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Art Inspiration: Antique Fairy Tale Book

Beautiful antique book cover for H.C. Andersen fairy tales publsihed in 1897, as well as some amazing illustrations from the book.

As most Japanese families do, we live in a small home with limited space for bookshelves. So instead of lining walls, I have boxes full of beautiful antique and vintage books that I insisted on bringing when we moved here from Norway. It was time for us to take care of my husband’s aging parents.

It’s been my intention for a long time to share these family treasures. I spend far too much time just leafing through them wishing I could create art just like that...
Most books are in Norwegian, Swedish or Danish and the most beautiful ones are from the 1800s, while some fairytales from the 1900s are gorgeous too. 

In fact, my desire to become an illustrator was born by looking at amazing illustrations from the Golden Age of Illustration that was in full bloom in the 1800s until 1920s. That's when color printing became possible, although many of the illustrations I will be sharing here are black line art. 

Check out my Pinterest boards Vintage & Antique Book Covers and Vintage Illustration.

Hard as I tried, I never managed to copy the methods of those great artists so I had to figure out my own process. I started mixing watercolor, gouache, and colored pencils and that's what I’m sharing in my video tutorials. Watercolor base, then adding a few colored pencils and gouache for effect. 

My first installment is fairy tales by H.C. Andersen illustrated by B. Pedersen, published in Copenhagen by Gyldendals Boghandel in 1897. The illustrations are from "Thumbelina" and "The Wild Swans".

I hope you enjoy!

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Illustration for an antique book with fairy tales by H.C. Andersen, published in 1897 in Copenhagen. This illustration is for “The Wild Swans”. Click to see more! #antique #vintageart #vintageillustration #illustration #bookart
Antique book cover for H. C. Andersen fairy tales, published in 1897 in Copenhagen. Click to see more! #antique #vintageart #vintageillustration #illustration #bookart
Illustration for an antique book with fairy tales by H.C. Andersen, illustrated by B. Pedersen and published in 1897 in Copenhagen. This illustration is from  “Thumbelina”. Click to see more! #antique #vintageart #vintageillustration #illustration #bookart
Illustration for an antique book with fairy tales by H.C. Andersen, illustrated by B. Pedersen and published in 1897 in Copenhagen. This illustration is from  “Thumbelina”. Click to see more! #antique #vintageart #vintageillustration #illustration #bookart