Arthur Rackham: Tales of the Folk

by - 12:37

I've always been fascinated with old-style fairytale illustrations, the kind you'll find in Enid Blyton books - lovely pictures of the folk dabbed with touches of color and lined delicately with ink. I was leafing through my beloved Fairy Art book last night when I was reacquainted with this particular style of art, particularly in the paintings of 19th century artist Arthur Rackham, who illustrated for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1907) and Fairy Tales of the Grimm Brothers (1909).

The Fairies Have Their Tiff with the Birds
Look at his lines, they're incredible! I love how dualistic his artwork appears: simplistic because of the delicate ink outlining his images; yet detailed, with the sheer number of lines that he puts into each image.

The Guest of Honour: A Baby Attended by Sprites and Fairies

Rackham's technique is described in the book as 'a unique style that blended pictorial elegance with a taste for the grotesque'. Interestingly, he derived inspiration from Japanese prints, which perhaps might be apparent in the thin lines of ink that Rackham used, although of course his fairy subjects look more Western, with fair heads and a classical physique.

Other fairies of his look more impish, the kind that Brian Froud so vividly portrays. These kind of fairies I admire the most (thought I don't draw them), since they shatter the typical fairy image drastically (you know, the Disney stereotype of wands and fairy dust; but those are awesome too).

Twilight Dreams

Rackham's style isn't new these days; I suppose he served as the forerunner for contemporary artists such as Amy Brown and Meredith Dillman, both of whom use the line technique in their fairy art. Although what I noticed about Rackham is that he had a certain fondness for sepia; at least judging by the paintings displayed in the book, he kept a limited color scheme for each of his paintings, washing over any reds or blues with hints of gray or brown to soften them and achieve an overall palette. 

Autumn Fairies
After managing to tear my eyes away from his art, I thought - since I was/ am in a bit of a creative pitstop (I've already run out of ideas for my Flories series) - of experimenting with this style of painting; it was just too brilliant not to. 

Of course, it's no illustration worthy of Peter Pan. But I love how my take on the style is going so far. I'll talk about it in detail once I'm finished. :)

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  1. The illustrations are so pretty! Can't wait to see yours! I can already see it's turning out great! :D I love the style! PAINT ME SOMETHING LIKE THIS TO HANG ABOVE MY FIREPLACE (should I have one in the future HAHA) =))

  2. Thank you dear :D AND OKAY =))) You should let me know what you want me to paint <3 :D

  3. I hope to see your finished drawing! So far, your work looks wonderful :)

  4. Thank you so much Elainee! :D