Thursday 13: Artistic Influence or 13 children’s book illustrators I love.

I have been pondering what has influenced me as an artist and where to go from here. I have some favorite fine artists most of which are well known and which everyone has heard of. More importantly I was surrounded by many books illustrated by great illustrators. I spent a lot of my childhood perusing those books, often trying to imitate their drawings and paintings.

As an aside I will say that this is the way most of the best artists learn, by imitating other great artists, absorbing the style elements they love and rejecting the bits that don’t work for them. Very few great artists learned their art by being taught how to draw and paint each element, instead they were inspired by other artists and grew because they loved the work. If you have a child who loves art don’t get them art lessons, give them lots of resources–good books with great illustrators, books of famous artists prints, get them good materials, quality paper and pencils will go a long way towards helping a child develop his artistic talent.

That said the following is a list of the illustrative artists that I found inspiring, which helped me develop (and continue to help me develop) my own style. If you have a moment take a peak at these brilliant artists and their work. There are some great artists here.

1. E. H. Shepherd: Illustrator of The World of Pooh and The World of Christopher Robinas well as The Wind in the Willows and other books. Long before I could read I found the illustrations in my hard back copy of The World of Pooh and The World of Christopher Robin fascinating and would tell my own stories based on them. Later I would attempt to imitate his drawings, copying the illustrations and trying to capture the style.

2. Sir John Tenniel: Illustrator of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. I wasn’t keen on the stories by Lewis Carol but I loved to peruse my copies illustrated by Sir John Tenniel. The illustrations captured something of a fantasy world which made me want to look deeper.

3. Douglas Gorsline:Douglas Gorsline was an illustrator for Random House Picture Back Books through “the Best Book Club Ever” amongst other things. Mostly they were documentary style books and famous poems but the illustrations were inspiring.

4. Patricia Polacco: Patricia Polacco has written and illustrated many books that are our family favorites. As an artist her illustrations are a joy.

5. Eloise Wilkin: Eloise Wilkin illustrated many Little Golden Books, in fact I expect most of you had at least one. They were idealized images of little children exploring the world around them. I loved them.

6. Rosemary Wells: What list of children’s illustrators is complete without Rosemary Wells. She wrote one one of my brothers’ and my favorite books :Morris’s Disappearing Bag and later wrote the Max books which my children adore. Her stylized innocent style is one I still adore.

7. Janet and Anne Grahame Johnston: I also owned a copy of Dean’s Mother Goose Book of Rhymes which had beautiful illustrations with very stylized people. This was a book I would go back to again and again into my college years.

8. Michael Hague: Michael Hague is probably best known for his work on The Book of Virtues but he has done many other books all of which have inspiring illustrations.

9. Steven Kellogg: Steven Kellogg is a brilliant illustrator. My children and I love his work and have often because he is the illustrator.

10. Stephen Cartwright: Anyone who has kids has likely seen a Stephen Cartwright book. His board books are precious and Find the Duck was among one of my kids’ favorite games to play as toddlers.

11.David McPhail: David McPhail illustrated many of my own and my children’s favorite books. In fact he illustrated one of my all time favorites: The Magical Drawings of Moody B. Finch which is a brilliant story of a young artist.

12. Trina Schart Hyman: One of my all time favorites. Illustrated many books including most of my favorites growing up and now. Of course that isn’t surprising since she illustrated over 150 books. The first I remember was Sleeping Beauty. I would sit for hours and look at the pictures in this book, awe inspired. She also had illustrations in Sing a Song of Popcorn and did the cover art for my more recent favorites: Matilda Bone, Dealing with Dragons, and The Kitchen Knight.

13. Mark Oakley: Not really a children’s book illustrator though one of my favorite recent finds all the same. If you check out his work you will find that his style has more in common with that of my other favorite illustrators than with fellow comic book artists.

There are more favorites but they are specific books instead of specific illustrators. These are the ones who have influenced me the most and who continue to influence me as an artist–probably more so than the fine artists I love. I have recently been going back and studying what it is I love about each of them, and seeing some specific patterns which is helping me to see where I want to go as an artist.