Jun 11, 2011

Swept Away

"And so this loverboy found him a flamingo
and this flamingo showed him how to tango

when they tangoed it would send
their hearts a flutter, tease him 'till he stutterd
made him so young and tender

 sweet to surrender,
 was so young and tender,
sweet to surrender,
was so young and tender......"

Well if you've been listening to this blog for a while, or just hung around the wrong  types of cafes and pubs in the seventies, you'd know that those words belong to Tim Buckley's "Sweet Surrender".

Now I always thought that the words were "Sweet is Surrender".

And if you are a human being and not some google gahgah robot, then you'll recognise that sometimes Surrender is truly Sweet.

That feeling...... that feeling of relief when you finally give into temptation, that feeling of sublime de-stressing when you mimic Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden; that feeling of elation as you step over the imaginary line and sail off into the abyss ....

That feeling of flashing your ankle on public transport, of giving into the temptation of chocolate, of opening that second bottle of  expensive wine,  or that feeling of forbidden carnal temptation involving leather, feather dusters and Elvis Presley records ....

Ahh Elvis.... :)

And so, I guess I should have warned you that this post is about the little girl named Mildred who gives into temptation in Hans Christian Andersen's "The Red Shoes" - and loses her feet to the King's Execitioner for her trouble.

Of course Andersen, as a writer for children, doesn't dwell on the amputation.

Instead he dwells on both the epiphany and Christian theme that runs through the story - the epiphany being for both Mildred and the reader; the theme being that once the little girl truly repents her sins (her sins were that she tricked a little old lady and wore Red shoes to church) she is allowed back into the body of the church, and hence, metaphorically, the Kindom Of Heaven - where all little girls named Mildred belong.

Thank goodness Andersen didn't dwell on the amputation. That meant I could do it.

If you hadn't guessed this is my image for Illustration Fridays 'swept'. In Andersen's tale of divine retribution and redemption, the little girl is literally 'swept' along by the red shoes, and then literally 'swept'  off her feet by the king's executioner.

Well, maybe that should read "her feet are swept off by the king's executioner...."

I like Hans Christian Andersen. Not only was he a deft hand with a pair of scissors (see his cutouts), but he had a metaphorical axe the size of a ..... er an axe!

Thank you so much to everyone who wished me well in the book exhibition. Yesterday was the opening. There were tons  of people, there were some amazing works by a multitude of artists that I felt proud to be showing with.

And I was lucky enough to be given an entire room for my work :) How cool is that!  After it leaves Newcastle the exhibition will be going to Mackay in Queensland and thence, if things go well, to Tasmania.

Yippee! :)

Oh here is the child 'friendly' version - except Mildred looks like a vampire! I went for the colour 'bleed' look from the fifties :). Blood, pig, ravens are for special people.

PS the l ittle girl's name wasn't "Mildred"..... it was Karen, but my friend Karen Whitaker, the fabulous artist, doesn't deserve to have her feet chopped off. ")

She does however, have a fine set of toasters on her blog at the moment which are well worth a gander :)

see  you!



  1. Wow Andrew! This is superb... I love the colour tones in this one and the story behind it. Goodluck with your exhibition, what a pity its not coming to the Northern Rivers. Gorgeous work!

  2. So dark and sinister and so good.

    Unbelievable. Word verif = cesse

  3. Oh Andrew, I did not comment some of your last posts, but I was visiting your blog through the reader, so I did not miss it .... It takes ages to read all your stuff ( I am slow reader - it comes because of eating slow food) and in past I had to take a holiday. And when my boss asked why I need again a week off, I told him: because of Andrew!! (ha, ha,, but now I spent already all my holiday :)) I know, I could repeatedly write every time the same, and I decided to write this "collective hymn"for your last artworks. Great storyteller, great artist with an exquisite sense of humor.
    I like particularly in the last work your colors. Exact and very well chosen.
    BTW, your book looks very nice. Congratulations!!! (I will toast this evening with some merlot )

  4. Ahhh you are too kind Andrew, thank you for mentioning me, though I have been so lax in my posting for the last, oh, six months or so. I am so glad to not be deserving of an amputation too. I love the story of the red shoes although I must only have read the modified version, because I never realized she had her feet amputated. Fairy tales are pretty gruesome aren't they? I was reading nursery rhymes to Myles and got to the one about pushing the man down the stairs and I hated to finish reading it for fear he'd think you should push someone down the stairs if they don't pray. ;) Kids take things so literally sometimes, lol.

  5. Oh sweet is surrender, especially at thirteen or fourteen. and then there are other sweet surrenders, obviously. Always sweet is surrender, because our body, soul and heart is given to the other, to our sorrow ends
    while we're injured, wounded in battle. and if there was no battle, surrender, always is in pairs, surrender always occurs on both sides.
    So that there is a surrender, there must be two sides, we can give up being alone, but we surrender ourselves. this is the worst of all surrenders, and not sweet.(i think, do not listen to me, surely I'm wrong)
    Strange way to lead by example.
    Poor Mildred had no choice

  6. Beautiful piece! The roundel is my favorite composition, though I also greatly admire those bloody reds.

    I lived in Denmark for a while as a child so I have a lingering fascination with Anderson... he could certainly be dark!

    p.s. Congratulations on the book/opening!

  7. I just noticed the outfit of the guy with the axe. Anyone wearing sissy clothes like that can easily be kicked in the crotch. I mean, really! He has man-boobs! Hehehe. Okay, Just teasing. He loks like a serial killer.

  8. I'm cracking up over Ces's comments! Haha!
    I'm not too familiar with this story.
    Wow you did an awesome job with it.. scary dude.
    Congrats on completing the fold out book and the exhibit opening. Love the box too.
    It/you truly is/are a masterpiece/genius!
    PS. The days in oz must have more hours than the mere 24 we have. How do you get so much accomplished?

