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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Story - The Princess with Blue Eyes

Yesterday I posted a story called   The Fairy's Kiss.  I included the full story as it was printed because it was all on one page and I could fit it easily into my small A4 size scanner.    I also thought the visual impact of the whole story was as attractive as its component parts and therefore worth including.

Today's (unplanned) post is a direct response to a comment I received about the Fairy's Kiss.  In many of my posts I've included pictures around a concept or theme, but unlike yesterday have not included the whole story.        

I guess it can be a bit frustrating to see illustrations like this out of context.  So today I'm posting another complete story and on this occasion I've chosen 'The Princess with Blue Eyes' - these two pictures were included in a post last year called Perfect Princesses.  I noticed at the time that these two illustrations cropped up in a number of searches and were therefore quite popular.  The post itself has 469 page views, enough I think that anyone who enjoyed it might like to see the full story.

I'm sorry I don't know the name of the person who left the comment earlier but this post is especially for you - hope you like it!

Strangely enough my very first post was a complete story like this when I posted The Golden Ball by my favourite artist Ron Embleton.  Another complete story of his was also included in Here be Dragons although it was not in comic strip form.  I'll be posting more complete stories from time to time - perhaps I'll make it a monthly feature.  If there are any in particular that you would like to see from previous posts please let me know and I'll try to include them.  


This story appeared in 'Once Upon a Time' children's magazine.
Issue #149 published 18th December 1971.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Fairy's Kiss

This exquisitely illustrated single page story appeared in the School Friend Annual of 1975.  The book originally belonged to my sister (she is almost 5 years younger than me) but I have always loved this story and the annual is now part of my 'vintage' collection.

I always think it is such a pity that publications such as this one never acknowledged the contributing artists.  Even a list of their names at the back would have been a great help.  I could make a stab at trying to identify the artist of this lovely work based on other books I have from the same period, but anything I suggest would at best be an educated guess.  If anyone knows who the artist is for sure I would really appreciate it if you left me a comment.


I love everything about these illustrations - the rich colours, fairytale quality, beautifully drawn features and sense of movement.  The picture above brings on my paper doll making itch.  The two below remind me of a storyboard for an animated film.  The whole feel of these pictures would lend themselves to one beautifully.  

Another clear influence that I can see (and I think it is deliberately done) is the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry.  The calendar contained in the manuscript is something I have always revered as one of the truly great collections of art - not just during the Medieval period but in all time.  The panel below left in particular always reminds me of the planting and harvest scenes such as the one for September on the right.

Très Riches Heures - September

This story always makes me think of a book I am hoping to find even though I am not completely sure what I am looking for.  When I was very young a friend of my mother's had a book I coveted greatly of the Twelve Days of Christmas.  The illustrations had the same fairytale feel about them.  Other than that I'm assuming it was published in the 60's I know nothing else about the book - just a tantalising memory of something I remember being very special.  The wonder of the web has brought back some precious and often completely forgotten memories for me - such as the Carlotta Edwards prints I featured last week.  My hope is that one day the book I am looking for will turn up just as unexpectedly.

School Friend Annual 1975

In keeping with the slightly medieval theme - I took this photograph of Dublin Castle from my office window a few weeks ago. There was this wonderful stormy sky and a shaft of silvery grey light lit up the tower and brought out the detail.

Dublin Castle - View from my Office Window

Dublin Castle

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Return of the Sunbeam

Sharon's Little Sunbeam is returning  - but with a few changes:

Instead of a week the recipient(s) will stay on my sidebar for a month.  As a result of the extended time I may choose two blogs as I have on this occasion.

Because the original recipient's only had a week to bask in my little sunbeam I'm also going to repeat them all again - what I'll probably do from next month is alternate between a blog that received the award before and a new one.

I've had a few time constraints at the moment and have been moved to a new high profile project at work which means my time spent blogging may become a bit erratic.  Even though I may not be able to put together the illustrated posts I did before by way of introducing each recipient, I didn't want that to stop me carrying on with the little sunbeam completely.  So there may not be an introduction but there will always be a recipient.

This month Sharon's Little Sunbeam will shine on Roger at  Three Hoodies Save the World and Joleene at Amaranthine Night.  I've chosen them because they are both writers and both have new books to promote.  They are also great people - I enjoy visiting their blogs and appreciate the comments they leave on mine when they visit in return.

