While Cinderella-type stories date back to the first century BC, the more modern Brothers Grimm version called Aschenputtel (literally, "digging in the ashes") is the version of the story that the Disney film, Cinderella is loosely based on.
And I mean LOOSELY.
The basic storyline of Aschenputtel is similar to the Disney version:
Father remarries an awful woman with awful daughters who make Aschenputtel's life miserable.
The poor girl has her dress made by animals.
She goes to the ball and dances with the prince before leaving behind a glass slipper.
The prince arrives in town and everyone tries on the slipper.
The slipper only fits Aschenputtel.
But in the Brother's Grimm story there is so much more about it that is... well... grim.
In the original, the ball actually lasts over three nights. Each day Ashenputtel would sing to the birds and ask them to make her a dress so, obligingly, they would drop a new dress out of the tree so she could go to the ball.
There are other incidents where Ashenputtel sings as a form of magic, asking for help which she receives because of her good nature. This is a common theme in many of the Grimm fairy tales. If you are good, magic works and karma eventually pays off. If you're bad... well... you'll see in a minute.
The prince, appropriately smitten, tries to follow Aschenputtel after the ball but each time she slips away. On the last night the prince slathers the main staircase in tar but she still manages to escape, this time leaving behind the glass slipper.
In the Grimm version, when the prince goes door to door looking for a match for the slipper the wicked stepmother convinces one of the stepsisters to cut her toe off and then for the other to cut off her heel so that their big feet would fit into the slipper.
And each time the prince was fooled, only to be told by different birds as he was riding off into the sunset to take a look at the bloody glass slipper, as if he could have missed it the first time. I mean, come one, the slipper is made of glass. It's totally transparent!
So finally Aschenputtel slides her perfectly-sized foot into what must have been a horribly filthy glass slipper, and rides off with the prince to live happily ever after, but not before even more birds peck out the stepsister's eyes at the royal wedding, leaving them blind beggars for the rest of their days.
So while the Disney film left out the bloody feet and the gouging of the eyes, the moral of both stories is the same... "be a good person and (eventually) good things will happen".
And be kind to birds...
Most "Learn To Draw" lessons look more or less like this:
Draw a circle for the head and a line indicating the curve of the body
Add a rectangle for the body, and some triangles for ears and stuff
Fill in the rest with dog parts, shading and whatnot
I wish I could be more helpful on specifics but as an artist I'm basically somewhere between Step Two and Step Three, and to be honest, my circles from Step One usually aren't all that symmetrical and my lines aren't straight.
I think the key to being a successful artist, though, is the same as being a successful writer or baker or anything else ... and that's not to be afraid or embarrassed or discouraged or anything else other than operating under the assumption that you are the greatest artist on this entire planet.
Even if you really are terrible (which you're not, you're the greatest artist on this entire planet, remember?) there is no other you.
Be persistent in your practice and you WILL get better.
The less you practice the longer it takes.
There's no magic here. Just hard work.
So since this post is called, "How to Draw a Dog" I suppose I'd be remiss if I didn't actually do that. So here you go. Follow along with this How to Draw a Dog video by Christopher Hart. He is amazing and I recommend every YouTube video and book he has. You will pick up so many skills so quickly it will make you dizzy.
Where the Wild Things Are was originally going to be called, Where the Wild Horses Are, but Maurice Sendak couldn't draw convincing horses.
But he could draw "Things" (a.k.a. monsters) although they were mostly just stylized caricatures of his own family members.
That he couldn't draw horses in no way diminishes the fact that he was pretty amazing at drawing just about everything else. But it does show how even the great artists have areas they need to work on.
And thank goodness for that, or Max might never have had a wild rumpus!
Madeline is a fearless girl who lives with her eleven friends in a convent (orphanage? girls school?) run by the no-nonsense Miss Clavel. They frolic across across Paris as Madeline shows her independence by standing up to a tiger and walking along a narrow wall across a bridge.
When Madeline cries in the night Miss Clavel knows something is definitely wrong and calls the imminent Dr. Cohn. Her appendix must be removed!
When her friends visit they are at first solemn and scared, only to be relieved when they see toys and candy... and a huge appendectomy scar that Madeline proudly shows off!
Later that night ALL the girls wake Miss Clavel with their crying, wishing that they too could have their appendixes out.
THE BACK STORY
The great part of the story is that it's based on several actual events!
in the summer of 1938 Ludwig Bemelmans, his wife Madeleine and his daughter Barbara took a trip to an island off the coast of France.
While there he somehow managed to ride his bike into the only car on the small island, sending him to a small room in the small local hospital. Above the hospital bed was a medium-sized crack that resembled the shape of a large rabbit. In the adjacent room was a young girl with a manual crank on her bed who had her appendix removed and was being nursed by a nun. From there the pieces just fell into place.
By itself this is a great little piece of insight into an author's creative process and how one of the most recognizable characters in children's literature was born. And if this was all there was to the story it would be all well and good. But there's more. Oh so much more...
EVEN MORE BACK STORY
When Ludwig Bemelmans was just a boy, around the same age as the fictional Madeline, his father abandoned the family and ran off with the child's governess. This meant that Ludwig's mother had to move the family to Germany in 1904 which, if you know anything about early 20th century history, was not a great time for that part of the world.
Ludwig hated school and as a young teenager dropped out to apprentice at a hotel his Uncle owned in Austria. Ludwig loved hotels but apparently hated waiters because he shot and seriously injured one at the hotel. Faced with prison time or deportation to America, he chose emigration.
With minimal skills but ample gun-related anger issues, in 1917 Ludwig joined the U.S. Army which, if you know anything about early 20th century history, was not a great time for that kind of thing either.
In the 1920's he left the military and returned to working in hotels while struggling as an artist and painter. A decade or so later, in his mid-thirties, Ludwig met May Massee, who was the founding head of the juvenile department at Doubleday, and later Viking Press. She helped him publish a couple of his first children's books but rejected his most successful book, Madeline, which was instead published by Simon & Schuster!
With a successful series to his name, Ludwig went on to travel the world, write dozens of children's books, novels, travel books, and even screenplays.
In 1940 he painted a huge mural in The Carlyle hotel's bar in exchange for lodging. This bar was later renamed Bemelmans' Bar and is still there today, with the original murals.
In 1953 he painted the children's dining room on Aristotle Onassis's yacht before buying a bistro in Paris in the shadow of the Notre Dame Cathedral, painting a mural on THAT wall (the bistro, not the cathedral) before selling it two years later.
So sometimes there's more to the story than just the story itself or even the story of how that story became a story.
Which makes Ludwig Bemelmans' story a pretty great story indeed.
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