Susanna Plotnick

Painter, Illustrator & Doll-maker


Illustrating The Snow Queen, Part 2 - Emotional Content

3 January 2015

The Snow Queen is a heart-wrenching story. Yes, it is pretty, beautiful, and ultimately uplifting. But we also find the evil and insidious pieces of glass that enter people’s eyes and hearts, a cruel and sadistic main character (the robber girl), and an overwhelming feeling of coldness, detachment and lifelessness.

So, back to illustrating the story. I think the difficulty is in depicting all the aspects of the story, its tremendous range. All too often we find vapid depictions of Kay and Gerda, and a Barbie-esque Snow Queen devoid of complexity. Alot of pretty snowflakes.

The illustration above (I am searching for the artist and will publish his/her name as soon as I find it), is unusual in that it depicts Kay’s anguish. He is, after all, a little boy whose heart and mind are taken over by a deadening force.

There is also deep, endless love in the story, and shocking sensuality. Gerda’s unflagging search for Kay, and the help she receives from animals and people on her journey, because of her pure heart. There are the kisses – kisses of death from the Snow Queen to Kay, forced kisses by the sadistic robber girl, and the beautiful goodbye kiss by the reindeer next to the bush of the red berries, while tears roll down his cheeks. The there is the sensual scene when Gerda and Kay suckle the female reindeer.

Some of these images are so shocking that they could raise censorship issues, even in this present day, or at least publication issues.

I don’t know if I will ever attempt to illustrate The Snow Queen. Many very accomplished artists have already done it. But they don’t have my vision of the story, and that is really all any artist has to offer.

I welcome your thoughts: