Monday, December 31, 2012

The Snow Queen in Art

What with all the snow on the ground, lately I've been thinking about the Snow Queen, both of Hans Christian Anderson's classic fairytale and the other representations of her in mythology and folklore, notably as Skadi or Skade in Scandinavian stories. There are so many beautiful representations of her in art as a consequence of these stories.

I've drawn a great deal of inspiration from the idea of the Snow Queen. Several years back now I did my own version of the Snow Queen or Ice Queen. I've done numerous small paintings and sketches of her, but this is the only image I have saved of one of them.

Edmund Dulac is one of my very favorite illustrators, and he does a lovely version of a snow maiden that I find simply enchanting. If I could get away with it, I'd dress like that every day.

Edmund Dulac, Ice Maiden, 1915,

Dulac also illustrated Anderson's The Snow Queen, and I haven't found any illustrations of that story to surpass his.

Edmund Dulac, The Snow Queen Flies Through the Winter's Night,

Edmund Dulac, The Snow Queen On the Throne of Ice

We mustn' forget the North Wind though. Without him, the Snow Queen wouldn't have anyone to pull her sleigh. Kay Nielsen, another favorite of mine, has done an excellent portrayal of him.
Kay Nielsen, The North Wind Went Over the Sea

Nielsen also did a lovely piece of Sleeping Beauty in the snow. This dainty little painting is so sensitively rendered.

Kay Nielsen, Study for Sleeping Beauty

Nielsen also did this wonderful illustration for the book East of the Sun, West of the Moon. If polar bears were docile creatures, I wouldn't mind having one for a stead myself.

Though no-one can top Nielsen, Amanda Clark comes close and has done a lovely version of this same story herself. You should check out her enchanting blog,, and her Etsy shop full of covetable prints of her incredible art,

Amanda Clark, East of the Sun, West of the Moon,

There are so many more beautiful versions of ladies in the snow, but that's all for now! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I Dreamed of a White Christmas...

...and I got one! This evening it started snowing and now the world is white and glittering. I am so happy! At last I have snow.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Walk in the Woods

Today I went for a walk in the woods on the edge of town. The park where I walked is more like a network of rough trails winding over a steep hill that is entirely wooded, and I am delighted to have discovered this spot.

I was rewarded at the end of it by a lovely sunset against the trees, with a crescent moon hanging over it.

But that wasn't the only pretty thing I saw. There was a bed of some feathery plants in the carrot family, the last of the goldenrod, and the lovely branches of the trees against the sky.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Winter is for Rest

Now that I'm done with finals, I am ready for a nice long winter rest. I'll be working on a lot of art over Christmas break, but it will be at my own pace, and I'll be working on things I want to work on. It's a very important difference.

I greatly enjoy winter, especially when it snows. Lately I've been looking at paintings of snow and noticing how the masters were able to convey so well the quality of winter light. I wish that where I live looked like this right now, seeing as it's December...

Vilhelm von Gerfelt, Winter Picture With Cabin at River,  18th - 19 century, Wikimedia Commons

But alas, it looks more like a late autumn day where I live, like in this painting, which captures the quality of autumn light so perfectly.

Alfred Sisley, Die Klienen Fleisen Im Frühling, 1880, Wikimedia Commons

Monet did an excellent job of capturing winter light in this painting. He didn't just paint pretty scenes of water lilies.

Claude Monet, Snow Scene At Argenteuil, 1875,  Wikimedia Commons

I also really like this winter scene by Caspar David Friedrich. It's a more gloomy scene, but very interesting. His style is almost modern realism, but he died in 1840, and this picture disappeared in Berlin in 1945... hmmm I wonder who was responsible for that.

Caspar David Friedrich, Monastery Burial-Ground Under Snow, 1818, Wikimedia Commons

On that gloomy note, I'm off to make supper and relish the fact that I don't have any homework to do.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Jean Baptiste Monge: Fae on Unusual Steeds

I just discovered the art of Jean Baptiste Monge. He paints the most enchanting scenes of elves and gnomes on steeds of birds or small animals. I love his technique and composition. His style reminds me a bit of Arthur Rackham, though what illustrator of fae hasn't been influenced by Arthur Rackham.

Jean Baptiste Monge

I think the tree in this one is extremely well done. For whatever reason, trees such as this one instantly call to mind spooks and goblins, and Monge has done an excellent job of obscuring it with mist. The bent form of the woman echoes that of the tree. I wonder what she could have in that cage; perhaps some maiden or child who wasn't wary enough to escape her.
Jean Baptiste Monge

You can see more of his art at .

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Letter Writer

I ran across this image of a letter writer in Cairo taking down a letter from a veiled (presumably) Muslim woman. The artist, David Roberts, has captured perfectly the posture and attitude people have when dictating a letter like that. I'm not sure how to describe it, but it's almost like the person is unconsciously leaning forward just a little, hands slightly open, as if speaking to the person they'll be sending the letter to. Anyway, it's a lovely drawing, turned into a lithograph by Louis Haghe.

Something else that struck me about this image is the idea of having someone else write a letter for you. Not only would it be somewhat frustrating to be unable to read or write for yourself, but you probably wouldn't want to relate very personal things. I am one of the few people who still writes letters and sends them by snail mail. I can't imagine anyone but the people intended knowing the content of those letters. Letters to me are just so personal. But in those days, there weren't a lot of people who could read and write, so letter writers were fairly common.

This makes me want to go write a letter now...