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This blog has been retired. I won't respond to any inquiries but have retained it in case it is still of interest to anyone passing by.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Gerritt Vandersyde

I'd always assumed Gerritt Vandersyde (1898-1970) was a Dutch (or maybe Belgian) artist so I was more than surprised to discover he was actually British.  He was born in Camberwell, London and although he signed his work Gerritt, his first name was actually Alfred.

These paintings of 'contemporay' children in his wonderfully colourful and unashamedly chocolate box style capture perfectly the essence of my blog.  The joy and exuberance of childhood in the 1960's where the sun always shone, children played with total freedom outdoors and the world was somehow a more innocent and less complicated place. 

 Gerritt Vandersyde's paintings were not limited to depicting children at play.  Other examples of his work, ranging from historical scenes to flamingos nesting next to a lake show what an accomplished artist he was.  The next painting reminds me of an Old Master and I think shows the influence on his work of his Dutch heritage.

Detail from The King's Christmas Present

Detail from The Canterbury Tales

Detail from Pink Flamingoes

Detail from Goldilocks and The Three Bears

The Grape-Pickers of Portugal

Some of Gerritt Vandersyde's work appeared in adverts for Boots and Woolworth's in the UK so for a certain generation it may appear especially familiar.  

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Toodles A Walking Paper Doll, Artcraft #4416, 1966

Two things surprised me about this paper doll.  Firstly I always thought her name was 'Toddles' and secondly I imagined the book dated to the 1970's so I was amazed to see the year 1966 (in Roman numerals) printed at the bottom of my original cover shown above.

This paper doll represents the outer limits of my childhood.  I think she might even have belonged to my sister Melanie who is almost 5 years younger than me.  I can remember that I was really too old to be playing with paper dolls at the time but I still admired the lovely artwork of this cute little girl with her dimples and adorable little mini-me dressed in matching outfits.   

The use of old fashioned double-pronged paper clips to give cardboard cut-outs jointed limbs or circular motion of the type depicted here was wide-spread during my childhood.  Toodles is an effective example of this technique as her proportions are well-balanced, with a sturdy substantial design made out of good quality cardboard.   

Early Morning in the Green

Some more photos taken in the early morning at St Stephen's Green (Dublin) in my way to work.  I'm becoming conscious that the days are starting to get shorter and cooler and soon this little interlude will come to an end as during the dark winter months the gates open later.  

This year there were no cygnets (as in the title photo I chose for my blog that was taken last year).  Just one solitary adult swan holding court on his own.

I love this summer display of sub-tropical plants that takes pride of place in the middle of the ornamental section of the park each year.  Many of the plants remind me so much of my original home in Durban.  I even spotted purple Tibouchina  - small delicate plants here when I am used to them as big flowering trees.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Delightful Dragons

Cover Illustration Once Upon a Time #63, 25 April 1970

(The full story of this cover illustration can be found here)

This week's post continues the fairytale theme I started with Fabulous Fairies on 22 July and includes a selection of Delightful Dragons.  As before these wonderful illustrations were all taken from copies of Once Upon a Time magazine published between 1969 and 1973. 

When I was very young I didn't want a puppy or a pony for a pet - I wanted a miniature dragon (possibly a wyvern) that would sit on my wrist like a falcon tethered with a fine gold chain.  Unfortunately my mom never bought into the idea! 

(More dragons can also be found in one of my earliest posts Here Be Dragons which contains the story of the Last Dragons illustrated by Ron Embleton.) 

The Tiny Dragon

The Tiny Dragon

The Tiny Dragon

I love the humour in these illustrations.  The dragons have such great personalities,  I never think of dragons as villains - at worst I think they are just misunderstood!

A True Young Knight

A True Young Knight

The Gentle Dragon

Hans and the Dragon
This is a very strange looking beastie.  I think he is very effective in silhouette though in the picture below. 

Hans and the Dragon

The Fiery Dragon

Land of the Dragon

Land of the Dragon

 And to finish this wonderfully elegant Chinese dragon. I love the golden colour.

The Dragon's Tooth

Many years ago I memorised this poem.  I may not have it word perfect as it is a long time since I last saw it in print.  If anyone recognises it and knows the name of the poet please leave a comment and let me know - I would love to be able to include a proper acknowledgement.  I guess it goes without saying that King Arthur was one of my favourite childhood heroes.

Cross Stitch Project

My cross stitch is progressing at quite a good pace.  Most evenings I manage to get a bit done after I come home from work.  There is a strange new mixed cross in the parts I'm working on now - white underneath and pale blue on top.  It ends up at times looking like the stitch is incomplete but these mixed stitches are a very clever way of getting the colours to blend in. 

Copy Cat Couple

I always used to wonder what bothered me about this picture when I looked at it before.  When I was choosing the illustrations for this post it struck me - I realised the prince in this story called The Fiery Dragon (1971) is almost identical to the well known depiction of the prince in Beauty and the Beast (1969) by Ron Embleton. I didn't realise until I put these illustrations side by side that the female figures are essentially the same as well.  (Apologies that the quality of the Embleton picture shown here is not very good.)    The Fiery Dragon appears to be the work of Jose Ortiz.  As both artists contributed extensively to Once Upon a Time I can only assume that Ron Embleton knew his earlier work was being copied and it was done with his blessing.  (Imitation is after all the greatest form of flattery.) 

This illustrations was previously included in my post of Handsome Heroes .

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Big Headed Dolls

I wonder if anyone else remembers these dolls with the over sized heads and adorable pets.  I expected them to be bigger than they are which only goes to show that I must have been that much smaller when I played with them!  I'm not looking to replace these dolls so I have not tried to find out anything about them or whether they are available for sale anywhere.  I'm afraid I can't remember what they were called, who published them or what the original packaging was like.

 I've started this post with the two smaller dolls shown above as they are in the best condition. I'm assuming the clothes that follow belong to them, including the three pages that are uncut.   

These dolls always came in pairs.  I seem to have lost one completely and the head from another.  As these are from my original collection they are in well played with condition.  They are so cute though that I thought paper doll enthusiasts like myself may still enjoy seeing them anyway.  They are made out of sturdy cardboard but the necks were an obvious weakness.  The clothes are also made out of good quality paper and have the gorgeous chunky appearance that is so appealing to small children.         

This doll with the polka dot dress is the one that has lost her head. I've borrowed a head from one of the other dolls that was also broken. It is not quite the right size (too small) but I did not have the heart to post a picture with the head missing.


Looking at these dolls again as an adult I was particularly impressed by the depiction of the pets - a characteristic of these sets.  They are simply yet beautifully drawn and have such wonderful expressions.

Unfortunately this winter outfit has lost its hood.  Again this was a definite weakness of this set as the joins on the neck were very thin.

The pink dress shown above was one I particularly liked.  The detail of the bow is lovely and what I find particularly appealing is the bright simplicity of the colour.

These two nurses outfits were my all time favourites.  I can remember liking them so much that I still get a tinge on the same sense of wonder when I look at them today.  I think they bring out the inherent nurturing qualities so characteristic of little girls.

Secret Garden

This house reminds me of the story of the secret garden.  It is in the street I live in and I walk past it every evening on the way home from the train station.  It looks authentically Tudor but it can't be anywhere near as old as the houses in our road were all built in the 17 and 1800's.  I think it is being renovated which only adds to its intriguing appeal  It looks like the perfect setting for a great mystery story.

I just love the tangled colourful garden - it is such a riot of  bright and often delicate plants.  I just hope no one tries to 'tidy' it and take away all its charm.



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