Otherwise the concept of Sharon's Little Sunbeam remains the same:

Sharon's Little Sunbeam is my own personal 'no strings attached' award.  It is my way of thanking the people who enrich my blogging experience.  After the recipient has been introduced a link to their blog remains on my sidebar for a month.  There are no conditions attached to the award.  The recipient does not need to answer any questions, pass the award on or even acknowledge that they have received it.  All they need to do is bask in my little sunbeam and enjoy it!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Carlotta Edwards

Swan Lake

Carlotta Edwards (1894 - 1977) was the daughter of the French painter Ferdinand Pourrier.  She is well know for her paintings of ballet scenes and exhibited at both the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Paris Salon.  The Medici Society published many pints of her work and these are still widely available.

Le Cynge

In the 1950's framed copies of Carlotta Edward's prints were very popular.  Large consignments of these must have been shipped to the Dominion countries.  When I search for copies of specific prints for sale most are found in Australia or New Zealand.  I have also come across some in South Africa which is where my original pictures would have been bought.  Besides being framed as pictures, Carlotta Edwards ballet scenes can be found on a wide range of items from place mats to trays.

Le Cygne

Recently I've heard these prints described as 'retro kitsch' (meant in the nicest possible way).  I know they have a chocolate box appeal but I love them as they capture the spirit and beauty of ballet that I remember from childhood.

Finding these prints again is for me another example of the awesome power of the internet.  I had forgotten all about them and stumbled across an image of L'Aiglon by accident while I was searching for copies of Child's Ballet Book to Colour and the Watkins Strathmore Ballet Colouring Book.  Discovering something I was not expecting to find had a tremendous emotional impact as it took me straight back to the time when these pictures were a part of my life. 


When I was very young two Carlotta Edward's prints hung in my bedroom - L'Aiglon (shown above) and Margot Fonteyn as Giselle (shown below).  We lived just outside Durban on the KwaZulu Natal coast (South Africa).  When I was 7 my father decided to take up a job offer in Johannesburg.  My parents must have been quite restricted about what they could take with them.  Many things I remember from early childhood did not come with us and these included my Carlotta Edward's pictures that were either given away or binned.

*** A very Big Thank You to Kylie from Lucy Violet Vintage who very kindly sent me a copy of L'Aiglon after seeing this post.  You can see the print in its new home here. ***

Margot Fonteyn as Giselle

I still want to replace L'Aiglon but unfortunately the copies I've found for sale (in Australia) are too prohibitive when it comes to postage.  Through my own stupidity I have already missed one bid on eBay in the UK by losing track of the time finding the auction was over when I went to try and buy it!

I was able to get a copy of the Margot Fonteyn picture last year.  I'm afraid my example of it (shown above) is not very good.  Even though it is A4 size I couldn't scan it because of the glass and my camera is not very good at taking pictures like this.  From memory my original copy of this picture was a calendar.  There was a small block of pages at the bottom that could be torn off and they were held on with a dark blue satin ribbon.  I would guess the copy I have now started off in the same way and that people framed them once the year was over (It would have been sometime in the early 60's).


I have also bought the print of Giselle (shown above) as I think it was the first picture by Carlotta Edwards that I ever saw.  One of my aunt's had two prints in her bedroom (this was one of them).  I loved them and my mother probably bought L'Aiglon for me as a result.

Below are some more examples of Carlotta Edward's work.  All of these are available as Medici prints:


La Valse

Swan Lake

Swan Lake

The Nutcracker

Les Sylphide

When I was this age ballet was the most important thing in my life.  I probably wasn't all that good but I was convinced I was going to be the next Margot Fonteyn (at that age anything is possible!)  I've mentioned before that I had to give dancing up at the age of 12 due to medical reasons, but at this time of my life my dream was to somehow get to England and join the Sadler's Wells Ballet School (there were lots of books set there at the time that I read!)

Me - 1960's

Recently I discovered that my mom kept all my ballet certificates and reports.  It was quite amazing finding and reading them again.  The exams were quite tough (I can still remember them - and how we had to have special new pink satin ballet shoes for the occasion).  We went in on our own even when I was still quite small.  They must have been quite strict because together with the certificates (like the one below) was a full report and there wasn't all that much praise - more a detailed set of notes of what was not perfect!  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Guinevere Paper Doll - Pretty in Pastels

My last Guinevere post (inspired by the BBC production of Merlin) featured Gwen's earliest dresses, designed to emphasise her position in this part of the story as a servant in the castle.   After Season 1 Gwen's wardrobe was given a complete revamp.  Out went the baggy gowns made from coarse, hard-wearing material.  In came a selection of 'peasant' style dresses that became her signature look in seasons 2 and 3.

