Thursday, June 25, 2009

Zwerger part one

Lisbeth, Lisbeth, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

We’ll start with the values. Squint and you’ll notice that she’s working with only 3 distinct value sets. Lights, a few halftones and some darks. No mushed tones here!

Notice how the dark windows and ground circle the center of interest like a frame.

The two identically sized buildings and formal, centered composition enhance an awareness of the difference between the diminutive Dwarf Nose and the giant next door.

Look at the empty space above Dwarf Nose! It emphasizes his shortness and your eye runs right down that slide of space straight to his red coat.

The colors are kept muted and cool except Dwarf Nose and the orange coated giant, with the thin orange roofs of the neighboring buildings as a triangular unifying device.

Even the door of the shop is arcing towards Dwarf Nose.

My drawing teacher Mr. Parks used to say: “Find what you can do to reinforce the center of interest.” Here Lisbeth uses color, value, shape, space, movement, temperature and scale.

What we see here is not mere talent but deliberate, smart work.

My heart goes pitter-pat.

Illustration by Lisbeth Zwerger from ‘Dwarf Nose’ by William Hauff. North-South Books.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

more best

William Heath Robinson.

Such dynamic use of empty space! This work is filled with energy, tension and humor.

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.