So I've been rediscovering charcoal lately and decided to do a few Fairy Tale illustrations in it for something a little different:

I was looking at a lot of Shaun Tan's work for these pieces, trying to channel his atmosphere and sense of whimsy. I really enjoy just pushing the medium around, rubbing and lifting out. Charcoal is like oil in a lot of ways with its fluidity and the way it stays 'live' on the paper indefinitely. It offers a lot of opportunities for those happy accidents, focusing on atmosphere and gesture. I think I will be experimenting a lot more with it this summer.

The story is The Maiden in the Castle of the Rosy Clouds. Though the title is a bit of a mouthful, the story itself is really lovely- sort of Don Quixote/Fisher King-esque with one of those perfect bitterweet endings I love so much. It's from the Swedish Folk Tales book illustrated by John Bauer, and if you don't know HIS work then you're missing out. If you're a fan of Brian Froud's art, you will recognize a LOT of Bauer there: