Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Elizabeth Littman - Who the heck is she?

Are any of you fantasy readers?  Yeah, I imagine you are.  :)

When I was a little girl I was a huge Anne McCaffrey fan.  Read everything she'd written, even the books with a small amount of that adult mojo that an 11 or 12 year old girl really isn't equipped to totally understand.  One of my favorite books was Dragonsinger.  It had all the right kinds of things.  Dragons.  An oppressed young woman who had a super talent that she wasn't allowed to use.  Dragons.  Mean teachers and peer pressure that resulted from that super talent.  Did I mention dragons?

Ever think that if you are going to be a social outcast then you better have a super talent of some kind for a root cause (or maybe for a bonus prize)?  I call it the Super Power Excuse: the cause of a hero feeling out of sync with the world.  If I could pick my life's theme I'd pick that one, complete with Superman soundtrack playing in the background (lately I've been wondering if I'm really Catwoman instead, but it works either way). So if indeed that could be the major theme of my life than I anxiously await the discovery of my super talent.

And while I wait I'm not idle with regards to my own skills.  I'm  working hard.  I figure if you don't have a clear super talent maybe you have to create one for yourself.  So working on my writing and my yoga seems to be the right things for this decade.

In the midst of all that, I found Elizabeth Littman hanging around on the web a bit. She's an illustrator of fantasy books and specifically she drew the covers of Drangonsong and Dragonsinger.  An artistic flash from my childhood! Ahhhhh, the super power of gifting enchantment, offering a fantasy universe in one picture.  That one is hers. 

Today, I got to speak to her on the phone.  She described to me her method.  At the beginning she reads the book she's illustrating.  Bless her for that!  And then she begins drawing.  She gets lost in her work.  Lost lost.  Gone.  She lives in it.  The kids, the bills, the house, the real world vanish and the fantasy world becomes all that there is.  The messes breed new messes, the children feed on Fruit Loops and Poptarts, the utilities get cut off, the pets eat each other but... the work gets done.  I guess this is what it means to be ass over teacup. 

Three months and perhaps 600 plus hours later she has her finished product made of water colors, pen and pencil.  A cover of enchantment!   Her magic is woven into the work of fantasy for each reader to enjoy over and over again.  

We parted from our call with such warm feelings. She gave me an enchanted gift many years ago.  I hope that I gave her a gift as well.  The gift of my wonderful memory of her work that has lasted for 30 years. I hope it inspires her to return to her art more fully now that her children are grown.  And I want to say to all who read here: may you also create a wonder of art that gets your readers lost and may it come from your own lost self.  Get lost and found over and over so that others can lose and find themselves.  Maybe our lives are ass over teacup, but at least we are alive! 

PS - Don't forget to enter the contest here  :)  Find a new teacup pattern for Erin!

1 comment:

Eileen Wiedbrauk said...

I'm having one of those kindred spirit moments! I too devoured McCaffery as a pre-teen/teen and Dragonsinger was my absolute favorite. Now, thanks to all I read in this post, Elizabeth Littman is my favorite. :)