"How am I to sing your praise,
Happy chimney-corner days,
Sitting safe in nursery nooks
Reading picture story books?"
Quotation taken from the poem 'Picture Books in Winter' by Robert Louis Stevenson
|This is my favourite image by the artist Briar.|
I have never out-grown picture books, though as I grew from child to woman my taste in picture books changed. These days I prefer to look at an artist's collection of work, rather than the traditional picture books Robert Louis Stevenson was referring to in his poem. With digital art being so advanced there is a whole new surge of modern picture books available for adult readers who want to enjoy the work of a favourite artist. Some of these books are published under the term 'graphic novel' but they have nothing to do with superheroes! Others faithfully reproduce paintings, presenting a complete exhibition of work in the more accessible form of a book. A quick search on Amazon will throw up a slew of modern picture books that showcase the work of today's finest fantasy, visionary artists. Below are some of my favourite ones;
Stone Tears; Set Me Free; Frozen Light - the Favole Trilogy by Victoria Frances.
This is a stunning trilogy of Gothic art, inspired by the artist's love of traditional Gothic literature such as Bram Stoker and Edgar Allan Poe. It tells the tale of a young woman, Favole, who falls in love with a vampire and is then damned because of this forbidden liaison. Torn apart, the dark lovers must find a way to come to together in salvation and love eternal.
Each book contains three shorter stories, which interlink and move the main plot of the trilogy forward. It is a clever concept, the text is poetically written and it contains all the key themes of a Gothic romance. The main point of the trilogy however, is to show-case Victoria's beautiful artwork which is presented to great effect.
Gothic Fantasies, the paintings of Anne Sudworth
I love this collection and I met the artist once while I was out walking on the cliffs at Whitby, where she sat at an easel, painting the view. I was also lucky enough to see an exhibition of her paintings, also held at Whitby in North Yorkshire and I enjoy seeing her take on some of the familiar places from my home county such as Whitby Abbey and Tangle Woods. At first glance Anne's work is a series of pretty landscapes, but if you take the time to look deeper you will find a secret spirit-scape hidden within the brush strokes. Anne paints green men and goblins hidden in the leaves and trees, bats in the clouds and dryads in the tree trunks, but rather like the old magic-eye pictures, you have to look to find them.
I find this book is best viewed by candlelight as it draws out the hidden spirits of the paintings.
SHE, The Book of the Goddess by Linda & Roger Garland and Nigel Suckling
This was one of the first books I bought that show-cased the art of Linda Garland and I immediately fell in love with her work. SHE is a fantastic book which brings together masses of information about the various concepts of the divine feminine, the Goddess, from various cultures around the world.
It is very informative, particularly if you are interested in knowing more about paganism and goddess centered spirituality. The book is divided into sections named for each of the elements, heavens and rights of passage. The illustrations are stunning but my two favourites are Frost and Waiting for the Tide.
I never grow tired of looking at these books and studying the artwork. It might be because I have no talent for sketching and painting myself, so I am fascinated and full of admiration for those who can create such imaginative images for others to enjoy. If you thought that picture books were just for children, please think again and consider exploring the books of art that are available. Light the candles, flip through the pages slowly and allow yourself to be absorbed in the whimsical world of the visionary artist.