Thursday, December 31, 2015


Leonard Weisgard, born December 13, 1916, was an American-born illustrator and author of children's books.

When he first began working, children's books in this country were still being illustrated with pre-separated, two or three-color art.
The Mouse And The Lion

Today our first thought might be, "Only two colors? How limiting!" But a perusal of the two-color art from the prominent illustrators of Weisgard's era quickly forces us to rethink our assumptions.

The Clean Pig

Could there be any more "color" in a full-color piece than there is in this illustration of Weisgard's?

Weisgard did go on to illustrate many children's books in full color. The beautifully soft illustrations in "The Golden Egg Book" have always been amongst my favorites.

Pelican Here, Pelican There

Other styles Weisgard employed reflect clearly the influences and trends in the art of his day. In fact, tracing the history of children's book illustration can be one way of tracing the development and evolution of the art of any modern era.

Alice In Wonderland

Whatever style and media Weisgard used, his work was distinct, totally recognizeable as his own and no one else's... full of color, so full of emotion and warmth, so enticing and accessible and irresistible---inviting the viewer to jump into his world and become completely immersed.

Like many other illustrators, Weisgard did not confine his work to children's books. There is a lovely website about him, created by his children, as well as a couple of other sites, all of which give the public more online information than is often available for artists from the earlier 1900's. Do check these out and enjoy more of Weisgard's gorgeous art.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


The Doll's Christmas Tree
The year darkens, then lightens...the tides ebb and flow...the moon waxes and wanes...likewise does the creative drive fluctuate from day to day, month to month, year to year. If we are willing to listen, the universe will teach us: to work with these immutable cycles, not against them.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


So much of my work combines line with color and tone. I've recently challenged myself with a new assignment: create images, either in color or black-and-white, using no lines. NO LINES ALLOWED.
(At least, no lines allowed in the final. I wouldn't know how to compose without using lines.) I began with the scenery for this particular image. Every artist has his or her own method. If the background and scenery for an image has any complexity, I like to work that out first. It's like creating the stage set.
Then I add the figures. I can easily place them, choreograph them, rearrange them, however I like. As usual, I put each element or figure on a different layer of transparent vellum, making it easy to shift positions. This eliminates the need to As I've said so often, this is exactly the same process one would use with, say, Photoshop on the computer---working in layers. I just happen to prefer creating the layers with a pencil and paper.
After some experimentation, I decided to execute this composition in pencil on vellum---a surface that has a nice tooth for pencil. (Working surfaces being pricey, I did my experimenting on a partially used piece of vellum---the outlines of a lawn chair that you see are from another project.) I also tried a couple of different pencils before settling on a Koh-i-noor Kunstlerqualitat Negro #3, a tool that I have loved for years. (This pencil is no longer manufactured. Fortunately for me, I stocked up on them years ago, and figure I have enough for the rest of my lifetime---and perhaps beyond.)
Because this was a relatively new way for me to work, I kept pieces of scratch paper next to me, and experimented frequently with ways to handle various parts of the drawing. A foot coming at you, seen slightly from below, is always tricky for me.
The finished drawing. I decided not to use the checkerboard pattern on the floor that I had originally visualized. Too complicated, it seemed, for the very simple approach that had evolved.
I decided to use the final drawing for one of my promotional postcards, so I drew a little fir twig in the same style for a decoration.
The finished postcard. My experimentation gave me a double return: a new technique that I might use in a future illustration job---and a promotional piece for December.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


I never seem to be embarrassed to let people see how messy my studio becomes. I think it's because I am always awed and amazed at the way a beautiful object is created out of such chaos. An object that one can pick up, hold in one's hands, peruse, read, enjoy. The process seems to me---still, after all these years---nothing less than miraculous. It confirms for me, over and over, my sense that I am the channel for the creating power, not the source.
I do clean and straighten my studio after each project is completed. A moment of stasis.
Then begins the next project---the next round of chaos. Out of which, yet again, will emerge a thing of beauty. 

And thus the magnificent cycle continues.