Tag Archives: art


Is there anything so abysmally bad as Peter Jackson’s Hobbit Trilogy? In your conscience, now. Have you ever seen anything so atrocious? Be honest.

I may be alone in my desperate bull-brained hatred of those particular films, but I think everyone has felt the anticipation, hope, excitement and disappointment of having a beloved book slashed to ribbons and stitched into a patchwork quilt of cool mediocrity. For some, it’s the Hunger Games. For others, it might be Frankenstein.

It doesn’t matter what your book was. When you saw it pale and sterilized on the silver screen, you knew that something had gone horribly wrong.

What happened?

I remember my mom used to make covers for some of her books. She covered up the original illustrations with plain white paper so she wouldn’t have to look at them. When I asked her why she did it, she said something like this:

“I don’t like the picture of (the main character). That’s not how I picture her in my head.”

The commercial artist who did that cover illustration had messed something up. He or she got it wrong. There was a disconnect between the vision that the author projected into the reader’s mind and the vision that the illustrator had executed.

And this happens all the time. Authors are painters with words, and unless an artist is intimately familiar with those words, how can they visualize them authentically? The reader and writer are very close, and illustrators have to wedge themselves in, somehow.

So why bother with illustrations at all?

Really, some books should not be illustrated. Non-fiction should not be illustrated. Autobiographies of politicians should not be illustrated. But sometimes, artists can show you something in a new way.

5Tove Jansson, The Hobbit, 1962

Pictured above is one of Tove Jansson’s illustrations for the Hobbit. These caught me off guard this morning, and I had to look for more of them.  Tove Jansson was a Finnish illustrator and storyteller, best known for her stories about the Moomins, a lovable race of hippo people.

title-alternativ swedish-hobbit-illustration-1962-12

They’re so free, loose, and fun! This is appropriate, because the Hobbit is a fun book. It’s chock-full of songs, dancing, and feasting.

finnish-hobbit-illustration-1973-26 de398dda760357e19042359fbaa2d872

Tell me this, Peter Jackson. Which is a better interpretation of the Hobbit: your high-definition, 30 frames-per-second slaughter-action-fest, which altogether runs for nearly 9 hours, or the picture below?


My apologies to people who like the Hobbit movies. I just get so mad sometimes.

Bonus! Here’s one of Tolkien’s original artworks for the Hobbit. See more here.


J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, 1936


Freebie Wednesday!

NateTaylor_journeystone2_04 NateTaylor_journeystone2_06 NateTaylor_journeystone2_08 NateTaylor_journeystone2_09

The word “free” is the cocaine of the English Language.

“FREEEEE?” You say, drooling a little. “Yes,” I respond coolly. From the dark folds of my vast trenchcoat I produce a box, which I deftly unlatch. It snaps open, and inside you see…

Journey Stone Books I & II, now FREE to download!

Get ’em while they’re hot at this link. Enjoy!

What the Jon say?

Jon Fox- what is your sound?

Probably something cataclysmic and jaw-dropping.  Check out these eye-numbingly fantastic pieces.

RGB Emporers Dream -oil on canvas- 200 x 140 cm -2010Jon Fox, Emperor’s Dream, 2010

RGB Portal -oil on canvas- 200 x 140 cm -2010Jon Fox, Portal, 2010

RGB Scarecity -oil on canvas- 210 x 140 cm -2010Jon Fox, Scare City, 2010

RGB Solar Visions -oil on canvas- 120 x 80 cm -2011Jon Fox, Solar Visions, 2011

To see more of Jon’s work, visit his website at www.soulofagiant.com

Runes and Demons- Q&A with Hannah Christenson

I had the opportunity earlier this week to get in contact with Hannah Christenson, a tremendously skillful illustrator from Texas.  She specializes in crisp, high-detail digital work featuring fantastic settings, mysterious characters, and brilliant colors.

Apprentice GateHannah Christenson, Apprentice Gate

Where do you draw inspiration from?  Are there any resources that you often fall back on?

Hannah: I’m inspired by a great many things that range from the Golden Age Illustrators, fantasy stories, video games, table-top RPGs, and books. But I feel like it’s most important to go out “into the world” and experience at least a bit of it. There is nothing quite like being exposed to different people, ideas, cultures, religions, histories, lands, and languages that are not your own.

It is so easy to get caught up in your own imagination, your own life, experiences, struggles. Those can be endless wells of inspiration in their own right, but there is also much more beyond your doorstep that can give you a perspective you weren’t expecting.

