Saturday, 27 February 2016

In the spirit of Beatrix Potter

This year Beatrix Potter would have been 150 years old. I hardly have to explain who she is because her stories and illustrations are well known around the world. A couple of summers ago we spent some time exploring the homes and landscape of Beatrix Potter, and had a lovely time. To see the gate in her garden that appeared in her illustrations and  to be in Hill Top and look out at the same unchanged views out of the windows....just wonderful.

A Scene from Beatrix Potter's series, "Peter Rabbit" © F. Warne & Co.

Her illustrations of animals wearing clothes are beautiful and inspirational. I was interested to find out if there were any more old illustrators of dressed animals. I found that one of the oldest books about a mouse was  Dorothy Kilner's Life and perambulation of a mouse, Published around 1790 although I don't know if the mouse wore clothes. I wonder if some of the first illustrations were of the wolf in clothes in Little Red Riding Hood. It feels as though we have seen animals in clothes forever but it could be a relatively recent idea. I've tried looking it up on the computer but haven't managed to find out nuch yet. There are gods in Egyptian times that have human bodies with animal heads but no one could call them cute. . In 1893 Beatrix potter illustrated her letter telling the story of Peter Rabbit, complete with little jacket. Tenniel had illustrated Alice in Wonderland with a beautifully dressed rabbit in 1865, so could his illustration have inspired the young Beatrix Potter?

 Giovanni Straparola (1480-1587)  wrote the fable of Puss in Boots
1695 handwritten page and illustration.

and Gustav Dore Illustrated it in the 1850's.
Puss in the animation film Shrek-so similar to Dore's Illustration.

Well..... I was inspired so I thought that I would try my hand at a few too. None of mine have been published and I painted them purely for my own pleasure, perhaps one day I might come up with a story to go with my local animal characters.
Mouse riding one of the elephant bollards outside St Peter's Church, Winchcombe. Apparently there isn't any link to elephants they were just the cheapest bollards at the time !

My otter family business...Stanway Water Mill.

My little Winchcombe mouse on the Cotswold trail, looking at the carved swan which unfortunately was stolen last year. My mice are mouse size and my Otters are human sized, perhaps not quite right but I'm in good company. Beatrix's animals varied too. 
There have been so many brilliant illustrations of talking animals over the years but I have to say, Beatrix Potter is one of my all time I'll raise a cup of tea and wish Beatrix Potter
 ' Happy Birthday '



  1. What a talented lady you are, I can't wait to see your Cotswold stories and pictures in print, please put my name at the top of your list for any of your future books, love June.

    1. Thank you. My latest book 'Words from the Canal is now available to buy via Blurb if you are passing through the North Cotswolds please give me a call.



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