Five for Friday: The Golden Age of Illustration

Today’s post is going to be a little different, a reflection of my newest obsession, the golden age of illustration, which ran roughly from 1880 to 1920. As Artcyclopedia puts it, advances in technology allowed for “accurate and inexpensive reproduction of art,” both in books and magazines.

Nowhere was this more evident or glorious than in illustrations for children’s books. Beatrix Potter, of course, comes to mind, but there were many others, too: Edmund Dulac, Jessie Willcox Smith, Walter Crane, and Sir John Tennial, to name a few.

As chance would have it, there is even a Facebook group called The Golden Age of illustration. I joined the group not long ago, and that’s when I became hooked on illustrations from this period, especially the ones for children’s books. Not surprising as I write books for young people.

Many of the images from this period are in the public domain, which means we are free to use them as we wish. Clif, who is a talented graphic artist, has caught the golden age of illustration bug and is working with some of the pictures. He has been enlarging the illustrations, smoothing the pixels, and retouching the illustrations. We plan to sell matted prints at fairs we go to, and he has done research about the artist and the books the illustrations come from. This information will be included with the prints.

Below are five of the illustrations he has worked on, and they are by Edmund Dulac and Jessie Willcox Smith.

This is one of my favorites. The illustrator is Edmund Dulac, and the picture is from the story “A Little Girl in a Book,” written by Mrs. Rodolph Stawell. Funny to think there was a time when women writers went by their husband’s name, but there you are. Progress has definitely been made on that front.

This is another of Edmund Dulac’s illustrations, and it’s from “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen. It’s not a scene I’m familiar with, that’s for sure.

Jessie Willcox Smith did this illustration for The Little Lame Prince by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik.

As well as this one—Little Red and the Wolf—otherwise known as Little Red Riding Hood.

And finally, here is a Jessie Willcox Smith’s illustration from The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley.

Today, there are many fine artists who create illustrations for children’s books. But for me, there is something about pictures from the Golden Age of Illustration that captures the wonder, magic, and even the dread of fantasy and fairy tales.

I wonder what it was from that period that allowed illustrators to tap into art that goes so beautifully with the stories.


Weather Report: In which Progress Is Made but Then Is Ruined by Freezing Rain

Spring is quite the little trickster, she is. On Friday, she brought us weather so warm that Clif and I raked part of the back lawn, and we didn’t even need to wear our jackets. But Saturday arrived with a cold rain. On Sunday it became even colder, and the rain turned to a freezing drizzle.

This is what our car looked like this morning, with one window scraped and the other left untouched.

But progress has been made. Here is a shot of the Kennebec River.

There are still ice chunks along the banks, and I wonder if they will be there until the end of April. They are so thick! The one below looks like a mini-iceberg.

Here is another view of horizontal ice chunks.

Despite the miserable drizzle, our yard is nearly snow free, and snow-gauge Clif’s job is coming to an end. Next week, perhaps, depending on what Spring has up her sleeves.

Come, Spring, Come! We long to see your pretty face.


Five for Friday: Gone, Baby, Gone

Ta-dah, ta-dah! The patio is officially snow free, a full ten days before we wanted it to be that way.

This is how the patio looked yesterday morning, with just the smallest patch of snow on one edge.

Here is a closer look at that stubborn little patch.

Stubborn or not, that patch’s days were numbered, and by late afternoon, the snow was gone, baby, gone. Note the hay on the walk rimmed with snow. No, our yard is not totally snow free, but it sure is good to see the patio once again.

Snow-out from the patio put in me in such a good mood that I decided to sweep the driveway. Hundreds and hundreds of little cones had fallen, the most I’ve ever seen in our driveway in spring. What a nice feeling of accomplishment to have the driveway free of those little cones.

And maybe, just maybe, Clif and I will take down the Christmas lights next week. It is time, that’s for sure.

Weather Report: One Down, Two to Go

I am happy to report that the three or four inches of snow that fell on Friday is gone, gone, gone. Goodbye, and don’t come back until next winter! But Winter is not quite done with us yet, and she has given us a blast of cold weather that is more than a little brisk: 25°F  and very windy. Although he put a brave face on it, Snow-gauge Clif shivered as I took his picture this morning.

But I am getting ahead of myself. On Sunday, we went to Hallowell for a picture of the Kennebec River. Despite the snow, despite the cold, the Kennebec is nearly free of ice. Oh, the blue of that sky and water!

But the ice chunks aren’t gone. Not quite yet. I’m wondering how many weeks it will take before they finally melt.

Now, back to Narrows Pond Road with a ta-dah! The snow is nearly all gone from the backyard, and thus Snow-gauge Clif’s job there is done. Not enough snow to worry about. In fact, it’s time to think about raking.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the front yard, which is much shadier than the back. Snow-gauge Clif’s job is not quite done.

But let’s return to the backyard, where I saved the best for last. Another ta-dah, ta-dah!

The snow is nearly gone from the patio, and it’s not even close to April 22, Shannon’s birthday.

What do you think? One more week? Such excitement on Narrows Pond Road. Stay tuned!



Ho, Ho, Ho! April Snow

Yesterday afternoon, Clif and I went to Augusta to do some errands. After that we had planned to go to a panel about truth and poetry at The Terry Plunkett Poetry Festival at the University of Maine in Augusta. We knew that snow—yes, snow—was in the forecast, but we thought it would come later in the evening.

Turns out, we were wrong. The day started out nice enough, but by the time we left home to do errands, the sky was overcast. When we came out of the grocery store, it was spitting snow, as we say in Maine.

“What do you think?” I asked Clif.

He shrugged, and we both squinted at the spitting snow.

“We probably should go home,” I suggested.

“Good idea,” he said quickly.

So home we went, a little reluctantly. We are both—ahem—at the age where we have a hard time driving not only at night but also in bad weather, especially snow. In addition, we were worried about slippery roads.

As dusk came, we were very happy we had made the decision to go home. Here is what it looked like outside our front door.

And here is our old trusty friend, Green Shovel. Clif had brought Green Shovel down cellar, and we had thought that would be that until next winter. Silly us!

A little while later, we heard the roar of the snowplow and saw the flash of its yellow light flicker through the closed shades in our living room.

In fact, neither Clif nor I are too worried about this snow. (As long as we are home, of course.) This is April, after all, and the snow will soon be gone. The only shoveling that had to be done was the front porch.

Nevertheless, I could swear the snow was laughing  at us this morning. Mother Nature is quite the trickster, isn’t she?


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