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.


PJ Lynch said...

Thanks Niroot for your very kind comment which I managed to delete somehow.

Here it is:

Ah, yes; I admit to such a 'failing', too, sometimes.

But seeing parallels between your Snow Queen and Dulac's doesn't brand yours as being derivative or any less accomplished and beautiful at all - even in those younger days. :) Plus I think your 'challenge' does more than stand up to comparison. I too think that Dulac would have applauded you for it.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Lynch, may I add another one: A few months ago I was drawing interior scenes, and noticed how a certain broom and set of frying pans from Dulac's "Cinderella" crept unwittingly into my sketches. How thrilled I was to open up your "Oscar Wilde Stories for Children" and find on page 27 in one of my very favorite of your images (Little Hans) - there is the frying pan and broom in the corner! lol

I think we retain these images unknowingly. I recently worked tediously on an image which takes place in a "cloakroom" of a school, circa 1945. After finishing, I found that in a book (by another illustrator) - one that I loved and must have looked at last year - there is in fact a detailed cloakroom, circa 1945 (but entirely different setting) - but I had no conscious recall of it.

Anyway, I am always in awe of your work. And I am the one who asked about w/c paper on another thread -Can you share what w/c paper you are using, past and present. (Especially snow scene posted last month).
(sorry to post as anon but my google acct isn't working somehow)

yaamas said...

PJ, there is absolutely nothing wrong with inspiration from artists who have gone before us or even artists who are still creating. That is part of the beauty of creating. We all have different gifts and we all have different influences and we are always learning. I love Dulac, Rackham, Waterhouse, Parrish, Pyle, Wyeth, Mucha and the list goes on. I would say they ALL have influenced my work and they have all passed and left remarkable works. But there is another artist who has influenced my work from the first time I saw it and that is you, my friend. The first painting that I saw of yours was when I was in New York at a convention and a small printing company was representing some works by Froud, Lee and others, illustrators mostly and there it was, "The Wizard of OZ", by a mister P.J. Lynch. Your work continues to grow and inspire me and I think even more highly of you for this very humble post that you posted. You are not only a brilliant illustrator, a breathtaking painter, but also a very person.

I am truly honored to be able to write one of my greatest inspirations. Thank you once again.

An artist inspired,


Ps. Where would any of us be without teachers and inspiration

yaamas said...

Sorry PJ, I meant to say a "very humble person" at the end of post.

Have a great day in the studio....I hope it's warmer in there now.


PJ Lynch said...

Thanks for those great comments guys. I hope to address some of your points in future posts.
Thanks again for the very kind words
Best regards
PS I'm really not that humble, James. Thanks anyway my friend.

elise said...

We're all sponges!
I remember studying Dulac's heavy sedimented washes as a child, trying to work out how he could get those effects. Is it a heavy rag paper? Is it more granulised paint? (Is that even a word?) Is it the technique?

There is a big leap between being derivative because you have no imagination or skill of your own, and paying your respects, loving a concept and breathing a little new life into it.

I don't think you have to worry! Although we all do.