This project was inspired by the fairy tale ‘the Norka’, as it’s found in The Red Fairy Book with stories collected by Andrew Lang.
The Norka is a very strange story about a young prince who sets out to defeat a great beast (the norka) that invades their kingdom and eat all the animals. The Norka flees under a rock to a second world below their own. The prince follows the Norka to kill it, only to meet three princesses on the way, one copper, one silver and one gold, who are it’s sisters. They help him kill their brother, together they return to the kingdom of the prince. However, his brothers are jealous and only hoist up the princesses, cutting the rope to their younger brother can’t come back.
The young prince then helps out a bird, who then flies him back home. But two older brothers intent to marry the three princesses, but the princesses refuse without the youngest one there. Through some clever ruse the prince returns to the castle and everyone gets married.
sketch of the beast
sketch for the watercolour piece
different heads for the beast
I chose this story because no element is very well described, so that gave me a lot of freedom to come up with my own thing. I just picked scentences and scenes here and there to illustrate. I tried to use different styles and different materials for each drawing.
Once upon a time there lived a King and Queen. They had three sons, two of them with their wits about them, but the third a simpleton. Now the King had a deer park in which were quantities of wild animals of different kinds. Into that park there used to come a huge beast— Norka was its name— and do fearful mischief, devouring some of the animals every night. The King did all he could, but he was unable to destroy it. So at last he called his sons together and said, ‘Whoever will destroy the Norka, to him will I give the half of my kingdom.’
Well, the eldest son undertook the task. As soon as it was night, he took his weapons and set out. But before he reached the park, he went into a traktir (tavern), and there he spent the whole night in revelry. When he came to his senses it was too late; the day had already dawned. He felt himself disgraced in the eyes of his father, but there was no help for it. The next day the second son went, and did just the same. Their father scolded them both soundly, and there was an end of it.
Well, on the third day the youngest son undertook the task. They all laughed him to scorn, because he was so stupid, feel- ing sure he wouldn’t do anything. But he took his arms, and went straight into the park, and sat down on the grass in such a position that the moment he went asleep his weapons would prick him, and he would awake. Presently the midnight hour sounded. The earth began to shake, and the Norka came rushing up, and burst right through the fence into the park, so huge was it.
A dark version of the moment our prince meets the beast
a water colour version of when the prince meets the beast, with a style inspired by Kay Nielsen and John Bauer
A gouche version in a children book style inspired by Caroline Ellerbeck
Again the Prince gave the beast three wounds, and then he and the beast lay down again to rest. Thereupon away fled the beast as before. The Prince caught it up, and again gave it three wounds. But all of a sudden, just as the Prince began chasing it for the fourth time, the beast fled to a great white stone, tilted it up, and escaped into the other world, crying out to the Prince: ‘Then only will you overcome me, when you enter here.’
The Prince went home, told his father all that had happened, and asked him to have a leather rope plaited, long enough to reach to the other world. His father ordered this to be done. When the rope was made, the Prince called for his brothers, and he and they, having taken servants with them, and everything that was needed for a whole year, set out for the place where the beast had disappeared under the stone. When they got there, they built a palace on the spot, and lived in it for some time.
Presently he espied a horse with rich trappings, and it said to him: ‘Hail, Prince Ivan! Long have I awaited thee!’ He mounted the horse and rode on— rode and rode, until he saw standing before him a palace made of copper. He entered the courtyard, tied up his horse, and went indoors.
The silver lady, in black and white. “Then he told her all that had happened, and she said: ‘That beast which thou wishest to overcome is my brother. He is staying just now with my second sister, who lives not far from here in a silver palace. I bound up three of the wounds which thou didst give him.’ Well, after this they drank, and enjoyed themselves, and held sweet converse together, and then the Prince took leave of her, and went on to the second sister, the one who lived in the silver palace, and with her also he stayed awhile. She told him that her brother Norka was then at her youngest sister’s. So he went on to the youngest sister, who lived in a golden palace.”
….she told him that her brother was at that time asleep on the blue sea, and she gave him a sword of steel and a draught of the Water of Strength, and she told him to cut off her brother’s head at a single stroke. And when he had heard these things, he went his way. And when the Prince came to the blue sea, he looked— there slept the Norka on a stone in the middle of the sea; and when it snored, the water was agitated for seven miles around. The Prince crossed himself, went up to it, and smote it on the head with his sword. The head jumped off, saying the while, ‘Well, I’m done for now!’ and rolled far away into the sea.
for they all loved him and would not be separated from him. Each of them turned her palace into an egg — for they were all enchantresses— and they taught him how to turn the eggs into palaces, and back again, and they handed over the eggs to him. And then they all went to the place from which they had to be hoisted into the upper world.
Presently a storm arose; the lightning flashed, the thunder roared, the rain fell in torrents. He went up to a tree in order to take shelter under it, and on that tree he saw some young birds which were being thoroughly drenched. So he took off his coat and covered them over with it, and he himself sat down under the tree. Presently there came flying a bird— such a big one that the light was blotted out by it. It had been dark there before, but now it became darker still. Now this was the mother of those small birds which the Prince had covered up. And when the bird had come flying up, she perceived that her little ones were covered over, and she said, ‘Who has wrapped up my nestlings?’ and presently, seeing the Prince, she added: ‘Didst thou do that? Thanks! In return, ask of me anything thou desirest. I will do anything for thee.’ ‘Then carry me into the other world,’ he replied.