Die Schone Mullerin

I have just completed the third book of illustrations based on Schubert song cycles. Winterreise was the first Schubert book I created, followed recently by Schwanengesang. This third book reflect Schuberts first song cycle Die Schone Mullerin based on the poems by Wilhelm Muller.

Below are a few of my paintings, accompanied by excerpts of the text, translated by Celia Sgroi. You can also read more about my process in creating the paintings for all three books here.

David Armitage The Beautiful Miller’s Daughter Die Schone Mullerin

Wandering is the miller’s joy,
Wandering!
A man isn’t much of a miller,
If he doesn’t think of wandering,
Wandering!

1. Wandering
David Armitage The Beautiful Miller’s Daughter Die Schone Mullerin

Did she send you to me?
Or have you enchanted me?
I’d like to know,
Did she send you to me?

4. Gratitude to the Brook
David Armitage The Beautiful Miller’s Daughter Die Schone Mullerin

Now shake off the veil of dreams
And lift yourselves fresh and free
In God’s bright morning!
The lark circles in the sky
And sings from the depths of its heart
The sorrows and cares of love.

8. Morning Greeting
David Armitage The Beautiful Miller’s Daughter Die Schone Mullerin

What is the hunter doing at the mill stream?
Bold hunter, stay in your forest preserve!
There’s no game here for you to hunt,
There’s only a doe here, a tame one, for me,
And if you want to see the dainty doe,
Leave your rifle behind in the woods,
And leave your barking dogs at home,

14. The Hunter
David Armitage The Beautiful Miller’s Daughter Die Schone Mullerin

Oh green, you hateful color, you,
Why do you keep staring,
So mocking, so proud, so pleased by my pain,
At me, a poor pale man?

17. The Hateful Colour
David Armitage The Beautiful Miller’s Daughter Die Schone Mullerin

And when love frees
Itself from pain,
A little star, a new one,
Twinkles in the sky;
And three roses spring,
Half red and half white,
That never wither,
From the thorny stem.
And the angels cut off
Their wings
And every morning
Go down to earth.

19. The Miller and The Brook

Die Schone Mullerin will be available soon and will join Winterreise and Schwanengesang on my online shop, where you can also purchase original paintings and prints.

If you are interested in a particular work, please contact me.

Below is a short excerpt of Schubert’s Die Schone Mullerin, performed by Thomas Quasthoff at the Verbier Festival in 2009

Puppets Series

These works represent a lifelong fascination with the powerful imagery of puppetry in all it’s manifestations. It started when I began working in the theatre at the ripe old age of 22.  The puppet shows were, and still are, an international creation,  wonderfully rich and varied throughout its long history. Another world.

Puppets from Giordano Ferrari in Parma, Italy

Puppets can at once be joyful, humorous, dramatic, dark, and even sinister. From shadow puppets to marionettes and a huge variety of other forms, puppets and puppetry dates back thousands of years and across many different countries and cultures.

They also have a place in art history, with puppets created by artists such as Paul Klee and Kurt Schmidt.

Puppets by Paul Klee and Sasha Morgenthaler
Puppet by Bauhaus artist Kurt Schmidt

In these strange times, restricted, quarantined, we are trapped, full of life and yet unable to move freely. There is also an air of surrealism, not only in the context of this pandemic, but in politics and society as a whole.

Below are some of my recent works, completed during isolation, but they are part of an ongoing body of work featuring puppets and masks, and sharing some commonalities with other bodies of work such as my Victims series and Shrines series.

Shadow Puppet, Acrylic and dye on canvas, 100 x 75 cm, David Armitage, 2020
Wayang klitik image of Batara Guru
Warrior Rod Puppet, Acrylic and dye on canvas, 120 x 75 cm, David Armitage, 2020
Hanuman, rod puppet (wayang golek), West Java, Indonesia, early to mid 1900s, wood, cloth – Fowler Museum – University of California, Los Angeles
Bride, Acrylic and dye on canvas, 100 x 75 cm, David Armitage, 2020
Puppet Theatre with Child, Acrylic and dye on canvas, 100 x 75 cm, David Armitage, 2020
Victim, Acrylic and dye on canvas, 100 x 75 cm, David Armitage, 2020
Child with House, Acrylic and dye on canvas, 100 x 75 cm, David Armitage, 2020
Cat with Hat, Acrylic and dye on canvas, 100 x 75 cm, David Armitage, 2020
Falstaff, Acrylic and dye on canvas, 100 x 75 cm, David Armitage, 2020

Schwanengesang – Swan Song

A new collection of illustrations painted in response to Schubert’s Schwanengesang.

