Author Archives: mary grace ketner

About mary grace ketner

My lawyer tells me I should not put the words "Fairy Tale Lobbyist" on my business cards but rather "Representative" and "National Fairy Tale Association." But I'm not, and there isn't one. Even so, I don't think I'm going it alone.

Paul O. Zelinsky, 1953-


In Rumpelstilskin, the child holding the miller’s daughter’s train is illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky’s daughter, now grown.

Young Paul loved The Tawny, Scrawny Lion by Gustave Tenggren and Margaret Wise Brown’s The Color Kittens illustrated by the Provensens. He relished William Pène Du Bois’ drawings in The Twenty-One Balloons and those of Robert Lawson, as in The Story of Ferdinand. Even so, and even though he wanted to be an artist, he did not realize illustrating could be a career until college when he took a class taught by Maurice Sendak.

Paul Zelinsky’s broad artistic range of media and styles attract the next generation to love art and stories. For his fairy tales, he chose classic oils.


Zelinsky’s Hansel and Gretel (1985) and  Rumpelstilskin (1987) received Caldecott Honors awards; Rapunzel received the Caldecott medal in 1998.

Kate Greenaway, 1846-1901


(At last it’s come to this: an illustrator whose name ends in the letter of the day, Y!)


Robert Browning’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin, illustrated by Kate Greenaway, Edward Evans Limited, 1888.

Arriving on the illustration scene before technological improvements brought about “the Golden Age of Illustration,” Kate Greenaway delivered finely drawn Victorian children to be printed and colored using woodblocks in a process called chromoxylography. Often used for cruder prints in a few flat colors, her publisher Edmund Evans used as many as a dozen separate carved plates to produce detailed, shaded illustrations for Greenaway, Walter Crane and Randolph Caldecott, whose works are now considered classics.

The Kate Greenaway Medal is awarded annually by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in the UK to an illustrator of children’s books.

L-R: “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” frontispiece, “Dick Whittington and His Cat,” Little Red Riding Hood.”

X: The Crossroads where Illustrator and Artist meet.


Kay Nielsen’s stunning Hansel and Gretel.

Illustrators and artists both spend years in Art School. They each achieve a level of mastery of their technical skills and develop patterns of creating art that work for them. Each works tirelessly on composition, balance, scale, color… Each has a personal style and probably a favorite medium for expressing it.

Whether for independent art or a commissioned piece or series, a painter who is telling a story must become immersed in the narrative. S/he creates the environment for the story action, establishes a location and time period (real or imagined), does careful research or designs from scratch appropriate attire, hairstyle, accoutrements…. Of course, s/he recreates selected details from the tale, but s/he also goes beyond the text to stimulate the viewer’s own imagination.

The higher the illustrator’s level of skill and vision, the more he will be loved by viewers, and the longer his creations will endure and stir the hearts of story lovers. The same is true for fine artists who strike out on their own to help others see and make greater sense the world visually.

By what ever name s/he is called, artist or illustrator, there are several fine creative geniuses whose work almost always touches my soul: Kay Nielsen, Arthur Rackham, Virginia Frances Sterrett, Ivan Bilibin, Edmund Dulac…. And there are several images I rejoice to see time and time again.

The artistry of the artist and of the illustrator do indeed cross.

Simply put: an illustrator is an artist with a day job. Making Art.

Milo Winter, 1888-1956


“The Queen made a lovely little bag,” from The Tinderbox, by Hans Christian Andersen.

Hailing from Princeton, Illinois, and the Art Institute of Chicago, Milo Winter’s own best loved  illustrations are in the Windermere editions of Aesop’s Fables, Arabian Nights, and Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales.

But perhaps his greatest contribution was as Art Director for the 1947 edition of Childcraft books. He contributed illustrations himself, but he also provided work for younger artists whose images were to fill picture books in the second half of the century: Roger Duvoisin, William Pène du Bois, Harold Price, Ilse Bischoff, Robert McCloskey, Brinton Turkle, and those artful couples  Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire and Maud and Miska Petersham.

