Last week Margaret wrote about joy and humor in children’s book illustrations. Those images made me smile. She made the point that you need to feel joy to paint joy. I would add that you can also feel joy when drawing or looking at images that are ghastly, beastly and bad. Sometimes a smile turns into a cackle.british struwwelpeter

This week I have been painting some gruesome creatures and thinking about why it is such fun to draw them.Julie Paschkis, Balance

Possibly the beasts are a form of self portraiture without shame. I don’t want hair sprouting from my elbows but I like to paint it.

This Russian lubok from 1760 shows a woman being punished for lust. For me the moral lesson is undermined by the beauty of the image.lubok 1760

Likewise when J.G. Posada shows the fate of a girl who is slandered.j.g. posada

Victor Vasnetsov’s Grandfather Water Sprite beckons, and seems to come without a lesson.victor vasnetsov

The word Zwerg in German means gnome or midget. Here is Der Zwerg Nase by Lisbeth Zwerger. Is he rolling along forward or backward?lizbeth zwerger

Sometimes the monsters are a revelation – these Unclean Spirits Issuing from the Mouth of the Dragon, Beast and False Prophet were painted in 1255.unclean beasts

Or they can be your own family. Here is Loki’s Monstrous Brood, painted by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire.d'aulaire loki's brood

Maurice Sendak said that he modeled the Wild Things on his older relatives. The Giant Snorrasper is from 1962.sendak giant snorrasper

As Edward Gorey knows, the dark side can be delightful. And it won’t go away even if you want it to.

edward gorey

12 responses to “Beastly

  1. wonderful collection
    especially with your additions

  2. Julie, I love this “Beastly” page so much — it inspired a terrific late-morning meditation. I’ve bookmarked it so I can visit the monsters (who bear uncanny resemblances to mine) at will, instead of dawdling around & waiting for them to visit me.

  3. What a feast of treasures!
    I laughed outloud!

  4. Hi – Timely Blog ! Thanks for the thoughts and illustrations about monsters and demons – I have been facing them lately in my own mind and family!! Seems to be a universal theme!

  5. Love it ,.,.,very nice!!!1

  6. One of my favorite posts.

  7. GOOD and SCAREY and BEAUTIFUL makes me bounce with glee.

  8. Small correction: It’s Ingri and Edgar (NOT EDWARD) Parin d’Aulaire who created the illustration of Loki, in their Book of Norse Myths. May I suggest a visit to for further examples and appreciation of the works of the author-illustrator couple cited above.

  9. You always collect such wonderful things!

  10. Pingback: Having More Fun | Books Around The Table

  11. Angela Nikulinsky

    Some beautiful illustrations there. Thanks for sharing.

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