Tuesday, June 9, 2009

the best

Inspired by Betsy Bird's top 100, I'm planning on featuring MY top picks for children's book illustrators. I may end up at a round ten, we'll just have to see.

First on the list is the artist that got me started on all this, N C Wyeth. I still vividly remember wandering through the local library when I was a kid and randomly pulling Treasure Island off the shelf. I was electrified. Stunned. I absolutely lusted to be able to paint like that.

The paintings were far more than well crafted, they were raw, truthful, bold, earthy. Filled with power and vitality.

And Wyeth handled sensitive subjects with equal deft and meaning. This painting of Jack Hawkins leaving home displays a masterful composition featuring a determined yet hesitant boy with his tearful mother who has stepped back to allow Jack's destiny to unfold.

The darkly shadowed foreground, the raking triangle of burning sunlight across the house, the lonely cloud in a washed out sky. The homey touch of the bowl in the kitchen window. All deliberate tools to create a feeling for a very powerful moment.



BJW said...

You could pretty much begin and end with Wyeth and I'd say it was a good list. What a master. I loved to read all the Scribner's Classics because of his illustrations bringing the classics to another level. The illustrations from the White Company, Treasure Island and Last of the Mohicans are my favorites. But I love them all. Great choice. Huge inspiration to me, and I'm just a writer.

Paul Schmid said...

Hey BJW,

As a writer you might enjoy the book of N C's collected letters:


The man was passionate, sensitive and articulate to an almost incomprehensible degree.

A book I've returned to many times over the years.

BJW said...

Thanks! I'll check it out.