July Calendar: Strolling

 

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A selection of fair pedestrians for July’s calendar.

I have been in England for three weeks, and many of the details are from events that have happened here: flowers from fields and the Blenheim Flower Show, keys from cathedral libraries, damselflies and English magpies, Regency soirees and Tolkien exhibits, tea and Old Weird Britain.

Calendar-July-lowres

The colours and offset colouring style are drawn from old advertisements and the ironwork in the Oxford Natural History Museum.

As ever, these are brought to you with the help of patrons on patreon.com/tanaudel, who also get the calendar early and other extras, should you wish to help support it!

You can print the calendar, pre-coloured or to colour, by clicking on the images below.July calendar - colourJuly calendar - lines

Dragons reading books

Bookplate

This was a cut-paper design for the birth of two friends’ son – both a small piece of art (although larger than some I have made, as I was trying out some heavier paper) and printable as a book plate. Also practice in boys and dragons.

I am not fond of many particular dragons (they are often austere and irritating, or unduly domesticated), but I have a fondness for the species due primarily to poor Eustace crying to the moon, the glorious Dawn Treader itself, and Chrysophylax prancing along carrying baggage, which suggests that the dragons I love are dragons as imagined Pauline Baynes (who of course illustrated both Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Tolkien’s Farmer Giles of Ham).

The next dragon is in pen and coloured inks. It was for my nephew’s 13th birthday – he requested “money and an awesome card”, so I broke out the gold paint and drew a dragon, as is traditional for us. When he was very small he used to sit through repeated readings of Margaret Hodge’s Saint George and the Dragon (with Trina Schart Hyman’s lovely illustrations).

Ben's Card

The Daleks of Tom Bombadil

The Daleks of Tom Bombadil

This (rare, landscape-format) instalment of the Dalek Game is for J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, and other verses from The Red Book, and particularly for Pauline Baynes’ beautiful, cascading, angular, half-Gothic, half-fairytale illustrations for it.

It is a lovely book, a very Hobbitish book, and while the illustrations and later heartbreak occasionally touch the elven austerity glimpsed in The Lord of the Rings, the words themselves are often sheer play – joyful literary silliness (“He battled with the Dumbledors, the Hummerhorns, and Honeybees”, “An unwary guest on a lunatic quest/from the Mountains of the Moon”, “The pard dark-starred, fleet upon feet”, “He passed the archipelagoes/where yellow grows the marigold”). It tells how Tom Bombadil defeated the Barrow-Wights and stole Goldberry, and of the Man in the Moon’s difficulties with time. It tells of princesses and vagabond knights, greedy hobbits, put-upon trolls, oliphaunts and mewlips, cats and giant turtles, loss and longing.

Small Kingdoms

I have written two fan letters, but there is a third I would have liked to have written. Perhaps I discovered Pauline Baynes at an age when I did not know to think of storytellers as real and separate people – or perhaps she was of an age I assumed had long ago become history. I only really realised today that Pauline Baynes was still alive until a few days ago.

Pauline Baynes’ illustrations are my favourite and the most influential. She taught me to see words and pictures and stories (all stories, I think, as well as those I loved because of her) as deep and beautiful things: windows, not mirrors. Those detailed maps and tiny vignettes frustrated me with their promise – the certainty! – of real and green lands just through the page. I could smell the heather and snow of Narnia, feel the hot winds of Calormene, taste the salt of the seas, know the perils of the far islands and the edge and the end of the world.

Her pictures were not inferior to the stories. They were part of them and half the enchantment. When another hand takes over, Narnia is less and different. When the exuberant marginalia are removed, Farmer Giles loses his charm and good humour and becomes a bawdy ogre.

Pauline Baynes taught me what stories and illustration – simple clear inked lines without colour or dazzle – could be. Allan Lee and John Howe may divide the rest of Middle Earth between them and welcome to it. Hobbiton and Bombadil belong to Pauline Baynes. The hills and farms of the little kingdom (before England had one king), when knights tangled themselves in chain mail and dogs spoke (dog) latin and farmers loaded blunderbusses with old nails and went out in search of hapless but well-spoken dragons – they are all Baynes’ as much as Tolkien’s.

The dying Aslan, the brave mice, Aravis seated cross-legged telling her story, the marshwiggle’s long streak of misery, Susan dancing with Tumnus, Lucy (oh, Lucy!) barefoot on the Dawntreader wearing Caspian’s tunic, Jadis magnificent and mad driving a hansome cab through London – those memories are gifts Lewis could only have given me through Pauline Baynes.

Her pictures did not explain or apologise or merely accompany. They were not aids to the words. They spoke and created and illuminated all those small bright kingdoms and I hope I never come to an age when I cannot take out those books and pore over them, and pour those bright worlds like jewels through my fingers.