When Carrie Stout was a child, her mother would read to her from George MacDonald’s books. Two of her favorites were “The Princess and the Goblin” and “The Princess and Curdie.”
Now, Stout is getting to illustrate some reissued editions of MacDonald’s books.
“I post quotes on social media,” Stout said, “and I like to quote George MacDonald or other favorite authors. A gentleman named David Jack was doing translations of George MacDonald’s Scottish novels, and he found the quotes on my page. So he asked if I’d be interested in illustrating them. I was really excited. It’s kind of a project of my dreams a little bit.”
Jack, a senior Scots linguist from Perth, Scotland, grew up about 50 miles from Huntly, a town in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, which was the hometown of MacDonald, who died in 1905. Jack is leading an effort to update some of MacDonald’s novels that contained dialogue in a Scottish brogue, which is often difficult to read. In the new versions of MacDonald’s work, the original dialogue appears in one column, with an English translation in an adjacent column, Stout said, “so you can see them side by side.”
Stout, who graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in drawing and painting, creates an oil painting that is used as a cover for the books, and does several illustrations throughout the text as well. Many of the original paintings and illustrations are on display downtown at Cultivate 7Twelve, at 712 Austin Avenue. More of Stout’s work can also be seen at worksofmacdonald.com.
In addition to illustrating MacDonald’s books, Stout also does oil paintings of cloudscapes, one of her favorite subjects.
“Artistically, it’s appealing, because clouds can be really formed and defined, but then they can also sort of scatter at the same time,” she said. “At one moment, it’s sort of hazy, and the next moment, it’s real crisp.”
And Stout has an advantage to painting clouds that most artists don’t. Her husband, Philip, is a pilot for American Airlines, and he sends her photos he takes from his vantage point, which is often above the clouds.
“He gets images of them from really, really high up,” she said. “I love that it almost seems like it’s its own new perspective on the world. No matter what’s going on anywhere else, it’s just always pretty up there. And the more tumultuous the storm, the more beautiful it becomes above. I just feel like that speaks sort of this deeper truth about life and about what we perceive as suffering or hard times actually can be very beautiful. In the storm, there’s this beautiful thing happening that you can’t see. If you just had a change of perspective and you could see really what was going on, there’s even maybe joy in it.”
No Kids Allowed
Stout and her husband have four children. Their son, Parker, is 7, and he has three younger sisters: 4-year-old Penny and 3-year-old twins Emma and Ellie. They are all home-schooled students. Stout has learned the hard way not to leave her professional art supplies out, even for a second. “I paint whenever there are the fewest amount of children around,” she said. “I’ve had incidents with them getting into my stuff and destroying things that I was working on. So I keep it all locked away during the day. Once they’re all asleep, I wheel out my easel and paint in a corner.”