The Rat King by Lynnette Shelley

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This whimsical take on the Rat King folklore was created with ink, oil pastels, colored pencils and 18K gold (for the crown) on Arches Hot Press 140-lb watercolor board. 16 × 20 inches.

Thus sayeth Wikipedia:
“Rat kings are phenomena said to arise when a number of rats become intertwined at their tails, which become stuck together with blood, dirt, ice, excrement or simply knotted. The animals reputedly grow together while joined at the tails. The numbers of rats that are joined together can vary, but naturally rat kings formed from a larger number of rats are rarer. The phenomenon is particularly associated with Germany, where the majority of instances have been reported. Historically, there are various superstitions surrounding rat kings, and they were often seen as an extremely bad omen, particularly associated with plagues.”

This is actually my second attempt on the subject matter. My earlier attempt, which I stopped work upon, was acrylic and oil pastels on wood panel, but I got frustrated with it and created this piece instead. I think I may return to the wood panel version and finish it as it had a slightly darker vibe to it, while this one I feel is more whimsical.

Having a great love animals, fairytales, and world mythology, Pennsylvania artist Lynnette Shelley fuses these influences into her strikingly unique illustrations. Her artwork strikes a primal chord in many viewers, with almost Jungian associations to the colors and shapes. Her artworks have been likened to images from an undiscovered ancient civilization or culture.

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  • Ellen Keagy
    Ellen Keagyalmost 4 years ago

    Very intriguing Lynette! interesting design too!

  • Bunny Clarke
    Bunny Clarkealmost 4 years ago

    I love this image as much as I loved the stories. Great work.

  • Patricia Anne McCarty-Tamayo
    Patricia Anne ...almost 4 years ago


  • Rhinovangogh
    Rhinovangoghalmost 4 years ago

    Holey moley!!!! This is awesome! You keep out doing yourself!!!!!

  • Marriet
    Marrietalmost 4 years ago

    Really like your work Lynnette,
    but, sheesh, I can’t stand rats!!

  • Azellah
    Azellahalmost 4 years ago

    Well done!!!

  • Deborah Lazarus
    Deborah Lazarusalmost 4 years ago

    Awesome work!!!

  • loubie
    loubiealmost 4 years ago

    Excellent and original piece:-)

  • KazM
    KazMalmost 4 years ago

  • michellerena
    michellerenaalmost 4 years ago

    Fantastic work

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