|Hannah Höch Picture Book (The Green Box, 2012)|
|Hannah Höch Picture Book (The Green Box, 2012)|
My first choice is a little eccentric. It's a book produced in 1945 by the only woman in the German Dada art movement, Hannah Höch (1889-1979), and a pioneer in collage. Not even seen by the public until 1975, her children's picture book has been republished and as an adult I find her collages compelling and bursting with fun, although I ignore her whimsical rhymes.
In another mixed media book, Just Right for Two, Rosalind Beardshaw uses collage in a similar way in the leaves, plants, trees, and even to divide between a few illustrations (good idea). Plus I like the teasing silhouette of the mouse - lovely visual foreshadowing.
|From Just Right for Two by Tracey Corderoy & Rosalind Beardshaw (Nosy Crow, 2013)|
In The Haunted House, Kazuno Kohara produces simple mixed media images to eye-catching effect. I assume she has used black ink printing on orange paper and added tissue overlays. I love it, and the original story too.
|Two images from The Haunted House by Kazuno Kohara (Macmillan, 2008)|
The next book is the opposite of simplicity: Bear Hug by Katharine McEwen. I'm not an expert, but to me she appears to use harmonious colours in a similar tonal range to bring together detailed stylised images. Even though it's visually busy, I'm drawn to the illustrations and the snowflakes are a lovely touch. Plus I've been thinking about the portrayal of water in art and I find the wavering blue lines of the stream appealing (a Hockney influence?).
|From Bear Hug by Katharine McEwen (Templar Publishing, 2014)|
Several illustrations in Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown also use lines in an interesting stylised way to illustrate the movement of water. I particularly like the sketchy spirals of 'foam'.
|From Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown (Macmillan, 2013)|
|Above image from The Best Book in the World by Rilla (Flying Eye Books, 2014)|
Plus marvellous, dramatic endpapers below in the hardback edition
I can't resist showing one more example of water. This time it's from the huge A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alemagna. Vertical broken white lines effectively simulate rain.
|Above and below, A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alemagna (Tate Publishing, 2014)|
|From the Yes by Sarah Bee & Satoshi Kitamura (Andersen Press, 2014)|
A bold use of shape and colour is also seen in the contemporary, but more conventional Where Bear? by Sophy Henn. Strong contrast and simplicity bring alive the friendship between the bear and the boy. Plus the endearing endpapers of the hardback always make me grin. My only niggle in this book concerns the commas, or lack of them. I want to add a comma after the 'where' whenever I read lines such as: "Then where bear?" asked the boy. I even want to add a comma to the title! Anyway, I still adore this delightful book and I'm not supposed to be discussing the words.
|From The Journey by Aaron Becker (Walker Books, 2014)|
Red is also used in another book: Very Little Red Riding Hood by Teresa Heapy and Sue Heap. In this story it's obvious why red is important, although here it's used in a fun way to emphasise objects belonging to the little girl such as the teddy bear, hair clip, bag and flowers. The page below also illustrates the delightful use of vignettes to show actions and the passing of time in a restricted space. Plus I like the loose lines and flow of these drawings. Oh, and the endpapers have a red and white map of the route to Grandma - I'm a map groupie too!
|Very Little Red Riding Hood by Heapy & Heap (David Fickling Books, 2013)|
|From The Wonder by Faye Hanson (Templar Publishing, 2014)|
The effective use of colour isn't always blatant, as I saw in an advance copy of Roo the Roaring Dinosaur by David Bedford and Mandy Stanley. For example, below we see the use of sunshine/beach colours and I think this provides a gentle surprise because it's not the visual palette we normally associate with dinosaur books. It adds a subtle, light freshness, especially when combined with a beach setting that's not typical of dinosaur illustrations.
|From Roo the Roaring Dinosaur |
by David Bedford & Mandy Stanley (Simon & Schuster, Jan 2015)
Finally, for total in-your-face dramatic use of colour, there'sauthor/illustrator Chris Haughton. I adore his use of tones and colour contrast. His simple sophistication is so effective, though it would lose its impact if too many books looked similar. In the image below we see the creatures hiding in the forest - we know they're hiding because they blend into the orange tones.
|From A Bit Lost by Chris Haughton (Walker Books, 2011)|
Phew, this has turned into a long blog post and I've only taken a superficial look at art in illustration. If you'd like to see a wide selection of images by illustrators of children's books from around the world then apart from visiting libraries and bookshops you could dip into Little Big Books (Gestalten, 2012) which is a great hardback reference book of 'arty' illustration, although disappointingly it doesn't give the medium for each image.
Maybe I've inspired you to look further at the 'art' in illustrations in children's books? Maybe not?!If you have any suggestions or observations then I'd love to hear them. Thanks!
PS In this blog post I've deliberately not included members of the Picture Book Den even though they've produced some glorious books. Therefore please don't miss the next blog at the Den, which will look at members' forthcoming books for 2015.