  9. Andrew,
    wow! So is it the story, I liked!
    I loved everything in this illustration, and how you represented so in motion, the act of amputation! ;)
    ...mixing blood, pig, ravens is perfect!

    and again congratulations on exposure and your 'large book', which is certainly a success!

    a big hug!

  10. Before I forget, I really like the rat on the side here. And speaking of, I actually prefer rats to be on the blog sidebars, instead of rotting inside walls, making the whole house smelling... well, not nice, that´s for sure.
    But Mildred. Poor thing. Of course Mildred and any other girl or boy or whoever should wear red shoes to church AND get to heaven. Church isn´t about the color of your shoes. H.C. got it wrong there. Like so many older, conservative men.
    I must be tired today, since I let myself be annoyed with grumpy, old men. Maybe it´s the lack of chocolate. I´ll have to search the house for other temptations.
    All the best of luck with Tasmania. That would be an absolute dream-come-true, to have an exhibition in Tasmania. Not a lot of things roam higher on the cool-list.
    And of course congratulations on your exhibition. I´m sorry, I´m a bit behind on everything here...
    So let me in advance wish you a wonderful week! :-)

  11. HCA must've had a problem with feet. The little mermaid had painful feet once she got some. Always fun to look at your creations. If you don't mind a crit, Mildred's left arm looks very short in the top illo and might work better if you make it more V shaped (bent at elbow)? Best of luck with your show!

  12. Wow... always amaze by your work of art! The textures, the light,the colors... and the story... always a fan of your work. So nice to view your work, always inspire me. :)

  13. Andrew! This is frightening! What a way to frighten young children into obedience. Mr. Anderson apparently had a half-sister named Karen. Makes you go hmmmmmm.....

    Fantastic illustration, though. You've imbued it with a great sense of terror and urgency. I love the lack of color, except for the red. You are a master of your craft! It's no wonder you got a room dedicated to your work! You would have outshone anyone else they put in the room with you. A hearty congratulations!

  14. bottomtoucher??????

  15. uhmmm.
    if i say i dont know this story will you hate me?
    im just being a human here not some google Gaga Lady ʘ‿ʘ

    so the red shoes didnt work, im sorry Mildred =(
    when i am in doubt i wear red.

  16. again, congrats on your exhibition, love the new look of your blog!



    you should try this for your blog.

    wait, wait.

  17. I must say that I absolutely LOATHED The Red Shoes when I was a kid. My dad told me the story before going to bed and I didn't have a single good night sleep for the next few days... my first insomnia experience ever. :))

    But then I grew up, saw ugly things happened, seen through halls of hell... now the story doesn't seem so bad. How ironic.

    Anywaaayy.... your images are suuupeeeeerrrr!! I love the animals looking all curious and excited... always a great audience, them geese. :)

  18. I do love these rats and ravens following me as I read through your posts! And, as with all your little girls, Mildred does seem to have a knack for picking out cute shoes. Even if they cost her her feet. OY!

    Hooray for you and your book! :)

  19. Well, I haven't read this fairy tale. I suppose it hasn't been translated in Bulgarian, because of the Christisan theme in it - before the big political changes here it was a... forbidden one. I'm so curious to read it, though, so I'll find a way - in Russian or in English. You know how much I love HCAndersen! And a fairytale like this won't change that. I'm sure he had a serious reason to write it, as well as I'm sure one must read between the lines. By the wa,y Andersen never said he was writing especially and ONLY for children! There's a fairy tale (I can't remember which) where he says that while creating his stories, he always has in mind that Mum and Dad will read them to their children! So, there's something for them, too!
    By the way, you've drawn wonderful, really tempting red shoes!!:)
    Congratulations on the exhibition, Andrew! I'm sure a lot of people will be happy and impressed to meet you and your art there. Congratulations on that loooooong beautifully looking book! Good of you!:)))
    Have a wonderful time!!!

  20. Oh how I am missed visiting your blog! There's all kinds of juicy tidbits to catch up on!
    Congratulations on the book exhibit! Your own room even!!

  21. This knocked my socks off Andrew! I had to check and make sure my feet weren't in them ;o) Your child friendly version is very friendly.... if you're Stephen King at 12 years old. The Christian theme is very redeeming however... Love your color bleed in the last o0ne and your rats througout! Mr. Blogger is being mean to me... or maybe it is Mrs. Google... any way... I can't leave comments under my name. So for now I guess I'm just Ann Onymous.

  22. Poor poor Mildred...or Karen. I remember the Red Shoes really impressed me as a child. It's not like the other Fairy Tales were not violent enough, we all know there's more than one amputation in those stories (remember Cinderella's stepsisters?) but this one was really scary, one disobedient act and there go your feet. Interesting way to teach every act has a consecuence we have to live with.
    Love your work, specially the movement in the sixth picture, he's about to catch her any moment and her face shows she knows there's no escape.
    Congratulations on the exhibition and the room, it's great your art will be travelling to different places :)

  23. wow I'm without words for you works, so impressed...

    ps: i was away too...

  24. This is so amazing!!! My goodness where does it all come from Andrew! AMAZING! Hey, thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I am still in the middle of unpacking and can't get comfortable cause I will have to move again in a couple of months. Thanks again for coming by.
    Best to you,

  25. Hello Andrew,
    Love your illustrations for Hans Christian Anderson's The Red Shoes. I am taking a web design class at local community college & wonder if I have your permission to post your link and illustrations - as I am working on a website (simple - my 1st) with theme of color red and shoe lore.


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