The Sisters Grimm

Menna Van Praag

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"A very grown up fairy-tale with more than a nod to Angela Carter and Philip Pullman . . . textured and complex . . . genuinely thrilling and emotional . . . it's never less than spellbinding."



Bea - Blackbird

Graphic Pen and Ink - February 2019 - 12.5cm x 18.5cm

Blackbird was the first in this series of illustrations for The Sisters Grimm.It took about four months from start to finish including research and set the tone for the style of the rest of the series, The scene reflects two parts of Bea's fairy tale passage. 

The lower half is the scene is where Bea meets the old woman in the woods who reminds her who she is,. Bea (on the left) has a confused demeanor with up turned palms, The old lady leans on her stick and gestures to explain the uncomfortable truth that Bea has forgotten her powers.

The upper section depicts the older Bea flinging herself from the highest tree in the forest in a suicidal bid to free herself of her guilt and shame. As soon as she is airborne the transformation begins and she transforms into a magnificent screeching blackbird, taking to the night skies once again as she did so many years before.


Scarlet - Red Riding Hood

Graphic Pen and Ink - June 2019 - 12.5cm x 18.5cm

This retelling of the famous Little Red Riding hood fairy tale pretty much follows the original apart a dramticly different end. 

Once again there are two parts of the story. The top right hand section features the big bad wolf chasing Red through the woods towards grandmas house, she hurls her soup into the air whilst fleeing. I think this is the drawing that firmly places the imagery in the more adult catagory, i worked hard to make the wolf as frightening as possible so as to remind the reader the fear we once felt when we heard this story in our childhoods. 

I loved the lower half of this one and it was a real pleasure to depict Red Riding hood as a triumphant conqueror of her own fears having just incinerated the big bad wolf. and warms her hands on the burning remains.


Liyana - Beauty and The Beast

Graphic Pen and Ink - July 2019 - 12.5cm x 18.5cm

This illustration is different from the others in that it simply depicts one scene from the passage. The Queen having been granted magical powers for one year by the wizard is seen here out for a midnight swim as she begins to transform in character. commanding effortlessly the gigantic tidal wave behind her. The wizard looks on from the shore.

The Wizards style is a deliberate diversion away from stereotypical wizened old men types that one might expect from Disney or even Harry Potter. Given the description in the passage and the forceful character that he lends to the Queen I felt much a stronger silhouette was called for and so i based this Wizard on the Warrior Druids. Further to this. I chose to put seven ravens in the background. The metaphysical significance of the number 7 is as follows;

 "Spiritual awakening and awareness, spiritual enlightenment, spiritual development, mysticism, intuition and inner-knowing, inner-wisdom, psychic abilities, the esoteric, inner-selves, deep contemplation, introspection, eccentric, secrets, myth, ritual, peace, poise, emotions and feelings, inner-strength, endurance and perseverance, persistence of purpose, the ability to bear hardships, quick-wit, the loner, solitary,  isolation, long-sighted, the non-conformist, independence and individualism, intentions, manifesting and manifestation in time and space and good fortune."     

These qualities seemed an obvious match to the story, but are a detail that most will miss.

The biggest challenge here was in fact the water. Water is notoriously hard to render believably and I had never attempted it before, let alone for a piece that was to be published, however the presence of Water in the passage and the significance for the character it relates to were to big to avoid so I persevered. This is the second version, the first was a disaster which i had to abandon but thankfully only eight or nine hours into the drawing. 


Goldie - Goldilocks

Graphic Pen and Ink - August 2019 - 12.5cm x 18.5cm

The fourth and final illustration in The Sisters Grimm series once again adopts two parts of the passage. Most of the information is in the lower half which depicts the Younger Goldilocks bashing away on the drums in a Shamanic ritual shared with her Brother. I loved the character of "Urso" the wayward but lovable brother and it was actually he who I developed the most since The entire book revolves around Goldie. I figured he was deserving of a short spot in the limelight, also it was the only way to get a bear into the mix. He is here wearing the living room bearskin rug as a shamanic head dress brandishing a magic staff made from broken bits of mangled doll. Blowing a bubblegum bubble like he just doesn't care.

The two young characters are joined in their ritual by two figures. These are aboriginal "Mimi" spirits, their likenesses are based on indigenous aboriginal paintings but altered sufficiently so as to be respectful of their beliefs around reproduction of their art. Mimi spirits are nature spirits that make the plants grow, they are happy beings that love to dance and tidy up the environment. In this vain they are seen here "Vogueing". I chose to put them in so as to add an extra dimension to the drawing. In the Story Goldilocks grows up to be a world famous master gardener and so I wanted to visually represent how she came about to have a special affinity to nature and plants, it ties in with the shamanic aspect of the tale and her future as a result. 

The older Goldilocks inhabits the upper half of the illustration, gone are the childish bunches and here she is tending to one of her ornamental gardens that she becomes famous for.


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