Friday, June 18, 2010

Under the spell of Lisbeth Zwerger

Many years back, I happened upon one of Lisbeth Zwerger's books for the first time. I knew I was looking at the work of a soulful and unconventional artist and I stood in the bookstore turning the pages of the book in my hands. When I closed the book I had fallen under the spell of one of the finest illustrators of our time, and I experience this each time I open a book by Lisbeth Zwerger. It is a great pleasure and honor that Lisbeth Zwerger's work will be exhibited at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art this summer, starting on June 29th!

Illustration from THE STRANGE CHILD © 1981 by Lisbeth Zwerger

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Brown Bear Tells a Story

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? was first published in 1967 and has been reissued numerous times particularly in its early years.

Bill Martin Jr would decide to change the text and I would create new illustrations to go along with Bill’s changes. As of today, there are four complete sets of artwork for Brown Bear, Brown Bear. The changes in the text of the book were made mostly on the last page where there is either a teacher or a mother (or a monkey in a UK edition from 1984).

Originally created for the educational market to be sold to schools and libraries only, Brown Bear was later published as a trade book to be sold in bookstores. For the most part, I was creating new art work to match the changes Bill was making. But the changes in the art work tell an interesting story as well.

In the earlier editions of this book, I was using commercially available tissue papers in various shades of color. I would use crayon and paint to add texture, but over time these papers faded and the rubber cement I was using discolored the papers and did not last as an adhesive.

Eventually, I started painting my own papers to achieve even greater texture and I began using archival quality materials. You can see these changes in the art work from these selected illustrations from Brown Bear where a history of how my style has evolved is evident.

It is also true that I created new art work for numerous other titles because the original work had faded and needed to be recreated for reprints of the books. Fortunately, using archival materials made for more long-lasting art work that we hope will last for years to come.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Bird's View

Bobbie and I have made our move to the mountains of North Carolina where we will spend the summer months. We'll be enjoying the climate in NC, the good company of friends and family who live nearby, and the view from our home of the expanse of undulating mountains. At times, it feels like the view from an airplane from where we sit in our house. Or a bird's perspective.

I am also looking forward to our return to Massachusetts for a visit later in the summer and my annual book signing engagement on August 14, 2010 at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. I'll also be giving a lecture at the Museum the night before the book signing. I hope to see you!