I loved these outfits.  The material is soft and feminine, the pastel colours are pretty and the corsets add an original touch.  Gwen is still a 'working girl' but these dresses have a pastoral feel about them.  I can picture her strolling through flower meadows instead of scrubbing kitchens.  

Guinevere - Queen of Camelot

One of the strengths of the pink dress was that it did not feature very often and so kept its allure of being something special.  Gwen first wore it (if I remember correctly) for her picnic 'date' with Arthur.  She looked lovely.  Its a dress that cannot be worn successfully by too many people.  The colour and over-the-top girlishness of the design would look dreadful on the wrong person, but on Angel Coulby it was stunning.

Guinevere - Pink Dress

Guinevere - Pink Dress

Guinevere - Pink Dress Sketch

Some of the dresses and corsets were so similar that I never realised at first they were different outfits.  Sometimes an apron was added, other times the skirt was left plain.  The Lilac Dragon Dress that I chose for my first Gwen post is another dress that belongs to this period and for me is possibly the one that she is best remembered in.

Guinevere - Gold Corset

Guinevere - Gold Corset

Guinevere - Gold Corset Sketch

I was very sorry when Gwen stopped wearing these dresses.  I think they are the ones I will always associate her with.

I'd like to thank everyone who posted such lovely comments about my other Gwen posts.  Its always nice to get complimentary feedback!  When I decide on my next paper doll I think I will check out the Original Paper Doll Artist Guild and see what their requirements are.  I'd been wanting to make dolls of Morgana and Gwen for some time - I've done them for my own enjoyment and am thrilled if anyone else enjoys looking at them as well.  They have proved quite popular - the original Morgana doll has had well over 1000 page views and the initial Gwen post reached 50 page views in the first week.  For a small blog like mine I think that's quite good going.

I am very conscious of the fact that these dolls are based on a TV show - for that reason I'd never try to make any money out of them as I am technically not the owner of the concept.  I'm assuming the BBC won't mind that I'm making these as a type of fan tribute and that its ok as long as I don't try to cash in on them!

 Season 1 dresses for Gwen can be found here (posted 10 July 2012)

         Gwen's lilac dragon dress can be found here (posted 2 July 2012)

Season 4 dresses for Gwen can be found here (posted 19 Aug 2012)

Gwen's Season 5 Velvet Burgundy dress can be found here (posted 6 Aug 2012)
The companion Morgana paper doll can be found here (posted 1 Jan 2012)

 Copyright Sharon Souter - not to be used for commercial purposes

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

An Unexpected Adventure

As I'm still on holiday this week we thought we would go to nearby Glendalough this morning.  When we got there the weather was a bit miserable - misty and showery.  On the spur of the moment we changed our minds and decided to drive on  - doing a circular route of about 50 kms that eventually brought us back to the Sally Gap behind our house.

While we were still in Glendalough I was greatly taken with this hedge.  It reminds me of something from Alice in Wonderland!

I absolutely adore this part of the world.  To me it is the landscape of myth and legend with its swaths of green forests, misty peaks and rolling moors.  

Instead of the Tuatha Dé Danann, however, all we did manage to see were sheep.  They can be quite friendly and curious and we stopped a couple of times to say hello. 

The only blot on the countryside were these electricity pylons, marching across the valley like a dance of giants,

We followed the road through valleys and forests . . .

And came to . . . 

Hollywood!!  There is even a sign proclaiming the name on the hillside

How cute is that?

We stopped at nearby Blessington to buy rolls and cheese and cold meat to take back home for lunch and looked for the road back to Roundwood,  On the way we came across the most beautiful little fairy forest I have ever seen.  

My camera does not do it any justice at all - I can't seem to capture the light and details of these forests.  Perhaps I should have played with the settings a bit but I don't think I would have got the results I was looking for whatever I tried.  This forest was breathtaking - I wish I could give an impression of how special it was here!

I loved these little stone steps that gave access over the wall from the road.

Just above the banks of the river was this quaint little church.  I really like its decorative tower.

When we got to the Sally Gap we were on familiar ground again and the road brought us back to where I took the photos posted last week.  (these mist covered mountains are home now to me) 

Somtimes the best adventures are the unplanned ones!


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