Sunday, October 6, 2013

Illustrator Study: Maurice Sendak

image found on Wikipedia
I am beginning a new series here on my blog about famous and influential illustrators and chose Maurice Sendak to start off with.  I have read several articles about him and his work and have enjoyed sharing "Where the Wild Things Are" with my kids.  It seems there are different reactions to his work.  Some adults find him disturbing.  Some kids do too.  Both my children found the first reading of Wild Things to be scary.  And I have read a few of his other pieces, "Outside Over There" and "In the Night Kitchen".  His stories are a bit unsettling, and writers who enjoy him often comment on his ability to be truthful with children.  Whether you find him shocking or not, his art work is something to admire in and of itself.  And he is not afraid to make monsters scary, children less than wholesome and create landscapes and settings that live and breath in their own right.

I decided to try to copy the style he uses in "Where the Wild Things Are".  From my time in college studio classes, I recall more than one professor urging students to copy the masters and develop our own styles from what flowed out of those lessons.  So I am following that advice here.  I never had any formal illustration training, so where better to learn than from the old masters like Sendak.

I love the style he uses here with his brown tones in every color, giving the artwork a far away remembered feeling like black and white photos which have been colorized.  And I love the ink work.  His cross hatching is so intricate and skillful.  He uses it to create shadow and texture as well as defining what is real from what is the dream.

My attempt at using Mr. Sendak's illustration style
 and characters
My effort is certainly not up to his standards, but it has been a great chance to practice pen and ink as well as balancing colors and tones.  I have gotten to see my own weaknesses as well as strengths and that is always a great way to learn.

I hope you will come back to see what illustrator I will learn from next.  There are so many great ones and so many styles to choose from.  I would love to read some suggestions.  Maybe your favorite illustrator?  Who has influenced your work, or was just your favorite from childhood?  Please share in the comments below!  Thanks so much for stopping by!