Monday, September 10, 2012

Discovering Theodor Kittelsen

I wrote a post a while back an illustration that I couldn't find the artist for, which always makes me ask the internet and the universe Who Is This Marvelous Person. And the internet and universe answered me, thanks to Sarah Cannon who wrote "By Theodore Kittelsen. Google's image search is wonderful for forgotten black holes of discovery."

Apparently Kittelsen is also a little bit of a forgotten black hole, someone who died a broken man but whose artwork was still valued. A little. Enough to appear in Google image search and still have a book on Amazon, "Norwegian Troll Tales".

A lot of my obsession with these illustrations relates to my own artwork, which used to primarily be in graphite, pencil or powder. I don't do any large-scale artwork anymore, and have completely divorced myself from the commercial Art World. Despite selling quite a number of pieces and having interest from a gallery etc, to many others' complete bafflement I told everyone "Sorry, I'm not going to show anymore. I'm not going to sell anymore". It was simply not for me.

Anyway. I long steered clear of using charcoal (which I think is what Kittelsen used) because I felt the lush darks were too easy to love, too easy to fall into rather than the subject matter itself. Now I wonder why I was opposed to people falling in love with the material. Look at those darks sinking into the cottony paper. And yet his subject matter, that magic is everywhere, even in a dying tree or crashing wave, shines through his technique and materials.

I am mostly doing this post for myself, so that when I begin making art again, even if not for sale, I don't forget letting anyone fall in love with the materials and want to touch the plush velvetyness.

All images by Theodor Kittelsen, courtesy of the official website


  1. And thanks to Meg whose APW sponsor post inspired me to read your entire archives :) Yay internet indeed. Also, charcoal love.

  2. Yes, I will even allow myself to say that Meg is Da Bomb.