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Thread: The Magical World of Children’s Book Illustration

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    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    The Magical World of Children’s Book Illustration

    I thought of starting this thread for sometime. I felt that it could be of particular interest to those of our members on the forum, who are either parents or grandparents, as I recently have become the later; therefore I wish to dedicate this thread to my darling grand-daughter, Brooke Elise.

    I am forever collecting pictures from internet sites of all types of artwork, being trained as an artist myself and an illustrator - so this field particularly attracts my attention. I often come across beautiful and magical children’s illustrations. It amazes me what great skill and imagination these (often under appreciated) authors/artists possessed and how ambitious they were. I look forward to the days I can read Brooke many of these wonderful stories filled with such vivid and imaginary imagery.

    When I discover a new child’s illustrator, I love to learn more about them, their life story and how they got their start in the field. Usually, there is a very interesting story behind it as is the case, with the first illustrator I will list here. Indeed they possess a double talent - that of an author and a highly imaginative artist. They have provided our youth with so much delight and joy over many generations that words of graditude fall short of fully appreciating their fine talents. What would the world be like without illustrated children's books to delight the youngest reader?

    I think all of us can appreciate these stories and fantastic images as adults, as well; for they bring back our fondest childhood memories - those of an innocent time, when we were begging our parents, relatives to read us our bedtime stories, filled with colorful pages of delightful animal friends and other whimsical fantasies; these books were the very first examples of ‘literature’ we were introduced to. I know I have a few of my own early books; I still cherish them to this day. Some of the stories I still think about often. We all have some bit of ‘child’ within us, no matter how old we are. That is the part of us that continues to cherish this special world of beautiful fantasy and fairytales.

    I will start with one of the most beloved of all children's illustrators.

    Beatrix Potter






    Quoted From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Helen Beatrix Potter (28 July 1866 – 22 December 1943) was an English author, illustrator, mycologist, and conservationist who was best known for her children's books, which featured animal characters such as Peter Rabbit.

    Born into a privileged household, Potter was educated by governesses, and grew up isolated from other children. She had numerous pets and through holidays in Scotland and the Lake District developed a love of landscape, flora and fauna, all of which she closely observed and painted. As a young woman her parents discouraged intellectual development, but her study and paintings of fungi led her to be widely respected in the field of mycology. In her thirties Potter published the highly successful children's book The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and became secretly engaged to her publisher, Norman Warne, causing a breach with her parents, who disapproved of his social status. Warne died before the wedding could take place.

    Potter eventually published 23 children's books, and having become financially independent of her parents, was able to buy a farm in the Lake District, which she extended with other purchases over time. In her forties she married a local solicitor, William Heelis. She became a sheep breeder and farmer while continuing to write and illustrate children's books. Potter died in 1943, and left almost all of her property to The National Trust in order to preserve the beauty of the Lake District as she had known it, protecting it from developers.

    Potter's books continue to sell well throughout the world, in multiple languages. Her stories have been retold in various formats, including a ballet, films and in animation.

    Beatrix Potter as a child



    For more information and in-depth biography see:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beatrix_Potter

    Benjamin Bunny nibbling lettuce leaf


    From - The Tale of Pig


    The Gentleman Mouse Bows


    The Tale of Two Bad Mice


    Peter and Benjamin see the Cat


    Mr Bunny MarchesPeter and Benjamin Out Of Garden


    Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny Collecting Onions


    Original illustration for cover of The Tale Of Squirrel Nutkin


    End paper Design In Watercolor


    TheLadyMouseCoutsyesstudy1903


    CompleteTalesofBeatrixPotter


    I think these drawings/watercolors are so charming. I will post some of her nature drawings as well. She knew botany and nature well and captured details exquisitely.

