After my entry the other day about my exhibition and its midnight theme and my problem with the black murkiness of the over all show, I had a lovely email from Amy who sent me this painting by John Singer Sargent; “Carnation, Lilly, Lilly, Rose“. It came at such a perfect time. It’s so beautiful. The lanterns are almost exactly the ones I have been trying to illustrate and it’s great to see how some else has captured their iridescence. Mine have been more like this:

A bit more like a planet glowing away in space. I will have to work on it.

The delicate nature and the gentle light in Sargent’s painting has been such an inspiration for the latest piece I am working on. I have tried to loose the really dark background that most of the other pieces have, but I do like having a kind of spooky, murky thing happening. It makes the little creatures who are nestled amongst the leaves and flowers seem just a little bit vulnerable and a little less straight-out cutesy.

I just bought myself an early birthday present on Ebay. I can’t wait to receive this book – it’s all in Japanese of course, but the instructions and patterns are usually pretty clear… hopefully. If not, the pictures themselves of these amazing and sometimes kitschy 1920s and 1930s Japanese dolls still makes it worthwhile.

A Month of Softies participant Tashina pointed me towards this very useful tutorial on Craftster – “Stuffed Felt Monsters Tutorial” — a great reference for people wanting to get involved in A Month of Softies but are unsure where to start. Craftster has a lot of good stuff for making softies in the Toys, Dolls and Playthings section.

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24 Responses

  1. WOW! I really like that lamp, I love the sort of inner glow that your characters always have, don’t get too bogged down in the murkiness…I always think of it as snuggly. It never looks creepy or to dark, just like sitting around the fire in your darkened house isn’t creepy, its’ snuggly and romantic. Can’t wait to see your new illustrations.

  2. The glowing lantern is so pretty. Great illustration.

  3. I’m in love with John Singer Sargent’s painting. It’s gorgeous. It’s wonderful when inspiration comes just in the nick of time. 🙂

  4. I think ‘luminosity’ is the word I would attribute to this painting. Lanterns too – most wonderful! Some of the best lantern displays I have seen have been in the Philippines at Christmas time. There really is something magical about a glowing light eh!
    best wishes – Sandra

  5. ClaireDo you even suspect how much you contribute, how talented and inspiring you are.
    the lantern is such a simple thing yet isn’t it always those things that make us smile inside?
    Your work is beautiful

  6. says:

    When I was in highschool, I did a night picuture of the arc d’triumph and my teacher told me that a deep purple will often look deeper and darker than black. It worked quite nicely, and contrasted beautifully to some glowing lanterns and sparkles of green foliage I had going on. Painting’s different from illustrator and photoshoping obviously, but I think it could be worth a try.

  7. I have always loved that painting. It was the picture in my living room when I got first got married (twenty years ago!)Thanks for sharing!

  8. Your lantern looks just as beautiful. My (unsolicited) advice is maybe concentrate the light toward the bottom, like Sargent has…
    wish I could see the show!

  9. Sargent’s painting is wonderful and captures the light perfectly to make it jump off the page. I like where your work is going with the glowing lantern.The book on Japanese is fabulous and absolutely inspiring. Hmmm could this work into a Softie project? I love anything with this flavor. My mother is an antique dealer and has 3 dolls on display wrapped in Kimono’s and they are beautiful and elegant. I have drawn sketches of them before. What expressive eyes.
    Thanks for sharing!

  10. Wow.I’m a long time reader, absolute lurker and right now.. totally thrilled!

    My monsters got linked on you website! Doesn’t get much better than this.. 🙂 Especially because you and your felt palm sized creatures were the inpsiraton when I started making monsters in the firts place. The internet IS such a small world after all.. 🙂 Wat a lovely surprise..

  11. says:

    Hi,I was going to mention that the evening picnic for me reminds me of the part in Alice and Wonderland where she is lost and there’s the dog that erases the path and she finds the Mad Hatter’s tea party.

  12. speaking of perfect timing, thank you for posting about that japanese book! i have been interested in making boudoir dolls, and those images are very good inspiration. but first i have to finish my softie cat!

  13. O my! I never expected a mention on your site! That’s a small thrill for me, believe it or have helped inspire you so on your excellent work! (Yeah..leave a bit of shpoooky darkness in there!)
    Your lantern is so prettily decorated.. you’re on the right track for sure!

  14. says:

    Wow, and OMG Claire, you may not think you have the lantern right, but its so beautiful. I really cant believe anything can look so lovely, the flowers on it, the rosyness at the edges and the glow…..its really just perfect.

  15. says:

    Hillary and I have a print of that Sargent painting hanging on the wall by our computer! I saw it at the Tate years ago and it’s been a favorite ever since. The original is a good size– you can really lose yourself in it.

  16. Wow, Claire, you must have such a beautiful mind to always be able to create such beautiful, beautiful things. I’m sorry if that makes me sound like I’m on drugs!
    There is a lovely little Nakahara Junichi store about half an hour’s walk from where I live! I stumbled across it a few weeks ago. Here is a link to his site:

    I had never heard of him, but his work is really lovely. The 60s stuff is especially very Parisienne Japanese!

  17. says:

    Thanks for putting up that pic of the painting. When I was little, I read about it in a kid’s book entitled One End Street by Eve Garnet and a girl was named lily rose after that painting. I’ve often wondered how that painting looked like, now I see it! So exciting.

  18. I love your lantern – I’m amazed with what you’re doing with light and texture now. I hope once your show is on, you’ll post the illustrations you made for it – the teasers are wonderful. I’m curious about what the surface is beneath the lantern. Is that sand? Whatever it is, this little peek is gorgeous!

  19. I’m SO going to the show, Claire!!! (If it’s open to the public, that is…)
    Nina..your wee monster cat is the cute!

    And it’s amazing to see so many fans of that painting speaking up. Never knew if many ppl were aware of it..
    Yep!..a big favourite painting and artist of mine, too! Rock!

  20. Lanterns! I have a lantern obsession and have a whole gallery of lantern images on my website – have a look-see: Your lantern illustration is lovely 🙂

  21. i love that sargent painting. i saw it in person when the mfa in boston had a big show of his work (in honor of his restored murals which grace a grand staircase in the museum) — in the actual painting, it looks like the lanterns are somehow lit from behind. it’s truly amazing..

  22. How fantastic, I love that painting! Thank you for sharing it. One of my goals this year is to be part of your Softies project. I just love your cool blog and illos, kudos!

  23. Aaaah… John Singer Sargent. The ultimate in decadence, unscrupulously flattering, not a patch on his god, Velazquez, but you gotta love him… Have you looked at his “holiday” watercolours? Truly edible…