Inspiration from Children's Books
ZOELAB DAY 19
The artwork from children’s books has always captivated me and has had a great influence on my aesthetic. One of the great pleasures of parenthood is getting to reenter and share the incredible world children’s books with my child. Luckily, Emilio loves books as much as I do, and loves a lot the same ones. I am also lucky that my mother was kind enough to save my favorite childhood books. Most of which are in their house for Emilio (and me) to read when we visit. Three of which I have removed from their home (sorry mom) and have scanned tonight to share with you.
There is an ineffable quality that children’s book illustrations have. There’s a sweetness because of the innocence and hopefulness that they convey, and yet at the same time, there is a darkness too, a sense of a larger, mysterious world somewhere lurking. Maurice Sendak illustrates this dichotomy so well in his books.
This was Lucas’ favorite childhood book, which I didn’t have as a child, but have come to love as an adult. It’s illustrated by Richard Scarry, who was also one of my favorites as a child (as he is to so many). But here, his illustration style is more painterly than the more cartoonish style for which he is known. This is my favorite page from the book--someday I want to make a light box out of it and hang it in our house.
This book is a classic of course. The images are still so haunting to me. Again, the dichotomy: the innocence of a child’s play room juxtaposed with the darkness of night approaching. And the colors are so unusual and otherworldly.
On an aesthetic level, this was my favorite book of all. It was given to me by my grandmother, Nana, whose first husband, my Dad’s father, was a communist. The book was published in China in the 1970’s. It was perhaps the instigator to my affinity for Chinese aesthetics and culture (which led to eight years of Chinese language study, and living in China for a semester of college.) The book contains several tales with no words (other than the title) teaching children how to be cooperative. I remember how much the book enchanted me as a child. There was something about the drawings-- the colors, the line quality, the utter cuteness of it all. My love of this book is so special, that I have never been able to adequately qualify it. It was as if the book had been made just for me.
I have come to believe that each of us has a unique aesthetic that expresses something about our soul. Aesthetics are the language of our soul. When we are children, we are living closest to our souls. I think this is why books or music from our childhood continues to have such a powerful impact on who we are as adults. The best way to inspire ourselves, is to inspire the children we once were/still are.