Monday, November 25, 2013


This was my Thanksgiving illustration from the book FATHER FOX'S PENNYRHYMES, a collection of poems written by my sister Clyde Watson.  Much of that book---both words and pictures---alluded to Clyde's and my childhood experiences as we grew up with six brothers and sisters in a rural Vermont setting.  This illustration was no exception.  The long table here was the table, made by my father, that we all sat around (and sometimes squabbled around) at mealtimes.  The captain's chairs in which Mother and Father Fox sit are the same chairs that my own parents used.  The piano in the background, the interrupted sewing project on the rocking chair, the bulletin board festooned with fox kits' art, even some of the clothing---I took all of these details verbatim from my own childhood.  In fact, the only real difference I can now see between my childhood reality, and my illustration, might be that our ears weren't quite as large and furry---and if we had tails, we kept them hidden.

I wish you all a Thanksgiving full of love, the community of family and friends, and "cake upon the table."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


 I always thought it would fun to have a store---perhaps there are shopkeepers amongst my ancestors.  I also love holding Open Studios, but there is a limit to how many times a year the creative work space can be bundled away to make room for a party.   With the internet, however, it's now possible for me to have a never-ending Open Studio, and run a shop, without ever leaving my physical studio or disturbing my ongoing creative work.  I've just opened my Etsy online studio shop:
 I'm starting out on a small scale:  a few Christmas cards...
 ...a few out-of-print books with either accompanying prints...
...or with enticing decorated envelopes in which to present them...
...and my favorite---a small 6 oz. mug with a couple of cavorting foxes adorning its side.  All of the art was designed and executed by Yours Truly, of course.  My shopkeeper mind is bubbling and bursting with more ideas for things I could make to put on my virtual shop shelves.  My other more sober mind is saying "Let's just wait a little while to see how this goes before we do anything more."  In any case, no matter which mind-set prevails, right now I'm having fun!  Please drop in for a visit---I can offer you some virtual tea and cookies!

Monday, November 18, 2013


Gustav Tengrenn was born in in Sweden on November 3, 1896.  
I first discovered his illustrations as a child when I read The Pokey Little Puppy.  
I later discovered more of Tenggren's Little Golden Books, as well as other children's books.    I was entranced by his work, right from the beginning.  But well into my adulthood I was unaware that I had barely scratched the surface as to this artist's accomplishments.  

Then a good friend introduced me to Disney films like Snow White. (No, I never saw these films until I was an adult---but that's another blog post.)  
Tenggren was a major contributor to these films, creating huge amounts of artwork, and of ideas (though he was never credited at the time).  I was stunned by the visual power and beauty of these films, particularly the backgrounds and scene settings.  
"Ah," I thought, "now I've  seen the complete range of this artist's work."
But when I began searching the internet for more information about Tenggren, I was---well, embarrassed because I saw that there was much more of Tenggren's art and his innumerable styles and prolific output that I had never seen.  I realized that all my life I had actually known hardly anything about the person whose talent I had admired for so long.  And I was also completely bowled over by the diverse range, the beauty, and the superb excellence of his art.  I hope you already know more than I did about Tenggren's work.  Or if you don't, I invite you to embark on a journey of discovery with me, and learn more about this incredible master of art-making.  To get you started, here are a few links (though the internet is disappointingly sparse in its information about this illustrator, and in fact about almost any illustrator from earlier eras): 

Monday, November 11, 2013


The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression will be hosting its annual holiday auction of art from children's books later this month. The auction begins November 26 and ends December 2 (  Proceeds from the auction go towards support of ABFFE's programming and advocacy work.  This is your chance to purchase art by some of today's finest illustrators of books for children, while supporting a worthy cause.  My donation will be the art that I created as a demo for my previous blog THE 3-COLOR PALETTE.  (Blogger will not let me add the link here, but you can find the post on the Blog Archive list at the right.)  I can't think of a better use for this little piece than to ask it to help out with the ABFFE'S efforts.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


I've been emphasizing that one does not need a huge palette in order to achieve a variety of results. (See my earlier posts on this topic:  I was reminded of an exercise that my grandfather Ernest W. Watson suggested in his book ERNEST W. WATSON'S SKETCH DIARY:  try painting with a palette of just 3 colors.  I chose yellow ochre, light red, and Winsor blue as my palette for this demonstration.
I started with this little ink drawing of a figure I drew for the book I LOVE MY BABY SISTER, by Elaine Edelman.
In this version,all 3 colors are of fairly equal importance.  Notice that although only 3 colors are used, the effect does not feel at all "limited".  On the contrary, it is very colorful.
In this version, the 3 colors are again of fairly equal importance, but the overall effect is rather different from the first example.
In this example, the blue is clearly the dominant color, and there are only bare touches of the red and yellow.  But again, the effect does not feel "limited".  You will notice that all 3 of these images do consistently "go together" in the sense of feeling as though they are from the same pictorial family.  This is one of the huge boosts the illustrator receives when using a limited palette.  A limited palette almost automatically produces art that is consistent throughout a book or project.  And once again, in this post I'm preaching my strong belief that the artist does not need a huge array of materials in order to produce beautiful work.  Instead, I suggest that the artist choose carefully a small arsenal of high-quality tools, and then learn through trial and error how to get the absolute most out of each one of them.