Tuesday, June 29, 2010

An interesting little fact about Einstein

(Image above: Albert Einstein as child)
Something I will be covering in my class tomorrow will the topic of 'Why Children's picture books are important, and why our jobs as their illustrators/creators are important'. One example I thought would be interesting simply because of the fact that it pertains to the universally known Albert Einstein is something I came across while listening to one of my favorite podcasts called Radio Lab, this one in particular being on the subject of Time. ('Beyond Time')
On the show (at about 25.21 minutes into it if you want to have a listen yourself) a Professor of Physics at City College in New York tells the following story:

When Einstein was a child he read a Children's book by Aaron Bernstein. (The book I have now found out was part of a science series for kids, so not a picture story book but nontheless) In the book the question is posed, what it would be like to out race a telegraph message in a telegraphy wire. In other words, to out race electricity. But this was only the beginning because in Einstein's head, he thought of a different question. Which was 'What would it be like to out race a light beam?'. What would it look like? He obsessed about this for years. After 10 years of thinking about this without solving the puzzle, he was riding the bus to work one day and looked at a famous big clock. As he was moving away from the clock on the bus, he imagined would it would be like if the bus he was in all of a sudden started to move at the speed of light. What would happen to the clock and it's time then. And thus was born the theory of relativity.

The Professor of Physics telling this story also refers to this book by Aaron Bernstein as 'perhaps the most important children's book ever written in the history of the human race.' With which I don't think I would completely agree, but I do definitely see how it would be the most important one to you IF you were a Physicist. Either way, I thought that this little story featured on the podcast would make just another fine example of the power that is contained within the Children's book. Books that make us think, books that make us imagine, books that help transform us and shape us into who we will become later on in life.

Also, on a non related note. Should you not be familiar with the Radio Lab podcasts I highly recommend them to anyone. Amazing.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Otfried Preussler

Otfried Preussler is a German writer and illustrator of longer what would be labelled here 'juvenile fiction stories'. It's rare to find artist's who are considered mostly writers, (because the text in the stories so heavily outweighs the images) who illustrate their own stories. I really love Preussler's stories and illustrations. Both seem very spontaneous and honest. And both have character oozing out of their every line and word. Also, you can really tell that Preussler was truly an illustrator as well as a writer. His characters whom you can already imagine truly come to live when you see them on the page, usually being tricked or tricking someone. Also, in a 130plus page book there are illustrations on every spread and on most spreads both pages have illustrations. I miss those types of fiction books. ... let's bring them back! Also, seeing as it's pretty much impossible to find anything on Preussler image image wise, I might soon have to do some scanning. This is the little bit I did find. Hard to get a good idea from it if you're not familiar with him.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Two of my Influences Big Time/On the importance of Children's books

Here are two drawings I made when I was 5 years old. One is of Pippi Longstocking and her horse little Uncle, and one is of the Moomins and the little My one of my favorite Moomin characters up to this day. My mom has saved a lot of drawings I made when I was little and I am very grateful for this today seeing as these serve as an invaluable window into my childhood for me now.
Both of these books were a huge influence on me! I have often thought about where I get my particular 'set of morals' from and I have always come back to my favorite children's books that my Mom used to read to me. All the books that have stuck with me the most and that I still re-read to this day are books that have truly inspired me with their stories, underlying stories and beautiful illustrations. I think these books have played a huge part in essentially making the person that is me today.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Two interviews with Maurice Sendak

Here are two interviews with Maurice Sendak author of 'Where the Wild things are'. In the long interview pay attention to the part where he and the host talk about his work being Guerrilla Warfare and on why he feels it is important to feature dark subjects in his books.

Also... Sendak is a great example of how divided people are on 'what is appropriate for children'. Sendak is one of the most sold, celebrated and respected children's book illustrators/writers and yet there are to this day many people who very much think of his work as completely inappropriate for children! This is something that seems to come with the territory! The way I see it is to just go with your gut feeling and remember that you can't please everyone!
here is the other shorter interview on Sendak featured on You Tube

Monday, June 14, 2010

H.A. Rey and Margaret Rey: the creators of Curious George

Here are two links on some of the history of the lives of H.A. Rey and Margaret Rey without whom we would not have a Curious little monkey named George today.

Here's them apparently doing a school visit/demonstration/signing of sorts. Also it looks like he is drawing that with both of his hands at once (mirror drawing technique)... how much fun would it have been to get these dudes to come to your school? A lot!?

Sebastien Mourrain

Just found a piece of paper from the last time I was a Sophia books EVER because they now too have closed down due to lack of business! I had written down the name of Sebastien Mourrain for his illustration work for the classic 'Around the world in 80 days'. I would have bought the whole book while there, but it was all in french and is an illustrated novel and not a picture book. ... and I unfortunately do not speak nor read french well enough for something like this. Too bad. Beautiful work though. I added Mourrain to the contemporary illustrators list on the side or check out his portfolio here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Character Model Sheets

In session #1 for my class 'Illustrating the Children's Picture Book' we did a Character development exercise I've created. Everyone in the class came up with some fantastic characters and at the end of the class had a sheet where they had drawn their character from both sides, front and with different expressions.
These here are some model sheets I found online on a great website on comic, and animation art. I think looking at these old model sheets for animations and comics makes it very obvious how similar and intertwined the work of the picture book illustrator is to that of the animator and comic book artist. We all have to get to know our characters and make them believable!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

Quentin Blake video on his process

This is amazing 10 minute video of Quentin Blake in his studio talking about his process of creating illustrations and also actually creating an image right in front of the camera! Invaluable glimpse into this totally fantastic and prolific artist's world.
Watch it! You'll learn so much in only 10 minutes!
Also check out his whole site here. Fantastico.