Tuesday, October 14, 2014

From A Window In Vartov

I've had this image in my head for a couple of weeks now. In fact, I meant for this illustration to be my Inktober #1, but the sketch never quite felt right until I tackled it again yesterday. (My Inktober drawings are all on my Instagram feed, btw.)

From A Window in Vartov (alternatively, By the Almshouse Window or View from Vartou's Window) is a sort of story within a story in which an old maid watching youngsters at play recalls her own tragic life and a local legend about a sacrificed child.

"An innocent child was lured with flowers, cakes, and toys into an open tomb..."



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

From the Ramparts of the Citadel

a.k.a. The Sunbeam and the Captive

I'm still intrigued by the discrepancies I run into when I compare translations of Andersen. It seems highly unlikely that From the Ramparts of the Citadel (Haugaard, 1974) and The Sunbeam and the Captive (Paull, 1872) - the two most common titles I've come across - derived from the same original Dutch. I've also seen this tale called A Picture from the Ramparts, which sounds close enough to From the Ramparts... to be two different translations of the same thing, but where does the alternative come from? Perhaps the Ramparts versions are just contemporary adaptations, but why? They are all adequate as descriptions of the story, although I find Sunbeam sounds somewhat less drab, and hints more at the story's true substance (and fits better with my silly illustration!) And now this post is nearly as long as the story itself. /end ramble

"...for birds twitter to the just as well as to the unjust."

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Little Match Girl

Surely you've read, or at least heard of, The Little Match Girl, one of Andersen's best-loved tales. When it came up in line for this blog, I couldn't bear the thought of doing yet another little match girl illustration like the zillions of others already out there. The other night, it suddenly dawned on me to combine The Little Match Girl with my other favorite story about dead children and cast her as one of Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies. I only wish Andersen had given her a name, so as better conform to the "X is for X____ who ..," format.




ink on paper

Monday, February 24, 2014

Something is Rotten in Denmark

For Holger the Dane (or Holger Danske) I decided to try working in a looser, more naive style.  I bloody hated it.

They say you should, "allow yourself to make bad art," don't they? Mission accomplished.

"... he sleeps and dreams, but in his dreams he sees everything that happens in Denmark."
Copic & acrylic on scrap cardboard.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep

Just a quick post from my phone today - a rough sketch of Mr. Goat-legged-commanding-general-private-war-sergeant (AKA Major general-field-sergeant-commander Billy-goat’s-legs) from The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep



"It was certainly a very difficult name to pronounce, and there are very few who ever receive such a title..."


Graphite & chalk on toned paper.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Jumping Competition

I had so much fun with this one.

The Jumping Competition is probably my favorite kind of fairy tale. It's downright silly, has fun, non-human characters (with delightful personality flaws), and it granted me a perfect opportunity to draw a French Foreign Legion uniform (a tiny obsession of mine).

In case you read the story and find yourself wondering, as I did, just what on Earth a jumping jack is (alternatively translated as skipjack), I learned that it is a child's toy made by attaching a stick to a wishbone by the means of a short length of cord. It seems that the stick can be wound up, causing the entire apparatus to spring up.

For those of you who already follow me on instagram, these might look familiar. I jumped ahead and drew these guys a while back.

The flea enlisted in a foreign army and it was rumored that he was killed in battle.

The grasshopper sat down in the ditch and thought about the injustice of the world.


Watercolor & prisma on paper.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Red Shoes

I'll admit, The Red Shoes was a bit of a road block for me.  You'd probably think I would leap at the chance to illustrate such a singularly dark and gory tale, but I sort of balked at this one; reading it OVER and OVER before putting pencil to paper.  Aside from the fact that I tend to avoid drawing humans whenever possible - and here it was inevitable, with no non-human characters save the shoes themselves, (and I refuse to commit such a grievous  cop-out as drawing a still life of a pair of shoes) - I've long struggled to visualize Karen's incessantly dancing feet.  What would it look like, really, for someone to have no control over their feet; yet to remain upright and dancing all through the day and night?*  I even went so far as to do a Google image search to see what other illustrators have done with the concept (something I try not to do here).  I found that conveying it with a static image seems to be a problem for other artists, too.  Not that they all failed utterly, but to me, a drawing of a girl dancing seems to always look like a drawing of a girl dancing of her own accord.  How to portray her feeling of imprisonment and helplessness?  The only solution I could come up with was to depict her legs as being bent at odd, unnatural angles.  Still, I wasn't happy with the sketches that this approach was yielding.  Eventually, I chose to compromise by drawing a seated Karen, her legs flailing wildly and in ways not humanly possible.  I think that her body language from the waist up helps to communicate her despair, as her feet do what they please.  She is attended by the executioner (who I suppose I've depicted as more of a woodsman-type figure), just before removing her offending feet in a brutal act of compassion.

"Do not cut off my head," begged Karen, "for then I should not be able to repent. But cut off my feet!"
Watercolor on paper.


*Note: No, I've never seen the film, The Red Shoes, which could possibly be helpful here visually.  I don't think it's a direct adaptation of Andersen, but it's about ballet, so I'll probably watch it one day.