time for me. That level of craziness would characterize all of my subsequent relationships. I’m an emotionally reserved person and it takes serious devotion to lure me into expending any actual emotion.
“The luckiest man who walks on this earth is the one who finds true love.”
Coppola wanted Eiko’s costumes to be the scenery. Her artistry tells more about the characters than script.

photo (4)“What devil or witch was ever so great as Attila whose blood flows through these veins?”

photo (5)“I was betrayed. Look what your God has done to me!”

photo (6)“I shall rise from my own death, to avenge hers with all the powers of darkness.”

photo (7)

“The basic color scheme for Dracula is red, white, black, and gold. I wanted to depict him in his armor as a cross between man and a beast.” -Eiko

photo (8)“For the dead travel fast.”

photo (9) “Listen to them- the children of the night. What sweet music they make.”

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photo (11)

“The enormous train… was designed to undulate like a sea of blood.”- Eiko

“I never drink… wine.”

photo (12)

calling Gustav Klimt.

“Do you think you can destroy me with your idols? I who served the cross, I who commanded nations, hundreds of years before you were born?”

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So in love with my Moebius Arzach. I can usually only find “Blueberry” here in the US, so I was pretty stoked to find a guy selling a bunch of Euro comics. This is all in Italian, but I’m primarily interested in the art.

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And of course some awesome Cosplayers!
This is Anthony Misiano and His girlfriend as The Joker and Harley Quinn. Sewing nerds take note~ their costumes are amazing. So much texture and detail, it’s nuts. Here’s his website, and here’s his fb. Check him out. Lots of talent. His look is based on Brian Bolland’s amazing Joker from “The Killing Joke.” The art from “The Killing Joke” is what got me into comics. When Tim Burton’s Batman movie came out, the newspaper ran Brian Bolland’s art and I was totally blown away. My older brother read comics, but none of the art was as awesome as that! Anyway, I got super into Batman (and others) and bought everything of Bolland’s that I could get my hands on. More about that later.


Shazam! And Mary Marvel!

969285_10201077237122869_943292916_nAn adorable Deadpool


I just saw The Great Gatsby, and it was fantastic. Those reviewers are obviously a bunch Tom Buchanans

First of all, I saw the movie in 2D because I don’t care for 3D.


There’s something incredibly freeing about Lurhmann adapting a work. Lurhmann is a unicorn who dreams in celluloid. There’s none of that disappointment, that- “it’s not how I pictured it.” Of course it’s not. It manages to capture the twin worlds of the books rather brilliantly. First, there’s the forced hollowness of Gatsby’s “glamour,” and I mean that in the old Faerie way of illusion, which even Gatsby is taken in by. Once he has Daisy- his Daisy that he’s dreamed of for years- who he’s had countless ghost conversations with inside his head, the movie shifts gears. The glitter blows away, your champagne goggles disappear and all of a sudden the sober morning reveals a sweet, slightly naive man and his silly, shallow, emotionally damaged love interest.
Carey Mulligan’s Daisy is wonderful. Lame and jaded in the beginning, her crack up in the third act manages to arouse your sympathy.
Leonardo DiCaprio is a sublime Gatsby. His smooth confident facade cracks spectacularly during his longed for meeting with Daisy. And the man can were a pink suit like nobody’s business. His “Old Sports” are as charming, laughable, and dorky as the Gatsby of the book.
The rest of the cast shines as well. Joel Edgerton and Isla Fisher bring unexpected humanity to characters like Tom Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson.
The small changes to the book- Nick recovering from alcoholism, as well as making Tom, Jordan, and Nick brunet didn’t lessen my enjoyment. (Was Nick blond? I assume he was since he’s Fitzgerald’s stand in, even more than Gatsby.) I also don’t remember Gatsby’s wonderful line, “Her voice is full of money,” which is a shame. It’s one of my favorites from the book.

The music is fabulous. It manages to evoke the danger, sex, and wildness of the jazz age. It’s also far more integrated than the soundtrack would lead you to believe.

