July 8, 2011

Drawing Children

If you follow me on Twitter you may remember how excited I was a couple of weekends ago about cleaning out the garage. No-- wait. Let me rephrase that. It was not the cleaning of the garage that got me going, but the finds made whilst the cleaning ensued. Long forgotten treasures, never unpacked for lack of space; it was like Christmas morning. Only dirtier.

For example, a box of summery handbags and accessories that I'd forgotten I even own (yay!), a Scrabble Junior board game(relic of my youth) which my kiddos now love, and...the crem de la crem of all garage finds...a box of books that my sisters and I shared in childhood. Oh, the memories that came flooding out of that box! Golden books like The Large and Growly Bear, or Just Ask! books like Why Does it Get Dark and Why Does it Rain? Anyone else have those as kids? I realize why, no matter how little shelf space we have or how tight the budget is, I can never walk away from good books for my children. My mother couldn't either and every one of those stories became a little part of me, influencing every aspect of my life from art to writing to motherhood.

My little ones each found their favorites; tomes I was thrilled to sit down and read with them as it came back that these were once my favorites too. And there was something for Mamma in the box as well:

Isn't it exciting?
Wait--let me open it for you.

Look at these illustrations! Beautiful children with their pointy little noses, long lashes and wild locks...

These are two of my favorite. I love that you can tell it was the '70s when this was illustrated. The vintage feel only adds to the charm.

This book has become an almost-always-with-me item ever since I opened the box, not only because the art is bewitching, but because I have been, even before I found this, trying to improve my ability to draw children. Some of the art pieces I most admire and covet are depictions of children, and while I think I've got a pretty good handle on the adult female figure, woodland animals, flowers, trees, and various other pretty objects, children are really stinkin' hard to draw!

So I've placed Dean's Mother Goose Book of Rhymes at the top spot in my kid-drawing reference collection. It even ranks above Dick and Jane. And I'm improving...

...I think. Little by little. I've just got to keep at it. Isn't that all we can do?

What are some of your favorite childhood books or illustrations? I'd love some recommendations. Share in the comments!


  1. love the vintage illustrations! Some of my favorite children's book illustrators (and half of the time authors too) are Maurice Sendak, Bill Peet, Garth Williams, Arnold Lobel, Rosemary Wells, and Alexis Deacon to name a few. Occasionally when hit with fits of nostalgia, I'll go searching on Amazon buy some old favorites I miss.

  2. Oh gosh, you will never guess - I have a Deans Book of Fairy Tales sitting in the bookcase next to me right now - I got it from my parents when I was 3 for my birthday (in the 70's!) and it has traveled all over the world with me - from New Zealand, to Australia, to Utah, and now New Hampshire. I love it for all the reasons you stated - the illustrations are the most beautiful I have seen in any book, and I even see some of the same characters as are in your one above! The blonde boy makes appearances in many of the stories:) Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone in my love of these illustrations!