Second in my series for Halloween 2011 is this image that I made while under Hurricane Irene house arrest. Before rendering and coloring, the sketch of this drawing reminded me of the animated rats and mice that I always admired growing up: Justin from "The Secret of NIMH" (based on the book "Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh" by Robert O'Brien) and Basil from "The Great Mouse Detective" (based on one of my favorite childhood books, "Basil of Baker Street" by Eve Titus). They had an intelligent cool factor to them, especially the latter, who was based off of Sherlock Holmes. I remember squeezing in between two pieces of furniture in my sixth grade classroom during our hour to read books in order to create a little haven for myself where I would not be disturbed. That's where I followed the adventures of Basil.
The rat is an appropriate Halloween motif (and one that is significant to me, living in NYC), and I wanted to think about what he might dress up as for his own celebration. Naturally, he became what you see below. His wide stance and flowing cloak is an ode to those mice and rats of my youth.
I'm designing a new line of Halloween illustrations that will be made into cards. I'd almost prefer to send a Halloween card than a Christmas card; it's my favorite day of the year. For one day, you can be anything or see anything. On that day, I really believe in ghosts (though I really do) and goblins and witches and werewolves. My most memorable childhood costume was the year I was a wizard, complete with false beard and nose and wrinkles, courtesy of my sister, who had learned the basics of theater makeup. I will never do that again; I almost ripped off my skin at the end of the night trying to remove the skin. Moreover, my nose wiggled in the weirdest way when I ate and my friends in school were a little creeped out by that in the cafeteria. In recent years (and probably because I'm an art historian), I've tended to the historical, turning saints into costumes. Two of the more successful were St. Lucy with her bloodied eyes on a plate and St. Joan of Arc, complete with dancing flames crawling up my legs.
I love the smell of October air, that crisp, apply, candy-scented air that makes you wrap up with a scarf while enjoying the last rays of the sun's warmth. I love the smell of a whole bag of Halloween candy. Each year, it smells exactly the same. I love the whole atmosphere of Halloween night. After all of these years, it still feels magical to me. Every Halloween, I still read Jack Prelutsky's "It's Halloween!" to myself (my mom read it to us when we were young). I look forward to the day I will read it to my children. There was something very comforting about going to sleep on Halloween night listening to the final words of that book:
It's late and we are sleepy,
The air is cold and still.
Our jack-o-lantern grins at us
Upon the window sill.
We're stuffed with cake and candy
And we've had a lot of fun,
But now it's time to go to bed
And dream of all we've done.
We'll dream of ghosts and goblins
And of witches that we've seen,
And we'll dream of trick-or-treating
On this happy Halloween.
I've decided to do a line of macabre images (coming soon), but in line with my shop, I had to add one sweet card. This is the first in a line of hedgehog holiday-themed illustrations.