original gouache and ink painting by hallie m. bertling, based on the writings of p.l. travers.
“supposing you weren’t mary poppins, who would you choose to be?”
“mary poppins!” she said.
everybody has memories of the movie.
one of my ALL-time favourite movie scenes is “step in time.”
and what girl isn’t in love with dick van dyke’s uber-charming bert?
this faerie tale feet painting features the iconic tell-tale signs of everyone’s favourite magical nanny.
we all know she comes and goes as she pleases.
her toes-out posture is surrounded by tuxedoed penguins (i named the one in the blue bow tie skippy because i could), her perfectly starched apron, her iconic carpet bag, the parrot-topped umbrella, the blue duck (read p.l. travers’ nine mary poppins books; it’s in there!), the carousel horse, the hunting fox, mr. banks’ bowler hat, 17 cherries (you know, 17 cherry tree lane!), mary poppins’ daisy-lined hat, those hungry pigeons, medicines by the spoonful (strawberry for jane; lime for michael; rum punch for mary poppins; and milk for the baby- also in the books is a younger sibling!), a chimney sweep’s sweeper, and of course: a forget-me-not as bert’s perfect gift to the lovely lady.
celebrate the movie. celebrate the books.
rewatch disney’s “saving mr. banks” and laugh & cry & cheer.
it’s a jolly holiday for everybody!
from the faerie tale feet series: a wrinkle in time by the incomparable madeleine l’engle.
(& yes, the title is a direct quote from the book. a character frustrated with her own immaturity is something i can relate to.)
i know this one is complicated, so here’s a bit of intel:
re-reading “a wrinkle in time” a number of times before doing this piece, it was rawther difficult to consolidate into icons.
it seems a nearly all-encompassing novel. especially when i didn’t stop at “wrinkle.” but re-read the entire trilogy… and the 3 other books that meg murray makes an appearance in (even if briefly) as an adult in madeleine l’engle’s works.
things that stuck out to me were how madeleine made a point to mention nearly everyone’s eye colour. the “steady blue” eyes of her father (seen here in his tortoise shell glasses; which he didn’t have when prisoner on camazotz, but you know– meg rescued him. so i gave him his glasses back.)
calvin’s “oddly bright blue” eyes (plus freckles!) i put here on typewriter keys. he was watching over meg the whole time. not that he could do the task for her– but he loved her enough that he would have.
meg uses the typewriter keys as a stepping stone to who she shall become. her inner strength– as of yet undisciplined in her angst and frustration– shall help her develop into not just a beautiful, confident woman, but an individual not afraid of intellectual and metaphysical challenges to existence.
(meg’s mom also mentions buying her a typewriter so her teachers don’t have to struggle with reading her handwriting; also, l’engle would handwrite out her book manuscripts before re-typing them for submission to her editor. i, too, love a pen first.)
i represented mrs. whatsit in her not quite pegasus, not quite centaur form. the “…pair of wings made of rainbows, of light upon water, of poetry.” well, that’s something no one can draw. so i decided for each shape to be a tear in the fabric of the quilt on meg’s bed in the opening scene.
the classic opener:
“it was a dark and stormy night” has meg begrudging the fact she has the coolest room in the house– the attic– a great place to be when not in a storm. her grey kitten with huge innocent eyes is there with her and the quilt before they wander downstairs where her “new” brother charles has anticipated her appearance and greets her with hot chocolate before mrs. whatsit appears.
the feather is an allusion to book two in the time quintet– the strange glitter, the solid, metallic rachis of the feather that is not of bird, but of dragon. of proginoskes.
the paper doll & dress allude to the flat nothingness the 3 mrs. w’s put charles, meg, & calvin through when trying to tesseract to camazotz. as well as a reference to the cookie-cutter existence of the neighborhood and inhabitants of that planet’s population. the rows of grey, square houses always stuck in my mind– the bouncing balls and jumping ropes in unison for play time. how drab.
the beaker, outlined in the bright violet color of meg’s scientist mother’s eyes, allude to meg’s upbringing and ancestoral identity. even as her younger brother is moving the generations towards “other.”
the insect is of course how the wrinkle in time itself is explained. walking across mrs. who’s skirt would take longer than if she wrinkled the fabric so he could move from one side to the other. so again with the quilt & the fabric and the bending of time and space.
and it’s mrs. who’s glasses– used in only the most desperate of times that would help to rescue mr. murray.
there is SO much more to this slim novel. the supernatural, aunt beast, mrs. which, the twins… too much to capture. as all of l’engle’s works. she knows there is a richness beyond the page that is the most important of all.
madeleine l’engle closed her newbery award acceptance speech for this quirky, uncategorizable book with this:
“a book, too, can be a star, explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.”
i hope i have begun to touch upon this seminal work with the glory it is due. may our life stories be lived with such passion, love, adventure, bravery, multitude of color, of story, and of the celebrated unknown.
the original painting has sold, but limited edition prints are available on my etsy site here: http://etsy.me/1Dj3PaD