    Also, her work is still marketed in the form of children's teasets, figurines, dishware, etc. I will have to find some examples to post.
    Last edited by Janine; 11-04-2008 at 04:50 PM.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    I have no doubt that my own personal love of reading and art began with the various picture books I read as a child. I still remember the Goops:









    And Dr. Seuss... especially Green Eggs and Ham and the Sleep Book:



    http://boe.berk.k12.wv.us/217/dr.htm



    http://littlebundleofjoy-sg.blogspot.com/2008_07_01_archive.html




    http://zero-to-eight.blogspot.com/2008/03/sleep-book.html

    After these came comic books... especially the old Grimm's Ghost Stories:







    http://flickr.com/photos/sensesworkingovertime/263236179/

    And MAD Magazine:







    http://www.stopgeek.com/mad-magazine-issue-001-pdf.html

    In this sense I must credit books with my introduction to art and literature. I have little doubt that illustrated books were the root of my love of "book arts" (medieval and Persian illuminated manuscripts, William Blake, etc...)
    Last edited by stlukesguild; 10-26-2008 at 09:57 PM.
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
    The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.- Mark Twain
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    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    What's the copyright rule on these works? I would like to know if I can post pictures from one of my favorite early-childhood picture books, Where the Wild Things Are.

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    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    What's the copyright rule on these works? I would like to know if I can post pictures from one of my favorite early-childhood picture books, Where the Wild Things Are.
    Wow, some people finally found my new thread; I hope to make up a few more threads, one exploring adult book illustrators.

    stlukesguild, Thanks for your contribution to my new thread. I found the first of your books made me laugh - those funny little round headed bald guys - they look kind of ghost-like; I had never heard of them before, but now know who "The Goops" are. Dr. Suess played prominently in my son's early reading experience. I enjoyed reading them to him; they were so entertaining with such funky drawings. Now my own early books go back a lot further . I probably recall early Golden Books, since those were most likely the ones we had around our house. Many kids did read 'Mad Magazine'. My best friend's brother had them and we would sneak a look and laugh our heads off. They are a little older than what I had in mind, but I think that still works. I was going to put some older adventure illustrations into this thread eventually - like "Treasure Island" and works usually read in late childhood/early adolescense; so 'Mad' is certainly in that category. Thanks for the cool pictures. They made me laugh, too. They brought back memories. I have some great examples of Grime's "Fairytales", to post as well.

    JBI,Glad you found this thread, also. I don't know if we have a strict copyright rule for this thread; I had not exactly thought of that. I, myself, was looking back to the earlier 19th and 20th century illustrators, such as Beatrix Potter. I have a list from that period, that I will eventually enter myself. However, I think that ones from your own childhood would be totally appropriate. I know that my son loved the books of Maurice Sendek (sp?); so "Where The Wild Things Are" would be great! I love those illustrations, too. Did you know there is a children's film based on the artwork and story? I saw it available in my library and wanted to eventually take it out to view. I bet it would be entertaining.:
    Last edited by Janine; 10-26-2008 at 02:59 PM.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    Another of my favorite book illustrators is:

    Arthur Rackham

    Brief biography from Wikipedia:

    He was born in London as one of 12 children. At the age of 18, he worked as a clerk at the Westminster Fire Office and began studying at the Lambeth School of Art. In 1892 he quit his job and started working for The Westminster Budget as a reporter and illustrator. His first book illustrations were published in 1893 in The Dolly Dialogues, the collected sketches of Anthony Hope, who later went on to write The Prisoner of Zenda. Book illustrating then became Rackham's career for the rest of his life.

    In 1903, he married Edyth Starkie, with whom he had one daughter, Barbara, in 1908. Rackham won a gold medal at the Milan International Exhibition in 1906 and another one at the Barcelona International Exposition in 1911. His works were included in numerous exhibitions, including one at the Louvre in Paris in 1914. Arthur Rackham died 1939 of cancer in his home in Limpsfield, Surrey.

