Tag Archives: ivan bilibin

Which Witch?


It’s election time! Here is a slate of witches, hags, crones and harridans. Please pick which witch is your favorite she-devil. Of course there are 13 in the coven. Please place your vote in the comment section between October 26-31.


Witch by Vladimir Lebedev

Witch and Xantippe by John Harris

Baba Yaga by Ivan Bilibin

The Ghost Oiwa by Hokusai

La Bruja by A. Dempster

Witch with Demons by Vladimir Lebedev

The Witch of Hissing Hill by Janet McCaffery

Baba Yaga Lubok

Baba Yaga by Nicolai Demetryevsky

Mother Shipton- English Soothsayer

Okiku the Well Ghost by Hokusai

Witch on the mountain by Arthur Rackham

Strega Nona by Tomie DePaola

Vote Wisely and Vote Now! The victorious witch will be announced here on Halloween.

Baba Yaga by Nicolai Demetryevsky (9 votes) and the Witch of Hissing Hill by Janet McCaffery (9 votes). Close behind them were Strega Nona, Arthur Rackham’s witch and and Okiku the Well Ghost by Hokusai. Almost every witch got at least one vote.

Thank you all for casting your ballots and casting your spells.

As a bonus, here are two more images by the top vote getters. 

The Witch of Hissing Hill by Janet McCaffery

Nikita Kozhemyaka by Dmitryevsky

Go Outside!

It’s July. It’s good to be outside.
Step out!

illustration by Rudolf Mates from A Forest Story

Ride your bike.

Edward Gorey

Julie Paschkis – Out for a Spin

Everything is better outside. Eat outside.

illustration by William Steig for Sylvester

illustration by Hedwig Sporri-Dolder for Hinderem Bargli

Climb up high.

illustration by Alois Carigiet for Florina

Dive down.

illustration and poem by Julie Paschkis for Vivid

Dance around.

Yevgeny Rachev 1900

Baba Yaga by Ivan Bilibin

Maybe go fishing,

illustration by Chris Raschka for Fishing in the Air

or explore an island.

illustration by the D’Aulaires for Ola

Read a book.

Charles Knight 1809

Or listen to a story.

illustration by Rudolf Mates for A Forest Story

Take a nap on the grass.

illustration by Hedwig Sporri-Doldi for Hinderem Bargli

Or sleep outside for the whole night.

illustration by Kathleen Hale for Orlando the Marmalade Cat

Stop looking at this screen or any other screen. Go outside! You might even float away.

illustration by Wm Steig for Gorky Rises




Julie Paschkis Catkin illustrationFebruary 10th is the first day of the Chinese New Year, and 2013 is the Year of the Water Snake. Julie Paschkis from Imaginary Menagerie

Snakes are often feared and disliked, but they do have some good qualities.

Here is a family portrait with snake by my husband, Joe Max Emminger.Joe Max Emminger painting

Snakes are fun to draw. This pen drawing was done by John Coates in 1916.John H. Coates snake 1916

Snakes move beautifully. This illustration is by Ivan Bilibin.The pattern gives the snake direction and dimension; without it the snake would almost be a blob.bilibin snake Snakes fit into small spaces.wolfli snakeThis drawing is by Adolf Wolfli who fills up every space.

Snakes survive in harsh environments, and they take care of themselves. J. Paschkis 2006Colonial Americans had a flag with the slogan “Don’t tread on me.”. This is my 2006 version.

Here is a poem by Julie Larios which celebrates snakes, dumplings and the street food of Beijing. I illustrated it with cut paper. I painted the paper before creating the paper cut.Paschkis and Larios

So in honor of reptilian virtues let’s welcome the Year of the Snake. Please comment with your thoughts about snakes in life, snakes in art and what the Year of the Snake will bring.

Let It Snow

Seattle at this time of year is dark, wet and coldish. But it is not snowy, and in December I want snow.  Let it snow!Midnight Ski, Julie Paschkis

This illustration was painted by Alois Garigiet for the 1958 book The Snowstorm by Selina Chonz.snowstorm, alois garigiet

Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire wrote and illustrated Ola in 1932. I saw a documentary once where they demonstrated their technique. Every color was drawn in black and white on a separate sheet of translucent paper or acetate. They both worked on every drawing. The results shimmer.Ola, Parin d'Aulaire

Ivan Bilibin’s 1932 painting of Father Frost is stylized, but based on perfect observation of snow on trees. Also he uses color sparingly; the warm tones are a gift just like in a real winter landscape.bilibin father frost

Last winter this painting was on my favorite blog, Animalarium. The palette is crazy and exhilarating.fortnum bag

Kamisaka Sekka’s snowy traveler has a completely different mood from Ezra Jack Keat’s Snowy Day illustration, but there is an echo in tilt of the bodies.keats snowy day

kamisaka sekka

Despite the beauty of snow and the cheer of holiday lights I often feel the underlying melancholy of December. Maybe that is why this is my favorite winter poem:
In The Bleak Midwinter,  by Christina Rosetti

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen,
Snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

And here is a final painting by Alois Garigiet from The Snowstorm to banish any melancholy.carigiet procession


Last week I heard I heard Krista Tippett interview the oceanographer  Sylvia Earle. Earle was given the nickname Her Deepness because she was the first person to walk solo on the bottom of the sea.

Her Deepness talked about revelation: the wonder of the phosphorescent world beneath the sea. And she talked about conservation: the need to preserve the diversity of the ocean.

One morsel that stayed with me was her comment that every fish looks different. I take it for granted that every human, cat or dog looks unique. It is surprising and wonderful that this is true for fish as well. She recommended meeting fish in places other than your dinner plate.

Here are some fish by Bilibin:

The Underwater Kingdom

A snipefish from Leonard Baskin:

From Saito Shoshu:

from Matthaus Merian:
Deborah Mersky drew this with gall ink that she made from an oak tree:
Deborah Mersky
and here is a Merskmaid from many years ago.
Deborah Mersky Mermaid
 I’ve been thinking about creatures of the sea all week. How do these undersea thoughts relate to creating children’s books? Maybe in some way, maybe not at all: I don’t know yet.

Here is a poem by Stephen Spender.

The Word

The word bites like a fish.

Shall I throw it back free

arrowing to the sea

where thoughts lash tail and fin?

Or shall I pull it in

to rhyme upon a dish?

Old friends

Each month our group meets and we bring along the books that we are working on. But we also bring many books inside of us – books we have read that have made an imprint.

Today I am going to post illustrations from books that I have loved throughout my life. Because there are so many to choose from I am going to start with Slavic and Russian illustrators. Every summer when I was a child we stayed in Churaevka, a village of Russian expatriots in Connecticut. Maybe that is why I am drawn to these artists.

This illustration is by the Czech artist Rudolf Mates and it comes from a book my mother had as a child called The Cock and the Hen.

Here are Andrewshek and Auntie Katushka from the Poppy Seed Cakes, illustrated by Maud and Miska Petersham.

As a teenager I was given a book illustrated by Ivan Bilibin. This is his: Ivan and the Firebird.

As an adult I discovered Tatyana Mavrina

and Yuri Vasnetsov.

Not every meal includes an incandescent squirrel or giant cockroaches, but these artists are always with me at the table.

– Julie Paschkis