I got choked up at Nick explaining to Gatsby that he didn’t need compensation, that it was just a favor. DiCaprio plays it beautifully. His cautious joy at dealing with someone who might not have an angle on his money is heartbreaking. Even though I knew what was going to happen at the end, I still found myself wishing it would end differently. That Daisy would be a stronger person. That Gatsby wasn’t so single-minded. That evil, the true evil of the careless, mindless variety that so frequently dominates our world, wouldn’t triumph.

The group of teen girls in front of my started crying. As the credits rolled one of them said between sniffs, “It was so sad!” I found myself idly wondering at what future lay in store for them. If their dreams would shatter at 30 like so many of Fitzgerald’s characters or if they were the lucky ones, “beautiful little fools.”

I didn’t read Gatsby in school. 20th century lit wasn’t my thing at 13/14. But at 25 I finally up and read some Hunter Thompson. He raved non-stop about Fitzgerald and Gatsby so, I picked up a copy and fell in love. I don’t know if it was due to my quarter century mark, the fact that I was making more money than I had any right to and spending it even faster, or that my first love was coming apart at the seams after 3 years together. But for the first time, I felt my limitations.

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter– tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning—
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”


Obviously, I’ve also been playing quite a bit of the Great Gatsby 8 bit game found here:

I first became aware of Patrick Nagel at the local poster art shop. I was 13. Tall, slim, and brunette with small eyes and skin like paper, i was considered plain and borderline ugly in my southern california town. I despaired of ever being thought attractive. But then i saw her. What was she? 8″x10″? 10″x10″? She was beautiful, like a Snow White who had grown up and cast her evil step-mother in hot iron shoes while enjoying every minute of that bitch’s dance. She had no apologies. Not for herself and not for anyone else.
I was transfixed and time moved like amber behind me until an old man walked by and stopped. “It’s like looking in a mirror.” I turned and stared stupidly until i realized he was talking about me. Me. He wasn’t scary or particularly pervy or anything like that. Just an old man shopping for posters who took 5 seconds to be kind to a child-teen. I looked back at the beautiful little picture and then left. I walked home elated.
Patrick Nagel died in 1984 at the age of 38. Despite this, his work is ubiquitous with the 80s. So ubiquitous that it’s easy to forget its brilliance and beauty. Easy too, in our digital age, to dismiss Nagel’s technical skill. His method consisted of drawing from live models, refined until they possessed the cool graphic quality of a japanese woodblock print and then painted on board or canvas with acrylics. Acrylics. Not vectors in photoshop and illustrator. Actual paint on actual board. His lines are superb. And all the sunglass shops or manicure shops or drycleaners who use his graphic style can’t rob him of that.

I didn’t grow up to look like a Nagel, but i still find his women entrancing.
Nagel perfectly personified the 80s ideal of female beauty. His women are usually of middle height and slender, but in a vastly different way from the 60s or 70s. If you notice their wrists: these are not ladies with wrists of glass. Large breasts, straight waists, slim hips and shapely legs. Small intense eyes, large lips with a well defined cupid’s bow, thick hair, and his admitted favorite feature~ strong noses. There always seems to be something of Isabella Rossellini in all of them.

pencil preparation of the painting below.
Nagel felt the drawings were the fun part while painting was the labor.
He often donated paintings to models or editors who expressed admiration for his work.
He enjoying drawing and painting men as well. His assistant, Karl Bornstein reported that he didn’t need critical acknowledgment of what he did, bc he had such an intense love of just painting pictures,
He was influenced by high-fashion photographers and illustrators such as Joseph Leyendecker, Henry Raleigh, and Saul Tepper. Surprisingly, he loved Pre-Raphaelite paintings.
pencil sketch of the famous “Rio” cover.
“Texas” the painting that became Duran Duran’s “Rio” cover.
His wife, Jennifer Dumas, occasionally posed for him. Some believe her to the inspiration for the Nagel Woman. 
All superfluous details in the drawing above have been stripped away until only the great white expanse of her back remains, uncluttered by lines.
He never worked out and laughed at people who did. He ate cheeseburgers, candy bars, smoked constantly, stayed up all night, and painted. He participated in a televised benefit for the Heart Association by doing aerobics. Afterward he walked to his car, had a heart attack and died.

