Elicia Edijanto – Tranquility, Wilderness and Everything in between
I was immediately smitten by Elicia Edijanto’s black and white watercolours when my eyes by chance fall upon them and their fragile beauty kept me all day long admiring the talent of the young Indonesian artist. You could also enjoy them (and many more) on her official web site, Behance, Facebook and Instagram profile, or buy a print here.
Why this theme? Here is her reply from the official site. “Nature inspires me a lot. My hope is that, my art will serve their purposes, remind us of how is human-nature relationship supposed to be, beautiful, harmonious, and living side by side.
Using only black watercolour (mostly), I try to create unique relationship between human and nature. My subject are often children and animal because they are honest, sincere, unprejudiced and unpretentious. It will be easier for people to feel the emotions. They give me so much inspiration for particular mood or atmosphere, such as tranquility, solemnity, and also wilderness and freedom, which I put on my paintings.”
“Wild”. I liked the title. And I liked that happy cheerful girl on the cover with big curious eyes, bright smile, and that huge wild hair with intertwined forest flowers. This is an illustration of ourselves many years ago. Before we grow up, become boring and adapted to the rules of the society. And this is an illustration of our children before we gradually build them a frame in the name of their well-being.
The young Emily Hughes (like Ella Frances Sanders, she is also in the beginning of her twentieth), has already realized that to be really happy in life, you have to stay true to yourself.
Her debut both as an author and illustrator tells a story about a girl, who grew up in the woods, surrounded by the love of nature. Animals, trees, flowers – they all are friends taking care of her. She is free, without complexes, and absolutely happy. One fine day however some concerned adults all of a sudden appeared in her life and turned it upside down. Worrying about her future, they decided to take her with them in the big city to raise her properly. What a lucky girl! Now in the civilization world she will learn to read, to eat with manners, to talk in an established way and most importantly, to comb her hair! The issue is not in knowledge. It is actually praiseworthy and highly appreciated. The problem is in the way we are enforced to acquire it. The expansion of our horizons is always connected with inner changes. And when it is against our will but in accordance to the others’ will, we lose our own road and start walking their paths. Instead to flourish in a wild colouful blossom, the grain of our originality wilts.
I do love books that contain message both for children and for adults. The lovely illustrated book of Emily with few precise words is exactly that type. Like that one of Oliver Jeffers. They are mainly addressed to children to convey them valuable life lessons but I think that such stories are always welcomed to adults too. To clean a little the dust from the wardrobe where we collect our experiences gathered through the years and recall some basic truths about life.
Don’t follow the rules of others. They may look more progressive, but this doesn’t mean they are more suitable for you. Be yourself, be wild!
Oliver Jeffers is one of those artists you can’t resist buying all his books. It is that combination of his talent to tell stories with the paint brush and just a few words as final strokes, that you can’t have enough of reading them. Though his illustrations are so expressive that even alone can narrate the stories, the unique sparkle of his tales is due to their fine coherence with a handful ingenious words.
His first illustrated book is called “How to Catch a Star” and was published in 2004. It was created as a project for his final year course work. He explained that it took him about a year, but obviously it was worth the effort, as he got a positive reply from the publishers HarperCollins right away as he had sent it.
And what it is about? It is a story of a boy who desires to have his own star. He tireless chases his dream figuring plans one after the other how to catch it. Climbing to the top of the tallest tree? Not tall enough. Use his rocket ship? It had run out of petrol last Tuesday when he flew to the moon. And so on, but unfortunately all of them with no success. When finally, just when the boy is ready to give up, he learns that sometimes things aren’t where, or what, we expect them to be. He finds a starfish instead, floating in the waters, and became friends with it. *
Though in general, Oliver Jeffers is ‘considered’ a children’s author/illustrator, I definitely recommend his works to the adults too. Exploring subjects like friendship, loneliness, independence, imagination and creativity, they bring back to mind some simple truths about life, we have left behind in the childhood.
Igor Oleynikov is a Russian children’s books illustrator born 1953. Like Sven Nordqvist he didn’t studied at art school but graduated instead the Institute of Chemical Engineering in Moscow. However, his destiny put him on the path of the animation, when in 1979 he started working for the Russian animation studio “Союзмультфильм” as an assistant-illustrator. A few years later he tried his talent in the book publishing, which gradually turned to his solely job and until nowadays he has illustrated an impressive number of children’s books published all over the world.
Clarence Coles Phillips – and the creation of the “fade-away” style
Clarence Coles Phillips (1880-1928) was an American artist and illustrator who first featured the “fade-away girl” design – a figure whose clothing disappeared into the background. He was asked to create something unusual and grabbing the attention for the first colour cover of Life magazine. It was published in February 1908 with the Phillips’s illustration of a young girl in a polka-dot dress, feeding corn to a flock of chickens and immediately impressed. Only the face, the arms and the feet of the lady are painted, whereas the rest of her figure and clothing merging seamlessly with the background suggested their outlines only by the arrangement of the polka-dots. Regarding the chickens, again only their heads, necks and feet are visible, leaving to the viewer’s imagination the drawing of the ‘invisible’ feathers. It was such a success that Phillips developed this style in 54 subsequent covers for Life over the next four years. Due to its popularity of his idea of blending the main figure’s dress with the background color, other magazines started to ‘copy’ it by asking their artists to mimic the Phillips style for their issues. Phillips was one of the first illustrators who succeeded to get his name to appear with all his images.
Josie Portillo is a young American illustrator who seems that adores to travel, and fortunately has the talent to share this love with the rest of the world. Seeing her maps of London, Venice and Paris, most of the people will start packing their luggage but there are also other places on the line like Tokyo, Switzerland or Russia. However, traveling doesn’t mean it should always be abroad. Even a walk along her ‘simple’ streets has a playful stroke inviting the viewer to join the life in the neighbourhood.
Arthur Rackham – Cinderella in silhouette illustrations
Arthur Rackham was an English book illustrator born 1867 and died 1939. He is widely recognized as one of the leading illustrators from the ‘Golden Age’ of British book illustration, a period which encompassed the years from 1900 until the start of the First World War, but his works continue to be very popular even nowadays
Bunpei Yorifuji -Wonderful Life with the Elements: The Periodic Table Personified
Bunpei Yorifuji is a Japanese artist and writer well-known in his country for his series of humorous ads for the Tokyo metro. The world fame however came with his funny and quirky presentation of the elements from the periodic table. Picturing them in our human traits, he made them more understandable and easier to memorize. Most of us probably are not very keen on chemistry but this book opens a new vision in the education. Learning is much more productive when it is close to our lives, when there is something that looks familiar. Once you meet these characters, you could not forget them. Personification of difficult issues will not make us serious scientists but surely will help to understand them and keep in our brain cells for much longer period of time.
Sven Otto Rickard Nordqvist is a Swedish writer and illustrator, born 1946. His professional life is an inspiration for all who against all odds continue to believe in themselves and not give up chasing their dreams. He always wanted to be an illustrator, but because was rejected by several art schools he studied architecture instead. Nevertheless he couldn’t persuade the art schools in his talent, he never quit his plans to tell through his illustrations the heartwarming and touching story about the life of two charming personalities – the old farmer Pettson and his cat Findus. They live a quiet, ordinary life in a small farmhouse in the countryside but unexpectedly each of their days turns to an adventure. The 1st book was published in 1984 and up to date is followed by another nine stories and 6 million copies sold.
I couldn’t find an official site of Sven Nordqvist but his books are available at all famous bookstores.