Illustration Daily – Day 122: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) is reported to have said that Tom Sawyer is an amalgam of three people: himself, John B. Briggs, and William Bowen (both childhood friends). However, there is evidence that Tom Sawyer might have another rowdy influence, a namesake that Twain became acquainted with in San Francisco. Twain and the real-life Sawyer’s friendship was centered around drinking and gambling and Smithsonian Magazine has a great article on the two men. This illustration of the book-Tom Sawyer flirting with Becky Thatcher is the last of this month’s theme of: Children’s Literature. Tomorrow I’ll start a whole new topic: Toys!

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 121: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

John Tenniel’s illustrations for “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” are iconic. However, the first printing of the book spurred the illustrator to write to author Lewis Carroll, to express his distress at how poorly the reproductions of his illustrations were. Carroll agreed and scrapped the entire first printing. This risky move required the author to sell 4,000 copies just to break even. The rejected copies were gifted to children’s institutions, of which only 23 are known to have survived. Lucky “Alice” was a hit. And the discarded first edition was Over the course of the author’s lifetime “Alice in Wonderland” had sold over 86,000 copies.

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 120: The Snowy Day

Ezra Jack Keats‘ “The Snowy Day” was groundbreaking in 1962 simply for having the main character, a little boy named Peter, be an African-American. The book itself though is not intended to be about race. It’s about the joy and wonder that a child experiences in the fresh cold air of snowy day. The use of collage as a medium was new to Keats at the time, and changed the direction of the his illustrations in books to come. These illustrations, much like the story, have a timeless quality to them that I adore.

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The Snowy Day, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 119: Where the Wild Things Are

This month of illustrating classics from children’s literature has been rewarding but intimidating. And today’s is one of the most daunting for me. I am obsessed with Maurice Sendak‘s entire body of work. So I hope that I have done justice in reinterpreting the the final scene from “Where The Wild Things Are“. The book’s first version (nearly 10 years before publication) was a miniature dummy (.75″high by 7” long) called “Where the Wild Horses Are” about a boy that follows a series of signs to find the wild horses and is quickly chased away into a series of other dangers before setting sail for ‘Happy Island’ where things are finally set right. Since Sendak didn’t feel he could draw horses very well it took a while to decide what ‘things’ to replace them with. The ‘Things’ in the final book are based on his memories of his Brooklyn relatives that came on Sundays and terrorized the young Sendak with their cheek pinching, voracious appetites, “bad teeth, and hairy noses“.

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Where the Wild Things Are, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 118: The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Like a number of children’s authors and illustrators Beatrix Potter wasn’t particularly fond of children. In fact when a six-year-old Roald Dahl begged his mother to take him to Potter’s home the Potter told the young boy to “Buzz off.” However, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” was written for a particular child, the son of Beatrix Potter’s former governess, Annie Moore. It was Moore’s encouragement that spurred Potter to expand the story and submit to publishers.

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The Tale of Peter Rabbit, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 117: Olivia

Ian Falconer, the author and illustrator of “Olivia” created the title character as a present for his niece (also named Olivia). If you notice a certain theatricality about the Olivia books, you’re probably picking up on Falconer’s background as a set and costume designer. And the crisp clean style of the books is dually inspired by Falconer’s work for the New Yorker and the minimal use of color in the books of Dr. Seuss.

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Olivia, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 116: The Little Match Girl

Hans Christian Andersen‘s tales for children were often bittersweet and some like “The Little Match Girl” were outright tragic. The conclusion of “The Little Match Girl” with the poor child frozen to death in the snow was intended to be a happy ending. And to pious readers at the time it may have seemed so, as the girl is reunited with her grandmother in heaven. Andersen though, was a bit of an odd duck,and his struggles with personal relationships and dyslexia, certainly provided the unique perspective that gave us an astounding catalogue of children’s stories.

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The Little Match Girl, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 115: The Neverending Story

Since I took a crack at Atreyu and Falkor last year, and I have a languishing painting that I need to complete at some point of the Childlike Empress, I thought it might be fun to take a crack at a lesser known character from “The Neverending Story“. I chose the sorceress Xayide, who has the power to control things which are empty. If you’re like me your first encounter with “The Neverending Story” was through the movie. Which I loved, but the author Michael Ende hated (and by hated, I mean, utterly loathed). The book, of course, is much more nuanced and definitely worth a read if you haven’t checked it out yet.

