Friday, January 29, 2010

Borrowing from Dulac

I was delighted to find a very nice page about my version of the Snow Queen on Sur La Lune Fairy Tales Blog by Heidi Anne Heiner.
Heidi makes a very good point about how a couple of my pictures from The Snow Queen are very reminiscent of Edmund Dulac's illustrations.
I absolutely agree.
I think at the time I was consciously echoing Dulac's work as a kind of an homage to one of my all time favourite artists. But looking back on the books now I think his snowy rooftops scene had just made such a strong impression on me that I couldn't think of any other way to approach that spread.
It's a failing that young artists in thrall to an older master have continuously made through the years, and I am happy to admit to it here, especially as it was done quite early in my career, and now I look back on my young self as being almost a different person.
I have no problem pointing out that young guy's shortcomings.

The second image is a different matter though.
I have a very strong memory of seeing Dulac's picture of the Snow Queen on her throne and thinking that, beautiful as it was, it didn't quite capture the icy regality of one of Hans Andersen's strangest characters.
The Snow Queen is not evil, but she is uncaring and selfish. Dulac makes her look rather gentle and girly which I thought was off the mark. So it was with some arrogance that I decided to try to out-do Dulac by taking on a very similar composition for this key scene in the book. I think I was actually inviting the comparison. I had quite a nerve in those days.
Although Dulac wins hands down on the snowy rooftops, I think my version of the Snow Queen enthroned stands up pretty well, particularly since I digitally enhanced the image for the new edition.
I still think Dulac's work is sublime, and I often look to him for inspiration. In his Golden Age work his sense of design and sureness of touch are second to none....not even the great Arthur Rackham.
And somehow, I don't think he would mind my borrowings too much.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Remembering Sebastian Walker

A visit to David Maybury's excellent blog lead me to a short article by the novelist Julie Myerson about Sebastian Walker, founder of Walker Books.
Like Julie, (who was Julie Pike in those days), I was very fond of and somewhat in awe of Sebastian without ever feeling I got to know him at all well.
He was a little bit awkward when it came to small talk, and I was young and a bit reserved myself then. But I remember Sebastian as a very inspiring person, and, in the way that he spoiled his illustrators and authors, and in the grand style in which he entertained us, he made us feel we were the most important ingredients in the very special process of creating books for children.
He was a uniquely talented individual, and I think it is true to say that, through Walker Books, he helped to transform the world of Children's Books very much for the better.
His sister Mirabel Cecil wrote a nice memoir of Sebastian after his premature death in 1991. It was called A Kind of Prospero, and is well worth a read as a portrait of a very interesting man and for the anecdotes it contains on the early days of Walker Books.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Fantasy Art Magazine

My Mac is finally back and working.
It's hard to do without the computer when you are in the habit of using it every day.
Here's one for any of you out there who read Chinese...(I know there is at least one regular reader up in Belfast who does) There is a Chinese publication called Fantasy Art Magazine which reaches a huge audience on-line and in print. They have a piece about me in their current issue.
Only one of my books has been published in China so it is really nice to be able to reach a new audience.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Real Snow in Dublin!

It's nice to have a bit of snow, but it hasn't been great for me getting back to work. My studio (above) has been pretty bloomin' cold so, even with the heaters on full, I'm actually having to work in a big coat and two pairs of pants. Now I just need a pair of fingerless gloves.
On top of everything my computer has just died.... I think it froze to death at the weekend.
Hopefully verything will be back to normal very soon.