Big and Little

Last week Bonny ended her post with photos of gigantic head sculptures. They made me think about things tall and small.Paschkis tall and small

In real life there is something delightful about objects that are wildly out of scale – think of Oldenburg or Slinkachu.





Recently I sewed a giant quilt. It was a ridiculous and entertaining project which I write about here.J. Paschkis on big quilt

It is easier to create a giant in a painting, through context or distortion. Here is a small gallery of illustrations that play with scale; I hope that you will find them curious and curiouser.

Alice, illustrated by Tenniel

Alice, illustrated by Tenniel

telescoping alice

Swamp Angel is the story of a heroically large girl, beautifully illustrated by Paul Zelinsky.from Swamp Angel, illustrated by Paul Zelinsky

Swamp Angel, illustrated by Paul Zelinsky

Swamp Angel, illustrated by Paul Zelinsky

I especially love the ankle bones and saggy pants of Zwerger’s giant. Everything in this illustration feels lonely, from the pale colors to the empty dollhouse.

The Very Selfish Giant, illustrated by Lizbeth Zwerger

The Very Selfish Giant, illustrated by Lizbeth Zwerger

Note the evil expression of the Snorrasper! Sendak said that his monsters were inspired by his relatives.

Maurice Sendak's Snorrasper

Maurice Sendak’s Snorrasper

This illustration of Gulliver is from 1890.1890 gulliver These pictures of tiny Thumbelina and Hans Thumbling in a golden world are also from the late 1800’s.thumbelinahans thumblingFranz Wacik’s giant is carrying the Brave Little Tailor, whose adventures included scale based humor – beginning when he killed seven in one blow.franz wacik

In Fat Cat by Margaret Read MacDonald the gluttonous cat eventually grew too large to fit on the page.Paschkis fat catIn Summer Birds by Margarita Engle I drew the luna moth out of scale to show the strength of the interest that Maria Merian had in insects.Paschkis Summer Birds p30-31And I painted this Tall Boy just because I like creatures with long legs. He had to bend to fit into the picture.Paschkis Tall Boy

I get bogged down in Ezra Pound’s Canto 81, but I love this line from it:
The ant’s a centaur in his dragon world.

The lesson of scale is that everything is relative.

Mouse Club Rules by Louis Wain b. 1860

Mouse Club Rules by Louis Wain b. 1860

And the last word comes from Lewis Carroll:
“That’s the reason they’re called lessons,” the Gryphon remarked: “because they lessen from day to day.”

19 responses to “Big and Little

  1. Beautiful images! Where are the first and last from?

  2. I painted the T for an alphabet show years ago, and painted Tall Boy in 2010. The Mouse Club Rules was painted by Louis Wain, an artist who was popular in the late 1800’s. He was institutionalized in the 1920’s and his later art was studied as a way to show the onset of psychosis and schizophrenia.

  3. Julie, I completely love yours posts. This one is a particularly good one.

  4. I agree with Pascale. But I disagree with Lewis Carroll: I hope your “lessons” never lessen.

  5. Makes me think of The Iron Giant and The Borrowers (which I loved as a child).

  6. Love this post — the big “T” is my favorite illustration :).

    • Thank you! I painted it years ago before I had a scanner or photoshop program. It was too tall to fit on the xerox machine – so the top ½ inch of the art (and of a bird) is missing from my copy of it.

  7. stacey dressen mcqueen

    LOVE the quilt – your work is beautiful

  8. Julie I love these! Scale is such an interesting thing. Your large quilt is amazing.

    • Thanks! My mother suggested that a whole family could sleep under it with their feet towards the middle and their heads sticking out on all sides.

  9. Jeanette Sullivan

    Julie, I just love your posts and these illustrations are so beautiful I am

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