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The Neverending Story, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 114: Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web” wasn’t E.B. White‘s first story about a pig. The first was a true accounting of pig that he had that fell ill, called “Death of a Pig” the tale shows how much affection White had for the animals on his farm. That tenderness toward animals is clearly evidenced in the nuanced anthropomorphism of the characters in “Charlotte’s Web”. In fact, it could be said that Wilbur is White’s attempt to save a pig retroactively. Like Wilbur, Charlotte was also inspired by real animals on the White farm. E.B. White spent a good deal of time observing the spider that inspired Charlotte, he even cut down the egg sac that she built and allowed it to hatch in candy box letting his room become a haven to the tiny spiderlings  . . . that is until a housekeeper demanded he remove them.

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Charlotte’s Web, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 113: Madeline

My recollection of “Madeline” is that it was a book about a little French girl living in an orphanage being cared for by a nun. Nope. Madeline isn’t French. She’s an American living in France, and attending a boarding school. Madeline isn’t an orphan either. Apparently I just glossed over the part where she receives “the dollhouse from Papa” following her appendectomy. And Miss Clavel? She’s apparently supposed to be a nurse. So, with all those misconceptions clanging around in my brain I illustrated the only thing I know for sure about the book. Which is that: “To the tiger in the zoo/ Madeline just said, ‘Pooh-pooh.'”

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Madeline, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 112: Harry Potter

I couldn’t even decide which of the Harry Potter books to put for today, so I’m just referring to the series as a collective. There are so many great things to draw from in the series it was a challenge to even decide what to illustrate. Ultimately, I decided on Neville Longbottom. Neville’s transformation over the course of the books was one of the most compelling arcs I’ve seen in children’s literature. I know I usually have an interesting fact about the topic of the day, but I’m hard pressed to find something because the series has already been so thoroughly analyzed by fans. I am hoping that Neville will make an appearance in the upcoming Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, we’ll just have to wait and see!

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Harry Potter, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 111: The Story of Ferdinand

The story of how “The Story of Ferdinand” came to be written, is that Munro Leaf wrote it one afternoon as a vehicle for then relatively unknown Robert Lawson to showcase his illustrations. The story of a bull that prefers smelling flowers to fighting, “The Story of Ferdinand” has been controversial due to the overtones of pacifism (or communism, or anti-communism, or fascist, or anti-fascist: depending who you ask). There’s no real evidence to support those claims and both Leaf and Lawson maintained that it was simply a story about a bull. Despite that, the book was banned in many countries including Spain and Nazi Germany.

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The Story of Ferdinand, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 110: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Washington Irving‘s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” wouldn’t exist if his family had not fled New York City in fear of yet another plague of Yellow Fever. Settling in Tarrytown, Irving was exposed to the legend of the Headless Horseman. Later when writing his book, “The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent“, (which also contains “Rip van Winkle“), Irving used the legend and local characters to inspire the tale of Ichabod Crane. The cemetery and bridge mentioned in the story can still be visited in the Hudson River Valley.

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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 109: Little Red Riding Hood

The idea for this one comes from the concept of the topsy-turvy doll. “Little Red Riding Hood” is one of the great enduring cautionary stories for children. First published by Charles Perrault in 1697, the folktale “Little Red Riding Hood” was later adapted by the Grimm Brothers and countless others. However, the tale has deep roots in many cultures, a literary example of convergent evolution, with versions stemming from Africa, and Asia.

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Little Red Riding Hood, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

(and the other way around for good measure)

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Illustration Daily – Day 108: The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

Howard Pyle‘s “Robin Hood” or if you prefer the more wordy full title: “The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood of Great Renown in Nottinghamshire“, was based on scattered poems and folktales and quickly became the epitome of the Robin Hood story. Pyle was not just a writer, but also an accomplished illustrator (sometimes called the ‘Father of American Illustration‘), and instructor. Among Pyle’s pupils were the artists N.C. Wyeth and Maxfield Parish.

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The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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