August 10, 2010

Sketches for "Instructions"

I'm working on a couple of commissions right now, including one for a fellow deviantartist, gentlemanadventurer. She sent me a link to a copy of Neil Gaiman's "Instructions" and it stole my heart. It's such a charming poem-- strange and romantic at the same time. So I'm trying to put that same charm into my painting that I'm making for her. These are a couple of ideas:

p.s. my sketches are almost always this vague and atrocious.

by Neil Gaiman

Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never
saw before.
Say "please" before you open the latch,
go through,
walk down the path.

A red metal imp hangs from the green-painted
front door,
as a knocker,
do not touch it; it will bite your fingers.
Walk through the house. Take nothing. Eat

However, if any creature tells you that it hungers,
feed it.
If it tells you that it is dirty,
clean it.
If it cries to you that it hurts,
if you can,
ease its pain.

From the back garden you will be able to see the
wild wood.
The deep well you walk past leads to Winter's
there is another land at the bottom of it.
If you turn around here,
you can walk back, safely;
you will lose no face. I will think no less of you.

Once through the garden you will be in the
The trees are old. Eyes peer from the under-
Beneath a twisted oak sits an old woman. She
may ask for something;
give it to her.

She will point the way to the castle.
Inside it are three princesses.
Do not trust the youngest. Walk on.
In the clearing beyond the castle the twelve
months sit about a fire,
warming their feet, exchanging tales.

They may do favors for you, if you are polite.
You may pick strawberries in December's frost.
Trust the wolves, but do not tell them where
you are going.

The river can be crossed by the ferry. The ferry-
man will take you.
(The answer to his question is this:
If he hands the oar to his passenger, he will be free to
leave the boat.
Only tell him this from a safe distance.)

If an eagle gives you a feather, keep it safe.
Remember: that giants sleep too soundly; that
witches are often betrayed by their appetites;
dragons have one soft spot, somewhere, always;
hearts can be well-hidden,
and you betray them with your tongue.

Do not be jealous of your sister.
Know that diamonds and roses
are as uncomfortable when they tumble from
one's lips as toads and frogs:
colder, too, and sharper, and they cut.

Remember your name.
Do not lose hope — what you seek will be found.
Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped
to help you in their turn.

Trust dreams.
Trust your heart, and trust your story.
When you come back, return the way you came.
Favors will be returned, debts will be repaid.
Do not forget your manners.
Do not look back.
Ride the wise eagle (you shall not fall).
Ride the silver fish (you will not drown).

Ride the grey wolf (hold tightly to his fur).
There is a worm at the heart of the tower; that is
why it will not stand.

When you reach the little house, the place your
journey started,
you will recognize it, although it will seem
much smaller than you remember.
Walk up the path, and through the garden gate
you never saw before but once.
And then go home. Or make a home.
And rest.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Stephanie!

    I found your work on DeviantArt a few years ago. I loved the Goose Girl (and definitely want to order a print pretty soon!), and I wanted to ask you if you were alright with me posting it on my blog--with full credit and links to your blog/Etsy/Etc.

    See, when I was quite a bit younger, I wrote a quaint but very unpublishable novel. I made a private copy for myself, but it's in no way for sale or in the public market. And I confess, I was rummaging through DeviantArt all those years ago and found your gorgeous Goose Girl piece, made it my desktop background/inspiration piece, and then decided it would make a beautiful cover.

    Fast-forward nearly five years--aside from my own blog, I've got a companion co-authored blog about the ins and outs of writing. I'd love to post a picture of my trunk novel (resplendent with your artwork on the cover), but won't do so if you'd rather me not.

    Thanks so much for your time! I'm sorry this is just a blog comment and not an email--I feel very unprofessional!

    But I'll definitely be visiting your Etsy site soon, like I said, for that print. I absolutely love your work. :)