Milo Winter’s title page for Childcraft’s Folk and Fairy Tales, D’Aulaire’s “Blind Men and the Elephant,” and the Petersham’s “The Highwayman.”


Viktor Vasnetsov, 1848-1926

Vasnetsove Koschei.jpg

Koschei the Deathless threatens Marya Morevna

Victor Vasnetsov was a leader in the Russian revivalist movement. A brilliant artist, his compositions proclaim the folkloric richness of his culture and stir the ardor of Russians for their narrative heritage.

Vasnetsov’s powerful oil paintings of heroes and heroines are rendered with all the attention to detail and artistry another artist might have endowed on a royal portrait or a biblical scene. While he did not illustrate books of fairy tales, his magnificent full-scale works bring those tales to life in many world museums and exemplify the affection the Russian people feel for their skazki (fairy tales) and byliny (legends).

L-R: Snegorushka (The Snow Maiden), Alyonushka (Sister Alyonushka and Brother Ivanushka) and Ivan Tsarevitch and the Grey Wolf.

Kitagawa Utamaro, 1753-1803

Utamaro Fuji

Procession Passing Mt. Fuji

Utamaro was a highly-regarded master of ukiyo-e woodblock printing which flourished in Japan during the late 1700’s. His prints reached Europe in the mid 1800’s, where they became very popular. When a later western artist is said to have been influenced by Japanese woodcuts, it is likely the prints of Utamaro which are meant. Hardly a fairy tale artist, though, Utamaro’s scenes were often from the pleasure quarters.

Some of our alphabetical illustrators who were said to have been influenced by “Japanese woodcuts” are Aubrey Beardsley, Warwick Goble, Kay Nielsen, Arthur Rackham, and (coming) Kate Greenaway.

L-R: Beauties after the Bath, Drums and Shamisen, Reading Beauty

Gustave Tenngren, 1896-1970

Tenggrem 1 Grimm

What Women Want Most

Swedish-American Tenggren did his most compelling work as a young man, illustrating Grimm, D’Aulnoy, Andrew Lang, and others in a style influenced by Arthur Rackham. At Walt Disney studios in the late 1930s, he drafted the images for Snow White and Pinocchio which others then animated for film. Later, illustrating Golden Books such as Thumbelina, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Black Sambo, The Little Red Caboose, and The Pokey Little Puppy, his style became softer and more colorful. Having made his name, he created collections such as The Tenggren Tell-It-Again Book, Arabian Nights, and The Canterbury Tales.

L-R: “Little Red Cap,” Concept Drawing for Disney’s Snow White, “The Pied Piper” from The Tenngren Tell-It-Again Book.

Virginia Frances Sterrett, 1900-1931


Arabian Nights, 1928

Young and talented, Virginia Frances Sterrett created three beautiful books for Penn Publishing  before her untimely death: Old French Fairy Tales (1920), Tanglewood Tales (1921) and Arabian Nights (1928).

Institutionalized with tuberculosis at 22, she could work for only brief periods, yet she never gave up, never gave her images anything less than her best. At the time of her death, she had almost completed Penn’s Myths and Legends.

In her obituary, The St. Louis Post Dispatch said “Her achievement was beauty, a delicate, fantastic beauty, created with brush and pencil. . . .”

And yet, she lives! She has a Facebook page!

L-R: Scheherazade, Aladdin, Blondine and the Tortoise

Arthur Rackham, 1867-1939

Rackham, Titania.jpg

Oberon and Titania from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Arthur Rackham hated new-fangled wristwatches, telephones and typewriters. He pined for Dürer  woodcuts and Uccello frescoes. However, there was one technological advancement he accepted: color printing. Millions could now appreciate his color-tinted ink fantasies–and they did!

