Fairy-Tale Art & How It’s Inspired My Writing

If you already don’t know, I’m a huggeeeeeee fan of fairy tale and mythic art. Like, A LOT. I’m pretty much obsessed with fairy tales and mythology altogether, and most of my fantasy books are based around—or at the very least inspired by—fairy tales. Even my sci-fi, THIS STORM RISING, has threads of myths and fairy tales that I love. In fact, right now I’m reading East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North edited by Noel Daniel and illustrations from Kay Nielsen (whom I LOVE so, so much. Seriously, if you haven’t seen his art, search it up. It’s incredible.) So I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite pieces of fairy tale/myth-inspired art I’ve seen, and how it’s inspired my work…or more relatively, my current WIP, MIDNIGHT QUEEN.

Kay Nielsen:









Illustration from East of the Sun, West of the Moon, 1914 (‘In the Midst of the Gloomy Thick Wood’)


In Powder and Crinoline, 1914


Deserted Moment, 1912


Illustration from East of the Sun, West of the Moon, 1914 (‘She could not help setting the door a little ajar, just to peep in, when—Pop! out flew the Moon.’)


On the Way to the Dance, year unknown


Rosebud, year unknown

These are just some of my favorite Kay Nielen’s art. He has so many amazing pieces of work that I can’t fit into this post (and this post is going to be long enough as it is…), and to be honest, I’m 1000% thrilled that we share the same birthdate.

Edmund Dulac:


From Dreamer of Dreams, 1915

From The Bells and Other Poems (‘To Helen’), 1912


From The Bells and Other Poems, 1912


Firebird, 1916


The Sleeve of Night, 1909

I don’t think I even have the words to describe how much I love Edmund Dulac’s work. That, and they’ve been and endless source of inspiration for MIDNIGHT QUEEN, in particular The Sleeve of Night. The woman above the city, the stars spilling from her cloak, the mist/clouds shrouding everything… There’s something so magical and dangerous and beautiful about this piece of art—something that captures the feeling I’m trying to write perfectly.

Alan Lee:


Blodeuwedd, 1984


Lady of the Lake, 1977


Mythical Scene, 1980

You’ll probably recognize Alan Lee’s artwork from his illustrations for The Lord of the Rings (which are amazing!!), but I chose to use some of his other just as amazing artworks here, because this guy is just full of talent. If you love Alan Lee, then I can literally guarantee you’ll also love John Howe’s The Lord of the Rings (and other) artwork, too. Both artists are envy-inducing incredible and actually makes me wish I had artist talent. (Seriously, even my stick figures look dreadful.)

Sulamith Wulfing:


In the Torment, 1984


Title/date unknown


Title/date unknown


Title/date unknown

Contemplative Princess, date unknown

I can see that Sulamith Wulfing has drawn a lot from Celtic and fairy tale designs, and holy god, they. Are. Beautiful. Ethereal and magical and just…gorgeous. I discovered her artwork a few years ago and have been enamored ever since. It was so difficult to choose only a handful here, because Sulamith Wulfing has so many breath-taking pieces. Into the Torment reminds me crazily of MIDNIGHT QUEEN protagonist; the color of her hair, the stars, the way the dark tree is sort of wrapped around her, the dress, the general “feeling” of the piece… Just amazing.

Herbert James Draper:


The Gates of Dawn, 1901


Lamia, 1909


Figure with a Lauren Wreath, date unknown

Very mythology and history-centered, I loveeee the way Draper draws/paints women. Feminine, elegant, and fierce at the same time, his artwork is impossible to disappoint. The softly drawn lines and lovely colors are amazing too. I can’t mention EVERY artist I want to here (there are SO MANY of them), and this post is already getting longggggg, so honorary mention to Yvonne Gilbert, Kinuko Y. Craft, Mahmoud Farshchian, John Collier, Jessie Bayers, Arthur Rackham … Really, the list could go on and on, because there are just so many incredible artists out there. These are just a handful of the artists I love—seriously, I would be here all day if I listed them all—who have inspired me endlessly over the years…and for many years to come, too, I suspect.

I’m back to MIDNIGHT QUEEN revisions now (I DEFINITELY need to get a damn move on if I want to reach my current goals for this year), but, guys—do you have any favorite artists that you look to for inspiration…or ones that you just like to admire?

Currently reading: EAST OF THE SUN, WEST OF THE MOON edited by Noel Daniel, illustrations by Kay Nielsen

Currently listening to: Snow White & the Huntsman OST by James Newton Howard

8 thoughts on “Fairy-Tale Art & How It’s Inspired My Writing

  1. Cait @ Paper Fury says:

    These are all so beautiful!! I actually don’t really look to images for inspiration but I DO definitely look to fairy tales and folklore and classics and things. There’s so much potential?! And with a little tweaking it’s practically original anyway and always sooooo exciting. I’m in love with like half these paintings though AHHHHH. 😍
    *whispers* good luck with revisions!! Remember: cake is sustenance. I know I know I give such good advice. 😂


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