All images and information from “Nagel: the Art of Patrick Nagel.”

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.

herge, how do i love your creations? Tintin, Milou/Snowy, Captain Haddock, Thompson and Thomson, Professor Calculous, and of course Loch Lomand whiskey!
Herge’s beautiful style, known as ligne claire {the clear line}, is instantly recognizable. I plan to post and discuss Herge and his work at a later point, but today we have fashion inspired by Herge’s Tintin. what? yes, you read that right. Burdastyle Magazine, in their continuing quest to ignite clothing envy and hope in my heart published these patterns in their december 2011 issue. I plan to sew my heart out, cuddle up with my own Captain Haddock, and toss down a few whiskeys~
adorable trench for the girl and an adorable dog- though not a white wire fox terrier like Milou/Snowy- who is wearing a dapper dog coat of his own.
there’s even a pattern for the dog coat!

the rolled up jeans, arglye socks, and oxfords are a wonderful twist on gamine style.
collars made from men’s suiting for your dapper dog or a bustopher jones style cat about town. 
i don’t know if it’s a side product of being tall, but i love too short trousers. i used to get teased for looking like i was waiting for the flood but really, i like the style. My husband does too. his slightly too short pants were one of the first things i noticed. wes anderson agrees and approves.
Tintin wears “plus fours” which are essentially knickers that end 4 inches below rather than at the knee. i love the modern ungathered version here. 
 this dog is killing me!
a couple of pages from “Destination Moon.” 
right click & open in a new tab to read. Just whiskey Capt. Haddock? A man after my own heart!
i have to say i hope the movie is popular enough to introduce a new generation to Tintin’s adventures. By turns brainy, silly, and serious the Adventures of Tintin are smarter and funnier tales than most children or adults come in contact with. They are true adventures to delight both young and old. 
{patterns are available in the 12/2011 issue of Burdastyle Magazine or individually through burda german and burda english}

beautiful rainy day in socal so it’s time for some E. A. Poe illustrated by the endlessly talented Arthur Rackham. These are from 1935. Rachkham shows that his use of line is more beautiful than most other artist’s command of color, as well as his mastery of large areas of black and a skillful employment of silhouette.
the ocean appears alive with menace.

rachkam’s silhouette technique used to great effect. note the body shoved up the chimney. {from “murders in the rue morgue.”}

my favorite Poe story, “Ligeia.” {pronounced, btw, as “lye-JEE-uh” according to both the vincent price movie “The Tomb of Ligeia” (1964)as well as this site: libraryalchemy.

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.

last week we picked up andrew wyeth’s “helga pictures” for $5 at the local friends of the library bookstore. i’ve been wanting it for a while but it’s expensive so finding it for so little was a dream come true.

why am i fascinated with wyeth’s helga? how could i not be? she was his model from 1971 to 1985. when they began helga was 38, my age, and 53 at the end. she is his eternal spring set amongst the snows.
while his temperas are beautiful, i’m most excited by his watercolors. that’s my medium and i work in a mostly tight, controlled manner with occasional breakouts. so wyeth excites me because his watercolors are also controlled with moments where you see and feel his meticulous brushwork.
from composition, expression, color, and linework, i consider new ways of working everytime i look at his paintings. 
helga’s braids~ her braided hair takes on a meaning all it’s own for wyeth. and in his way he tells us much, but conceals even more. he does not take us by the hand, but walks silently beside us while we wonder what is the meaning of these things?  
his indebtedness to dürer is apparent here. the color and execution are reminiscent of durer’s, “self portrait with fur,” which itself is reminiscent of portraits of christ.  while dürer was consciously comparing the role of the creating artist to the role of a creating god, we are left to wonder if wyeth is doing the same. helga’s hair is unbound, like a german christ and she is clad in a sheepskin coat, her hands in pensive contemplation. here, helga is his saviour, artistically and personally.
… or maybe she’s a woman in a coat. and that, is one of the many delights of visual art.

