“a tempered heart.”

tempered heart feature image“a tempered heart.”

original gouache painting by hallie m. bertling

a part of the faerie tale feet series, available at halthegal.etsy.com

i have always loved “alice’s adventures in wonderland” as a terrific piece of absurdist literature.  and what inspired this piece?  a medieval painting i saw at the met this january on my husband’s birthday trip.  so here’s a peak into the process (& my absurd book collection) for lewis carroll’s classic!

click through the slideshow below for a bit of my process, my inspiration, and some fun facts on lewis carroll’s work.  some people read way too far into the text, but he was a mathematician, so i bet some of it was actually intentional.  it’s amazing how deep the levels in meanings are in artists’ work, n’est pas?  always more to discover…

tempered heart 1
i found that i have more than 17 editions of lewis carroll’s alice stories. they range from comics to modern art, antique editions, the gorgeous new french edition by benjamin lacombe, and animation concept art by my beloved mary blair. artists have obviously found the text visually inspiring for its 150 years of existence. i’m sure the fun’s not over!
tempered heart 2
here’s the medieval painting i found in the met this january that inspired the unique layout of this piece. i immediately thought of her bangs as the big hips of her skirts and thought since she’s always yelling “off with their heads!” the picture could be in the shape of her head.
tempered heart 3
here’s my little quick sketch while i was in the museum. i usually doodle sculptures in oceana and the mayan rooms for their fantastic shapes, but there was something so graphic and modern about this piece that i had to capture the funky collar and that remarkable crown.
tempered heart 1a
i got home and started doodling- ball gowns and shoes- and deciding what posture would BEST indicate she was HOPPING MAD!
tempered heart 1b
i take lots of little notes in my moleskin. and my countless alice books are riddled with sticky tabs for phrases or illustrations i want to reference.
tempered heart 4
once i had my final sketch, i transferred it to watercolor paper and started painting in layers of green foliage for the hedges.
tempered heart 5
the croquet match was the perfect opportunity to hide icons from the story in the topiary hedges. and i couldn’t resist putting in a startled flamingo croquet mallet!
tempered heart 6
paint paint paint… oh, how i love to paint!
tempered heart 7
here’s the final painting- complete with sparkly crown.
tempered heart 8
just a few of my alice editions. “alice adventures underground” was really interesting as it’s a printing of the original manuscript carroll gave to alice liddell, not how he edited it when people told him he should publish it. (he had to pay for his first print run, by the way. and tenniel was so unhappy with the plates from his etchings (the first and last children’s book the editorial cartoonist ever illustrated!) that he demanded a reprint. so they stamped them defective and shipped them to america. if you have that FIRST edition, oh how i envy you!!
tempered heart a-1
this box set of alice was the START of my antique/unique book collection habits. dad would always drag me to antique stores in watervliet, michigan to shop for tin soldiers, and lo and behold i fell in LOVE with beautiful OLD books. the adventures obviously continue…

i’m in love with this piece and hope you adore it, too!

“the queen of hearts, she made some tarts,

all on a summer day.

the knave of hearts, he stole those tarts,

and took them quite away.”

if it was anything like cherry pie, i don’t blame the knave one bit.  but it did throw the queen into quite the tantrum.

here are the icons you’ll find hiding in the topiary hedges:

*painting the roses red

*two spades [her card escorts were categorized into the spades (gardeners), diamonds (courtiers), hearts (her children), and clubs (the guards).  so clever.]

*the king’s crown on a velvet pillow

*the duchess’ invitation to the croquet match

*the golden key (the victorian book lovers’ symbol for unlocking faerie land, according to george macdonald, a family friend of carroll’s.)

*the white rabbit with red eyes

*the tiny white gloves & golden pocketwatch of said white rabbit

*one of the juror’s slate and pencil

*the number 42, a predominant number in this book with all sorts of meanings to abstract mathematicians

*the queen’s tarts

*the gryphon (who lead alice to the mock turtle for a very depressing and slow-moving song)

*alice’s iconic shoes (“why, what are your shoes done with?” said the gryphon.  “i mean, what makes them so shiny?”… and the gryphon’s shoes were made of “soles and eels, of course.. any shrimp could have told you that.”)

*the pepper that made everyone at the duchess’ house in a sneezing tizzy

*the mad hatter’s hat

*bill the lizard

*the cheshire cat’s grin, with disappearing body, of course

*the queen’s heart-shaped spectacles

and of course, instead of showing “off with their heads,” i did a round head*shaped hole in the hedge instead.  long live the queen and all the cards and critters the king of hearts spared.

bon appétit!

peace, love, & colour to you,

*halthegal.

purchase the limited edition signed prints here:  http://etsy.me/2AfBdiV

& the greeting card here:  http://etsy.me/2lMFFm3

 

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