Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ring out Solstice Bells

The Solstice arrives this coming Tuesday. Marking the longest night of the year, it has special meaning to many people. This year's is especially spectacular, as it is not only coupled with a full moon, but also a FULL LUNAR ECLIPSE, visible all over the US. Holy Druids.

These old-world calender events always make me think of the myths and legends that make use of such happenings. Having just acquired a long sought-after book featuring some great pieces from Celtic myth, this seems like an appropriate enough occasion to share them.

Stephen Reid (1873-1948) is not a name you will come across in any (but the most thorough) of the books on Golden Age illustrators. His work was very good when he was at top form—but it was not always consistent. In his later work he went to an opaque medium, and lost a good deal of the sensitivity he captured here. Reid managed to hit a lot of the subjects I am passionate about—pirates, medieval history, and Celtic myth. These first four plates are a selection from The High Deeds of Finn and Other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland, by T. W. Rolleston, Harrap. 1910. This is what I just got a hold of, happy centennial, Finn. Featuring Reid's earlier watercolor work, his palette choice and usage of transitioning color manages to lend a nice dream-like feeling to these pieces, which benefit the faerie/other-worldly aspects of the setting. The last image is from an even earlier work, by Eleanor Hull—which is one of the pieces that inspired me to hunt down these color plates. I have a copy of that volume with the color on the way...I'll post those for St. Patrick's day. . .


Speaking of "working Joe" illustrators—
One of the things I love to do here is find the folks who gave a real go of it, but never achieved the stardom of those few—and might have gotten lost a bit in the past 100 years or so. Reid definitely fits that category. He seemed to stick around for a while, I guess he was a nice guy who handed in his work on time, but maybe didn't do AWESOME work all of the time.
This past week I found another blog entry who looked at this situation with real insight. Let me share that with you, and thanks to David Apatoff at Illustrationart for putting these thoughts down.


Be careful with your golden sickle cutting the mistletoe.