Most of my inspiration for my painting “Sirin” came from my general love of Russian Fairytales and Medieval painting. I spent a lot of time looking at 3 books I have on Russian Lacquer Miniatures. The art is usually on a black background with strong red and orange colors, with some lovely blue and green accents. This one in particular was very inspiring- “Sleeping Beauty.”
But I also used a few Pinterest pictures for reference and keeping me on track. With children about, I’ve found it easier to have a board rather than my usual pile of books. I still work with books of course, but I’m able to cut down on how high the stack gets by having my board up on the computer. –I made a separate board called, “Sirin.” At the top you have the “Maiden Tsar” from the Russian animated film, “The Magic Pony.” When I was a child, they used to show this movie all the time on KTLA’s Sunday Family Film Festival. In what seemed like a sea of wide eyed blonde princesses, she was a lonely island. Between her brown hair and her long, dark eyes with heavy eyeliner, she hit every mark on my childhood “pretty” target. Everything in this film is gorgeous. Don’t even get me started on the horses! Below, the two Ivan Bilibin pictures, as well as the image between them were helpful in my process of narrowing down my colors. I briefly considered a cream background. You’ll notice the Sirin on the left is holding a flower. She is proably a Gamayun, which were more likely to be shown with arms in addition to wings. I found this picture after I’d made my final sketch, but I still feel quite indebted to it. I gave my Sirin a sunflower to tie her to the Slavic solar god, (Dazbod or Belobog) as well as possible slavic solar symbols embroidered on her headdress.
Unfortunately Slavic mythology is still much of a mystery. A few beliefs which used to be taken for granted, like the Belobog/Chernobog dualism, are now questioned. (You may remember Chernobog from Fantasia’s amazing “Night on Bald mountain”.)
(PS- This is not a Danzig logo)
The Sirin in the center, with the red sun stayed with me, because for many decades I’ve had a reoccurring dream of a world lit by a black sun, black, not red like this picture- a sun that looks like an eclipse. The last time I started having the dream again was when I first got sick in the Fall of 2015. I made a few drawings and took some reference photos, but they’re somewhat sad and make me uncomfortable. It’s still there sometimes, that world lit by a black sun.
Russian headdresses, often called kokoshniks, vary from region to region. I have a little notebook with all the ones I’ve collected so far which I’d love, time permitting to turn into little paintings. Headdresses from the north usually feature freshwater pearls, while those from the south are more likely to have copious amounts of gold embroidery. I chose the more crown-like one on the upper right as my main inspiration. I loved the contrast of the blue ribbon and gold embroidery on the bottom left, which I incorporated, changing the blue to pale green. The totally bonkers beautiful bird woman in “Sadko” makes me want to track that movie down. The colors in the center picture made me change the background from black to a softer grey. The “Last Unicorn” has been on my perma watch list this winter. Amalthea has the best hair in animation, along with Aurora. The bottom center picture is a favorite of mine- midcentury art is the last time we saw art with small, dark eyes on a regular basis. Not soon after this, the adorable Dollybird’s with their saucer eyes began their beauty domination. And finally the amazing iridescence of raven wings. It helped me to be brave and add blue and green to the wings.
I have plans and sketches for more, but next I’d like to finish and paint my wolf girl sketches from November. Then, perhaps I’ll return to the “Land Beyond the Blue Mountains.”
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. I love when books have details like this- the cloth bound cover is printed.
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!
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. The beautiful raven haired Elisa meets a fairy woman. I love the little details like mushroom gathering, leaf crown, and blue stockings.
Those ladies are throwing some serious shade Elisa’s way. But not as much as this guy! I almost forgive him bc his fur hat is all kinds of amazing. Can these illustrations get anymore awesomely gothic?Why 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.
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.
The wicked fairy, Carabosse
The benevolent and powerful Lilac fairy
On the Princess Aurora’s 16th birthday there is a grand party.
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?
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.
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.