I’m not saying you need to travel the world, it can be as simple as going for a walk and observing. Maybe strike up a conversation with someone at the bus stop? However, I don’t think that one needs to be struck by an almighty bolt of genius first in order to make something. Sometimes the inspiration comes from doing the work.

One thing that I find really helps me is to take notes. I always try to lie to myself by saying things like “There’s no way I could forget that!” or, “I’ll write it down, I swear! But I just gotta do this first…” As you’re reading a manuscript, article, whatever, take notes. Carry a sketchbook and write down your impressions and crazy ideas. Allow yourself to write down your stupid ideas, they might lead to better ideas. Or they could just be awful and will allow you to move on to something else. The point is to get things out of your brain.

Betha's GathererHannah Christenson, Betha’s Gatherer

Moorland 2013

Hannah Christenson, Moorland, 2013

Could you talk about your process, after you have an idea?  What steps go into creating the final art?

I head straight to research. Research begins with getting the thing out of my brain and onto paper, even in a rough and ugly way. Thumbnails are like the notes. Get them out of your brain, some are stupid and some are ok, just get it out! Also, hit the books, shoot relevant photos, gather reference. What do feet look like, anyway? I spend my reference-gathering time at the beginning so I can focus on painting and not have to interrupt the painting process with a frantic reference search.

Much of your art seems like it has a story behind it.  Is that true?

I love making personal stories about questing, finding interesting and/or shiny items, defeating demons and monsters, and eating beautiful bread. Those are my favorite things.

EphronHannah Christenson, Ephron

Winter Hunt 2012

Hannah Christenson, Winter Hunt, 2012

What are your goals for your work?

My goal is to get the things out of my head. Also, to make enough of a living so I can get my hands on some beautiful bread and a health potion.

Baba Yaga 2013Hannah Christenson, Baba Yaga, 2013

Sala and the DragonsHannah Christenson, Sala and the Dragons

Rune Stone

Hannah Christenson, Rune Stone

I guess this means I have to talk in bold for the rest of the post. Maybe not, though… (Inhale, Exhale) The thing about her work that stands out to me is how a larger narrative is implied in many of the pieces, especially in Rune Stone (above).  I’m excited to see what comes from Hannah’s desk in the future!

To view more of her work, visit her website at www.hannahchristenson.com

Czech Animation Festival

Gosh, there are so many great places to start.

While considering what to post first, I was struck with the vast amount of really great work out there.  How could I possibly just choose one artist, one book, one film?

That may sound trite.  But that’s how I think.  Tritely.

I chose Jiri Trnka, for several good reasons:

1. He’s the Czech Uncle I never had.

2. He was an illustrator AND an animator.

3. The man’s work is matchless.

Here are some selections of his illustration (he illustrated more than 130 books during his career).


(Trnka, Andersen Fairy Tales, 1969)


(Trnka, Andersen Fairy Tales, 1969)


(Trnka, Fireflies, 1959)


(Trnka, Fireflies, 1959)


(Trnka, Fireflies, 1959)

Notice the colors.  And the textures.  And the composition.  And the details.  These images are so rich, you almost don’t need the stories behind them.  They become stories of their own.

When you have a few minutes to spare, do a Youtube search of Jiri Trnka’s animation work.  It’s just as startling and eye-catching as his book illustration.

You can see how the meticulous detailing carries over into Trnka’s animation in these stills:


(Trnka, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1959)


(Trnka, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1959)


((Trnka, The Hand, 1965)

My all-time favorite is The Hand.  It’s one of the greatest stop-motion films ever made, and still universally relevant to creative people.

Mrs. Petersen… It’s a healthy baby Blog!

Welcome to the inaugural blog post of Something’s Out There.  Thanks for coming.  Pull up a chair, eat some chips.  Just so we’re on the same page, I’ll let you know what’s going on here:

Our goal is to dig up some really obscure, weird stuff, and then talk about it.

I don’t mean weird in a “performance art” kind of way.  Not uncomfortably weird.

And I don’t mean obscure in a “1950’s Czech animation festival” kind of way, regardless of how appealing that may sound.

That feeling you get when you find a completely random album at the bottom of the discount bin at Walmart, and it turns out to be pretty alright- that’s what I’m talking about.

This blog is about discovery; mostly in the realm of visual storytelling, but all over the map (the geographical map), and all through history (history in a temporal sense).  It’s about worlds that the past has buried.

Let’s get started!


Here we go!