Thursday, December 11, 2014

Guest Post: Illustrator Claudia Marie Lenart on Hansel & Gretel: A Fairy Tale with a Down Syndrome Twist

Hansel and Gretel: A Fairy Tale with a Down Syndrome Twist by Jewel Kats (Author), Claudia Marie Lenart (Illustrator) was released this past October. Today I have two guest posts to share from the author and illustrator. This is part one, from the illustrator.

From Claudia Marie Lenart:

I was thrilled when Jewel Kats asked me to illustrate her version of a Grimm fairy tale. As the mother of a Waldorf school child, I spent many hours reading Grimm brothers’ fairy tales to my boy. I was especially eager to create the forest scenes.

As a needle felt artist, I create animals, dolls and paintings in wool. The illustrations were created almost entirely with wool, which I custom dye.

I immediately had an idea of how I wanted the forest to look—deep, green, ancient. I was inspired by my memories of time spent in the Pacific Northwest. The forest scenes were created with wool sheets needle felted with layers of brown and green hues to resemble trees. I also used some real tree bark, which I covered in a thin layer of wool as well as some curly green wool for moss.

The story also required two candy houses. To create the candy houses, I spent a lot of time searching through illustrations of Hansel & Gretel candy houses and images of gingerbread houses and old English cottages.

Creating the candy houses was more difficult creatively than the forest. Actually, the idea of a house made of candy didn’t really appeal to me. The only candy I like is chocolate. The witch’s house has chocolate siding, but the window boxes are full of strawberries and cherries covered in icing. The welcome mat is made of s’mores. The house is trimmed with chocolate chip cookies.

I wanted the second candy house to look totally different. It is pastel and dreamy, like a mini fairy castle. The siding in this house is fluffy, like cake, and it is decorated with pastel candy. The turret is made of wool marshmallows and there are peeps on the lawn.

The illustration process was quite an adventure. This is the first book ever illustrated in this manner and I am grateful for the opportunity.

–Claudia Marie Lenart

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