My regular reader is well aware of something the occasional visitor may not have noticed: I often buy books at secondhand stores just for the pictures, which is why I picked up The Slave Who Freed Haiti: The Story of Toussaint Louverture. Apparently Adolf Dehn wasn’t known as a children’s book illustrator and The Slave Who Freed Haiti seems to be the only one he produced.
Dust jacket illustration by Adolf Dehn
According to an article by Richard W. Cox, “At the peak of his career, Minnesota-born artist Adolf Dehn was called the American George Grosz for his satirical drawings and “the Debussy of the lithograph” for his brilliant, semi-abstract landscapes. His satires of European cafe society and his technically intricate landscapes of Bavaria, Haiti, India and other faraway lands brought him international acclaim in the 1920s and later.”
I recently found a 1961 printing of The True Book of Time, written by Feenie Ziner and Elizabeth Thompson, illustrated by Katherine Evans. I’ve been unable to find out anything online about Katherine other than a brief bio at the Washington Island Art and Nature Center:
Katherine Floyd Evans, born in Sedalia, MO in 1899, was multi-talented, fearless yet ladylike, whimsical, and a keenly intelligent artist who came to the Island with her family for the summers in the early 1900s.
She studied in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, in the Art Colony in Provincetown, and at the Chicago Art Institute.
She was always an artist . . . drawing, painting, sculpting . . . but when her husband died she made a living for herself and her two children as a children’s book writer and illustrator. Traveling the world for up close and personal views of Mexicans, Ethiopians, Parisians, West Africans, and others, she illustrated more than 75 books for children and used many of those experiences to inspire her paintings and her life.
Katherine Evans is probably best known for her illustrations for The Littlest Angel, a book I had as a small child. I remember not liking the story but loving the pictures. Here are a few from The True Book of Time:
The True Book of Time, illustrated by Katherine Evans
LibraryThing.com seems to have a complete list of books illustrated by Katherine Evans, most of which are out of print.
Recently a friend introduced me to the work of mixed media collage artist Susan Farrington. The wonderful sense of whimsy and the unfettered, folky quality of her work, while interesting, failed to inspire me. I’m not a particularly whimsical person. Had I begun rummaging the junk drawer for raw materials, I would only have ended up spending an hour sorting junk.
Robot Valentines by Susan Farrington
Her site did pique my interest and, hoping for inspiration more in line with my limited skills, I began a search for other collage artists. I found the lovely work of Catrin Welz-Stein: lovely and digital.
Digital I can do.
Memories 2 by Catrin Welz-Stein
Even limited photoshop skills need tending and I decided to try my hand at digital collage. After scavenging the internet for material I got to work.
As I said, I’m not a whimsical person, a character flaw which stunts my ability to create mood or infuse my art with meaning, but at least I made an effort…
Digital collage by Andrea English (From Joszef Borsos “Lady with a Lace Collar”)
Beyond basic addition, my understanding of math has always been tragically dim and the California public school system was incapable of instilling any interest in mathematics. In high school I became aware of yet another deficiency in my understanding: poetry. Robert Burns’ A Red, Red Rose I understood, but I needed an explanation for Thomas Gray’s, “Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air”.
Even now the mention of math or poetry is enough to provoke a petit mal seizure of boredom, so the idea of a book for children combining the two subjects seems almost cruel. However, when I saw Marvelous Math, A Book of Poems at the thrift store, I was compelled to buy it. Why? For the very colorful and charmingly whimsical illustrations by Karen Barbour.
Le Tableau (The Painting) is a French animated film directed by Jean-François Laguionie. I recently had the opportunity to watch it (with flawed subtitles) on Netflix.
The story is well beyond the apparent intellectual capacity of American animation, dealing with topics well beyond the Happily Ever After realm. The Painter (God) has left an unfinished creation, filled with contentious factions: The Allduns who see themselves as The Painter’s favorites because he finished painting them before disappearing from their universe; the Halfies, those nearly completed figures who aren’t good enough to live in the castle; and the Sketchies, a sad little group of colorless, vaguely formed creatures whom the Allduns feel The Painter should have erased rather than leave them to spoil the garden.
The forbidden love affair between Ramo, an Alldun, and Claire, a Halfie, is the catalyst for a journey to find The Painter. The story isn’t nearly as interesting as the painterly images – colors and forms that are engaging and surreal.
The Grand Chandelier and Ramo
Florence and Lola
I found a small, paperback children’s book by Sarah Hines Stephens, Beauty and the Beast and Other Stories, with cover art by Dan Andreasen.
According to his Shannon Associates bio, Andreasen is a bestselling illustrator of more than fifty picture books, as well as the illustrator of American Girl historical characters, Felicity and Samantha. He has also written and illustrated seven books including, The Giant of Seville.
His graphic designs have been used to advertise products including Oscar Mayer, Chef Boyardee, Folgers, Harley Davidson, Orville Redenbacher, Kraft, Marks and Spencer and Marshall Fields.
Cover art by Dan Andreasen
Chef Boyardee illustration by Dan Andreasen