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Excalibur and the Lady of the Lake, An English Fairy Tale

As a children's book illustrator, Denise has many things to say about the process, her struggles, and children's books on the market today.

Excalibur and the Lady of the Lake, An English Fairy Tale

Excalibur and the Lady of the Lake, An English Fairy Tale

My Children’s Alphabet Book

If you have followed my Fairy Tale Alphabet book series, you know I created a children’s book using fairy tales for each letter of the alphabet. I tried to keep them global, and not concentrate on only the classic Grimm’s fairy tales. This one is an English fairy tale. I know that I have fudged on the letter X but believe me I looked high and low and couldn’t find a proper fairy tale starting with the letter X. I hope you can forgive me and enjoy it as much as I did.

The most beautiful things in the world must be felt with the heart.

— Antoine de Saint-Exupery

It always helps to gather photo references in one place

It always helps to gather photo references in one place

Excalibur and the Lady of the Lake, An English Fairy Tale

The Lady of the Lake is an English magical creature who lives in the water and is the keeper of the legendary sword of King Arthur, called Excalibur. There have been many stories written over the years about the sword and its guardian. She is depicted as beautiful and enchanting. Some stories claim that she can lure a man to his death in the water if he should try to steal the sword. Other stories say she will only make herself known to the rightful heir to the throne of England. She rose from the water to present the great sword to Arthur when he needed it most. With Excalibur, Arthur became one of the most renowned and fair-minded kings in the Middle Ages. It is said that when King Arthur died, the Lady of the Lake transported him to the island of Avalon. She took the sword Excalibur back to safekeeping at the bottom of the lake and will bring it again when it is needed most. No one knows how long that will be.

Thumbnail Sketch

Thumbnail Sketch

Collage Illustrations

I used several photo references of girls and castle ruins and undersea formations for this illustration. This collage was one of the last I worked on before publishing my book. I hope you enjoy seeing my progress on the collage.

Value Sketch

Value Sketch

The most important thing is this: to be ready at any moment to sacrifice what you are for what you could become.

— Charles Dickens

Published with Lulu

This fairy tale has been shortened to fit into my book along with all the other letters of the alphabet. If you would like to read the full version, you can Google the title and find the story as The Lady of the Lake or Excalibur.

My book, The FairyTale Alphabet Book, Fairy Tales and Folk Tales from Around the World, was self-published last year with Lulu.com because Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing) refused to allow illustrations that spanned the central gutter of the page. They demanded at least a half-inch margin around the outside, which I could have done, and a half-inch margin through the center margin, which would destroy the look and cohesiveness of the double-page illustrations. I had to find a different publisher who would allow the illustrations the way I wanted them. KDP obviously does not understand illustrated children’s picture books. If you are interested in purchasing the book, go to the Lulu website and put my name or the name of the book in the search.

Did You Notice

In my collages, I use paper from magazines, old wall calendars, catalogs, and circulars. Often I will add things into a collage you can't see unless you are looking for it.

The background water and sky is a gradient layer I made in Photoshop. A chunky collage in the background would take away from the main focal point, which is the girl and the sword.

Color Composition

Color Composition

You’re entirely bonkers, but I’ll tell you a secret, all the best people are.

— Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Final Thoughts

I know that most stories have the Lady of the Lake as a beautiful fairy woman, but this is a children’s book so I made my Lady of the Lake a little girl, although beautiful. I hope no one minds too much.

I hope you like my story and my fairy tale alphabet book idea. If you are interested you can purchase it on Lulu but not on Amazon. I’d love to read your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

Comments

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 29, 2020:

Peggy Woods,

I thought I would get all sorts of backlash about having a little girl for the "lady of the lake" but no one has seemed to mind so far. It is a story for children after all. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 28, 2020:

I can well imagine that a fairy tale with "X" as a title was hard to find. You did a great and imaginative job with this one. Your artwork, as always, is delightful.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on May 25, 2020:

Denise

That might be an idea for me to follow up on.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 25, 2020:

MG Singh,

I grew up with these stories too. I love them really. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 25, 2020:

Lawrence Hebb,

That's fascinating. Are you going to write a hub on it? It would be well received! Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

MG Singh emge from Singapore on May 24, 2020:

Denise, I grew up on the tales of King Arthur and his Round table.The love of Lancelot for the Queen and also the sword. Great memories brought back by your story. Thank you.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on May 24, 2020:

Denise

This was a great treatment of a very famous English piece of folklore.

I always love the stories of Arthur and especially his great Sword Excalibur!

One thing I've been checking out recently is some of the legends of Arthur and it turns out that Archaeology is showing that many of them might have some truth behind them, and there might actually have been a real person on whom the legends are based.