    For a more detailed biography go to this link: http://www.answers.com/topic/arthur-rackham - see Britannica Concise Encyclopedia: Arthur Rackham

    Here is some of his most noteworthy work from "Alice in Wonderland" by Lewis Carrol:


























    I will be posting more of Rackham's work - from other children's books. He also illustrated famous Grimm Brother's tales.
    Last edited by Janine; 10-26-2008 at 04:45 PM.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    What's the copyright rule on these works? I would like to know if I can post pictures from one of my favorite early-childhood picture books, Where the Wild Things Are.

    Copyright law as it applies to the works of visual art states that a photographic reproduction of an original work of art cannot be construed as an actual original work of art (and protected under copyright law) as the intention is merely to replicate, as much as possible, the original work of art. In other words, a photograph of the Mona Lisa is not protected under copyright law... while a photograph of yourself standing in the Louvre before the Mona Lisa would be. If the original work of art in question is still protected under copyright law, use of a photographic reproduction of said work may be allowed under "fair use" when discussing the work in a critical manner or reporting upon the work. Such would largely seem to be the intention of the usage at LitNet... however, copyright law is quite unclear as to just what constitutes fair use. Any use in a commercial venture... such as an article or a book for which one was compensated would probably demand that one err on the side of caution. To play it safe I have added the links to the original sources of the works not predating the copyright cut-off.
    Last edited by stlukesguild; 10-26-2008 at 09:58 PM.
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
    The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.- Mark Twain
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    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    stlukesguild, thanks for making that clear. I usually try to post the source of written material but don't always do so with these photos of the illustrations. They are pretty plentiful online and the ones I have posted are past the copyright dates, I believe. Newer works would be hard to locate online unless you find them on Ebay or Amazon, and then they would be a photo of a book cover or some inside reproductions. I think that would be quite safe.

    Here are some more Arthur Rackham pieces:

    These are from "Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens"

















    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Janine... from what I see of Rackham's dates most of his works are already within public domain (pre-1923... 22?). Speaking of Rackham... his work is absolutely marvelous. I think that he has been underrated by surveys of art history because of the fact that he does not fit within the Modernist narrative that imagined the whole of art history as one great evolution. In other words, Rackham's works utilize a traditional vocabulary never offering a great new formal innovation. He is also (gasp!) an illustrator... one who put his artistic skills in the employment of a commercial end rather than in the self-indulgent service of a bohemian rebellion against culture. I imagine that with time these distinctions will become increasingly irrelevant... just as it matters not that Alice in Wonderland was children's literature, Aubrey Beardsley was a commercial artist, and Enrico Morricone was a film-score composer.

    Looking at Rackham's work I can detect the same Japanese influences that were so important to artists such as Degas, Van Gogh, and Beardsley. The calligraphic use of line, the compositions (both their verticality and the contrast between ornate detail and large fields of empty space), and even the subdued colors and use of watercolors and inks as opposed to oil paints suggest an appreciation of Asian art. Other influences that I can discern include Albrecht Dürer (the spiny and almost tortuous linearity... especially in the natural forms... certainly echoes many of Dürer's engravings), and medievalism... which was quite common in Victorian-era art... rooted in William Blake, William Morris, the Pre-Raphaelites, etc... In my own work I am currently toying with ideas of building upon themes such as Alice in Wonderland (as well as The Wizard of Oz, Snow White, etc...). In a way I recognize an affinity between building upon such narratives which are certainly part of our common cultural heritage in a way that is even more true that the myths of Greece and Rome... and the manner in which the great Renaissance masters built upon the religious narratives that were a common language of their culture. I also recognize a certain link between the way I am currently working in a more graphic and linear manner on paper, and what illustrators... nay, "book artists"... like Rackham were doing. Thanks for bringing these to my attention once more. I need to really explore his work in depth again... unfortunately I have but a few scant images by him.
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
    The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.- Mark Twain
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    Registered User book_jones's Avatar
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    Ah, this is a topic right up my alley. I never expected to see any Harvey Kurtzman on here!
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    Hi Janine. I love childrens books and illustrated books too. As a librarian, I used to read a lot of them to classes, nursery schools etc., but I also love art generally, so I always like to look at illustrations. One of my favourite illustrators that comes to mind off the top of my head is Anthony Browne. Some of his work would be too old for your grandchild yet, but he's wonderful. My particular favourite is "Willy's Pictures" which uses his major character, Willy, a chimp, looking at some of the world's most famous paintings, done a-la Browne style. It's wonderful art, but with a lovely tongue-in-cheek humour about it.


