Re-making the Fairy Tale

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Daisy Wynter wrote to me at Instagram re. Hansel & Gretel:a Nightmare in Eight Scenes:


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“I love your work so much, I can’t stop looking at it and the wonderful textures you produce. Is it colour pencil or some kind of printing technique for these images?”



I replied:

“The drawings were made in black Faber Castell pencil on either paper or lithography film, with occasional use of collaged textures that I produced myself by various means.



I made separate ‘stencils’ in crayons and paints on lithography film for the colours. The layers of drawings and stencils were assembled digitally by the book’s designer Laurence Beck, which is the point at which the colour was added.


We did it this way so that we could experiment with the colour palette, and this turned out to be a great advantage because along the way we radically changed our ideas to those we’d set out with.


The overall intention was to capture something of the golden age of lithography printing. I’m not keen on illustrations that are essentially photographs of painted artwork reproduced on coated art paper. We planned on uncoated paper and a matt finish throughout the book, and the slight mis-registration that can be one of the delights of lithography and screen printing.


The images and text feel integrated in this way, especially as we added colour to some of the text to denote which characters are speaking.”


Below: several layers of pencil and crayon on lithography film. These were separately scanned and assembled in the computer…


… at which point colour was digitally added.


Below: the tailpiece of the book.

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Krampus is a demon particular to eastern and northern Europe, especially Austria and Hungary. He accompanies Saint Nicholas during the Christmas season. But whereas Saint Nicholas dispense largesse and gifts, Krampus is the dark side of the partnership, warning and punishing bad children.

The word Krampus originates from the Old High German word Krampen, meaning claw. Traditionally young men dress up as the Krampus during the weeks of Advent, particularly on the evening of 5 December, St Nicholas’ Eve, known in Germany as ‘Krampusnacht’. Demons roam the streets with rusty chains and bells, making a clamour and threatening with their teeth and talons. Traditional images of Krampus show him with a basket on his back, carrying away bad children to the portals of Hell! In the words of my friend Paul Bommer, who himself has done a mighty fine picture of Krampus, ‘Don’t worry about the child in the basket—he has been very naughty and had had many stern warnings from his grandparents, so he had it coming!’

With the exception of the background and the boy’s t-shirt, made of coloured paper from an art supplier, the collage has been constructed entirely of shapes snipped from the pages of a couple of magazines. I like the bright, flat, graphic quality that comes from the printed papers, particularly their tonal aspects. Working this way facilitates speed, and once an image is underway there is the sense too of improvisation, with every magazine-page flipped offering new possibilities for how the collage may develop. I need to explore these techniques more.

We have not done cards this year, and so this last post of  the holiday is by way of a Christmas Greeting to you all from me and Peter. All at the Artlog is in the hands of Lucy, Curator of Alphabet Soup and trusted blog-sitter, while I have what she tells me is a much-deserved break. And so now l take my leave of you swiftly, in the spirit of one of the great traditions of panto… Pooooooof… like a Demon King down a star-trap!