In Dickensian fashion, fame was thrust upon him. By 1910, his Rip van Winkle, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens had reaped him awards and contracts. He continued his career with the Grimms, Shakespeare, Sleeping Beauty, and Hans Christian Andersen. Productive to the very end of his life, his Wind in the Willows was published posthumously in 1940.


L-R: “The Tree and the Axe;” Even Rackham’s trees have personality–usually menacing. “Jack and the Beanstalk;”his monsters are repulsive but not scary.   “Undine;”his women are sensual but innocent.


Question: “Where did you find…


…all those beautiful copyright free images?”

That’s a question Megan Hicks asked. I will try to answer in two parts, the “where” part and the “copyright-free” part. Be warned, each part is considerably longer than my usual daily 100 words!

Part I: Where?
In dragging the Net to learn as much as I could, I have found some illustrator “fan sites” that have been immensely helpful to me in coming to understand the illustrator’s own world and the place of each in the pantheon of artists—and in availing me of images. I’ve been back to these sites again and again!

Art Passions: “Fairy Tales are the Myths We Live By”
Artsy Craftsy: Fairy Tale Art and Illustrations
JVJ Publishing pages on illustrator’s biographies
Tulane University Library: Once Upon a Canvas: Exploring Fairy Tale Illustration from 1870-1942.

In addition, almost every artist has a few loving fans who cherish their work and their life stories and who have created enlightening Web site or blog entries about them. Google your artist’s name the regular way for text information. For thumbnails of their works, click on “Images” (instead of “All”) in the top menu, and feast your eyes! Click on an image to see it larger and link to the site it came from.

Of course, there is also Wikipedia. And, if you are a member of Pinterest, there are even more images available to you. (I am not, but I was often directed to there for a quick glimpse before the black curtain arose.)

I love fairy tale illustrations, and I am doing rapid, daily, internet research to learn more about their creators to gather the 4 images and create the 100-word texts I have used each day for the April 2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge. I exhibit them in order to share my great pleasure in them, primarily with other lovers of classic fairy tales and traditional stories. Each alphabetical exhibit is my attempt at an homage to a beloved illustrator.

Part II: Copyright Free?

Let me say that the works which appear on my blog are not necessarily copyright free. Some are clearly in the public domain, produced before 1923. Some may or may not have had their copyrights renewed after 1964; I don’t know. Copyright protects the creator or copyright owner from commercial use of their work. I have taken the images from other internet sites; they are of low resolution and are not usable for commercial purposes. The creator or owner of the work still holds the copyright.

If a work is still under copyright and the copyright holder objects, s/he may use the email address in the sidebar to let me know and I will remove them; I will also reply with my mailing address so that s/he may send written evidence that s/he owns the copyright for a particular image and forbids their display on a non-commercial site. Otherwise, I shall reinstate the images at my convenience.

I believe that my use of these images is “fair use,” and that they are being “fairly used” by the sites from which I took them. In fact, several of the sites, whose owners have searched and thought about this issue a great deal more and far longer than I have, state that site visitors are welcome to use them with or without attribution to them. The source list above is my way of publicly attributing them and thanking them.

Some additional enlightenment:

Wikipedia explains copyright (amid additional dense text):
“Most jurisdictions recognize copyright limitations, allowing “fair” exceptions to the creator’s exclusivity of copyright and giving users certain rights. The development of digital media and computer network technologies have prompted reinterpretation of these exceptions, introduced new difficulties in enforcing copyright, and inspired additional challenges to copyright law’s philosophic basis.

“The statute does not clearly define fair use, but instead gives four non-exclusive factors to consider in a fair use analysis. Those factors are:

the purpose and character of one’s use
the nature of the copyrighted work
what amount and proportion of the whole work was taken, and
the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.”

From Art Passions: In Bridgeman vs Corel Corp . . .

“The court determined that museum reproductions, whose purpose is to duplicate the original work as precisely as possible, do not involve enough originality to be copyrighted as a derivative work. In other words, a museum reproduction of fine art in the public domain is itself public domain, and unauthorized duplication of the reproduction is not copyright infringement.”