if you would like to know a little more about andrew wyeth, this site is useful, as well as having prints of his art to purchase: andrew wyeth prints

literary nonsense from the delightful mr. edward gorey. i don’t think i could pick a favorite story, but this one has been on my desk for a while 🙂 click to enlarge and study mr. gorey’s exquisite line work at your leisure.

perpetual collegiate style. 
i love how aimless yet self conscious they are. as though they were fully aware of their audience.
in gorey’s world, everyone wears converse.
macabre hilarity. {mary murders her cousine rose over a found bedslat.}
religious mania ensues.
marsh takes to “drink” and drank a bottle of vanilla extract he found in the mud. 
left alone, rosemary drifted away during an unusually high tide…

it’s raining today. not quite as rare an occurrence in southern california as you might think. but it made me think of “the tempest.” neither a tragedy nor a comedy, it’s considered a romance, in the old way. weird and wonderful, it’s Shakespeare’s last complete play and considered by many, his farewell to theatre. i present arthur rackham’s equally weird and beautiful paintings depicting many scenes from the play. they are from his late period when he shifted minutely toward a more painterly style. the scenes are by turns desolate and lush, always magical with a slight art nouveau influence.

 Miranda cavorting with spirits. i love her dark bobbed hair.
Ariel summoning the storm 
Ariel disguised as a water-nymph. the water behind him is magical. 
 “full fathom five thy father lies,
of his bones are coral made;
those are pearls that were his eyes,
nothing of him that doth fade,
but doth suffer a sea-change
into something rich, and strange.”
“the isle is full of noises, sounds and sweet airs, that give delight”
“sometimes a thousand twanging instruments will hum about mine ears; and sometimes voices, that, if i had wak’d after long sleep… i cried out to dream again.” 
“how does my bounteous sister? go with me
to bless this twain, that they may prosperous be…”

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 🙂 

rushmore academy has mr. fox faux fur ties for sale here, modeled by jason schwartzman.
click pictures to enlarge~

badger concept art by felicie haymoz.

cuss with bill murray at your own peril.

i love agnes’ freckles!
coach skip and agnes concept art by felicie haymoz and an explanation of “hot box!”
“Basically, there’s three grabbers, three taggers, five twig runners, and a player at Whackbat. Center tagger lights a pine cone and chucks it over the basket and the whack-batter tries to hit the cedar stick off the cross rock. Then the twig runners dash back and forth until the pine cone burns out and the umpire calls hotbox. Finally, you count up however many score-downs it adds up to and divide that by nine.” 

petey concept art by felicie haymoz.

and of course petey was voiced by the talented jarvis cocker.
rat and weasel concept art uncredited.

i like wes’s note- “no pleats!”
weasel was voiced by wes anderson.

farmer bean and kristofferson~
“Frank Bean is a turkey and apple farmer. He invented his own species of each. He lives on a diet of strong alcoholic cider which he makes from his apples. He’s as skinny as a pencil, as smart as a whip, and possibly the scariest man currently living.”
wes anderson and bill murray on set.
“let her dance”

