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Picturing a World

Old Book Illustrations

Website alert: This morning, my husband sent me a link to Old Book Illustrations, searchable by subject, artist, or book title. He has a special interest in William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites. I have a special interest in female illustrators. Put them together in a quick search and voilà: One of Florence Harrison's illustrations for Early Poems of William Morris. Have fun!

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Clearing the Clutter (6): Angel, goddess, or dangerous lady?

I had labeled this image, saved from a medieval moraized Ovid, as "Teeth in open mouth" because depictions of teeth are rare. What interests me now, however, is the expressions on the faces. At first glance, the wings seem to say "angels." But the lady is clearly up to no good, and the young man seems uneasy despite his crown.

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Clearing the Clutter (2) Farm plan

Another image I have run across as I review my files is this one from Farm Crops in Britain. I love models and diagrams and illustrations that can help me visualize settings within a story. This page, for instance, is packed with information about walls and buildings and activities for a farm in stony country. I tucked it away for reference; but in addition, Stanley Roy Badmin was a pleasant illustrator and landscape artist. I'm glad I discovered him—and have now rediscovered him!

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Tanaudel’s TV sketching

Blog post alert: Something I would never have thought of: jotting down quick sketches—graphic or verbal—of what you see in the background while watching television series. Kathleen Jennings did. Read her post on TV Sketching—Backgrounds. Then try it!

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Gorey frogs

Many years ago, my husband and I saw an exhibition of beanbag frogs made by Edward Gorey with short mottoes embroidered on their chests—phrases like "Why not?" and "If Only." We've chuckled over them ever since.  So imagine my delight in running across recently the froggy image shown here and then an article, Edward Gorey's Toys, in a recent The New Yorker. Maybe I should invent a character who was so inspired by them that he/she …, well, what?

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Ardizzone’s Peter Pan

Blog post alert: When I ran across a reference to Edward Ardizzone's illustrations for J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan: the Story of the Play presented by Eleanor Graham, I was tickled. Ardizonne's illustrations for Eleanor Farjeon's Little Bookroom have been deep in my heart for a lifetime. I ordered a used copy of Pan. It arrived. Ardizonne's light-of-touch pictures were as pleasing as I had hoped. And they set me thinking: Who else besides Arthur Rackham had done interesting pictures for Peter Pan? No one came to mind, so I thought a blog post musing on which stories attract multiple illustrators and which ones don't might be interesting.
 
Ha! So it might—but not with Peter Pan at the forlorn center! See why at On J. M. Barrie and Peter Pan.

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But is it art?

Rivers Have Wings, The Yellow Smoke That Rubs Its Muzzle On The Window-Panes (2021)

Blog post alert: Suppose you fed a phrase into a computer and it spit out a picture. Well, that's what happened when a computer-savvy artist used a program described in James Gurney's New Tools for Text-to-Image Generation. Perfect for producing jigsaw puzzles! But It also set me wondering about Text-to-text generation.. Yup, happening and been happening . So now I can't help wondering how a short story written by one program and illustrated by another would turn out. Hmmm, maybe an idea for a story written by a human being?

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Rachael Robinson Elmer

In my work-in-slow-progress, "Anonymity," I have given my main character, Mattie, an apartment near 110th Street in New York and sent her walking through Morningside and Central Parks. In order to do so, I've looked at lots of historic photographs of the area, which was being built up in the first decades of the 20th C. It looked raw. By contrast, this postcard by Rachael Robinson Elmer makes it look lush and glamorous in a very urban way.

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Vess on illustration

Blog post alert: As soon as I saw Charles Vess's illustration for Joanne Harris's story, "The Barefoot Princess" at Myth and Moor, I ordered a copy of their book, Honeycomb (from a local independent bookstore, naturally). Then I poked around and come upon Honeycomb – An Interview with Charles Vess.

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Luggage tag art

I admired Jackie Morris's otters on luggage tags when she posted New Blues. They came to mind again when I got a haircut the other day. My hairdresser and I were discussing the slow deliveries and odd shortages that persist after the COVID lockdown. She can't find the little tissue squares used for giving permanents; a shipment of tea for me has gone missing. It was the tissue squares that linked up with the otters. Together, they reminded me of the vagaries of art supplies in certain societies.

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