"a tempered heart."

faerie tale feet painting inspired by the queen of hearts from alice's adventures in wonderland by lewis carroll.

i have always loved “alice’s adventures in wonderland” as a terrific piece of absurdist literature.  and what inspired this piece?  a medieval painting i saw at the met one january on  my husband's birthday trip.  so here’s a peak into the process (& my absurd book collection) for lewis carroll’s classic!

have a look at the photos below for a bit of my process, my inspiration, and some fun facts on lewis carroll’s work.  some people read way too far into the text, but he was a mathematician, so i bet some of it was actually intentional.  it’s amazing how deep the levels in meanings are in artists’ work, n’est pas?  always more to discover…

 i found that i have more than 17 editions of lewis carroll’s alice stories. they range from comics to modern art, antique editions, the gorgeous new french edition by benjamin lacombe, and animation concept art by my beloved mary blair. artists have obviously found the text visually inspiring for its 150 years of existence. i’m sure the fun’s not over!

i found that i have more than 17 editions of lewis carroll’s alice stories. they range from comics to modern art, antique editions, the gorgeous new french edition by benjamin lacombe, and animation concept art by my beloved mary blair. artists have obviously found the text visually inspiring for its 150 years of existence. i’m sure the fun’s not over!

 here’s the medieval painting i found in the met this january that inspired the unique layout of this piece. i immediately thought of her bangs as the big hips of her skirts and thought since she’s always yelling “off with their heads!” the picture could be in the shape of her head.

here’s the medieval painting i found in the met this january that inspired the unique layout of this piece. i immediately thought of her bangs as the big hips of her skirts and thought since she’s always yelling “off with their heads!” the picture could be in the shape of her head.

 here’s my little quick sketch while i was in the museum. i usually doodle sculptures in oceana and the mayan rooms for their fantastic shapes, but there was something so graphic and modern about this piece that i had to capture the funky collar and that remarkable crown.

here’s my little quick sketch while i was in the museum. i usually doodle sculptures in oceana and the mayan rooms for their fantastic shapes, but there was something so graphic and modern about this piece that i had to capture the funky collar and that remarkable crown.

 i got home and started doodling- ball gowns and shoes- and deciding what posture would BEST indicate she was HOPPING MAD!

i got home and started doodling- ball gowns and shoes- and deciding what posture would BEST indicate she was HOPPING MAD!

 i take lots of little notes in my moleskin. and my countless alice books are riddled with sticky tabs for phrases or illustrations i want to reference.

i take lots of little notes in my moleskin. and my countless alice books are riddled with sticky tabs for phrases or illustrations i want to reference.

 once i had my final sketch, i transferred it to watercolor paper and started painting in layers of green foliage for the hedges.

once i had my final sketch, i transferred it to watercolor paper and started painting in layers of green foliage for the hedges.

 the croquet match was the perfect opportunity to hide icons from the story in the topiary hedges. and i couldn’t resist putting in a startled flamingo croquet mallet!

the croquet match was the perfect opportunity to hide icons from the story in the topiary hedges. and i couldn’t resist putting in a startled flamingo croquet mallet!

 paint paint paint… oh, how i love to paint!

paint paint paint… oh, how i love to paint!

i’m in love with this piece and hope you adore it, too!

“the queen of hearts, she made some tarts,

all on a summer day.

the knave of hearts, he stole those tarts,

and took them quite away.”

if it was anything like cherry pie, i don’t blame the knave one bit.  but it did throw the queen into quite the tantrum.

here are the icons you’ll find hiding in the topiary hedges:

  • painting the roses red
  • two spades [her card escorts were categorized into the spades (gardeners), diamonds (courtiers), hearts (her children), and clubs (the guards).  so clever.]
  • the king’s crown on a velvet pillow
  • the duchess’ invitation to the croquet match
  • the golden key (the victorian book lovers’ symbol for unlocking faerie land, according to george macdonald, a family friend of carroll’s.)
  • the white rabbit with red eyes
  • the tiny white gloves & golden pocketwatch of said white rabbit
  • one of the juror’s slate and pencil
  • the number 42, a predominant number in this book with all sorts of meanings to abstract mathematicians
  • the queen’s tarts
  • the gryphon (who lead alice to the mock turtle for a very depressing and slow-moving song)
  • alice’s iconic shoes (“why, what are your shoes done with?” said the gryphon.  “i mean, what makes them so shiny?”… and the gryphon’s shoes were made of “soles and eels, of course.. any shrimp could have told you that.”)
  • the pepper that made everyone at the duchess’ house in a sneezing tizzy
  • the mad hatter’s hat
  • bill the lizard
  • the cheshire cat’s grin, with disappearing body, of course
  • the queen’s heart-shaped spectacles

and of course, instead of showing “off with their heads,” i did a round head*shaped hole in the hedge instead.  long live the queen and all the cards and critters the king of hearts spared.

bon appétit!

the original painting is available for $550 (+$40 for safe US shipping), already framed.  please contact me if interested.

purchase the limited edition signed prints HERE.  

& the greeting card HERE.  

& because i can't get enough of this painting, stickers and mini*pins are available on my etsy site, too!!  :)  

and if you're a true wonderland fan, be sure to also check out the companion piece (the first ever faerie tale feet piece i did!),  "alice to a tea."

 limited edition signed print.

limited edition signed print.

 mini*pin!

mini*pin!

 & "a tempered heart" sticker!

& "a tempered heart" sticker!

 just a few of my alice editions. “alice adventures underground” was really interesting as it’s a printing of the original manuscript carroll gave to alice liddell, not how he edited it when people told him he should publish it. (he had to pay for his first print run, by the way. and tenniel was so unhappy with the plates from his etchings (the first and last children’s book the editorial cartoonist ever illustrated!) that he demanded a reprint. so they stamped them defective and shipped them to america. if you have that FIRST edition, oh how i envy you!!

just a few of my alice editions. “alice adventures underground” was really interesting as it’s a printing of the original manuscript carroll gave to alice liddell, not how he edited it when people told him he should publish it. (he had to pay for his first print run, by the way. and tenniel was so unhappy with the plates from his etchings (the first and last children’s book the editorial cartoonist ever illustrated!) that he demanded a reprint. so they stamped them defective and shipped them to america. if you have that FIRST edition, oh how i envy you!!

 this box set of alice was the START of my antique/unique book collection habits. dad would always drag me to antique stores in watervliet, michigan to shop for tin soldiers, and lo and behold i fell in LOVE with beautiful OLD books. the adventures obviously continue…

this box set of alice was the START of my antique/unique book collection habits. dad would always drag me to antique stores in watervliet, michigan to shop for tin soldiers, and lo and behold i fell in LOVE with beautiful OLD books. the adventures obviously continue…