Turkeys, apples, and psychotic farmers! It must be november! what better movie to usher in this lovely month than “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” with its richly designed autumn palette. initially, i was very excited to hear wes anderson was directing this. while i wasn’t fond of the “Darjeeling Limited,” his other films rank among my favorites. “Mr. Fox” does not disappoint. It’s good for thoughtful adults and children alike. The subtle complexity of Dahl’s original isn’t lost here, nor is it buried under unnecessary additions. the expansion of the story adds rather than detracts, simply because, like Dahl’s book, nothing is sentimentalized {notwithstanding adorable costumed animals.} I was lucky to receive the book on its making for a christmas past and i’ve spent hours pouring over the tiny props, costumes, and sets. here are a few of my favorite pagers:
click pictures to ~enlarge

concept art for” fantastic mr. fox.” art by chris appelhans.
felicity fox’s melancholy paintings by turlo griffin.
“she’s got a good eye, but she’s obviously very depressed.” ~bean’s critique of mrs. fox’s paintngs. {cut from the film.}
roald dahl’s desk inspired the tiny props made for mr. fox’s desk.
mr. fox concept art
1. eric chase anderson.
6. huy vu
11. chris appelhans 
felicity fox concept art
1. cameo design by turlo griffin
2. felicie haymoz
4. eric chase anderson

the gloriously beautiful and sad felicity fox.

btw~ rifka made her own mrs. fox dress. prepare to die from pleasure: the perfect apple dress!

all ash concept art here by felicie haymoz.

poor ash. i loved him. i know what it’s like being a disappointemnt to your parents. i too am “wiggle-wiggle-fingers… different.”

all kristofferson concept art here by felicie haymoz.

i have secret hopes karl will grow up to be a kristofferson. nice, smart, and good at martial arts. what? a mother can dream ;P

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.

published in 1968, “more tales to tremble by,” illustrated by gordan laite, is full of surprising creeps. although a children’s book, the selection of stories are anything but childike. 

boasting stories such as, “the red lodge,” by h. russell wakefield and “the extra passenger,” by weird luminary august derluth, the stories are sure to frighten children and most likely frighten adults even more.

“sredni vashtar,” by saki is my favorite in the collection. 10 year old conradin lives with his oppressive cousine and guardian, “mrs. de ropp.” a sickly boy, his every possible joy and excitement is suppressed by his guardian, whom he feels is hastening him to his death. secretly he obtains a large polecat-ferret. as the embodiment of life, he imagines it a vengeful god and he its faithful supplicant. eventually mrs. de ropp discovers the animal and enters the shed where it’s hidden to dispose of it. conradin, from the window above, watches helplessly.
“and in the sting and misery of his defeat he began to chant loudly and defiantly the hymn of his threatened idol: ‘srendi vashtar went forth; his thoughts were red and his teeth were white. his enemies called for peace, but he brought them death. sredni vashtar the beautiful.’
“… and presently his eyes were rewarded: out through that doorway came a long, low yellow and brown beast, with eyes a-blink at the waning daylight and dark wet stains around the fur of his jaws and throat.”
contentedly, conradin proceeds to eat toast and drink his afternoon tea with enjoyment.

gordon laite’s art is beautiful. all of his art i’ve seen prior to this has been full color so it was a delight to see his linework. sadly, due to the wonderful painted cover, this book is often “reused” to make journals so pick one up while you can.  

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.

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.

taking a break from getting my paintings scanned in & printed for my etsy store. yes, it’s driving me crazy. painting i love, the digital fiddling to color correct them for print i don’t.

now that I have a child I’ve been thinking a lot about the books that shaped my life. “D’Aulairie’s Book of Greek Myths” is one of these. a large heavily illustrated book full of adventure, it captured my imagination & retains it to this day.
growing up in southern California, to say that the dominant aesthetic was blonde & tan is an understatement. to be anything else was to be outside, an alien. the D’Aulairie’s illustrations appealed to me precisely bc they were alien. mediterranean culture was world’s away from the homogeneous suburbia surrounding me. they opened a door into dreams of cobalt seas, fields of golden grain, & monsters lurking in the hills… click on pictures to make bigger.

Iris, the rainbow messenger in her dress of dew. Her bright black eyes caught my attention. Finally, i had seen someone like myself represented in a book.

