In my subjective experience, the most popular fairy tales to be illustrated (or at least the most popular collected illustrations) are Snow White, The Little Mermaid, and Little Red Riding Hood. And Little Red Riding Hood towers above the other two for sheer volume. Every artist that ever posted a drawing on deviantART has tried his or her hand on LRRH.*
|artist unknown, please e-mail|
And no wonder. The vampire-werewolf-insertsupernaturalhotbeinghere craze is well beyond infancy and striding confidently into hot-blooded adulthood.
But, artistically speaking, I think there is another reason why Red Riding Hood is such a popular subject for artists. And this is something I've also noticed from my pinning.
The striking color red, and it's common-sense counterpart white, is intrinsically woven into the soul of the story. And I'm not talking about the theory of LRRH as a cautionary tale to girls on the threshold of menstruation to beware of wolfish men. I mean, very literally, the red hood, the black wolf and woods, and, never mentioned, but astonishingly uniform in artistic depictions, the white of the snow.
|Austere, copyright konako|
This is suspiciously like one of the other popular-among-artists fairy tales I mentioned, Snow White. I don't think it's coincidence, even if it's not conscious on the part of the artist, that when painting the colors on LRRH, they pick them up from Snow White's color palette.
At the very least, it shows how powerful colors are; how one color strategically placed in a tale can color its whole flavor.
|copyright papernoodle of Etsy|
What do you think? Why are the colors red, white, and black so universal and striking? Is it something basic in our nature, like an evolved fancy? Or is it symbol-recognition? Or even just human beings reacting to things that look pretty?
Can you think of any other fairy tales in which a color or colors play a significant or intrinsic role in the story?
* It's also super popular for crafts, more so than any other fairy tale I've seen so far: hoods, dolls, necklaces, puppets, folksy wood paintings . . . I don't think it's insignificant that the colors lend themselves well to traditional-type crafts.