Art as Inspiration

Cinderella – The Art of the Glass Slipper

Cinderella – The Art of the Glass Slipper
By Derek Newman-Stille

Cinderella is a tale of social transformation, a tale that begs the question “what is it like to walk a mile in my shoes”, and it is a tale that centres around a shoe, around a glass slipper. It is a shoe that speaks as much to its impracticality as it does to its power to display. Cinderella’s shoe is a commentary on class and the notion that clothing can create identity, that wearing a particular type of clothing can create a particular performance of selfhood.

These images examine the glass slipper as a central part of the Cinderella narrative and its fragility perhaps mirrors the fragility of wealth and identity.


“Cinderella’s Glass Slipper” by Chris Thompson CThompsonArt on DeviantArt


Chris Thompson’s “Cinderella’s Glass Slipper” explores the centrality of glass for the Cinderella story, creating a work that explores the fragility of story by transposing Cinderella’s image onto the heel of her glass slipper. The focus on creating Cinderella’s body from the bridge of the heel of the shoe illustrates her fragility and her association with the pain that is often associated with walking in heels.

Thompson’s use of a stained glass style links fragility to the notion of the fractured body. The Cinderella tale is one that is mutliplistic, with multiple pieces pulled together to form a narrative.

Thompson portrays Cinderella by herself on the shoe, which is significant since many images of the glass slipper tend to either show the prince picking up her lost shoe or putting the shoe onto her. This image focuses on Cinderella as complete in herself rather than an extension of her prince’s narrative.


“Cinderella” by Alexandra Dawe


Alexandra Dawe’s “Cinderella” accentuates the connection between the Cinderella narrative and time, portraying the clock just passing midnight and Cinderella on the ground in a look of despair. This is a Cinderella who believes that she has missed her opportunity, that this, like so many of her potentials in life, has gotten away from her.

Dawe illustrates Cinderella in rags and surrounded by other images of her poverty that were also figures transformed by her fairy godmother into representations of royalty – her rats and her pumpkin.

Yet, leaning up against her pumpkin is her glass slipper, connecting the wealth that could have been to what she believes her circumstances are now. Only one shoe is illustrated here, likely showing that this is the matching shoe to the one left on the stairs down from the palace. The slipper has become a reminder of what she believes she has lost.

The gears and works of the clock contrast nicely with the image of fairy tale magic, bringing magic and machine together in a way that paints this tale as one about the mechanics of human interactions.


“Cinderella at Midnight” by Jasmine Beckett-Griffith (jasminetoad on DeviantArt)


Jasmine Beckett-Griffith portrays Cinderella in wide eyed doll-like innocence. This Cinderella is associated with time like Alexandra Dawe’s figure, but her pocket watch has just struck midnight and she is portrayed still on the stairs with her glass slipper behind her.

Both Cinderella and her rats are portrayed in the act of transforming. Cinderella has her peasant clothes on with patches sewn into them, but she still has an expensive pocket watch and her hair is still done up in aristocratic style. Her mice are similarly transforming with some of them still in a state of shimmering brilliance behind her and those on her lap fully in their rat form. The centrality of the clock in this image is illustrated by the drifts of glittering dust falling from it onto the pumpkin, rats, and shoes, connecting this dust to the residual magic of her transformation. Beckett-Griffith seems to make the watch the agent of change, highlighting the role of time in this narrative. The use of dust in the image also conveys a sense of the connection between magic and time since it is the literal settling of the dust here that denotes that her time has passed.



“Disney Elementals Cinderella” by Joel DeQue (CeruleanRaven on DeviantArt)


Joel DeQue connects the Cinderella tale to the moon, exploring the power of the night as a place for transformations. This is especially significant for Cinderella’s connection to the ball, where she experiences her transformation over the course of an evening.

DeQue only shows one shoe peaking out of the bottom of Cinderella’s dress, which has taken on the form of a constellation in the night sky. Her glass slipper mirrors the glass bobble hanging down from the horn of the moon above Cinderella’s head. By connecting moon and slipper, DeQue highlights the transformative power of both – the moon changes over the course of the month as it goes through moon phases and the slipper changes Cinderella over the course of the evening from maid to princess to maid again and it will eventually reunite her with her princess identity when she is reunited with her lost shoe.

The Art of Snow White – The Poisoned Apple

The Art of Snow White – The Poisoned Apple
By Derek Newman-Stille

Snow White was originally published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812 and has been revisited in retellings and explorations since that time. It’s central features are the magic mirror, the poisoned apple, the glass coffin, and the heart. It is a tale of vanity, ageing, and revenge.

Ever since the Disney film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), much of the imagery around Snow White has been influenced by the film.


Rebenke – Snow White Burton



Rebenke’s Snow White is dressed in the Disney Snow white colours with a tall white collar and blue, red, and yellow colours, yet each of these colours is shaded, the colours darkened.