One that came to light recently is Arthur's Camelot often thought to be the Cornish settlement of Tintagel, the latest research shows that even in the dark ages Tintagel was trading as far afield as the Eastern Mediterranean! Just the kind of wealth that Camelot would have had.

Great hub with a great legend here.

Blessings

Lawrence

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on April 27, 2020:

William Kovacic,

We are nearing the end soon and I'm already working on the next book filled with more fairy tales A through Z. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on April 27, 2020:

Ivana Divac,

That's nice of you to say. I try but I never think my writing is all that. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on April 26, 2020:

X means we're getting close to the end. I'm sure Y and Z will be as wonderful as A-X. Thank you for sharing your work, Denise.

Ivana Divac from Serbia on April 25, 2020:

The stories about King Arthur are one of my favorites, so your article made my day better and put a smile on my face. Your way with words is as perfect as always. Thank you for sharing!

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on April 25, 2020:

Nithya Venkat,

I'm so glad you think that children will like my book. I so want them to. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on April 23, 2020:

Great illustrations and a lovely story, I enjoyed reading. As you say I could not make out that you had used paper from magazines, old wall calendars, etc. Children will love your book.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on April 23, 2020:

MG Singh,

I'm happy that you like my interpretation. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on April 22, 2020:

Liz Westwood,

Yes, X was a problem. I'm so glad you think this is acceptable. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on April 22, 2020:

Marie Flint,

I'm sorry to hear about your myopia and astigmatism (which I also have but have fairly corrected with contact lenses). Yes, this is from the first book which I had finished before you wrote the story for me. I can hardly wait to get working on it. I'm doing the collages for B and C now for the new book. However, nothing says I can't jump ahead and work on X as well. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on April 22, 2020:

Linda Crampton,

I'm glad you said so. I worried about it. But I thought she was cute enough to get away with it. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Liz Westwood from UK on April 22, 2020:

King Arthur is a source of great interest in the UK. Your illustration does this tale justice. I was wondering how you were going to cover X. I think this is perfectly acceptable.

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on April 22, 2020:

I guess you must have started this before I had written the African-American folktale for you for this letter.

I too love the little girl. She adds a sweet innocence to the story.

I never notice the little words or extras you put into the illustrations because of my myopia and astigmatism, which is slowly getting better--it's a long haul, though.

Have a nice day! I always love these little stories and your work.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on April 22, 2020:

I like your interpretation of both these tales. King Arthur and the sword Excalibur is one of my favourites.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on April 21, 2020:

I like your idea of making the Lady of the Lake a little girl. I think the change would appeal to many children. The tales that are linked to King Arthur are very interesting.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on April 21, 2020:

Devika Primić,

I'm very happy that you like my idea of the Lady of the Lake. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on April 21, 2020:

RoadMonkey,

Yes, I heard that as well. It is either sunken or completely mythical, to begin with. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on April 21, 2020:

Linda Lum,

I'm glad you like it. I didn't think this one had any more detail than any of the others but maybe all the color on the page makes a difference. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on April 21, 2020:

Bill Holland,

You are too kind. A lot of boys loved the King Arthur stories, to be sure. Thanks for commenting, as always.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on April 21, 2020:

Lorna Lamon,

I have always loved the Arthurian stories as well. My favorite is Robin Hood but I love them all. I'm glad this worked for you. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on April 21, 2020:

Umesh Chandra Bhatt,

I'm very glad you think so. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on April 21, 2020:

Eric Dierker,

I'm so glad you approve. I was a little worried people would be disappointed with me making such a change. They are so used to the paintings of her being some sexy lady rising from the lake that a little girl might offend people. But I think it worked for me. I'm pretty tired of these stories being eroticized. Aren't you? Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 21, 2020:

i enjoyed the read such a great idea ''Lady of the Lake a little girl'' This is fascinating and enjoyable.

RoadMonkey on April 21, 2020:

The King Arthur stories are all good adventure tales. I think Avalon is currently supposed to be beneath the waves somewhere but not sure of that.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on April 21, 2020:

Denise your decision to make the lady of the lake a sweet little girl was perfect. She is adorable. Of all your illustrations I think this is one of my favorites. There is so much detail. Blessings to you.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 21, 2020:

One of my favorite tales, accompanied by your beautiful artwork. That's a win-win for sure.

Blessings always

Lorna Lamon on April 21, 2020:

I love the background in this beautiful tale Denise - so realistic. I have always enjoyed the tales of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The Lady of the Lake is beautifully retold in this wonderful piece of artwork. In awe Denise, as usual.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on April 20, 2020:

Interesting one. Well presented.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 20, 2020:

The little girl worked so well the deviation did not even strike me. Your art fit the mystical nature.

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