Aphrodite, goddess of love. This picture was one of my favorites. I held this page up to our living room window & placing paper over it traced her outline. Her pose was perfect. In my world she became Cinderella coming down the stairs in her ball gown, her black eyes shining.
The D’Aulaire’s created their images using acetate sheets to approximate the look of stone lithography. Look closely & you can see where the colors overlap to create their beautiful color harmonies.

Artemis, goddess of the hunt. 1 of my 2 favorite childhood goddesses. There’s so much going on in this picture to delight. The night creatures abound~ the owl, the squirrels, the tree nymphs, the dancing circle of mosquitoes. The idea that everything is alive & sentient spoke to me & seemed self-evident. The moon lies reflected in the still pool while Artemis walks away, completely unconcerned, after punishing the hunter Actaeon. The text reads, “Artemis was a cold & pitiless goddess.” Those words thrilled me as a child. I loved & aspired to her self-possession.

Persephone, goddess of the spring & queen of the dead. My other favorite goddess & the one psychologically I was most like. As a shy child I dreamed of being swept away by a dark handsome man. My 2 favorite movies at this time of my life were: “Wuthering heights” & “Rebecca”. I proudly proclaimed that I was going to marry Lawrence Olivier when I grew up. I was 6.

Persephone in the underworld. The poplars, the roots growing through the sky, & the silence of the land of the dead.
persephone was originally named “kore” {koree or koreh} which means, maiden, young girl, & bride. she became “persephone” when she fulfilled her destiny as the queen of the dead. persephone means, “bringer of destruction, bringer of holy sacrifice, & ineffable maiden. she, along with her mother, presided over the eleusinian mysteries.

Surreal in its details. Demeter & Persephone reunite amid giant flowers. Again the owl of the night appears as well as a moth. I had already decided that Persephone had deliberately eaten 6 pomegranate seeds in order to spend part of the year with Hades bc she had fallen in love with him. I loathed undeserved unhappy endings.

Selene, goddess of the moon. The night as a curtain from behind which Selene watches the beautiful shepherd Endymion sleep. She petitions Zeus to grant him eternal sleep so that he may stay young forever. Again, it’s the tiny details like the satyr chasing the nymph in the background that add to the story.

The great god pan. A beautiful 2 page spread showing the Grecian countryside at night. The text reads, “In Selene’s magic light, river-gods rose from silvery streams to inspect their river beds, & hills trembled under the hoofs of wild centaurs. Laughing nymphs & bleating satyrs danced to the music of Pan, god of nature, master of them all.” Even now these words fill me with secret delight.

Ariadne asleep on Naxos. She wears a Cretan gown (slightly modified for modesty). Dionysus presents her with a crown he will later place in the sky as the constellation, “corona borealis”.

Orpheus. Again, everything is alive & capable of feeling. The bluebells cry, carrots rise from the earth to weep, & rocks roll closer, tears streaming down their faces. Not that any of that will save poor doomed Orpheus.

Helen. The most arresting image in the book. As troy burns & heroes die, witless Helen combs her hair & gazes inward.

All things must pass~

i’ve been thumbing through books to crystallize my approach to my next set of paintings. i want something light, encompassing the meaning of ukiyo-e, the floating world. i live in a dream world of hazy visions and i spend much time reproducing them on paper, however banal they may seem to other people. i deeply feel frida kahlo’s exclamation against being labeled a surrealist, ” i paint my reality.” lately, i’ve felt the ink line i apply to all my paintings is overpowering them. it’s so dark i find my self overpainting the picture. while this worked well for me in the past, i’m just not feeling it now.

after examining mercer mayer’s “beauty & the beast” for the millionth time i’ve noticed he left a significant portion of his pencil drawing visible as shadows.

karl & i combed through rackham’s “tempest”. like rackham, i too have always “painted with my pen”.

“sorcerer’s apprentice” by the dillons

julie morstad’s lovely work

& of course japanese woodcuts.

so, i think i’m going to apply color over the penciled lines, leaving them uninked. something tells me this will give me the lightness i’m searching for.