The Evil Queen is portrayed in her disguise as an elderly woman, and she is portrayed with her mouth open in a cackle showing jagged, yellowed teeth. Her jaw is unhinged, portraying a predatory quality to her. The focus on her mouth centres the idea of consumption in this narrative, exploring the image of the apple as an object of hunger and desire. The predatory quality of the Evil Queen is highlighted by her long, beak-like nose and posture that mimics that of a vulture.

The image centres the apple, portraying it as the only red in the image that isn’t muted. The apple is even surrounded with a rosy red glow and sparkles. Rebenke brings attention to the apple as the moment of encounter between Snow White and the Evil Queen, the point of connection between the two women.

Rebenke casts the background entirely in grey tones with few features. There are some branches in the background, but limited to the edges. This is a stark change from many of the Disneyfied Snow White images, which tend to portray the encounter between Snow White and the Evil Queen in the depths of the woods.

Rebenke combines the saccharine imagery of Disney with the darker image of Tim Burton’s sketches in a subversion of that saccharine quality. Rebenke’s snow shite is portrayed with typical Burtonesque features – dark circles around the eyes, a pale face, an extended, thin neck, long thin arms and pointed fingers. The paleness of Snow White provides a point of contact between the Disney image and Burtonesque images. Her pale skin is turned macabre.

Rebenke is an artist on DeviantArt who gives his name as “Jonas” and whose gallery can be found at


Mallory Thompson (Illeander) – Paper Tales: The Poison Apple



Mallory Thompson (Illeander)’s Snow White centres the image of the apple, using the apple itself as a framing technique. The image focuses on the upper bodies of the Evil Queen and Snow White, bringing attention to their faces in the encounter. This is a story of persuasion The Evil Queen’s voice is portrayed as flowing out in a physical way, wrapping around the apple itself and surrounded by stars. This is a voice of enchantment and persuasion.

The power of text in this image is further shaped by the use of papercraft for the tale, exploring the role of paper and voice. This is further explored by the text written across Snow White’s body.

The Evil Queen holds the apple above Snow White’s hand, using the gesture of offering to indicate the exchange between them. She holds the apple between hand and mouth, playing with the intermingling of offering and desire in this narrative. She taunts Snow with the apple near her mouth.

The Evil Queen’s body is marked by holes and pockmarks, conveying ideas of age through holes. This image is mirrored in the shine of the apple, also indicated through holes.

Mallory Thompson creates her art under the name Illeander on DeviantArt (



Prudence Staite


Prudence Staite creates her entire image of Snow White from apples, building her body from the fruit that poisoned her. Staite takes advantage of the whiteness of the apple’s flesh to create Snow White’s pale skin.

Staite uses the chunks of apples to mimic the quality of stained glass, fracturing Snow White’s image and constructing it of parts. Staite uses whole apples as a framing technique, showcasing a variety of apples and the complexity of colours of the species.

The power of Staite’s Snow White image is its impermanence. This image is only temporary and it is one that will rot, playing with the reversal of Snow White herself who was captured in a state of perpetual preservation, free from ageing and rot even in death.

Although clearly influenced by Disney’s princess, Staite plays with the colouring of Snow White’s dress to focus instead on the diversity of apple colours.

Rather than using one central apple in Snow’s hand, Staite uses a fractured set of apple pieces to construct the apple, bringing in the stained glass effect that the fractured apples provide for the rest of the image.

Prudence Staite’s runs the website Food is Art at . She refers to works like the Snow White image above as Food Paintings, which she constructs out of materials like pasta, spices, chocolate, tea, nuts, cereal, fruit, vegetables, and cakes. She calls each of her paintings as “an edible work of art” and brings attention to the power of her work to stimulate the senses.





The Art of The Emperor’s New Clothes

By Derek Newman-Stille

The Emperor’s New Clothes is an intensely visual tale, exploring ideas of dignity, performance, and the ostentatiousness of royalty. But, fundamentally, it is about what is not there – the absence of art, the absence of clothing.

Clothing is a way that we perform our identity, the way that we illustrate who we are. It is an art that is linked to identity. The Emperor in the tale is caught between the power of the spoken word to create clothing (by describing it and convincing the court of the presence of the clothing), yet the clothing is not physically present. It is not something that exists except in the descriptive sense.

Art work about The Emperor’s New Clothes is simultaneously about what is there and what is absent.



Harry Clarke

(from Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen, New York: Brentano’s 1916)


Clarke portrays the Emperor as a mix of nudity and ostentatiousness. The Emperor is dressed in a simple undershirt, but is still wearing his ostentatious crown.