    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Willys-Pictu.../dp/0744582407

    http://www.animalpicturesarchive.com...1108826865.jpg

    http://www.animalpicturesarchive.com...1108826913.jpg

    http://www.imaginaria.com.ar/18/0/autores-Museo.jpg

    I also love Raymond Briggs.

    http://www.byretheatre.com/whatson/images/fungus.jpg

    http://askchris.essexcc.gov.uk/Files...ckets/2765.jpg

    http://images.amazon.com/images/P/02...1.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

    http://www.weirdwildrealm.com/filmimages/wind-blows.jpg

    http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/...r_large_34.jpg

    http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/images/h0/h711.jpg


    Both authors/illustrators have a wonderful sense of humour in their work, as well as being extremely good and instantly recognisable illustrators, who I think most of the children I worked with loved. When the Wind Blows is obviously not aimed at young children, as it's about serious issues, i.e. nuclear war, but would be more for teens/adults, and was made into a successful film, as was The Snowman. I hope the links worked.

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    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    So glad to see a few people show up and comment, contribute. Welcome wessexgirl I had not heard of these illustrators; but I know what you mean about the library; I have often run across such beautiful, charming and sometimes humorous/witty illustrations in the children's section of my local library. I once just browsed there for hours to look for interesting artwork. We have one woman, in our small library, who reads to the children on a certain afternoon. I should ask her for suggestions, although I have looked up many from around Rackham's era and downloaded them to my computer , then to Photobucket last night - my art files online and on my HD are bursting at this point!

    I liked "Og" - that one really make me laugh. I was able to see all of the links -thanks so much for taking the time to list them. I had not heard of either of these illustrators. I was hoping to learn more from this thread, since 'illustration' is a passion with me; so post more and I will love to see your examples. If you could can you give a little background on each or some of the illustrators - a few lines would be sufficient - that would be great.

    I started another illustration thread geared more towards adult/mature art. I should have named it a little more catchy a name...think it is just "Literature Illustrated". Today I will make a third one "Illustrated Shakespeare"....maybe embellish that title a bit, too. I realise that some of these artists will cross over into both categories or even all three. I know that Rackham did some beautiful artwork for Shakespeare plays and these are not actually children's illustrations, but adult. I will post some of those to get started today.

    stlukesguild, I had to laugh when I came to one part of your commentary, which as a whole, I very much enjoyed and agree with. Here is the part that made me laugh: "He is also (gasp!) an illustrator" - I laughed because I know all too well about that stigma surrounding the value of commercial artists; I went to school with the complete focus of becoming an illustrator (arh - a commercial artist!) (I never even was interested in entering the field of fine arts or exibiting in galleries) and although my work took on other directions through the years, and I did show in some shows and galleries, it always did border on the two venues and I never feel completely comfortable in either category. This can be problematic at times, but after awhile, I just did not care and did as I pleased; in other words, my work was executed basically to please myself and not the public.

    I also see the distinct influences of Eastern art in Rackhman's linear lines and elegance.

    the spiny and almost tortuous linearity... especially in the natural forms... certainly echoes many of Dürer's engravings), and medievalism... which was quite common in Victorian-era art... rooted in William Blake, William Morris, the Pre-Raphaelites, etc...
    and I see these influences quite readily in his lines and elegance of line. I love Durer. I like the works of all who you mention and am a huge fan of the Pre-Raphaelites, so Rackham fits in nicely with my taste. I listed some of Nielson's work in the other thread I started. His also is very decorative with Eastern influences very evident. If you have not seen them yet check them out. I will be listing others of his work that are in my files.

