Monday, October 3, 2011

On where trolls roam

My hometown, though small, has throughout history been the home of several artists, writers and musicians. One of the sons Kongsvinger is the most proud of is the famous painter and illustrator, Erik Werenskiold. He grew up here, due to his father's job as the commander at the fortress. Werenskiold is mostly known, today, for his illustrations in the Norwegian folk tale collection by Peder Christian Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe.
Kittelsen's creepy one-eyed troll almost
looks real, don't you think?

One of the other illustrators for this collection is Theodor Kittelsen. I cannot vouch for the truth to the following anecdote, but supposedly Kittelsen criticized Werenskiold for being too bound by conventional restraints in his folk tale illustrations. "How can he, who has never seen a troll, draw one?" Kittelsen wondered.

I don't know if Kittelsen actually believed in trolls, but having spent some time in the Norwegian forests during my life, I think I know what he was talking about. And local patriotism set aside, I have to agree with him. His work seem to reflect a much more "realistic" mythos, where the trolls and other supernatural creatures blend in with their surroundings in ways that *almost* make you believe they could exist, out there, off our radar.

Werenskiold, on the other hand, has chosen what I'd like to call a "Shrek-like" approach, where the trolls basically look like ugly, overgrown humans. 

I have to say I prefer Kittelsen's version. After all, it looks so much more like the many "trolls" you can see with your own two eyes in any given forest:

"Try to look like a stump! Look like a stump!"


Rev Rosey said...

Love the Kittelson troll. He looks properly organic and just the sort of thing you'd see out of the corner of your eye and then wish you hadn't.

Jan Morrison said...

I'm with you! As a long time Nipkin searcher, I know that subtle is the key to finding small creatures of the woods. One has to whistle a certain song, pretend to be picking berries, while letting the edges of one's eyes see the capering creatures. Of course, Nipkins are small, but Glogs are quite huge. Both cannot be seen by cynical types who only look with their vision. Just doesn't work.
I love the creature posing as a stump - very clever!
Jan Morrison

Deb and Barbara said...

Ooh, I love the Kittselson drawing (and all such drawings). Much prefer my trolls like this!

Kelly said...

I've seen that one-eyed troll picture before somewhere and I love it!!

My imagination can run wild with that stump (or IS it a stump?).

Raige Creations said...

I like the Kittselson one too. and the stump - how cool!!

nonamedufus said...

In North America we call them elves and they make cookies. Also, whenever they go to the office they sing merrily Hi ho hi ho it's off the work we go. At least I think so.

Marjorie said...

I'm with you!

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