Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Puck, Plain and Fancy

A certain youth here used to climb the door frames and swing from the carved brackets, sometimes pausing long enough to be sketched or at least photographed. Most of the fairies in my paintings are young ladies, but every fairy tale needs its Kay or Puck and it has been handy to have one about the house. The sketches are turned into detailed paintings with details of leaf and petal, wing and antennae, and the in-between preparatory work, with the transformation from present realism to timeless tale, is set aside. But both have their magic.

For a Mother's Day treat last week I revisited my favorite book, Good Housekeeping's Cookery Compendium of 1954 (and I could dwell all evening on the delights therein - puddings, pies, crumpets, jam roly-poly, biscuits and cakes, including the exciting chapter on Special Occasion Cakes that I used to leaf through even when my birthday was months away) and looked up the recipe for biscuits with feathered icing.

After an hour or so with the mixing bowl, rolling pin and cookie cutters, I had an impressive stack of plain biscuits (the resident lean young man efficiently disposing of the broken ones for me).

Glace icing was next: first the white, then with the piping bag I applied bars of colour...
dragging the lines with a toothpick to make feathered icing.

The butterfly pattern was a new approach and they turned out reasonably well, with no two alike. Like stages of sketching and painting, the plain ones were as enjoyable in their way as the finished, polished product.

So I wonder, which do you prefer in life - sketched or polished, plain or fancy?


  1. Or, being greedy, maybe I could just like them all?

  2. I think that I will echo Barry. Not easy to choose just one!

    Your feathery butterfly cookies are ... almost ... to beautiful to eat.


  3. Hello,
    Thank you very much for your kind comment.
    I love the feathery butterfly too, yum!

  4. Frances, Thank you for visiting my blog because it gave me an opportunity to discover yours. What a visual delight! I look forward to dropping in more often.

    Blessings, Hope @ Worthwhile Books

  5. Frances, you've made cookies beautiful! I'm elated, impressed, a tiny bit jealous, and absolutely thrilled by the wonderfully absurd notion that someone could make a cookie not merely look enticing...but honestly, a work of art.

    I stand in awe of that kind of talent, and it's made me smile so, thank you.

    Ah yes, Puck. I have a Puck of my own, too. Challenging, silly, bright and endearing. Is there one among us who, having seen a Midsummer Night's Dream didn't think of a very loved boy, at least just a bit?

    Also, this is an aside, but years ago I went to see a Shakespeare in the Park production featuring a friend of a friend. She had a rough night, and unfortunately few things are as unmitigated a disaster as poorly performed Shakespeare. The entire company was just off...and there sound problems and everything was going the proverbial place in handbasket when one of the scene featured the directors dogs. Two Scotties with Elizabethan ruffs around their necks, barking with delight, stepping all over everyone's lines...and just like that, the production was strangely repaired.

    It was magical. The faeries were among us, I feel certain. For years afterward I had two Scotties, because of that.

  6. It is hard to choose between each version, they all have their charms.

    I can see that you have a soft spot for that little fellow who swung from your doorframe. You have captured a spirit in your drawing, I love his little feet!

  7. A boy fairy! How wonderful. Boy fairies really are under-represented. Maybe they should form a union or something. Anyway, I can't remember if I've actually commented here before so I just want to tell you, in case I haven't already, that I love your work!

  8. Frances, Magic by the Lake is the sequel to Half Magic, so you must read it. =)


  9. The top painting is my favourite. Love the butterfly biscuits with their feather icing.