Guest post by Pat Knepley – In part one of this post, we looked at three great illustrators. This week we’ll consider four more: N. C. Wyeth, Arthur Rachkam, Jessie Willcox Smith, and Edward Detmold.
N. C. Wyeth
Newell Convers Wyeth was the patriarch of an entire family of successful artists. He and his wife home schooled their children, and included art instruction as the first subject each day. Their son Andrew Wyeth became the most well known American realist painter of the twentieth century. N. C. painted more than 4000 illustrations for publication over his lifetime.
One of his most successful books was when he illustrated the Robert Louis Stevenson classic Treasure Island. Wyeth had a vivid imagination that translated into stunning illustrations filled with compelling characters and exacting detail.
Wyeth was known for studying every aspect of the genre he was illustrating in order to heighten the realism, even spending some time out west working on a ranch so that the cowboys he drew for his western stories would be true to life.
Arthur Rackham was one of the illustrators during England’s golden age of Book Illustration for the later years of the 19th century until the start of the Depression. His style of using pen and ink line drawings overlaid with watercolor washes created an ethereal and fanciful look that worked well with the range of stories he illustrated. One of his classics was the fairy tale Rip Van Winkle published in 1905.
Jessie Willcox Smith
Jessie Willcox Smith was an American illustrator known for her works in Women’s magazines and for Children’s literature. Born and educated in Philadelphia, Smith had a long and successful career portraying young children even though she was never a parent herself.
Her rosy-cheeked children graced the covers of many magazines in the early twentieth century, and revealed an intuitive sense of children’s moods and movements. In addition to magazine work, Smith also illustrated classic Children’s literature, such as The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley and Heidi by Johanna Spyri from 1922.
Edward J Detmold was born in 1883 in England, and he was a twin. He and his brother were both talented artists with a gift for capturing plants and animals in all their natural beauty. Detmold was influenced by the compositions and color of Japanese prints. In 1909, Detmold illustrated Aesop’s Fables., and since so many of those stories have animals as the main characters, this commission was well suited to Detmold’s skills.
For the home educator, linking art to literature is a natural. Use a book your student is currently reading and have them illustrate one or more scenes. There are two approaches to take with a project like this: illustrate a scene that is described well, making sure the details match; or illustrate a lesser known scene where the artist can fill in details that the author did not take the time to describe.
More imaginative students will like this option. Keep the drawing to simple black pen or a very fine marker over an initial sketch in pencil. The more details added by the young artist, the better! Carefully reading a favorite line, within a chapter so get context, can provide the perfect inspiration (and caption) for a drawing. So start reading some classics and let the words cause your imagination to translate into beautiful pictures.
Try your hand at illustrating a Bible story with Art Projects, Dreams of Joseph: