“a cobbler’s dozen.”

cobbler 2
there are SO many beautiful illustrated books by a wide range of illustrators interpreting “the twelve dancing princesses.” it took a LONG time to widdle down my ideas to a composition that told the whole story.
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after a lot of chats with faerie-tale minded friends, i landed on a long-format layout with a dozen pairs of shoes and two side panels to tell the story.
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there’s the final outline sketch on tracing paper so that i can transfer it to the watercolour paper.
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once i’d transferred and filled in the drawing, i started by painting the first layers of colour on the tulip border.
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there’s a mauve-y background to the whole thing… but the colours still went a wide range of brite and wild.
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i did a crayon color comp… but you know how that evolves once you put a brush and an unlimited palette in my hand.
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i could have spent a caboodle of months adding layers of colour and detail to the shoes and ribbons. but i eventually had to call it a day or a few…
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on the left panel, the soldier in the invisibility cloak is stepping on the hem of the youngest sister’s (& last in line’s) hem as they journey down to the enchanted kingdom. the drapes represent the bedroom and the secret passage that opens under the eldest sister’s bed when it’s time for the nightly ball…
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in the right hand panel is the kingdom, and silhouettes of the princesses being rowed to the shore by their twelve princes. in the sky are the silver, gold, and diamond branches of the forest that they walk through on the way to the boats.
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here’s a vision of the whole design, waiting for the final painting of the “big feet” of the eldest princess.
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i reaaaaaaalllly love how the castle turned out. it makes me happy. 🙂
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and here’s the (almost) final shoes. i think i added a few more stitching and shadow details in the morning….
cobbler 1
and here’s what the final greeting card looks like- the painting wraps from back to front!

“a cobbler’s dozen.”

original gouache painting on watercolour paper by hallie m. gillett bertling.

based on the brothers grimm’s “the twelve dancing princesses,” my painting takes me back to my very favourite faerie tale classic theatre episode of the same tale.

depending on the version you read, the king may have banished dancing in the kingdom after the death of his beloved wife, or perhaps the princesses are under a spell. whichever way, the king locks them in their room at night, and still EVERY morning without fail, their slippers are worn out and a dozen new pairs of shoes are demanded of the kingdom cobbler every day.
the king sends out a proclamation that anyone who solves the mystery of the worn-out dancing slippers gets to marry the princess of his choice and become king.
prince after prince fails (for they drink the wine at dinner that has been dosed with a lil’ extra sleeping potion by the princesses), until finally a humble soldier, returned home from the wars, decides why not him?

he meets with a peasant woman in the woods, and in gratitude for his sharing his bread and cheese with an old beggar woman, she gives him two things: one piece of advice (don’t drink the wine!), and two– a cloak to make him invisible so he can follow the princesses and find where they go at night.
i’ll spare you all the EXCITING details because of course you ought to read it for yourself, but he does indeed follow them to an enchanted kingdom below the palace where they dance the night away with twelve princes (possibly also cursed) who row them to the shore of a palace where they dance and dance until their shoes are positively worn out. they venture through forests of silver, gold, and diamond (hence the branches above the palace in the right hand panel), and the soldier’s final piece of proof he brings back to the king after the third night of watching the princesses dance is a golden jeweled goblet unlike any the king’s kingdom has ever seen.
last spoiler: it has a happy ending. 😉

(andrew lang’s version has the *spoiler* garden boy falling in love with the youngest princess; i like the grimms’ version better.  but they’re both lovely.)

you can purchase the limited edition print here on my etsy site:  http://etsy.me/1OMK537

or the greeting card here:  http://etsy.me/1OMKsdL

card reads “I should like to discover where those princesses go to dance their shoes to pieces.”  wouldn’t we all?  😀

original painting (6×14″ + mat & frame) is also available for $395.  contact me via etsy!


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