Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Artist Spotlight: Alice B. Woodward

The Peter Pan Picture Book (1907)
Or, rather, Spotlight: The Peter Pan Picture Book, illustrated by Alice B. Woodward. The Peter Pan Picture Book was based on the original 1904 production of J.M. Barrie’s play and published in 1907, four years before his own novelization, Peter and Wendy. Alice B. Woodward created 28 colored plates for the book, which remained so popular it didn’t go out of print until 1982. At the time she was already a well-known artist, illustrating both children’s books and scientific papers. 

When it comes to Peter Pan, Alice B. Woodward’s illustrations are some of my favorites. 
 They capture the feel of the story perfectly, whether it’s adventurous, magical, creepy, or tragic. Take a look and see what you think!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Reading Recap: December/January

December flew by, January is flying by, and my ability to read more than one book at a time is dying at the same rate as my brain cells. Oh well. I get points for trying, right?

Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb
     While reading, I kept comparing this book’s pace to a stroll in the park. It’s smooth, it’s steady, and the scenery is a delight to behold…just don’t expect to reach your destination any time soon. This time, though, I think a slower pace works for the story, which is quiet, contemplative, a little tragic and very, very beautiful.  

Every Breath by Ellie Marney
    Every bit as good as it sounds (I mean, who can resist Sherlock Holmes in modern-day Sydney?) with some wonderfully dark, complex characters. Rachel Watts and James Mycroft make quite the team--she has more than enough smarts, guts, and emotional baggage to rival his brooding genius. I really appreciated that they both came from working class families constantly scraping to make ends meet, and the mystery ain’t bad either.   

 Rose by Holly Webb
    I've seen this book described as Downton Abbey meets Harry Potter. So far (I’m only about a quarter of the way through) that's proved an accurate description. When Rose gets the job of her dreams as a maid in Mr. Fountain’s mansion, she’s determined that no magic will sabotage it. Too bad her boss is an alchemist and Rose’s own magical talents are just starting to surface…

 Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth
     Great plot and mostly likable characters, but the ending left a ton of issues unresolved, making me wonder if this is the first book in a series.     

Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones by Derek Landy
    I've made my adoration for this series clear, so I won’t bore you with more gushing. Just read them. Read them all.

British Folktales: New Versions by Kevin Crossley Holland 
    I finally bought myself a copy of this--only my favorite collection of folktales--for Christmas. Most of the tales are told straight, but in a very distinctive voice. My personal favorites are “Tam Lin”, “A Fine Field of Flax”, “The Wild Man”, and “Seal-Woman”. Two super-short ghost stories, “Her” and “Boo!” actually inspired a story of my own (more on that later). New Versions is out of print, but you can buy used copies pretty cheaply online.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A January List


A super random list of things I love about January, and wintertime in general. 

Snow · Rain · Gloomy days · Hot tea · Marathoning TV shows on New Year’s Eve · Finishing Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones · Thinking of the fastest way to get my hands on the sequel (I’ll probably have to buy it) · Mist · Winter trees ·This song · Writing · Not writing · New books · Boots · Hot chocolate · Frost · Waiting for spring 

How has January been treating you so far? 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Artist Spotlight: Elenore Abbott

“Elenore Abbott loves her fairy tales as one who never grew up, and no child who receives such a book will be disappointed. When twelve ravishing princesses go to the ball--twelve, each more beautiful than the last, will be found clothed in gowns that befit a princess of fairy land.”
--Eva Nagel Wolf

Grimm's Fairy Tales - Illustrated by Elenore Abbott
'The Twelve Dancing Princesses'

This time around, I’m spotlighting someone new--I've drooled over Kay Nielsen’s work for years, but Elenore Abbott is a recent obsession (as in about a week before I decided to write this post recent). Obviously, I haven’t discovered as many of her illustrations yet, but the ones I have seen are lovely. 

Elenore Plaisted Abbott was born in 1875 in Lincoln, Maine. She studied art in Paris (among other places), where her work was exhibited at the Academie des Beaux Arts. In 1911 she moved to Rose Valley, Pennsylvania with her husband, C. Yarnall Abbott. Elenore painted their house there Bermuda pink. She also sold several of her paintings to finance the construction of the Rose Valley swimming pool in 1928. She died in 1935. 
Eleanor Abbott
'The Wild Swans'
'The Goose Girl at the Well'
The Little Mermaid  by Elenore Abbott. This illustration came from:    Abbott, Elenore. Grimm's Fairy Tales. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920.    This illustration was on the endpapers of the book although no tales of mermaids were included in Abbott's selection of tales.
'The Little Mermaid'

'The Two Brothers'


The last picture is actually from Treasure Island, but I couldn’t resist including it. It still has a very fairy tale look. 

So, what have you discovered this week? A new book? Some gorgeous illustrations? As always, I’d love to hear about your favorite artists. And let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations for future spotlights!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Artist Spotlight: Kay Nielsen

'East of the Sun and West of the Moon'

 I've always loved fairy tales and fairy tale art, and over the years I've discovered a multitude of fantastic fairy tale illustrators. Their work has influenced my own imagination and stories, probably more than I know. Going into the new year, I’ll be putting together a series of posts showcasing some of my favorite artists and their work. I don’t have a degree in either art or folklore (point of fact, I don’t have a degree in ANYTHING yet), and these posts are more pretty picture appreciation than anything else. Hopefully, though, they’ll be inspiring…and a lot of fun. First up is one of my absolute favorite illustrators, ever--Kay Nielsen. 

   A little bit of background: Kay Nielsen (1886-1957) was born into a family of actors in Copenhagen, Denmark. During the ‘Golden Age’ of fairy tale illustration, he illustrated stories from the Grimm brothers, Hans Christian Anderson, and Charles Perrault, among others. He also provided concept art for Walt Disney’s Fantasia and an early version of The Little Mermaid

I first came across his work in an edition of Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tales illustrated by multiple artists. Lately I’ve been unearthing even more, thanks to the wonders of Pinterest. Kay Nielsen’s illustrations have stuck with me for a couple of reasons, number one being that there's such a wonderful strangeness to them. Looking at them feels like looking into a dollhouse or a snow globe--you can’t help but study every detail. Here are some of my favorites.
'The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep'

concept art for the 'Night on Bald Mountain' sequence in Fantasia

'The Steadfast Tin Soldier'

'Brother and Sister'
'The Twelve Dancing Princesses'

 From a never-published edition of 'The Arabian Nights'. The pictures didn't come to light until years after his death

 Gorgeous, right? I had a ball writing this post, and I’d love to know about your favorite artists. Do you have any recommendations for another spotlight? Let me know in the comments!