I wanted to quickly introduce our readers to the artist known as Mboulad, an Australian digital painter who has been exhibiting her work on deviantart for some time. There is a vibrant inventiveness and delight in her paintings - such as we find in the best old illustrations in books of fairy tales - but there is nothing childish in the paintings. The one to the right is based on the tale of Thumbelina, and the one below bears the wonderful title, Answer: They Grow Underground. In her commentary on the piece, Mboulad posted: "Question: Where do baby fairies come from?"
This, from the artist who said of one of her earlier works: "When I started digtal painting I swore I wouldn't paint any fantasy type stuff. Oops. It just sorta happened."
Definitely take a look at her gallery at deviantart: aren't these paintings delightful? They make me think of the best things about all the stories that were read to me when I was little. And if there is something disturbing about Thumbelina's troubled expression or the frog's fascination, well, there was definitely something disturbing in the Grimm story as well. In the hands of another artist, these pictures might be cute. In the hands of Mboulad, they are delightful and somehow full of insight, though one must glance twice to catch it.
These fairies, by the way, remind me of the legend of the barometz, or vegetable lamb - does anyone remember it? I think the vegetable lamb appeared in Topsell's Natural History in the early seventeenth century: a plant that instead of bearing a blossom, bore a bleating lamb instead. I saw a wonderful picture of one in a book when I was a child, and was so enchanted that I told a whole series of stories about a town of pixies high in the mountain valleys; they raised crops of vegetable lambs up there.
Raising my glass to Mboulad....