Front cover of the book

Schubert’s final collection of songs is not a continuous narrative, but there is a theme running through the poems and the music, which is of a deep yearning and melancholy. Yet there is a great beauty too, which can be of great comfort.

The poem Pigeon Post by Johann Gabriel Seidl is somewhat pertinent in these times of isolation and separation:

I send it many thousand times

daily away with messages,

past many dear places

until it reaches my sweetheart’s house.

In at the window there it furtively looks,

observes her face and her step,

cheerfully gives my greetings

and brings hers back.

And from Ludwig Rellstab’s Longing in Springtime a reflection of eerie melancholy in the midst of the hope of springtime.

Glancing gold of the sun that greets me,

you bring the bliss of hope.

How your greeting soothes me!

It smiles gently in the deep blue sky,

and fills my eyes with tears – but why?

The paintings have been compiled into a book, along with the poems, translated into English by William Mann, and is available to purchase from my SHOP.

The original paintings, and giclee reproductions are also available, contact me for prices and details.

You can view more of these illustrations, along with a compendium of information about Schwanengesang on this fantastic website: https://schwanengesang.online/

https://schwanengesang.online/art/

Uncertain Times

Firstly I hope all of my followers are safe and well at this difficult time and I wish you all the best.

It is looking likely that my next exhibition, due to hang at the end of May will be postponed. I hope to have more definite information soon, and will keep you updated. In the meantime, here are a few paintings which I hope will be in the exhibition WHEN it happens!

Also I have a new item in my shop – my latest book Swanengesang. More on that later. Please do keep following my blog and instagram, where I shall try to give you beautiful things to look at. Art can be a great comfort and fulfillment for the soul as well as keeping the brain active, so I shall try to do my part the best way I can.

Gethsemane, Dye and acrylic on canvas, 160 x 140 cm
Transfigured Night, Dye and acrylic on canvas, 162 x 140 cm
Refugee, Mixed media on canvas, 100 x 75 cm
Illustration from Winterreise, Mixed media on paper, 36 x 55 cm
Pigeon Post, Illustration from Schwanengesang, Mixed media on paper, 27 x 76 cm
Still Life with Ginger Plant, Mixed media on canvas, 100 x 76 cm
Archipelago, Mixed media on paper, 38 x 28 cm

Winterreise – A Winter’s Journey

A winter – themed post on this frosty morning. Excerpts from my book of illustrations inspired by the Schubert song cycle.

In 2016 I was inspired to create these illustrations by the wonderful imagery contained in Winterreise. This timeless song cycle for voice and piano, composed by Franz Schubert, was published in 1828. It consists of a setting of 24 poems by Wilhelm Muller. I produced a set of illustrations which are presented alongside Muller’s words, translated into English by Celia Sgroi. The resulting book can be purchased direct from myself. The original illustrations and giclee prints are also available. Email me for further details.

The illustrations are now also available to view on https://winterreise.online/. The site is the work of the wonderful Iain C Phillips, and is an amazing resource for all things Winterreise, including discography, texts and papers, along with other illustrations and artworks.

Below are some of the illustrations from my book, along with excerpts from the poems.

I cannot choose the time

To begin my journey,

Must find my own way

In this darkness.

Frozen drops are falling

Down from my cheeks.

How could I not have noticed

That I have been weeping?

In a charcoal-burner’s tiny house

I have found shelter;

But my limbs won’t relax,

Their hurts burn so much.

You, too, my heart, in strife and storm

So wild and so bold,

Feel first in the silence your serpent

Stir with burning sting!

So I travelled my road

Onward with sluggish feet,

Through bright, happy life,

Lonely and unrecognised.

A light does a friendly dance before me,

I follow it here and there;

I like to follow it and watch

The way it lures the wanderer.

Ah, a man as wretched as I am

Is glad to fall for the merry trick

That, beyond ice and night and fear,

Shows him a bright, warm house.

And a loving soul within –

Only illusion lets me win!

My way has led me

to a graveyard;

Here I’ll stop,

I told myself.

You green and mourning garlands

must be the sign

That invites weary travellers

into the cool inn.


Song: Schubert: The Winterreise D911: I good night
Artist: Christoph Prégardien & Andreas Staier
Licensed to YouTube by WMG (on behalf of Teldec Classics International)

The book was first published in 2016 by LKL Publishing and is available direct from the author.

Illustrations © 2016 David Armitage

ISBN 978-1-5262-0322-9.

Translation courtesy of Celia Sgroi © 2005


I have also illustrated many successful childrens books, such as the Lighthouse Keeper series and Queen of the Night. See Illustration in the header menu.

Individual original abstract paintings have also been inspired by particular pieces of music. You can see more of these in the Music Box category, under My Artworks.