    ...and what illustrators... nay, "book artists"... like Rackham were doing. Thanks for bringing these to my attention once more. I need to really explore his work in depth again... unfortunately I have but a few scant images by him.
    ..."nay, 'book artists" - I love that! haha...yes, actually some of the best art I have witnessed within books and produced for publication. You know artists such as Durer were the first book artists/illustrators! I used to get the "Society of Illustrator's Yearbook" and marveled at the great skill that these unsung artist's possessed. My friend recently bought a book something on the same line, on a discount shelf and she and I went through the book and found the work stunning - there was a lot of talent behind these beautiful and imaginative works. I would never put down their skill, just because they are commercial artists. I used to scoff at the thought of working for Hallmark and yet, had I gone that route, perhaps today I would be a better and more active artist; do my own thing on the side, and make a ton of money to boot! Look at the Pixar studio and think what fun those guys have dreaming up their new animation. Even Dali went commercial at one time in various venues - I know he designed stage sets and also a dream sequence in a Hitchcock film. Probably most artists have done some type of commerical art without even realising it.

    I have more Rackham's, I can post today. I am glad you are getting more exposure to these and discovering, as I did, how good Rackham's work really is....this is how we learn to be better artists, right? I bought several of the books from Dover recently and think his work is receiving more notice than it did a few years back. The popularity of the children's book illustrators from this time period seems to be on the upswing. I am glad of it and think they are worth reviving.

    Even Beatrix Potter possessed wonderfully imagative innate talent and she is overly appreciated and even marketed/commercialized perhaps; but look how long her work has continued to be so popular among children and adults, alike, and her images were simple, yet imaginative, witty and charming. I recently saw the film "Miss Potter" and thought it was quite good. I like the way she lived secluded and all of this fantasy world sprung from her mind naturally. She was quite an imaginative and skilled artist, of her own right. Her nature pictures are marvelous; she knew botony, fauna, fugi, flowers, etc. well.

    Quote Originally Posted by book_jones View Post
    Ah, this is a topic right up my alley. I never expected to see any Harvey Kurtzman on here!
    Welcome book_jones. Anything more to add to our discussion and art postings?

    I will be back tonight with more pictures....
    Last edited by Janine; 10-27-2008 at 09:00 PM.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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    rat in a strange garret Whifflingpin's Avatar
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    One of my favourites is Edward Ardizzone
    http://www.edwardardizzone.org.uk/
    Voices mysterious far and near,
    Sound of the wind and sound of the sea,
    Are calling and whispering in my ear,
    Whifflingpin! Why stayest thou here?

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    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Whifflingpin View Post
    One of my favourites is Edward Ardizzone
    http://www.edwardardizzone.org.uk/
    Whifflingpin,Thanks for posting the link. I had to search to find his children's illustrations on this site, but then saw several a few pages in. He seemed to draw simply, but with childlike charm - appealing little drawings. Thanks for contributing. You might want to drop in the adult illustrator thread, too. He seems to have some adult material asside from just children books.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    I loved the story of the Ugly Duckling and Harry Clarke has become my favorite illustrator so I came across this work of his from the Ugly Duckling and thought I would throw it up here.


    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Janine... I think it was probably the book artists who first opened me up to the potential of art beyond that of Western "realism" and oil on canvas. I loved medieval books from the moment I first came upon them. Celtic/Anglo-Saxon books, books of Islamic Spain, Persian miniatures, French medieval books, early printed books, Dürer, William Blake, William Morris, Rackham, Dore, Daumier... even Picasso, Matisse, and Bonnard produced marvelous books that cannot be reduced to "mere" illustrations. They are works "book arts"... the book as a visual art form.

    Dark Muse... I love Harry Clark:

















    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
    The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.- Mark Twain
    My Blog: Of Delicious Recoil
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