I remember the illustrations of John Bauer from my childhood. Mostly his troll illustrations that would at the same time amaze and scare me. His work is still both tantalizingly beautiful and mystically unsettling. It leaves you to wonder what is hiding in the darkness, that seems so deep and threatening to the fragile little girl sitting there by the pond. Below are some examples that I find really inspiring. Really really lovely stuff!
It is hard to believe why, but till his death which sadly happened by disaster at sea, he was suffering from self doubt and depression. And I think oftentimes the mood of his work is somewhat melancholic and that is another feature I love about art in general. His characters all seem to be longing for something or someone. Maybe that is why his illustrations have this haunting effect on me.