Wednesday, 30 June 2010

I'd Like to Copy: My Kid Could Paint That

Hello you.

Did you manage to catch up with Kirsty's wonderful series of posts on children's illustrators last week? If not, or if you're wondering if you missed anything, then have a look >>>over there >>> in the sidebar where there are some handy links to all five for you.

Following on from children's illustrators though, I thought I'd bring you something which was still about children's art only this time I mean art BY children.

[Image source]

Or, more specifically, the art on one child in particular, Marla Olmstead: Image source]

By the age of 3 Marla's work was already selling in galleries and her works, and the questions around whether she was painting them unaided, created such a media storm they made a film about it!

I love the storytelling which clever documentary film-making manages to draw from 'everyday' life and was captivated by Amir Bar-Lev's 'My Kid Could Paint That', a 2007 study of Marla and the controversy surrounding her and her family:

It's a great film which I'd urge you to catch it if you ever spot it in the TV listings.

Bar-Lev hadaccess to the family amid the press scrutiny of Marla's paintings, the parents are questioned, probed and challenged on whether they are actually either behind the paintings or at least behind coaching her as to what to paint where. It's a fascinating insight into parental behaviour, children's 'natural' artistic capabilities and also the value of modern art.

If you'd like to read more about 'My Kid Could Paint That' then see:

From which, should you really feel like making your own mind up about Marla's work, you can purchase one of her available paintings:

But, just so you know, you have to apply for the prices so I'm guessing it's a case of if you have to ask ....

Julie :)

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Illustration mini-series (Pt.5) :: Oliver Jeffers

There are two reasons Oliver Jeffers is the final illustrator in my little series this week. Number one, because someone has to be, and number two, because every time I’ve tried to write this post, it’s started with the phrase ‘if I were a boy’ and rapidly descended into earworm overload. So, let’s just get it out of the way.

If I were a boy, I would quite like to be Oliver Jeffers.

(And if you are now similarly stricken with Beyonce earworm, I can only apologise.)

Of all the artists and writers featured here this week, his work is probably the most varied. I’m going to stick with his illustrations – that’s what I’ve been yakking on about since Monday, after all – but it’s more than worth your while visiting his paintings and objects at, too. For me, they only serve to emphasise the imagination and storytelling skills that make his picture books so wonderful.

How To Catch A Star was one of the first books I ever bought for my oldest nephew, and is one I’ve purchased again and again for the various children in my life, but I also have a big soft-spot for The Incredible Book-Eating Boy.

I like books, am far less keen on food and the back cover of the hardback edition looks like this:

Before you even get started on the story or the beautiful painted-and-collaged illustrations, that’s a lot to love.

As with both Sara Fanelli and Lauren Child, I’m very smitten with the way Oliver Jeffers uses type and hand-lettering. If nothing else, one thing I’ve learned this week is how important that is to me – the way words look, as well as how they sound and what they say.

His first picture book was only published six years ago, so you might be less familiar with Oliver Jeffers if you don’t have very young children (or, like me, a couple you can borrow once in a while), but I’m certain his already much-loved books are going to stand the test of time just as well as those by the other authors featured here this week.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to read this little series of posts over the last few days. Your comments and enthusiasm have been wonderful – varied, heartfelt, funny, enlightening, and very much appreciated. Whether you've been inspired to pick up a book or a paintbrush, I really hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have.



Friday, 25 June 2010

Illustration mini-series (Pt.4) :: Joyce Lankester Brisley

Today’s post was a toss-up between two very different illustrators. Or two-and-a-bit, but I’ll get to that later. My alternate was Quentin Blake, who surely can’t be overly familiar with being pipped to the post, but I’ve omitted him in the hope he might inspire a full-sized C+P challenge at some point in the future. (He did once inspire me to make a dead rat from an old pair of socks, but that’s also a story for another time.)
Joyce Lankester Brisley was probably the first illustrator to win my heart. I learned to read when I was four and, not long after, began devouring early-readers, like My Naughty Little Sister and Milly Molly Mandy. I loved the black and white illustrations in both, but it was Joyce Lankester Brisley's line-drawings in the latter that charmed me most. I especially adored the village map which appeared on the endpapers of each book, and don’t doubt for a minute that its why I’m so fond of maps – especially hand-drawn ones – to this day. The stories were very old-fashioned, but then so was I, and although I'm not certain they stand up quite as well today, the illustrations are still wonderful.In my head – which ploughed through an awful lot of books as a child – the drawings are also intrinsically linked to those of Ruth Gervis.

Their styles are only vaguely similar, admittedly, but it’s the simplicity and – again – vintage charm that I think links the two. Those above, in case you don’t recognise them, are from Noel Streatfeild's Ballet Shoes (Ruth Gervis was her older sister).

My original copy of Ballet Shoes was very literally read to bits when I was younger, and a kind friend recently bought me a replacement. Much too loathe to part with the pieces, I've got them set aside, ready to frame the illustrated pages so I can enjoy them on a daily basis.

If you've ever done similar, or have any picture-book art hanging in your home, you know I'd love to hear about it. Spill the beans in the comments below.



Thursday, 24 June 2010

Illustration mini-series (Pt.3) :: Lauren Child

If you’ve been reading Copy+Paste for a while, you may well have picked up on the fact that Julie and I are big fans of Lauren Child. It’s been mentioned enough times that I almost didn’t include her in my list of illustrators this week but, in the end (like Charlie and Lola) I was absolutely too smitten to resist the temptation.

I first read Lauren Child thanks to a Clarice Bean book which landed on my desk when I was working for a children’s magazine. From the cover in, I loved it. Of everyone featured here this week, Lauren Child is probably my favourite writer (I’m not prepared to play favourites on the illustration front). Her distinctive voice, as well as the clever typesetting . . . well, let’s just say I swing between being insanely inspired and pig-sick jealous, depending on what day it is.

Despite her instantly-recognisable style, I also have the utmost admiration for the diversity of her books – from funny and ingenious picture books like Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad, Book? to the wordier world of Clarice Bean; from a beautifully illustrated take on Pippi Longstocking to re-telling The Princess and the Pea in art and photographs. When you’re as successful as Lauren Child, it would be all to easy to rest on your laurels or stick to what you know, which makes it all the more inspiring that she’s doing the very opposite.

Have I eulogised enough? Most probably. You get the point, though - it's love. Truthfully? She had me at 'I Will Never Not Ever Eat A Tomato'.


Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Illustration mini-series (Pt.2) :: M.Sasek

M. Sasek ( the M is for Miroslav), was a Czech artist and author who, rather unusually, wrote travel books for children. A trained architect, he noticed that almost all tourist guides were aimed solely at adults and set about remedying the situation in glorious style.

I’d love to tell you I grew up knowing his ‘This Is…’ series of books, but I first discovered them when I bought the reissued ‘This Is London’ for my nephews a few years ago. Each of the eighteen ‘This Is…’ books feature a different city or country, ranging from Paris and Rome to Israel and Hong Kong. They’re packed with beautifully observed detail and humour and, despite the illustrations being so evocative of their time (mostly the 1950s and 60s), still feel fresh and relevant today. All bar a couple have been reissued in recent years, and can be found on the M.Sasek website, or Amazon mini-site.

Whether you’re heading off on holiday with children, helping them out with a school geography project or just interested in beautifully illustrated non-fiction, they’re well worth checking out.


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