Monday, December 31, 2012

Quentin Blake

When you think of Roald Dahl, what images come to mind? The loose, sketchy watercolors of Quentin Blake of course. And I am pleased that not only is he still alive and doing artwork, but he will be receiving a knighthood by the Queen this year.
He has also devoted his art and time to many charities including murals in UK hospitals and an international organization called Survival International (supporting indigenous rights). Clearly a guy who is not only talented but a humanitarian as well.

And to top it off, you can buy Quentin Blake fabric/wallpaper. Quentin is a one man

Always good to see long term illustrators get the recognition they deserve.  And a good news story to start out 2013!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Books and Christmas

My family has been under the weather this week, so I'm doing more caretaking and movie watching than drawing or blog posting. However, once I got back on the web, I noticed two interesting articles that put an emphasis on books during the Christmas season.
One is from My Little Bookcase, a blog by an Aussie mom. It features a book-a-day advent calendar. That sounds like a great idea for next year!

The other is a fascinating NPR article about Icelanders and their relationship to books. It turns out that the Icelandic people are big on books---actual books not e-books (as of yet). And they only recently started getting into paperbacks. This time of year is especially important, since most of their Christmas gifts are books. They even have a word for it: Jolabokaflod or Christmas book flood. Imagine if the U.S. had this tradition.

Intrigued by these people,  I'm determined to read at least one book by an Icelandic author (children's books included) this year.  Any suggestions?

Happy New Year! (Or Gleðilegt nýtt ár!)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Vintage illustration

One of my side passions about kids books is vintage illustration. I've always had a nostalgic fondness for them, but only recently has it turned into a growing hobby.
Today while thrift store rummaging I found a copy of The Joke Book by Oscar Weigle and illustrated by Bill and Bonnie Rutherford. I'm really enjoying the bold craziness of some of these 1950-70's kids books. There's all sorts of silkscreen-like and ink action going on in this one. Here's the cover:

 I was disappointed however, when I tried to find out more about the Rutherfords. I noticed that they had several books to their credit (including Little Black Sambo and The Gingerbread Man) but no biographical information anywhere. This seems a little strange to me. There are other vintage artists out there for which biographical information is readily available. Alice and Martin Provensen, Eloise Wilkin, Richard Scarry, Gustaf Tenggren (Poky Little Puppy), Tibor Gergely (The Little Red Caboose) etc. But no biographical information for the Rutherfords at all.

It makes me wonder what happens to illustrators when no one remembers them? Who is keeping track of all these wonderful vintage artists?

If anyone has more information on the Rutherfords, please let me know!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tomie de Paola SCBWI Award

Technorati claim token: HV8F8S3RAX2P

Well I finished it, for better or worse. It's out there, my Little Women illustration for the annual Tomie de Paola SCBWI contest. In an earlier posting I mentioned that I chose the scene when Beth receives a piano from Mr. Laurence. Funny how once you choose a scene it does come together (with the help of my art buddies Lin Norman-Lyman and Brook Gideon). There were challenges, particularly in keeping the values distinct (it was supposed to be in black and white). But then again, that is usually my weak point anyway. So, no matter the outcome I enjoyed the process and it was good to dive into the world of grayscale.
It was interesting to see other illustrators artwork at Diandra Mae's gallery site. (My illustration isn't up yet, but I'm hoping to see it there sometime this week.)
I find it endlessly amazing at how people can take the same topic and render it completely different, even with the same the black and white parameters. Lots of great art out there!
I'm including in this post a few intermediate sketches that show how the piece evolved from thumbnail to finished art.
Early layout idea
Character studies
Finished sketch without digital treatment
Final piece

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pigs in bad sweaters

Thinking about pigs- in kids books that is. I was prompted to think about pigs when a blog posting brought them to my attention. Pen and Oink is having a contest: just name your favorite pig character and you could win a copy of Maurice Sendak's Bumble-Ardy. I hadn't given it too much thought, but when you think about it, pigs are everywhere in kids books.

In my brain library, I thought of Pig Will and Pig Won't (Richard Scarry), Wilbur of Charlotte's Web (EB White/Garth Williams), Babe: The Gallant Pig (Dick King Smith/Mary Rayner), Poppleton (Cynthia Rylant/Mark Teague), Toot and Puddle (Holly Hobbie), and Wibbly Pig (Mike Inkpen). Then there's the more recent, Olivia (Ian Falconer) and Piggie books (Mo Willems). But one of my favorite's is Benny (Barbro Lindgren & illustrator Olof Landstrom). In Benny's Had Enough the pig's expressions are priceless and the little stuffie he carries around is beyond repair. This is the second time (at least) that I've gone crazy over a Swedish character. The first was Boodil from Boodil My Dog. Which makes me realize that I'll need to devote an entire post to Swedish authors/illustrators someday soon.

One of my daughters says there's also a new (to U.S.) show on Nick Jr. featuring a pig family: Peppa Pig. Very much in the vein of Maisy by Lucy Cousins (also a UK import).

Then there's my own strange pig doodles
that always seem to wind up in bad sweaters:

Pigs are a great resource for showing emotion. Some animals seem to be easier to anthropomorphize (say that fast 10x) than others. Try putting a cute face on a naked mole rat and you'll see what I mean.

Oh, wait.... someone did. Hah!