Illustration Hero - Jessie Willcox Smith

Jessie Willcox Smith (1863- 1935) was an amazing illustrator.  She is one of my all time favorites. Jessie was a bit late to art, starting drawing after age 20. She was taught by the incredible Howard Pyle. Her work is beautifully done and was created with a mix of charcoal and oil paints. Jessie illustrated many books (my favorite being The Water- Babies) and created over 200 covers Good Housekeeping magazine as well as ads for Kodak, Ivory Soap, and Procter and Gamble.

Jessie never had kids but she was pretty much a genius in capturing the expressions and energy of children. I also am on love with her palette. There is such a earthiness to her colors. Her colors are both soft and strong. I think that she has been forgotten a bit through the years, perhaps over shadowed by her male counterparts. But that just makes me want to study her work even more. Here are a few of my favorites Jessie Willcox Smith's paintings.

From The Water Babies, 1916

from The Water Babies, 1916
from The Water Babies, 1916

Elizabeth Shippen Green, Violet Oakley, Jessie Willcox Smith and Henrietta Cozens in their Chestnut Street studio, ca. 1901

Red Cross Poster, 1918
Bed Time c.1902
Little Red Riding Hood c.1911
Morning, 1908
Little Miss Muffet, 1914
Mother Kissing Baby, 1904  

Young Girl Playing, 1902

Jessie Willcox Smith in her Stdio, 1917

Amazing work, don't you think? Pretty inspiring to see such amazing woman artists from so long ago. I wonder if it is still possible to have a illustration career like she had? It makes me wonder, would you buy more magazines if they had more incredible art like this on the cover? I definitely would.

Do you have a favorite classic illustrator? Who inspires you?

Well, as they say, I better get back to the drawing board....

Illustration Hero: J.C. Leyendecker

It amazes me that I could of missed someone like J.C. Leyendecker (1874-1951) when I was in art school. (I'm sure some of my teachers must of mentioned him but I was probably daydreaming of other things)  His work is so incredible! But now that I have found him and have so much reference at my fingertips, I have no excuse not to study what he did.

His work is so detailed, and his colors are so rich. The lines and shadow work are pretty much perfect. Each of his characters are so fluid in their movement and so, so beautiful. As an illustrator, he was known for his advertising for Arrow Shirt Collars, The Saturday Evening Post (he did over 300 covers for them), Kuppenheimer's Good Clothing, illustrations for Interwoven Socks ads among many others.

Another really interesting aspect of J.C. is that he was gay. And although he was never out of the closet  during his lifetime, his illustrations contain a lot of homoerotic aspects. I love looking at all the connections between all the male characters in his paintings. In retrospect, Leyendecker is pretty damn brave to create the worlds that he did. So many of his images seem really contemporary now. It is also really fun to notice that his partner, the lovely Charles Beach, is the model for so much of his work.  Wouldn't that be a sweet tribute to the love of your life?

Here are a of my few of my favorite illustrations by J.C. Leyendecker:

J.C. Leyendecker, Couple Reading on Deck Chairs, 1904,

J.C. Leyendecker, Ridolfo & Gismonda, 1906

J.C. Leyendecker, The Vacation, 1907

J.C. Leyendecker, Arrow Collar Shirts Advertisement,  1910

J.C. Leyendecker, Charles Beach (the love of J.C.'s life and the perfect model for his illustrations)

J.C. Leyendecker, Couple Descending Staircase, Arrow Collar Ad, c.1930

J.C. Leyendecker, Interwoven Socks Advertisement, c.1920's

J.C. Leyendecker, Arrow Collars 

J.C. Leyendecker, Cupid's Kiss, 1923

J.C. Leyendecker, Saturday Evening Post Cover, Lifeguard, Save Me!, 1924

J.C. Leyendecker, Golf or Tennis, 1910

J.C. Leyendecker, Arrow Collar Advertisement, 1929

J.C. Leyendecker, Kuppenheimer's Good Clothes, 1920

J.c Leyendecker, The Butterfly Couple, 1923

J.C. Leyendecker, War Victory for Saturday Evening Post, 1918

J.C. Leyendecker at work in his studio via HagginMuseum
What do you think of Leyendecker's work? Did I mention that his work was all created on large canvases and painted with oil paints? Pretty impressive don't you think. I would love to check one out up close. Wouldn't you?

I heard that George Lucas is opening an illustration museum in San Francisco in the next few years, hopefully he will have a few of Leyendecker's painting in his collection. Fingers crossed...

What a great way to start my day!

San Francisco Center for the Book : Metal Type

I am going to start volunteering at the San Francisco Center for the Book.  I'm so excited. It was amazing to be shown around all the different printing presses and book making binding areas. It sure gets my creative juices flowing. As a volunteer, you can earn free classes too. I'm already planning on taking all the letterpress, and book making classes I can handle. So cool, now that I don't work on Saturday's the opportunities are endless.

To add to the sweetness of my day, on the walk home I stopped by the donation center for the San Francisco library. They had a little cart outside with books for a dollar. I was so happy to find, "The Illustrated Treasury of Children's Literature edited by Margaret Martignon" 1955 ed. Lovely.  Here are a few pages from it.

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood: Illustrated by Howard Pyle

The Wind in the Willows:  Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard

The Farmer's boy: Illustrated by Randolph Caldecott

The Wizard of Oz: Illustrated by W.W.Denslow
 Two Happy Little Bears: Illustrated by Phoebe Erickson
Tweedledum & Tweedledee: Illustrated by John Tenniel
Halfway Down: Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard
 So wonderful, aren't they? I just love the simplicity of all of them. (This book must contain a hundred of them.) I love finding old books filled with little artistic treasures. And I don't know about you there is something cool in finding a a old book and smelling all the dust and dirt (and the crayon) and trying to imagine who heard these stories when they were little. What were your favorite books growing up?