Friday, March 4, 2011

Enduring and Endearing

The two most enduring and endearing genres of illustration, kid's book art and fantasy art, go together like pb & j. Some of the best of children's books utilize fantasy to the point that both kids and adults can enjoy the same books together. Among a plethora of such books, is The Voyage of the Basset, illustrated by James C. Christensen.

As she was growing up, my daughter and I read this book, one of her favorites, together a number of times—each of us taking turns reading with funny voices for the characters, and lingering over each illustration with loving attention, pointing out details to each other.

James C. Christensen — "Believing is Seeing"
Frontispiece from The Voyage of the Basset
©1996 by The Greenwich Workshop, Inc.

Here's what one of my favorite fellow bloggers, Annie, had to say:

There are so many fine artists illustrating children's books today, that I encourage all artists to explore the medium, by visiting a large library collection, where children’s picture books have been selected based on favorable reviews.

Some illustrators are writing the books; and others are in collaboration with their long time friends or spouses, or they have been selected and hired through author and publisher recommendations.

Styles range from watercolor and pastel, with the quality of professional portraits- far from static, expressing movement, scene, setting, characterization, and emotion- to pure graphic design, or an almost cartoon-like quality. These are the illustrated stories written for pre-school through about third or fourth grade. Graphic novels are another medium to explore.

There are so many artists, in a myriad of styles, these are just a handful, in no particular order: Jan Brett, James Ransome, David Diaz, Trina Schart Hyman, Janet Stevens, Allen Say, Jerry Pinkney, Rachel Isadora, Marilee Heyer, Steven Kellogg, Audrey Wood, Marianna Mayer, Chris Van Allsburg, David Weisner, Denise Fleming, Kinuko Y. Craft, and Robert D. San Souci. Michael Hague and Tony DiTerlizzi credit Arthur Rackham as a direct influence.

Over the next few posts I will be showing random individual illustrations from contemporary children's books (from the last 20 years or so) that might be inspirational.

1 comment:

Annie said...

Hi Thom,
Thank you. I didn't expect you to feature my comment, but I appreciate it. I love children's picture books and children's book illustrators. My library system doesn't have The Voyage of the Basset, but I've just put a hold on Men and Angels: The Art of James C. Christensen, and I'm looking forward to seeing it later in the week.