Clarke highlights some of Hans Christian Andersen’s orientalism in the tale by portraying the Emperor as effete and self involved. He is portrayed with head tilted upward, the centre of attention. He has one arm on his hip and his other hand touching his chest. He poses for all of the other ostentatiously dressed officials, all of whom have focused their entire attention on him.

All of the members of the court portrayed in the image are dressed in long, flowing robes with elaborate patterns. Clarke accentuates Andersen’s interest in courtly artificiality by bringing attention to the Emperor’s closed eyes and his assumption that everyone will be looking at him. By centering the Emperor in the image and portraying the rest of the court on the fringe, with most of the courtly figures only partially exposed in the image.

Harry Clarke lived from 1889 to 1931 and was born in Dublin. His first printed work was a set of illustrations of Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales in 1916. In addition to illustrations, Clarke designed stained glass.



Renáta Fučíková


Renáta Fučíková portrays the Emperor surrounded by his own images. He has two mirrors, illustrating his self-obsession and vanity. This Emperor stares at his own image, bending his neck seductively, lidding his eyes, and pursing his lips. This is a narcissistic Emperor who is in love with his own image, excited about his nudity.

Whereas earlier images of the Emperor depicted him with underwear or a dressing gown, Fučíková portrays him in the full nude. Like Clarke’s illustration, Fučíková’s Emperor wears his crown and his staff.

This Emperor is portrayed in the midst of having his invisible clothing displayed and altered by the tailors. One of the tailors holds up the invisible garment for the Emperor to observe even though the Emperor is entirely uninterested in the garment, looking at himself.

Portraying the Emperor’s bedclothes on the floor around his feet mirrors the image of nude models rather than representing an image of someone who is trying on new clothes.

Despite the fact that these tailors are portrayed as lazy liars, these men are performing an excess of work. They are illustrating a counter artificiality to the performance of wealth. Their performance is one of work, a purview that is generally ascribed to the working class. Fučíková portrays a dual narrative of performance in this image, portraying the performance of ostentatiousness by the wealthy and the performance of work by workers.

Renáta Fučíková graduated from the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague during 1988. She has illustrated works from The Brothers Grimm (in 1993) and The Tales of Hans Christian Andersen (in 1994).



Angela Rizza


Angela Rizza’s illustration of The Emperor’s New Clothes provides the viewer with the Emperor’s own image of himself, using a mirror to allow us to see the way the Emperor imagines himself to appear. The emperor is portrayed in his underwear, a crown, and a staff. He is portrayed with underwear that have hearts on them, illustrating some of his self love. The image he sees is of an emperor in full regalia. Rizza does what other authors don’t by showing us the way the Emperor sees himself, giving physicality to the invisible.

Rizza’s Emperor is portrayed in a large, open room with few objects other than a floor-to-ceiling mirror. The focus is on his own reflection. This mirror is portrayed with leonine imagery, playing with the notion that the lion is the king of animals. The lion portrayed at the top of the mirror stares back at the Emperor, making certain that all of the eyes in the room are on him.

Angela Rizza is an American artist who shows her work on the website Deviant Art at


Barbara C. Freeman


Barbara C. Freeman’s illustration of The Emperor’s New Clothes illustrates the Emperor processing. He is illustrated in the nude with emphasis upon his golden crown, staff, and orb illustrated by the nimbus surrounding each of the gold items. The Emperor’s nude lower body is cleverly cloaked by the literal cloak of a courtier standing in front of him.

This Emperor is surrounded by ostentatiously dressed courtiers with wigs and the peasants are portrayed in the background, standing on the staircase. There is a literal wall between the two classes, though the peasants are literally elevated in this image, standing above the royals by standing on the staircase.

Directly above the Emperor is the child who points out the Emperor’s nudity. This child is portrayed with her accusatory finger pointing at the Emperor while her father rests his hands on her shoulders.

Barbara C. Freeman lived From 1906 until 1999 and was an English illustrator.


Sakimichan’s Gender-Swopped Fairy Tale Creations

If you are interested in some inspiration about gender play in fairy tales, check out this discussion of the art work of Canadian artist Sakimichan.

Through The Twisted Woods

By Derek Newman-Stille

Sakimichan is a Canadian artist who, among other things, creates beautiful gender-swopped fairy tale figures. We had a chance to meet briefly at Fan Expo Canada a few years ago. I had encountered her work before on Deviant Art and was impressed with her ability to challenge the firm gendered ideas of Fairy Tales produced by Disney.

Sakimichan challenges gendered boundaries and produces new ideas by swopping the genders of different characters.



This gender swopped Maleficent features the classic Maleficent horns and triangular collar from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty creation but this male Maleficent combines armour into his outfit.

He has a vampiric quality to his appearance with pointed canine teeth, pointed ears and yellow eyes. He has a tattered cloak and a kinky quality to his look with studded wrist bands and a studded collar and belt.

Sakimichan provides a classic “booby window” that is often…

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